When Do Babies Start Laughing?

Perhaps your little one has already favored you with a sweet smile and a few adorable coos. If so, you may be wondering, and even asking yourself, when do babies start laughing? Anticipating and watching your baby reach this milestone and others is among the many joys of being a new parent. We’ve compiled information and insights on when you might hear those first giggles and squeals, why they happen, and how to encourage your baby’s laughter.

When Do Babies Laugh and Giggle?

A common question parents have is, when do babies laugh for the first time? Around 4 months is when babies typically start laughing, but do keep in mind that children develop at their own unique rate. If your little one is at the four-month mark and hasn’t let out a laugh, that’s OK! Laughter is an early form of communication and self-expression, just one step in your child’s complex journey of development.

Your baby’s laughter evolves from smiling and cooing, so another question that crops up is this one: When do babies start smiling and laughing? It's helpful to know that these may be different baby developmental milestones but that they’re certainly related. Babies tend to start smiling much earlier than laughing, typically sometime around 6 to 8 weeks old. These early smiles are called social smiles, and they reflect the bond you’re creating with your little one.

Once you see those smiles more regularly, keep an ear out for cooing and then, eventually, giggles. Your baby’s first laugh might arrive around one month after their first smile. Though 4 months of age is a common time for laughter to emerge, it could happen at 5, 6 or even 7 months old. So get your phone or camera ready to capture these exciting sounds and endearing facial expressions.

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Why Do Babies Laugh?

Initially, your baby’s laughter is most likely a reaction to something, such as seeing a silly face or playing a game like peekaboo. But as your little one starts to develop laughter, they might start giggling for other reasons, such as to get your attention or simply to enjoy making a funny noise. And then, eventually, you may notice the beginnings of your child’s sense of humor and the unique things that make them laugh!

How and Why to Encourage Your Baby’s Laughter

Once you hear your baby’s first laugh, you probably want to listen to that sweet sound as much as possible. Many parents wonder how to make a baby laugh or want to know what makes babies laugh. Of course, you can’t “make” a baby do anything, but you can certainly support and encourage laughter. Here's why laughing is important and how to inspire those baby chuckles.

Why Is Your Baby’s Laughter Important?

When you and your baby are laughing together, good things can happen. Family laughter can help with the following:

  • Creating a bond. Laughing with your baby will help strengthen the special and important bond you’re developing.

  • Relieving stress. Laughter can help relieve stress for you, which in turn benefits your baby. Parenting is challenging, and a few giggles with your baby after a stressful day can help you both feel better.

  • Boosting immunity. Experts agree that laughter, especially when babies (and adults) do a big belly laugh, can increase the number of immune cells in your body. These cells fight illness and disease.

  • Building resilience. Babies understand more than we think, and they’ll notice all your actions and reactions. From the very start, modeling good behavior to your child will help them build skills. Laughing off a mistake or rough day teaches them resilience.

How to “Make” a Baby Laugh

So, when babies start laughing, there are some things you can do to encourage that behavior. Of course, you can’t “make” your little one laugh, but there are ways to trigger that reaction. Try things like

  • smiling or making silly faces

  • making fun sounds or “nibbling” their cheeks

  • singing songs

  • splashing with toys in the bathtub

  • playing games like peekaboo, pat-a-cake, or this little piggy

  • using toys or stuffed animals

  • “blowing raspberries” on their tummy

  • “stealing” their nose or fingers

  • tickling

  • gently bouncing them on your knees.

Remember that at this age, your baby’s laughter is most often a reaction to something. But as your little one develops those laughing skills, it’ll become easier to giggle and laugh just because it's fun.

Why Would a Baby Not Laugh?

Perhaps your little one was a giggle machine in the morning but doesn’t seem to react to anything in the afternoon. Or maybe your baby is 5 or 6 months old but doesn’t laugh often or at all. Why?

Remember that babies develop at their own rate. If your baby smiles a lot but doesn’t laugh or is not laughing at 5 or 6 months, they might just need a little more time. By the end of 7 months, most children can giggle and laugh. Consult your child’s healthcare provider if this milestone hasn't been reached or if you have questions or concerns about any aspect of their development.

Laughter is also part of your baby’s emotional makeup. Sometimes babies with a quieter, more sensitive, or shy temperament might not laugh as much, but they need just as much support and connection as any other child. Give them the space and time to warm up to situations, so they feel comfortable expressing themselves.

The Bottom Line

Seeing your baby smile for the first time might prompt the question, when do babies start laughing? As a parent, you’re probably eager to hear this precious sound, and you can anticipate your baby’s first laugh around 4 months, or roughly a month or so after their first real smile.

But laughter is part of your baby’s journey with communication, language, and emotions, so your little one may start to laugh before or after 4 months of age. If you still haven’t heard any giggles by 7 months old, contact your child’s healthcare provider. Most likely, your child just needs a little extra time, but the provider can help offer support or rule out any issues.

Do you know that babies tend to laugh when stimulated, such as when tickled or while playing games, “singing” songs, or watching you make silly faces? If you want your little baby to laugh hysterically when you do something, try being extra silly. “Blowing raspberries” on their belly, bouncing them on your knees, and splashing around with toys in the bathtub typically get those big reactions!

Remember that your little one is on their own unique path and those big milestones will come in time. Before you know it, you’ll be celebrating many more achievements: not just smiles and laughter but crawling, walking, and talking!

How We Wrote This Article The information in this article is based on expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.