Tuesday, June 8, 2010

By what age should a child express happiness?

All parents want to know that there child is healthy and developing as they should be. With so much discussion in the media about autism, many parents look for signs of autism in their children earlier and earlier than we once did even 10 years ago. One sign a lot of parents look for is the expression of emotions. Moms and dads begin to wonder, “At what age should my child be able to express happiness?”

According to Pediatric Services, the first ”real” smile usually develops sometime between 8 and 12 weeks, and it accompanied by sweet “coos” and crinkling, smiling eyes. And as most parents can attest, there is nothing sweeter than getting that first gummy grin.

The next big milestone in your baby's ability to express happiness is the first laugh, which usually happens at around 4 months of age. Physical sensations, such as tummy kisses or swinging your baby in the air, will elicit these wonderful shrieks of laughter.

As your baby get older, more subtle forms of comedy will make your baby laugh out loud. Exaggerated voices, playing “peek-a-boo,” and making a toy come to life might make your little one howl with laughter.

Every baby is different, and there is a wide spectrum of behavior considered normal in the social and emotional developmental areas. However, for peace of mind, if your baby has not hit these milestones mentioned above, make an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss any concerns you may have.

Remember, not being able to express happiness is not the only sign of possible autism. There are many other signs to look for such as poor eye contact, resists cuddling and holding, prefers playing alone, and unusually sensitive to light, sound, or touch, but oblivious to pain. There are many other signs of autism as well, and you can see a comprehensive list on the Autism Speaks Web site.

A great chart to help you know what your child should be doing not only socially and emotionally, but physically as well can be found here at the Child Care Aware Web site. This chart also shows you what your child should master and by what age in regards to language, small motor and cognitive skills.

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