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Baby Steps: Get Your Baby Laughing

Although those wonderful first smiles happened as early as 6 weeks, by now you may have a full-fledged giggler on your hands. "Children aren't born with humor; they learn it from interacting with their parents," says Merideth Gattis, Ph.D., a psychologist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. Here's how you can help your bambino become a little Sir Laughs-a-lot!:

 

Use your voice. Babies will pick up on humor in your acoustic cues. "Parents tend to speak higher, louder, and slower when reading a funny book," says Gattis. "This pattern, like raising your voice at the end of a question, is typical of infant-directed speech. It signals your baby to pay attention to something you want her to learn."

 

Be yourself. "People are funny in different ways, so even if you think you're missing the funny bone, allow your natural instincts to take over," advises Gattis. Silly faces, impromptu dances, and goofy impersonations

all count.

 

Practice makes perfect. "Your baby has discovered that her mouth and tongue have the power to make sounds," says Joanne Cox, M.D., associate chief of general pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston. "Encouraging her to laugh and coo now will lay the groundwork for talking later." Babies love to have fun. Playing peekaboo, having a tickling session, and blowing raspberries on her tummy are surefire ways to elicit lots of giggles.

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