Making children giggle is an important part of their development. Indeed, explains Louis Franzini, Ph.D., author of The Laughing Child: How to Develop Your Child’s Sense of Humor (Square One), a book about the role humor plays in building self-esteem, learning to solve problems and honing social skills. “It’s one of the most desirable character traits,” he says. “There’s no question that parents can help nurture their children.” Happily, it’s a skill you’ll happily reinforce. Here’s how to get your baby to laugh as he or she grows
Make a 3-month-old baby laugh
Babies usually make their first laugh when they are 3 to 4 months old. But because children this young don’t understand humor, they will giggle at physical stimuli (like bouncing on your knee) or textural experiences. They can also use laughter as a form of imitation.
Joke: Mommy is playing a cake game with me and she is laughing her head off.
Why it makes your baby laugh: Your child is imitating you. A special type of brain cell called mirror neuron allows your newborn to be hardwired to mimic your behavior so that he will unconsciously respond to your smiles and imitate your outbursts of laughter for weeks. “It’s like going to a comedy club,” explains Dr. Gina Mireault, a professor of psychology at Johnson State University in Vermont. “You’re laughing because everyone else is laughing.”
But there’s another reason this game never gets old: Moms aren’t usually this silly. Dr. Doris Bergen, distinguished professor of educational psychology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, says: “A lot of humor in children is based on their awareness that something is unusual or surprising, what we call incongruous.” .
Making 6-month-olds laugh
Six-month-old babies have the ability to give a hilarious giggle, and they will giggle at unfamiliar experiences. Just make sure you’re laughing and smiling all the time!
Joke: Daddy is pretending he’s a chimpanzee.
Why it makes babies laugh: Daddy looks crazy, but he’s having fun. Whether it’s funny body movements or weird facial expressions, clowning around is as wacky as your 6-month-old’s hobby. The weirder you act, the more closely your baby will study your emotional cues (a behavior known as social referencing) in order to discover that you’re having fun, not going crazy. By smiling and laughing at yourself, you’re signaling “I’m playing ball” and encouraging your baby to enjoy the absurdity rather than panic.
“Parents need to give their babies cues to understand, ‘It’s safe, it’s fun.'” Dr. Mireault says. “Facelessness doesn’t work for infants.” Fathers tend to be more successful clowns than mothers, in part because they tend to be more physically fit and uninhibited, Dr. Mireault adds. So let yourself go bananas. That goofy smile on your face will let your little one know you’re trying to entertain him, not have a nervous breakdown.
Making a 9-month-old laugh
As your baby’s brain develops, he will begin to realize things that are decidedly different from what he normally experiences. He will find these strange things funny.
Joke: Mom wears a shoe as a hat.
Why make your baby laugh: It’s ridiculous. Your child needs to do some impressive mental gymnastics to understand this. She must first learn that shoes are worn on the feet, not on the headーーa fact she has learned over the past few months by observing those around her.
In true children’s fashion, anything that’s funny once is funny five times in a row. “Parents forget this because it’s so easy, but if something makes your baby laugh, repeat it,” says Dr. Lawrence j. Cohen, author of “Fun Parenting. “We adults tend to get bored, but for an infant, everything is so new that it may still be funny 20 to 30 times.”
Making a 12-month-old baby laugh
As babies get older, they rely less and less on watching adults to figure out what’s funny; they start making their own decisions.
Joke: The cat is meowing.
Why it makes babies laugh: Strange noises are especially funny to babies this age, as evidenced by some popular YouTube videos. These videos show babies laughing hysterically when their dads make strange, high-pitched thumping sounds or tears on paper. (If you need a pick-me-up, search for ” laughing baby” on YouTube.) Experts aren’t sure why certain words and sounds are comedy gold, but, hey, whatever works!
Make a 15-month-old baby laugh
At around 15 months, you’ll notice a role reversal: Your baby is trying to make you laugh!
Why make babies laugh: Dr. Vasu Reddy, a professor of psychology at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, says: “Babies catch people laughing at things they find funny. . “By the end of the first year, most children will do something that makes people laugh.” You may have noticed this at about 7 or 8 months when the baby makes a silly face over and over again because it makes dad crack up. But by 15 months, some kids really start working the room, and the tickle attacks on mom add comical role-switching fun.
Making an 18-month-old baby laugh
At 18 months old, your little one has a basic understanding of the world (or at least his world), so there’s nothing more comical than making a deliberate mistake or pointing out that someone else has made a mistake.
Joke: She made a mistake on purpose.
Why it makes babies laugh: Dr. Bergen explains, “When toddlers make a deliberate mistake – for example, singing the wrong words to a song they know well – they show an awareness of cognitive inconsistency. consciousness.” . The funny thing is, they know what’s supposed to happen, but it doesn’t, like Mr. Noodle on Sesame Street using a banana as a horn. As your child’s language skills improve, he may tell you that a cow is barking “baa” or that mommy’s name is daddy.