What is it?
Laughing is a communication skill. Your baby is communicating enjoyment! It is an interesting quirk of human nature that we smile and laugh before we develop language.
Babies usually start with a soft “chuckle” around 2-3 months old. With some babies it can sound like a deep he-he-he. For others it may be an “airy” ha-ha-ha sound. It can be very subtle.
Around 4-5 months you should be hearing your first “belly laughs.” But if you don’t –don’t worry! We are all different; some babies may laugh early, and others may take a bit longer. It’s ok if your baby is more serious around this time. It doesn’t mean they won’t ever laugh.
What makes a baby laugh? First laughs are usually related to:
- A sound
- A gentle touch
- Peek-a-boo game
Laughing actually involves some complex thinking skills, especially starting around 6 months old. Babies will laugh at incongruities at around 6 months, like putting a block on your head and pretending it’s a hat.
Responding vs. Initiating
Babies will laugh in response to you doing something that amuses them, or hearing or seeing something they find humorous. But starting around 8 months old they will also initiate humor to make you laugh!
At first, the behavior is unintentional. But if a parent laughs when a baby does something, that baby will repeat the behavior to get the laughing response again.
Laughter is a fundamental way of connecting.
It is also a great way to relieve stress!
A day without laughter is a day wasted. — Charlie Chaplin