Happiness in babies is quite different from happiness in adults. Babies don’t have a concept of ‘happiness’ just yet, so experts often use other cues and behaviors to see if a baby is ‘happy’.
Is your baby crying? If not, you’re good.
This is often true for newborns and younger infants. In the first 6 months or so, they will mainly use crying as a way of communicating if they are comfortable or not. However, as your child approaches 1 years old, you can look for other signs of happiness.
Babies smile reflexively in the first two months or so of life. At around 2 to 3 months, they begin to smile in response to certain things, such as a familiar face or the feeling of comfort.
Noises and laughter
At around 4 to 6 months, your baby may begin producing certain noises that are associated with comfort and happiness. Perhaps it’s a mumbling sound like ‘mmmm’ or straight up laughter. This eventually evolves into more babbling sounds.
Sense of humor
Kids start to find things funny at around 12 months old. You might notice your child doing things to try to make you laugh like putting a diaper on their head or dropping things from the table.
Lack of signs of stress and discomfort
This might seem like a low bar to set but the absence of these signs is actually great news. Some infants can experience ‘toxic stress’ and there are usually clear signs of this.
A secure attachment
Children rely on their caregivers for almost everything. Having a secure attachment and strong bond is often the best indicator of a happy child.
Remember, happiness is very subjective and you know your child best. You get to know the cues and behaviors for discomfort (and even specific cues like when they need to do a number 2), and you also get to know the cues for happiness.