Can babies recognize their own reflection?

Hmm… so many colours to choose from. Which one do we use for the ‘rouge test’?

Do you ever wonder if your babies recognize their reflection in the mirror?

This is a question my husband frequently asks. He’s worried we might be raising a vain baby because of all the time spent playing in the mirror. Don’t worry – there is no evidence to suggest that vanity goes hand in hand with children who play with their reflection in mirror. I checked!

On the contrary, as we discussed in our last post, babies are learning so many important communication, social-emotional and physical skills when playing with you in front of the mirror. So keep it up and don’t worry about mirror-play turning your little ones into a selfie taking monster as they grow up!

Let’s get back to the question at hand – How do I know my baby is recognizing themselves in the mirror? And when does this happen?  Research studies show that it isn’t until around 15 months that babies start to actually recognize themselves in the mirror. They tested this by playing with lipstick! A simple test called a ‘rouge test’ can be used to determine if a baby has developed the ability to identify themselves in the mirror. A spot of bright lipstick is placed on the baby’s nose and then the baby is placed in front of a mirror. If the baby reaches toward the mirror it is said that the baby does not yet have the understanding that it is his own image looking back at him. If the baby reaches directly toward the red spot on his nose while looking in the mirror, then it is said that the baby now realizes that what he is looking at is a reflection of himself in the mirror.

Who’s heading out to find some lipstick now?  We couldn’t resist either!


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