Look Who's Laughing

Making your child giggle isn't just fun and games. It's also a great way to help him learn.

Got Giggles?

Mom holding daughter in her lap

Shannon Greer

Kai Mirel's first belly laugh came at 13 months, when he watched his older brother, Kaan, stumble over a toy and fall on his butt. "He just cracked up," says his mom, Trisha, of Redwood City, California. "I was amazed."

While a baby's little giggles are great, there's something special about seeing a 1-year-old howl when something strikes him as funny. "Laughing in response to things he sees is a sign of your toddler's growing intellect," says Maureen O'Brien, PhD, author of Watch Me Grow: I'm One-Two-Three. It shows that your child knows how structures and patterns are supposed to work -- and that he recognizes the humor when they don't.

Experts say a playful, supportive environment is important for nurturing your child's funny bone. That's why it's important to laugh at his earliest attempts at humor. But be forewarned: Once he gets the desired response, he'll turn you into his personal laugh track. "Kids this age really go for repetition," explains Susan Goodwyn, PhD, coauthor of Baby Minds: Brain-Building Games Your Baby Will Love. "If you chuckled the first time he stuck Mr. Potato Head's glove where his nose should be, you'll need to do it a second, third, and fourth time too."

As you grin and bear it, remember that you're helping to boost his confidence. So play along -- and try these other ways to develop your child's sense of humor.

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