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When Do Babies Recognise Themselves in the Mirror?

babies mirror

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Babies don’t develop self-awareness until they’re around two years old. At around this time, they’ll come to realise that they’re seeing themselves when they look in the mirror.

Until this point, they may not quite understand just what they see in the mirror. They may even think they’re seeing another baby they can play with!

How Mirrors Can Help Babies Develop

Though babies may not understand mirrors until they’re toddlers, you can still use mirrors to play with your baby from a young age. Mirrors can help babies develop early social awareness through learning to identify familiar faces. Mirror play can also help babies develop language skills, and even motor skills, as babies usually track movements and reach out to their reflection.

From the age of 18 months, your baby will start to grasp that the person they see in the mirror is themselves. However, they won’t really understand why until they’re four or five. At around this age, they’ll begin to learn that the face they see when they look in the mirror is the same face everyone else sees when they look at them.

Ideas For Mirror Play With Your Baby

  • Place a mirror near your baby during tummy time. This might encourage them to lift their head up to see themselves, and to look around, both of which are great for developing their muscles and movement. If your baby often cries during tummy time, a mirror can also help keep them occupied.
  • Play a simple game of peekaboo in the mirror with your baby.
  • Make different faces in the mirror and talk about the emotions you’re displaying. “Sad!” “Happy!” “Angry!” This will help your baby start to understand facial cues while developing their language skills.
  • You can also try making funny faces in the mirror and encourage your baby to copy you. Learning imitation skills is an important part of early development.
  • Point to different parts of your babies face, or your own, and name them as you go. Eventually, you can ask your baby to do the same, which will help them learn the names of the parts of the body they can’t usually see.

Helping Your Baby Recognise Themselves As They Get Older

When your baby’s a toddler, with well-developed language and comprehension skills, sit down with them and look at some family photos together. Talk about who everyone is and be sure to point out your baby. You could even ask them directly: “And do you know who that is?”

This sort of activity will help your baby make the link between themselves and the face they see in the mirror. It will enable them to take another step towards realising who they are in the world.

More Activity Ideas For Your Baby

You’ll find loads of guides on our Real parenting blog to help you connect with your baby while encouraging their development:

We also stock a high-quality range of ethical baby products, including natural, eco-friendly reusable nappies.

Browse our full range of sustainable baby products.

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