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How to Tell Between Baby Gas and Smiles

By Kathy Gleason ; Updated April 18, 2017
Such a precious smile, but is he happy to see you or just experiencing gas?

Baby milestones are exciting for parents, and one of the first milestones your baby is likely to hit is his first smile. Your grandma may insist all smiles in the early weeks are just gas, so how do you tell the difference? Well, in the beginning it can be a little tricky but there are a few cues to look out for that indicate the smile is a social one. When in doubt about anything related to your little one, ask her pediatrician for an opinion.

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Consider your baby's age. Social smiles don't usually occur in the first few weeks, explains Parenting.com. In fact, your baby will probably not give a social smile until approximately eight weeks old. Anything before that is likely gas.

Look at his mouth. Social grins are often open mouthed and happy, while smiles from gas are probably closed mouthed and smaller. This can be an indication as to whether what you're seeing is a "real smile."

Pay attention to what's happening around your baby. For instance, if you smile at her and she smiles back at you, or smiles when you play peek-a-boo or your husband comes home at the end of the day, that's likely a social smile. A little smile while your child stares up at the corner of the room might just be due to some gas.

Look at your child's eyes when she smiles. If the cheeks go up and the eyes squint, it's probably a social smile. Gas smiles tend to be smaller and don't lift the cheeks up in the same way.


The American Academy of Pediatrics states that many social smiles in young babies occur while they sleep. If you baby smiles in his sleep, he may actually be having a good dream!


Early on, social smiles may be few and far between, as being social is a new skill your tot is learning. Don't fret. Before long, you will be seeing those chubby cheeks breaking into a grin on a regular basis.

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About the Author

Kathy Gleason is a freelance writer living in rural northern New Jersey who has been writing professionally since 2010. She is a graduate of The Institute for Therapeutic Massage in Pompton Lakes, N.J. Before leaving her massage therapy career to start a family, Gleason specialized in Swedish style, pregnancy and sports massage.

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