How sleeping neonates smile

Daniel Messinger, Marco Dondi, G. Christina Nelson-Goens, Alessia Beghi, A. Alan Fogel, Francesca Simion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Infants over one month of age tend to produce two types of smiling during especially positive social interactions, Duchenne smiles involving cheek raising and open-mouth smiles. Little is known, however, about the prevalence, frequency, duration and organization of these smiles among neonates. Twenty-five full-term, healthy neonates (12 female) were videotaped during six minutes of sleep. Smiles were identified and analysed using an anatomically based coding system (FA CS/Baby FACS). One-half of the neonates showed bilateral Duchenne smiles. One-quarter of the neonates showed bilateral Duchenne smiles at a mature level of intensity whose median duration was 1 1/3 s. By contrast, open-mouth bilateral smiles occurred in less than one-tenth of the sample. The contrast between the more frequent bilateral Duchenne smiles and the less frequent open-mouth smile is discussed in terms of the early synergistic functioning of facial muscles and contrasted with the smiling patterns of older infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-54
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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