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Toddlers and Mirrors

Your toddler may love looking at herself in the mirror, but she may have no idea who it is!

Before around 18 months, a baby can't recognize herself. Her brain needs to develop to the point where she can connect a picture (or a reflection) with an object, and she needs to learn that she's her own person, separate from you. You'll know she's getting it when she starts referring to herself as "me" or by using her name. To make learning fun:

Label what's hers. Say, "That's Eve's ball," or "Are these Mommy's shoes? No! They're Eve's shoes!" Or, talk about things she does: "Eve, you climbed the steps!"

Play mirror games. Point at her reflection and say, "That's Eve!" Wave or make faces, then turn and do the same things face-to-face. Or dab some lipstick on her nose: When you're in front of the mirror, you'll know whether she recognizes herself if she tries to rub it off. A baby who hasn't made that leap yet won't bother.