Did you know the average person smiles 20 times a day? Today marks World Smile Day and celebrates the anniversary of the much-loved smiley face, created by the late Harvey Ball. His motto was ‘do an act of kindness – help one-person smile’.
Cleft lip and cleft palate are the third most common birth defect worldwide and affects one in a thousand babies in Africa. Those with the condition suffer with hearing loss, have difficulty breathing, speaking, eating and drinking, subsequently suffering from malnutrition and psychological problems.
Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA), a non-profit organisation, is committed to putting smiles on faces, providing free cleft lip and cleft palate reconstructive surgery in as little as 45 minutes to children and adults across Southern Africa.
This World Smile Day, the organisation is encouraging you to embark on your own #OperationSmile and give someone a reason to grin from ear to ear. Why not start with your little one?
Try these 10 ideas to get your baby to show off her pearly whites:
- Play monster-monster with your baby. Make growling noises while you tickle her tummy.
- Play peek-a-boo for guaranteed smiles. ‘Hide’ behind your hands and peek at your baby between your fingers or lift the covers over your head while you’re lying in bed with your little one.
- Bounce your baby up and down, but not too high or too roughly. Your baby should be giggling before the second bounce.
- Babies love it when their parents touch them. A fun game for both parent and baby is ‘Sniffles’. Pretend that you’re a dog and then sniff your baby’s neck; the funny tingling sensation will have her laughing in a matter of seconds.
- Sing songs and nursery rhymes to your baby. Babies enjoy the sound of a singing voice. You can tickle her while you sing to make her laugh with pleasure.
- Hold a puppet show. Children love it when adults act funny and do silly things. If you want your baby to laugh, pretend to be her favourite toy, such as a teddy bear. Act silly, talk in funny voices and pull faces. Your baby will be giggling at you before you know it.
- Babies’ skins are very sensitive to touch, especially the skin on their tummies. Blow lightly on her stomach. The weird noise and tickling sensations should lead to a few chuckles.
- Babies are often infatuated with new objects and noises, especially animals and the different sounds they make. Your baby will definitely let out some giggles if you imitate a little monkey, a piglet or a puppy.
- Lift your baby up in the air, but not too high. Pretend she’s a plane. Make ‘plane’ noises while you fly her through the air.
- Play “This little piggy”. Pull your baby’s toes (not too hard) while saying this rhyme in an animated voice: “This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed at home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy had none. And this little piggy went… wee wee wee all the way home.”
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day.