How Babies Learn to Laugh

How Babies Learn to Laugh
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Written by Gladys González

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Having the opportunity to see a child’s first laugh is an exciting moment for every parent, but what does it reveal to us about how they experience the world around them?

At first, babies learn to laugh and smile by imitation. In other words, they see a smile on another person’s face and do the same. As children grow up, they start to act funny by sneaking, tickling, grimacing and making funny noises.

After one year, they love to be spoken to with drawn out syllables. Undoubtedly, this helps them learn language more easily.

They will discover how to say the words that will help them communicate better with you and the world around them. This is a process that continues into childhood.

A baby’s laugh allows them to communicate with the outside world.

According to some experts, laughing and smiling are learned very quickly in children, which is presumed to be a form of communication. As well as being able to tell you whether they are hungry, sleepy, cold or hot through crying, laughter is also a way for them to interact.

The latest research was conducted by a group of scientists at Birkbeck College in London, who collected more than 700 questionnaires from around the world about how babies learn to laugh. They discovered that the little ones smile to give an answer in pleasurable situations.

How Does Laughter in Babies Develop?

Baby playing with doll

Your baby’s first smile is a blessing because it comes straight from the soul. Even if it is just an imitation of you, you will feel that he has opened his lips to tell you he was happy to be born in your arms, that he feels protected and at ease by the heat that transmits from your body.

Newborns usually smile while they sleep because they do it as an unconscious gesture. It is a contraction of the facial muscles caused by the sensations that give them pleasure… for example, the taste of breast milk, a memory of when he was in the mother’s tummy, etc.

The worst day is when one has not laughed.


Some call this act the “angel’s smile” because it is not encouraged by anything at all, nor is it addressed to anyone or an aattempt to communicate any message. Sometimes Mom or Dad can try to cause a smile while the baby is awake, but without success.

Then, around week eight or nine, your little one’s smile will become a voluntary act. He’ll smile when he feels companionship, especially from his parents or the people closest to him. At this stage, if you are happy, your baby is happy too.

In the following months, through the repetition of this experience of daily life, the child will be able to acquire a great sense of humor that will open the doors to happiness and enthusiasm.

Undoubtedly, this feeling of pleasure will make him feel accepted and loved by his family.

Benefits of Laughter in Children

Baby sitting in the grass

Maintaining a good sense of humor is so rewarding for humans that we should strive to help children develop it from an early age. Adults who are happy see life from a different perspective, and the same thing happens with little ones who are just discovering the world.

For you to understand the importance of laughter in children, we have compiled a list with its main benefits:

An Incredible Medicine:
It allows them to feel better and leave pessimism aside. In addition, it strengthens the immune system.

An Educational Aid:
If you use a little humor to soothe a tantrum, you will see that it has an incredible effect on behavior.

Develops Empathy:
To develop grace, first you must be observant and understand the needs of others.

Increases Confidence:
Many studies have shown that a child’s sense of humor is closely related to self-esteen.

Promotes Intelligence:
Repetition of jokes improves children’s vocabulary and memory, as well as develops lateral thinking that makes children evaluate the world around them in terms of humor.

Learning how to laugh with babies is an exciting journey that will inspire you to be happy. Your smile is the main stimulus for your baby, so enjoy life and invite him to smile.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.