Mirror, mirror on the wall - who is the cleverest baby of all?

Baby smiling at reflection in a mirror
Early years Birth to 2 years

Your baby will love looking at themselves in a mirror. When they see their reflection, they are learning about themselves and developing important cognitive skills. Their little eyes are learning how to focus, and explore their own facial expressions. Here are some easy mirror games to play with your baby.

Face game

Find a mirror to sit in front of, or hold in your hand, so your little one can see the reflection of you both. Gently touch the parts of your baby’s face, lightly touch their nose or caress their cheeks.  Use this opportunity to name and talk about the different parts of their face, for example “That’s your nose! It’s in the middle of your face.

Tummy time

Once your baby has some head control, try propping them up on a pillow to let them look down at their reflection in a mirror. They will love to explore their reflection below them. This is also a fantastic exercise to encourage “Tummy Time” which strengthens neck and arm muscles in preparation for crawling.

Where’s the baby?

If you have a piece of cloth such as a scarf or cot sheet, try draping it over a mirror. Ask your little one “where has the baby gone?” Pull the cloth back and they will delight in seeing their reflection in the mirror. Your baby will love the element of surprise with this game and you will be encouraging them to practise focussing with their eyes, and problem solving.

Who is that baby?

Your baby will start to recognise their reflection after around 15 months. Before then, they see themselves as a friendly little person in the mirror who loves to laugh and do the same things as them. You can encourage self-recognition by pointing at the mirror and then back at your baby and telling them “That’s you!” Try holding other parts of your baby (like their hand or foot) in front of the mirror and point at its reflection and say “That’s your foot.” This will also help them learn the names of their body parts.

Making faces

Mirror play can also be a great way to learn about emotions.  By pulling a range of facial expressions and talking about them with your little one, you can help them start to develop an understanding of emotions.

Enjoy this special time together but remember to always supervise your baby when they are playing with a mirror.

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