I have never met a baby who didn’t love to gaze at herself in the mirror. And I have never met a baby who didn’t smile at least once at herself. Starting around 6 months, baby begins to recognize herself in the mirror and can begin to learn more about what she can do. Baby is also beginning to put language and vocabulary together. And a mirror is crucial to this process. Simply put: mirror time matters.
Just like tummy time for your little one, mirror time can be done everyday for at least 15 minutes (not necessarily continuously). We brought a full length mirror downstairs for our oldest (22 months) when she was around one year old for a preschool unit on the body. But she had a mirror in her bedroom that we used (and still use) everyday long before she was a year old to help her build awareness of her body. Our second little girl just turned 6 months old and has really started to enjoy her time in front of the mirror.
Watching your little one’s eyes light up at the sight of herself or of another person is such fun! But after you have your baby and yourself plopped in front of the mirror and have smiled and said, “Hi,” what’s next? I have come up with a small list of the activities we do in front of the mirror with our little ones to get everyone smiling and laughing (and a little bit of learning, too)!
Clap your hands
This sounds so simple, but babies love to see this. And with babies, when you demonstrate a motion long enough, they will start to do it themselves. We simply clap our hands three times while saying, “Clap, clap, clap” and then take her hands to help her make a clapping motion and say, “Clap, clap, clap.” Eventually, baby will be able to do it without help, but will still love to stand or sit in front of the mirror and see her hands clap together.
Sing songs with motions
Our two favorite songs to sing in front of the mirror are “Row, Row, Row your Boat” (we do rowing motions for the rowing part and swaying motions for the “merrily” part) and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” (with traditional motions). Other songs you might consider singing in front of the mirror are “If You’re Happy and You Know it” and “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”
Make funny faces
Again this sounds like a simple one, but it can be so crucial to the emotional development of your child. Once you are sitting in front of the mirror, smile and say, “Look baby, Mama is smiling. Mama is happy.” Then change the expression on your face to a sad expression and say, “Look baby, Mama is crying. Mama is sad.” You can do this with the gamut of emotions.
There are a bunch of ways to play peek-a-boo with the mirror. We primarily do a couple of them. One is where you hold baby away from the mirror (or facing away) and then in front of the mirror (or turn around) and say, “Peek-a-boo.” Also you could combine peek-a-boo with singing with this song: “Peek a boo, peek a boo. I see you, I see you. I see your button nose and your little toes. Peek-a-boo.” (to the tune of “Are you Sleeping?”) The motions for that are where you cover and uncover your eyes or baby’s eyes and then point to the body parts indicated.
Stick out your tongue
Never underestimate the power of the humor in a good tongue-sticking out session. This is simple, but baby will love it and will start to mimic you very quickly!
Talk about body parts
This is where vocabulary is built. Take time to point out all the parts of the body to your baby. Show her on herself and on yourself. We did this by simply pointing to the body part (nose) and saying, “Baby’s nose, Mama’s nose, Dada’s nose.”
Brush your teeth
This may seem a little strange. But doing some of the activities you do everyday in front of the mirror can not only entertain baby, but also help them to recognize basic hygiene. You could also brush your hair, put on lotion, wash your hands. Talking to your baby about what you are doing while making eye contact with them through the glass will help with vocabulary too.
Play dress up
As baby gets older and is able to put on a hat or a scarf, sit them in front of the mirror and have a good old-fashioned dress up time. Baby might be hesitant at first (or completely against it, as ours was), but try it again the next day and the next day until she too is enjoying herself.
We just love these activities!
The last tip for mirror time is get everyone involved. The more baby has to look at and check out while in front of the mirror the better. Include the entire family and bond with baby while helping her to grow!
What do you do during mirror time with your little one? Any other suggestions?