What Happens When Babies See Their Own Reflection?


Your baby will be fascinated with his own reflection at a very early age, so a baby mirror is a great toy to have around. Looking in the mirror can help stimulate your infant's vision, help him develop language and social skills, as well as learn about his own self-identity. While he won't know it's him until he's approaching toddlerhood, your baby will have fun playing with his reflection as an infant.

Mirror Play

  • Babies are naturally drawn to faces, so your infant will enjoy looking at his own face in a crib mirror or one you prop up for him during tummy time. The reflections in a mirror are fascinating for your baby to watch because the image is always changing and as he moves, so does the reflection. Soon he will begin to talk and play with the baby in the mirror, practicing his babbling and socializing with smiles and facial expressions.

Learning Body Parts

  • While you play with your baby using a mirror, make it a learning opportunity as well. Touch the different parts of your baby's face and body and label them for him, saying things such as, "This is Jack's nose," and "Here are Jack's eyes." Using his name will help him learn to identify himself and learn the names of his body parts. Point to your own facial features while you play so your baby can see that you have those body parts, too.


  • As your baby approaches 1 year old, he will begin to understand that the baby in the mirror is actually himself. You can encourage this self-awareness by touching the mirror and saying things such as, "Who is that? Is that you? Look, you are laughing." A test that psychologists have used to determine if a child can recognize his own reflection is called the Rouge test, and it is one you can try with your own baby. When your little one is not looking in the mirror, make a mark on his nose with red lipstick. When he looks in the mirror, watch to see if he reaches for the reflection to touch the red mark, or if he tries to wipe it off his own nose, showing that he understands that the reflection is himself.

Safety Concerns

  • While mirrors can be great fun for your infant, there are a few safety considerations you should keep in mind. Look for mirrors that will not break if they drop or get banged. Also make sure it does not have sharp edges so your baby can play safely. If you choose to install a crib mirror for your infant, make sure it is strapped securely to the side of the crib so that it does not become a safety hazard by falling in.


  • Photo Credit Digital Vision./Valueline/Getty Images
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