Your toddler is now joining an extremely select group of animals who can recognize themselves in a mirror, including dolphins, elephants, and magpies.*
Mirror recognition begins to happen between 15 and 18 months. Your toddler may point to their reflection and show that they see you or other family members in the mirror with them.
This means their self-awareness is growing. Around this same time, they may start to imitate you when you shake your head, open your mouth wide, or nod.
Your toddler may also begin to identify certain parts of their body. When you ask them “where is your belly?” they might point at or touch it. When you ask, “where are your hands?” they may look at or shake them. By about age two, they may be able to identify six or more parts of their body.
Here are some ways to help your toddler identify parts of their body:
Start with what they can see
Start by helping them identify the parts of their body they can see, like hands, feet, arms, legs, and belly.
Name while touching
When your child is touching your face, name the parts they are exploring: “that’s my mouth, that’s my nose,” etc.
Name while washing
Name the parts of their body as you wash them, brush hair, clip nails, or put on shoes.
Play with the mirror
Play in front of the mirror, saying “I see Kierra in the mirror!” You can point to their nose and other parts of their body in the mirror as you look together.
See if they will kiss their reflection or play peek-a-boo in front of the mirror.
Notice bright colors
When they are wearing a hat or bright color, help them notice by looking in the mirror together and talking about what you see.
Play silly games
Make a silly game out of making a face or gesture and seeing if you can get your toddler to imitate you. Clap your hands, blink your eyes, shake or nod your head and see if they copy you. If it’s not happening yet, try having them imitate you when you’re both looking in the mirror.
*This is real! Check out the study here.