Friday, July 19, 2013

Parenthood: Week 8 – Make Me Smile

Remember in past post when I talked about the fact that Ollie doesn’t even smile at us? This changed this last week.

If you catch Ollie in a good mood, hit the right pitch with your voice, give him direct eye contact, he will give you the cutest smile you have ever seen.

Many people have been trying to get Ollie to smile far before he could actually make a smile . It’s interesting to watch people try to get a reaction out of him when he has no idea what they want. I find the furrowed brow and confused look almost as cute as his smiles so while other people didn’t get what they wanted out of Ollie, I was still entertained.

Smiling is such an important part of humanity, even more so as Americans. One common observation by foreigners is that American smile at everyone even they aren’t happy. It’s a social thing to smile, it’s a connection that you are making to another person and with a baby it’s one of the first signs of social interaction.

I mentioned some steps on how to get Ollie to smile but they are worth going deeper into as I have observed many people do some weird and ineffective ways to get babies to smile.
  1. Speak in a high pitch: I mean REALLY high. To be technical we are talking about the A above middle C (guys for us that’s the A above the staff is falsetto). A good thing to say is “ah-goo.” This is one of the first sounds babies can make, so they are more likely to respond when they hear something they can imitate. If you are shy about making high-pitched baby talk, get over it. Any embarrassment you may feel is worth it when the baby smiles at you. 
  2. Eye-contact: Babies don’t have great vision so get close in a babies face, like four of five inches away. Make solid eye contact and smile yourself as you may squeaky sounds to him or her. Smiling and talking takes a lot of coordination and one of the ways babies figure this out is through observing other faces around them. Babies love eye contact, so making good eye contact engages the baby and makes them more excited.
  3. Be happy: If you are excited to see the baby, great. Now show your excitement through big smiles and happy voices. Don’t fake it, be genuine and with enough positive vibes, that the baby can sense at this young age, he or she will crack a smile.
  4. Give the baby space: I don’t know if it overwhelms a baby to have four or five people come up and try to get the baby to smile at the same time. Sometimes this seems more aggressive than friendly. If the baby is already being barraged with people trying to get him or her to smile, back off.  Come back when the baby is relaxed in a quiet space.
I love it when Ollie smiles, but I also love it when he is at peace, when he looks confused, when he looks thoughtful and when he looks concerned. There’s an amazing spectrum of expressions in his face that are so much fun to observe.  The world is unfolding for Ollie slowly and it warms my hear to know that for Ollie's world is filled with smiles, high-pitched voices and people who simply want him to be happy.

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