When do babies first smile for real? Milestones

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newborn baby smiling
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All parents' hearts absolutely melt when they see their children happy, and when they're tiny, there's no better way for them to communicate that than with a smile. But depending on how old your baby is, it's easy to find yourself wondering if that adorably, seemingly buoyant face is a reflex (from gas maybe?) or an actual smile. Here, what moms and experts say are obvious clues that your baby is genuinely smiling for the first time.

Look for It Around 1 or 2 Months

"Babies' first smiles are not always 'real.' For at least the first month of life, a baby's smile is not so intentional. Usually between 1 and 2 months of age, they develop what's called a 'social' smile and will smile when interacting with you. You will talk or smile, and they will smile back. Believe me, when that happens, you will know it’s real!" -- Maria Lombardi, DO, pediatrician at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, Valhalla, New York 

It Could Happen a Little Later

"Your baby will likely have a real smile starting at 6 to 12 weeks. Before that, smiles can be reflexive and are random. Just like us, smiles happen when there is something to smile about!" -- Lisa Liu, MD, physician at Loyola Center for Health at Gottlieb, assistant professor of family medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Melrose Park, Illinois

If There's Eye Contact, It's Real

"I knew it was a real smile when the baby made eye contact with whatever was making them smile: a parent's face, a pet, a sibling, a toy, a noise. If they're looking directly at it and smile, it's definitely out of happiness!"

It Doesn't Matter

"Whether it's a gas bubble or a 'real smile,' own it. You made your kid happy!"

It's in the Eyes

"My daughter's eyes were smiling. That's how I knew. It wasn't a wide grin, just a little soft smile, but there was a glint of happiness in her eyes that just made it so clearly a smile!"

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.