Have you ever seen your little ones smiling and gazing intently at a mirror? Did you know that mirrors are great “toys” and are highly recommended over high-end electronics that beep and buzz?
For infants, looking in the mirror is a form of play and it is a fascinating way for them to develop their visual senses, and supports their learning and development!
1. Nurtures Self-Awareness
When babies start to enjoy their own blinking and smiling image in the mirror, they are developing an important social and emotional milestone – self-awareness!
Research shows that children take time to learn to recognise themselves. Below 8 months, they will start to look at their own reflection in the mirror. When they are slightly older, they start to recognise and smile at their own reflection while making babbling sounds when looking at the image in the mirror. It is only until 15 to 36 months old when a baby starts showing recognition of self as they touch their nose, head, and other body parts that they can observe through a mirror!
2. Supports Visual Tracking
Did you know that babies have limited vision in their first few months? However, as they grow older, their vision improves and an important skill they need to learn is the ability to follow images with their eyes. As they grow older, they should get better at this and mirror play helps with that!
While watching the reflections of moving things via the mirror, infants learn how to focus his or her eyes, follow images and track movements!
3. Encourages Tummy Time
Most babies don’t enjoy tummy time as it can be challenging for those who are just starting out. Mirror play is a great motivator for tummy time as their reflection in the mirror will distract them and they will be encouraged to lift their heads, keep it up, and look around!
Tummy time can help infants develop strong neck and shoulder muscles and prevent the back of the babies’ heads from developing flat spots.