Laughter, like smiling and crying, is one of the earliest communication forms and is an index of how we understand the world. Both adults and infants laugh when something seems unusual or surprising though it is a bit more complex in adults. But that is not all. Laughter generally lifts the mood of the people around and possessing a good sense of humor is one of the things that makes people fun to be around. The ability of young children to find humor is thought to highlight profound developments in their brains.
Why laughter is important
Aside from the fact that laughter lifts moods and humor is one of the features people look for in their friends, it also plays a huge role in development of self esteem and has a healing power. A child who can find humor in their mistakes will be less afraid to try the task again.
The development of laughter
Babies often start to smile anywhere between 1 and 3 months of age and by 4 months; social smiles develop; actively engaging the parents. By 6 months, they can laugh when they are tickled. At 8 months, the baby finds games such as peek-a-boo begin to be funny as object permanence develops. Despite starting to laugh early in life, babies take a while before they can appreciate good jokes. As they continue to develop, the things they enjoy and find funny change over time.
- 1 year
Before age 1, babies will enjoy simple games such as peek-a-boo but variations of peek-a-boo will elicit more delightful squeals as they grow older. At about 18 months, your baby who is by now, mobile will find it funny when a person hides and jumps out at them and run around with them. Silly stunts such as pretending to fall may get the baby laughing hard.
The baby also starts to test limits and rather than being the audience, they will actively entertain you and get you laughing at his shenanigans including making silly noises and faces. This activity is also a sign of the baby’s physical and mental growth.
- Between 1 and 3 years
At this age, babies have begun developing an understanding of how the world should be. Something that falls outside of what they understand to be the norm will get them laughing. When they develop speech abilities and become more verbal, they find humor in wordplay.
By age 4, kids are usually able to understand simple verbal jocks and may even crack a few themselves though you may not always understand them.
Want to make baby laugh?
- Newborns up to 12 months old will laugh at simple games. Try playing peek-a-boo, blowing on their stomach, making funny facial expressions and gently engaging him in a tug-of-war with a toy.
- For your baby between 1 and 2 years old, try silly antics such putting the baby’s sock on her ear. At this age, babies also find great delight in chase/racing games
- From ages 2 to 4, your baby will enjoy silly songs and simple jokes.
- Laugh often. Laughter is contagious for people of all ages so laugh freely.