Did you know that a person’s sense of humour is not something they inherit, but is instead nurtured? In fact, studies have shown that babies as young as 6 months old can learn to laugh at a situation or person through social referencing ― looking to their parents or caretakers for emotional guidance to decide if something is funny or not.
Getting goofy with your gummy bear sure does make parenting that much more rewarding and fun. After all, who doesn’t enjoy listening to a baby or tot’s non-stop giggles? Another plus point for nurturing wit in your wee one is that he will grow up happier and more optimistic, plus have a more robust self-esteem. This will help him cope better when handling differences of opinions with others in the future. Here’s how to let loose and get silly with your sweetie.
0 to 6 months
* Your baby’s first “real smiles” appear when she’s around 6 weeks old, and you’ll hear her first giggles at around 3 to 4 months, when her vocal cords are stronger.
* It could happen while you’re playing peek-a-boo with her, or while you’re bouncing heron your knee ― she might be startled at first, but will laugh when she realises that she’s perfectly safe!
* Tickle her and recite rhymes like Round and Round the Garden, and she’ll come to expect when the tickling starts. Blowing raspberries is another great way to get her to chuckle ― she might even try blowing them back.
* Laughing is great for your peewee at this age ― it helps her exercise her lungs, oxygenates her blood, stabilises her blood pressure and helps digestion.
6 to 12 months
* From around 6 months, your baby will have enough information about the world around him to be surprised ― and delighted ― at the unexpected.
* While placing a diaper on your head may not be rib-tickling to you, your sweetie will find it hilarious. Sight gags are a great way to bring out those laughs right now, so stick several straws in your ear and you’ll be guaranteed a giggle fest!
* Your little darling is now more pro-active when it comes to humour. He’ll enjoy making faces at you, and hide behind a cushion when he plays peek-a-boo. He’ll even tease you by offering you a toy, then snatching it back.
* Sounds can be funny, too! Says “zoom!” as you bring a spoonful of apple purée to his mouth, or “plop” when a scoop of mashed potato falls into his bowl. While you dry off each body part after his bath, make different noises, like “shh shh shh” and “whirr whirr whirr”.
Click through for more ways to make your gummy bear grin…
12 to 18 months
* As your peewee turns 1, she’s probably also more mobile ― crawling, cruising and perhaps, walking. So, she’ll enjoy funny physical feats: Hit yourself on the head with a pillow and pretend to fall over, then get seat for peals of laughter.
* Once she starts to pick up language skills, she’ll find rhymes and “nonsense words” funny, too.
* At this stage, she loves to see you laugh. She might deliberately point to the wrong facial feature when you ask her, “Where’s your nose?”, or put a hairbrush to her ear, pretending it’s a comb.
* Don’t consider yourself a natural comedian? Just be open and playful. If you have fun, your too will, too. Laughter helps the bonding process, even before junior begins to speak.
* Your munchkin now has a basic mastery of simple rules and patterns, so, she’ll appreciate the humour in breaking them.
* If she knows for sure that a cow goes “moo”, she might find it very funny if you took a stuffed cat and make it “moo”.
* Pretend not to see a favourite toy right under your nose. Then play-act searching for it under the bed, behind the couch, and under the stack of books, saying, “Where is it? I don’t see it!” Junior will laugh in exasperation!
* You can also start to tell simple jokes like, “knock, knock” ones. As your little one gets the hang of it, you might even find that she can present the punchline.
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