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The Best Gift (Aside From a Nap) MONTH 1 WEEK 2

Approved by the What’s Up Moms Medical Advisory Board

Just when you think you’re going to dive face first onto your bed and pass out from exhaustion, it happens. The Smile. Baby unleashes it all of a sudden like a sunburst and it’ll clock you right in the gut. It’s like she knows. Mom’s tired. She’s a little frazzled. I should throw her a bone.

Baby’s first real smile is unmistakable and usually happens between 6 and 8 weeks. Unlike those little gassy/sleepy grins that pop up fleetingly in the earliest days, the real deal is a social smile that engages not just baby’s mouth but her whole face, and happens in response to something. Most excitingly, it signals baby’s first social interaction.

But! Before you run off to grab the camera, give your baby something in return. She’s communicating with you, so volley something back, whether a smile, your most hilarious rabbit face, or some singing – and make space for her response which could be anything from watchful eyes to kicks to that new scrumptious smile. When baby starts looking away or fussing, that’s her signal that she needs a break.

Breastfeeding moms: introduce the bottle if you haven’t — either pumped breastmilk or formula. The ideal time to introduce a bottle is once baby’s in a solid groove with nursing (after she’s mastered a good latch) yet not so late in the game that she’s so boob-oriented that she’ll reject the bottle. So strike while the iron’s hot, because once baby can take a bottle you’ve bought yourself some well-deserved freedom — whether in the form of some extra zzzzs at night or the ability to go out for a few hours by yourself. That some sweet stuff right there.