For new parents, their baby’s first smile is a big moment – but for this couple, it happened sooner than expected. When Flávio Dantas and Tarsila Batista, both from Brazil, were still at the hospital, they were surprised with a big smile from their newborn daughter – who brightened up the moment she heard her father’s voice.
Both parents were delighted to be bringing little girl Antonella into the world – so much so that Flávio spoke to her every day while Tarsila was pregnant – having long chats with her bump, getting to know his daughter before she arrived in the world.
“He always told her that he loved her so much,” Tarsila said – and Antonella obviously felt the same. As soon as the midwife handed her over to her new parents, Flávio started talking to her again, repeating all the same words he had said to her in the womb. Within a few moments, to everyone’s amazement, their daughter opened her eyes, looked up at her dad and give him a huge smile.
Most babies don’t give ‘real’ smiles until they are six to twelve weeks old – any smiles before then are usually a reflex, and don’t involve eye contact. Which makes Antonella’s adorable moment all the more remarkable, as she looks like the happiest newborn in the world, staring into her father’s eyes. It was a special moment for Flávio too – “I thought I knew what a feeling of true love was until I looked at that most sincere smile in the world … it was [there] that I could be sure what love is,” he said.
Babies smiling is also great therapy for stressed parents, as studies show them getting a big dopamine rush when their little ones look happy. In particular, lots of emotional processing is shown to go on in a mother’s brain when her child smiles up at her.