Navajo Laughing Ceremony

Navajo Mother and Young Four Year Old Son posing horseback in front of the Buttes in the Monument Valley Tribal Park in Northern Arizona at Sunset.

In the Navajo tradition, the person who makes a baby laugh for the very first time must make a meal for the baby’s entire family. The belief is that a child’s first laugh is sacred, and the meal is a chance to officially welcome them into the Navajo community. Really though, there is so much more going on. They’re also saying to the adults, we’re all part of raising this child. It’s also a chance to teach the baby that the Navajo community is a generous one. They share what they have, the food, and share their joys, and the baby’s laughter. 

Scrolling through Tiktock or Instagram, I can get lost in the endless videos of laughing babies that parents have shared. It’s infectious and researchers have discovered that the sound of a baby’s laughter releases brain chemicals that make us feel good.

I love a chance to come together with family and friends for a huge meal and to celebrate for any good reason. However, with our busy schedules, we tend to only do it once or twice a year – Thanksgiving or maybe a graduation or special birthday. Maybe we should find more reasons to celebrate – like a baby’s first laugh and first steps. It might remind us of our future and how we all depend on each other to make sure that baby has the best possible life ahead.

Laura Weeldreyer headshot

Laura Weeldreyer is the Executive Director of Maryland Family Network. Over the course of her career, she has devoted herself to improving educational outcomes for students ranging from babies and their families all the way up to senior high school students who were getting ready to graduate. This blog is an opportunity for Laura to share her experience and expertise but also to learn from her readers.