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When I Play: Mirrors

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At Vivvi, we believe children learn best through play; it’s how they make sense of the world. Every playtime activity—even the most seemingly small—has a much larger learning or developmental benefit. Our new Vivvi series: “When I Play” will help parents understand the greater purpose behind their children’s play, and help you get in on the action… even if you’re a playtime novice.

When I Play in the Mirror…

You may notice as a parent, lots of baby toys have a mirror component. That’s because the people who make those toys know just how important mirror play is in reaching core developmental milestones! Your child’s time with a mirror—whether they’re an infant or a preschooler—will deepen their self awareness, develop emotional security and so much more.

…This is what I’m learning.

As babies begin to make sense of their surroundings, the connection between the baby in the mirror and the self is an important one. These early steps toward understanding their environment and themselves are reassuring for babies.

Your child will use the reflection they see in the mirror to build their own sense of identity. Time with the mirror will help them better understand their body aid in language development as they chat away and watch the movement of their own mouth.

When you give your child dedicated playtime time with a mirror, they:

  • Develop trust and emotional security
  • Track movements and learn how body moves
  • Develop self awareness
  • Learn to identify familiar faces
  • Learn how to focus their eyes
  • Learn how to follow images
  • Learn how the face moves, reacts and responds
  • Learn about emotions
  • Learn the names of body parts

“Having a strong understanding and sense of self is important at this young age when so much feels out of their control,” says Rachel Duda, VP of Learning at Vivvi. “Mirrors help babies and young children see who they are and the space they take up. They see that they can make faces and show emotion just like the people who care for them. It’s a huge, but essential, concept.”

Mirror play activities by age

A mirror is one of those open-ended toys that your child really needs no guidance with to enjoy. But for parents who want to lean into the developmental side mirror play, here are some of our favorite learning opportunities with age-appropriate activities.


  • Lay the mirror on the ground under your baby during tummy time. Your infant can see themselves and their hands in the mirror as they practice lifting their head up.
  • Use a mirror to practice eye contact; this is especially useful for your babies in the car where they may feel alone in their carseat. A carseat mirror allows them to see your face and get a moment of connection.
  • Get big siblings involved in mirror play with your infant. Older siblings can hold small mirrors for the baby to interact with.

1-2 years

  • Position the mirror so you and your child can both see your reflections, then ask your child to point to their lips, eyes, chin, etc.
  • Take turns imitating your child and allowing him to imitate you. Scrunch your nose, stick out your tongue. Let your child make their own funny faces for you to imitate.
  • By age 2, your child should be able to follow two step directions. Try it out by asking him to touch his belly then his nose in the mirror. 

3-4 years

  • Practice showing and recognizing different emotions with your child in the mirror: “show me a sad face” or “show me your scared face” are good cues for this.
  • Explore symmetry with Magna Tiles built against a mirror. 
  • Engage your preschooler with small manipulatives like marbles or plastic animal figurines on a mirrored service for small world play.

Shop Vivvi’s Favorite Mirrors

Most of us have a few mirrors around already, but before you grab one for floor time or hands-on play with your little one, consider safety! Little kids and breakable glass just don’t mix. Thankfully, there are many infant/toddler mirrors options made with reflective plastic. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite break-proof mirror options.

Vivvi provides child care and early learning for children ages 0-5, with unrivaled flexibility that works for today’s families. Our inquiry-based curriculum is facilitated by warm, experienced teachers in bright, open spaces that let children make big connections to the growing world around them. Find your nearest Vivvi here.

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