Smiles And Babbles

As new parents, we are eager to believe that our brand new baby is smiling because she’s such a brilliant, happy little being. But wiser heads prevail, and we realize it was just gas. Or was it? Read on to find out when you can expect your baby to reach social milestones such as smiling, making eye contact and even talking.

Smiling baby

Birth to one month

Baby’s first month is filled mostly with crying or silence. Even so, she is absorbing everything around her, particularly your voice, face and touch. She’ll draw comfort from them and soon learn to mimic them. Your newborn baby totally depends on you to initiate social interaction and just because she’s not doing much in return, it doesn’t mean she isn’t soaking up every moment. For now, just knowing you’re there is enough for her. It won’t be long before she’s engaging you with her gurgles, giggles and gab.

Two to six months

Sometime in the second month, your baby will begin following you with her eyes and will begin to make honest-to-goodness eye contact. It’s more than just a physical accomplishment -- this milestone assures you that she’s on track neurologically and her brain is registering and recalling a familiar face.

"She may also flash you an honest-to-goodness smile"

Around the same time that your baby makes eye contact, she may also flash you an honest-to-goodness smile. This social smile is the real deal: Your baby is responding to you with one of the first forms of communication that you’ll share. It's also a good sign that your baby is maturing neurologically. It indicates that she can see short distances, make sense of what she sees and smile in return.

At three months, you may hear a lovely non-crying sound emerge from your baby’s mouth -- her first coo. She’ll be just as thrilled and surprised as you, and it may take some time before she figures out how to do it again. Coos are often followed quickly by babbling. This baby talk is fun for you both -- she’ll find a sound -- ma, for example -- and go to town with it: ma-ma-ma-ma-ma. Using different parts of her mouth and throat than she used for cooing, babbling is yet another indication that she is growing and maturing appropriately.

If your baby hasn’t met your gaze by the end of her third month, don’t panic. You may just be trying to connect at the wrong times. If she’s tired, hungry or simply not in the mood to interact, she may avoid making eye contact. While it’s possible that she’s just a little late on this particular milestone, consult her doctor just in case. It’s important to rule out other causes for the delay, such as eye disease or attachment problems.

Seven to nine months

At around six to eight months of age, your baby will begin to respond to your voice with her own. This reciprocal babbling is the first step in early language skills. Keep talking to her about anything and everything and, before long, she’ll add her two cents to every conversation.

During this time, your baby may also begin to show signs of separation anxiety and will begin to prefer being with familiar people.

Ten to 12 months

Though baby won't begin playing with other children yet, she will likely enjoy being around other kids, watching them and imitating them.

"Initial gestures often include waving"

Beginning around baby’s first birthday, she may begin to start making gestures -- this is a good indication that she has an understanding of language. Initial gestures often include waving, pointing to a favorite toy and imitating others. When you ask her where something is, she may be able to point to it -- showing that she can communicate by gesturing and also understands the meaning of different words!

13 to 18 months

Most children begin talking around 12 months. All of the communication milestones up to this point have been building blocks for the formation of speech.

By 15 to 18 months, your little one may be saying anywhere from five to 50 words. It also becomes apparent that they understand words. They should be able to follow simple commands. You can help your child add more words to her vocabulary by talking, singing and reading to her daily.

More about baby milestones

What to do if your baby is missing milestones
When should baby sit up? Crawl? Walk? Talk?
Baby movement milestones: What you can expect

Tags: baby milestones

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