Children begin to appreciate humour and jokes surprisingly early, survey reveals

Children begin to appreciate humour and jokes surprisingly early, survey reveals

Humour is the spice of life. Have you ever thought about when it begins to develop and when a child starts to understand jokes? Scientists have at last found the answer - and it turns out to be surprisingly early in the developmental process!

Maybe you’ve wondered when exactly your child will start to understand your jokes, or even when they will start to make jokes themselves for the first time. One group of scientists were equally interested in finding out, and so they decided to examine it thoroughly. 

According to the BBC, a research team from the University of Portsmouth found that a child can use their facial expressions or various sounds from the age of 7-8 months to deliberately make adults laugh. 

Children develop their sense of humour gradually

As children develop their imagination, speech, and comprehension, so too do they develop their sense of humour and their ability to understand that you have just made a joke.

Experts point out that this pace is individual for each child, but we can generalise the individual phases and thereby at least give an indicative classification of how a child's sense of humour develops. This overview was provided by the BBC.

3-4 months

Babies start to laugh when they are 3 months old. During this period, visual sensations can evoke laughter, mostly in response to visual stimuli such as a grimace that their parents make. They can also find certain sounds funny. 

7-8 months

As we mentioned in the beginning, during this period a child learns to work with their facial expressions, voice or body movements so that they can make parents laugh. At this stage we can also observe evidence of conscious repetition: when your child does something to make you laugh, they may do it again. 

9-10 months

During this time, you can very often observe that a smile on their face will appear when they do something they should not. This is how they begin to develop “teasing” humour.

1 year

During this period, you can observe even more that when a child does some form of “mischief”, they will look pleased with themselves. But the really interesting thing at this point is that they have already begun to distinguish your real jokes from “sarcasm”: for example, when you pretend to drink from their bottle.

2 years

Based on a child’s vocabulary development, we can observe the first attempts at verbal expression of jokes at this age. So, as you can see, they come to an understanding of humour in all its forms remarkably early - and probably sooner than you thought. 

Can we develop a sense of humour somehow?

As we mentioned above, even the smallest baby is able to smile, but of course you can help to develop this ability from the first months. 

Various games or funny doodles can be great for this, where you and your child have the opportunity to laugh at the funny pictures you have just created.

When your baby is bigger, another great way to develop a sense of humour is, for example, to watch or read funny stories (our Readmio application can also help you with this). For example, after reading a fairy tale, you can ask your child if there was something that made them laugh in the fairy tale, or if they can think of something funny that one of the characters might say. 

Download Readmio

  • Join more than 400 000 happy parents
  • Build a healthy habit of reading to kids every day
  • Start by reading free stories that are included
  • Unlock all 300+ stories, new tales are added every week
Try for Free

Available for iOS, Android and Web


4.8/5 · 4,5k ratings