How not to make a baby smile

Saturday June 22, 2019

his is a common scene; I have observed people, both professional photographers and doting parents and relatives, taking photographs of babies and young children. All the adults, including the photographer, try to amuse the baby or young child and entice baby to smile and laugh. They raise their hands, they make funny faces and sounds, they shake toys, they dance, they shake many body parts and sometimes refuse to stop until baby or young child have complied by looking happy.

Funnily enough, often, the baby or child, rather than smiling or laughing at least looks happy, the baby or child starts to cry or get angry and the bottom lips start to quiver.
Then the adults involved start blaming each other for making the baby cry and they start arguing and upsetting each other. Meanwhile the baby may start to smile but no one captures that moment.

I have wondered why we must have babies laughing in photographs. It is so wonderful to catch that special moment when a baby or child smiles or laughs heartily. Babies, just like grown up humans, spend as much time being upset, angry, frustrated and a whole gamut of emotions. Surely the photographs we take should represent the whole child.

I wonder if this tendency to want babies to smile and laugh is why many adults feel uncomfortable with someone who is not smiling or happy even though adults may not dance, make funny faces etc. to make someone who is not happy laugh. I have had people tell me to smile (I wrote a blog about this), tell me jokes, take me to see a comedian.

Am I reading far too much into well-meaning parents and relatives wanting their baby to smile and laugh for the camera or does it have a deeper meaning in our society?

A Moodscope member

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