From a young age, infants and toddlers love looking at faces. The smile of a teacher, the expression of a parent, or the cry of another infant interest babies and spark their social-emotional development. Babies and toddlers especially love looking in mirrors, which builds their sense of identity and self-awareness.
One clue that a toddler is beginning to gain self-awareness is by putting rouge or lipstick on your child’s forehead (called the “rouge test”) and observe if, when looking in a mirror, your child tries to wipe it off their own head or the head of their ‘friend” in the mirror. Once they realize they are looking at their own reflection (usually around 18-24 months) you know that mirror play has helped develop self-recognition.
Below are a few ideas for using mirrors with your baby or toddler.
Mirror Play Ideas:
- Set a mirror in front of your baby during tummy time. Tummy time in front of mirrors encourages gross motor development, observation, and development of self-awareness.
- Hold your baby and look in a mirror together. Point out facial features. “Look, here are your eyes. Here are Mommy’s eyes.” Make silly facial expressions and label them for your child, e.g., “I’m smiling. I’m happy.” These experiences build your child’s social-emotional development and emotional literacy.
- Explore other reflective materials with your child such as a window or metal bowl.