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Some new moms fall in love with their new baby the moment she is first placed on their abdomen. Others take a little longer to bond with their babies.

One thing is for sure that first smile is a very special moment, in which your bond is further cemented. When can you expect your newborn to smile for the first time? 

Reflex smiles

Now that 4D ultrasound is fairly common, plenty of people have seen unborn babies smile. Go to YouTube, and you'll also find hilarious videos of babies smiling within seconds of their birth. So, what's up with that? Your pediatrician may have told you that your baby won't start smiling within the first month, or you may have read it in a book somewhere. So, what are those first smiles that "came too early" all about? These are what doctors call reflex smiles. As "for fun" ultrasound during pregnancy shows, babies first develop this reflex when they are still in utero. If you didn't notice that, you are likely to see your newborn's first smile when you check on him while he is asleep babies may twitch a lot during the REM stage of sleep, and they are especially exercising their facial muscles! Along with the ever so nice smile, you may also notice frowning and all kinds of other expressions. According to some people, these reflex smiles are there to protect newborns. Who doesn't melt when they see such a tiny being smile? Not everyone agrees with that, though, and you can add the smile reflex to many other reflexes, including the reflex to root for the breast and the walking reflex when tiny newborns are held up with their feet on a hard surface. One thing is for sure: these first smiles are not real smiles in the sense that you and I know them.

The first real smile

Your baby's first real smile will usually turn up between four and six weeks after her birth. You will recognize it when you see it, I promise! I remember when I had my first baby, she often has smiling expressions on her face in pictures especially those pictures that were taken while she was asleep. My mom boasted to other grandmas that her granddaughter was so advanced she was smiling at two weeks old. She wasn't. That real smile happened at exactly six weeks, just as the parenting books say! If you are hoping to find out whether your baby's smiles are real or not, observe the circumstances in which you get smiled at. Play peek a boo with your baby, smile at your baby when she wakes up, and sing to her. If you get a smile in response to something you do, or if you get a smile when you enter the room, you can be sure that your baby is truly communicating with you! Don't be worried if your baby's first smile isn't directed at you, but instead at a grandpa making a clown of himself, or even a butterfly in the park. It's not personal, it just means that was the right time for the baby to start smiling!

Should you be worried if your baby doesn't smile?

Medical professionals say that babies should start smiling between four and eight weeks. What if yours doesn't? There is no real reason to worry until later. All babies do, after all, develop individually. Some doctors feel that a baby is still within the normal range of development if a smile appears by week 12 which probably means it is safe to say that you should not worry until that time. Not smiling can, however, be a sign of a developmental problem or an illness, such as autism. If your instinct is telling you that there is something wrong, then you should certainly discuss your worries with your baby's pediatrician. It can be that you are panicking too soon, and that your baby is simply a late smiler. But if your concern is justified, then you will be grateful to have a doctor who is looking out for other early warning signs by your side. When did your baby smile for the first time? Where were you? Please feel free to share your special moment with us!

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