Babies' smiles are precious gifts.

What could be more delightful and miraculous than witnessing a baby's first smile? Or listening to a baby's first laugh?

Laughter is such a mysterious but incredible gift that comes with being born into the human family. When a tiny child first expresses that joyful feeling, don't you just want to bottle it so you can keep it going?

There are no formulas guaranteed to make every child laugh. One baby's hilarity over peekaboo can cause instant tears in his little buddy. The ring-a-ding of a shiny bell that causes such smiles and giggles in one little girl can scare her neighbor. When babies share their first smiles (for whatever the reason), these are precious gifts.

“Laughter and joy are part of the beauty of life.” –Diogo Morgado

Steve Wilson, a clinical psychologist, has traveled the country and the world as a self-proclaimed Joyologist. He is a scholar who teaches the value of laughter and humor in the lives of all people. (I wrote about Wilson in “My Loose Is Tooth! – Kidding Around With the Kids,” which was published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and reprinted in “Celebrating Young Children and Their Teachers.”)

Wilson reminds people that when students take classes that encourage laughter, children learn more quickly, retain more and have fewer classroom problems. Benefits of humor and laughter abound: Relaxation, comprehension, language development, activation of brain cells and socialization are just a few examples.

Hanging out with children is an area ripe for humor and laughter. Young children embrace shared delight—never mean, put-down humor. They still exhibit innocence, honesty and open-minded, curious ways of looking at life. Thankfully, they haven't learned the stereotypes, labels or preconceived notions of others, or of life situations. Their language is still playful and creative. Their imaginations are still blossoming. As adults, we can easily make youngsters laugh if we are loose and open to fun ways of communicating. We need to laugh, too! When we listen to and talk with children, we have many opportunities to do so.

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” –Charlie Chaplin

A Sunday School teacher asked her young students to write letters to God. These are great examples of the originality and creativity of children. Here are two of my favorites:

“Dear God, Please send me a pony, I never asked for anything before. You can look it up.” “Dear God, If you watch me in church Sunday, I'll show you my new shoes.”

We'll revisit this topic another time with an introduction to my brown-and-white dog puppet, Snowball, who really could be the poster “child” representing laughter. Until then, keep in mind the word mirth rhymes with birth and earth and feels really good in your mouth. Enjoy the “merry month of May.”

“Mamaloshen” is the Yiddish term for “the mother tongue” and we have adapted it here to represent the wisdom of Columbus arts educator, author and all-around inspiration Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld, who is on a mission to help parents raise happy, healthy, creative children.