My Baby Laughing in His Sleep – What Does It Mean?

Laughter and smiles provide a positive effect on us. As Max Eastman puts it, “it is the universal welcome” and is contagious regardless of where you are from. As an expectant mother, there is nothing more special than seeing my own son feel the same way and looking happy. I would go “…aaww” when I see cute and adorable photos of babies, smiling and giggling on social media.

But did you know that sometimes babies also smile or laugh even while they are asleep? They are not capable to speak to us in words so they only rely on other ways to get our attention. One of them is by smiling or laughing.


There are different kinds of smile and laughs. The ones exhibited by babies are reflexive, responsive and social. We, as parents, should be able to determine them. Here's what those smiles mean.

Reflexive smile

This is also known as neonatal smile. Babies from 0 to 1-month-old can manifest smile or even laugh this early. But, as per doctors, there is no emotional content attached to it. Most likely your offspring is not yet reacting to anything you are doing.

This type of reaction is only due to their instincts and is similar other newborn reflexes. Your baby will typically do this during REM which is about half the time they are asleep. This is most likely the main reason why your baby might smile or even giggle in their sleep. Understand that this is part of your baby’s growth process.


Incidentally, some people also refer to this as the “gas smile” which happens when they pass gas. But of course, there is no scientific relation to this and is not proven yet. You can check out this video to see what a reflexive smile looks like!

Responsive smile

This type of reaction normally occurs at around 2 months. During this stage, your little one will start to respond to things that it finds enjoyable. Responsive smiles or laughs can be in forms of auditory or visual responses. Your baby’s smile or laugh is only a reciprocating action based on what is senses. This helps since your baby will give you a signal whether he likes something or not.

At this point, your baby is not yet exactly smiling or laughing socially. Even so, this is still the perfect time to learn what exactly are the things your baby finds pleasurable. Not only will it be fun, but at the same time, you will be able to know your newborn better. Soon, your baby will be able to exhibit a social smile.

Social smile

This is the last stage for babies around 3-4 months’ and up. This is the most fun for both parents and the baby as the social smile means he is already connecting with you. Your baby will start to learn that it can also get your attention by smiling. He might start to laugh when they recognize your face as part of their excitement.

At this stage, you can try to interact more with your baby. Perfect examples would include talking to your baby, cuddling, and making funny faces. Since they are now expressing happiness, not only will you see smiles but also some movements. This can include moving their arms or legs while laughing. There is no limit on what movements, or actions you can do to create a special bond between you and your little angel.

Above all, you will be able to identify if your offspring exhibits social smile. You can do this by checking when and how long they are smiling. Social smiles have a longer duration compared to first two smiles. Not only are they genuinely happy but they are also aware why.

It is important to remember that this is only a guide and is not an exact science. It is normal that your little one might show these types of smiles sooner or later than expected. Not all babies are the same. They adjust differently and they have their own learning curves.

Smiling is a sign that your baby is developing physically and emotionally. Your baby should be able to display signs of even reflexive smiling at around 3 months. If not, then it is highly recommended to pay a visit your pediatrician.

Please share your moment

It is only reflexive if your baby laughs in their sleep. It is normal and an important part of your baby's development. At the end of the day, babies who tend to exhibit smile or laugh is still a very heartwarming moment to witness. It helps strengthen your bond with your infant.

Does your baby already show any of the smiles or laughs mentioned? If so, feel free to share that moment with us in the comment section. You can also leave us questions and we will be happy to answer them for you!

Help Us Spread the World!
Veronica Mitchell

Hi! My name is Veronica Mitchell. I am a mother to two adorable little girls and a handsome little boy. I spend my days caring from my children, packing lunches, reading aloud, kissing boo-boos, and working as the Chief Editor of My Parenting Journey. On this site, you will find friendly advice, expert suggestions, and guides to all shopping for the products you actually need.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
jannie - April 7, 2017

I love the article. 🙂


Leave a Reply: