Baby Milestones Remembered: First Laugh

Before I became a mother, I always thought a laughing baby was the greatest baby milestone, one of the best sounds in the world. You know they’re not faking it (they don’t know how), and it means they are genuinely happy in that moment. And a happy baby equals a happy mommy.

Little did I know the sound of your laughing baby could almost be described as life-changing.

At my in-laws’ house, my daughter was sitting with Grandma when her Pop Pop began laughing. A smile immediately appeared on her face, and next, a laugh. As he continued to laugh, her giggles kept coming -- a joyful sound we had never heard before, a glorious baby milestone. I wasn’t sure if she was merely imitating what she heard or thought it was funny, but I was happy to see her giggling regardless. This was at 3.5 months.

While hearing my baby giggle was a proud and happy moment, I was ready for a real laugh. When she was a little more than 5 months, her first belly laugh was born, which is what I consider to be her first true laugh, and a real baby milestone.

We decided that since she could hold her head up and was doing well sitting unassisted, it was time to try the activity jumper we received. We put her in and turned the music on. Since her feet didn’t yet touch the ground, I knelt beside her and gently bounced her up and down. The belly laughs started to flow freely.

In this moment, she was both discovering a new motion she enjoyed, and experiencing a new world in the activity jumper. I couldn’t stop bouncing her, because I didn’t want the sound of my laughing baby to stop. Along with the laughter, there were squeals of delight and big, open-mouth smiles. So much for baby milestones -- this was pure delight.

For weeks, every time my daughter was placed in the activity jumper, it guaranteed smiles -- at a minimum. The novelty wore off eventually, and we discovered new ways to garner laughs. This included, but was not limited to knocking on doors, tickling under the neck and arms, throwing our heads back and forth, and general silliness.

Although we’ve moved past this baby development milestone, the sound of her laugh will never grow old, and that first belly laugh especially, will stay with me forever.