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Why do babies love mirrors?
The topic of baby safe wall mirrors is important because infants are fascinated and engaged with the human face from the moment of birth. 1
This is perhaps not surprising since faces of their loved ones are associated with comforting warmth, smells, sounds, textures, and food. Faces are also infant educational tools, that teach them emotional states, self-expression, and important social skills. 2 By four months of age, this study of faces results in facial recognition that is superior to their recognition of other objects. 3
One group of researchers call this early focus on faces “only a small part of the story”[Conclusions, 4]. They present data showing that infants’ attention to faces intensifies between 3 and 9 months of age. This is one reason why mirrors are integral to infant and early toddler development in educational settings such as Montessori.5
Babies’ love of the human face includes their own face reflected in a mirror. This is particularly true in the first 18 months, before they can recognize the image as their own. By 18 months of age toddlers realize that mirrors show their own image, a concept called self awareness or self-recognition.6
From a practical parenting standpoint, the lack of infant self-recognition means that we can magically give our little one a playmate by providing baby safe wall mirrors within their reach. This ‘playmate lifehack’ works until our children reach the age of 18 months. Children still enjoy mirrors after this age: they simply know that the reflection is theirs. Although this changes the mirror fun, it doesn’t necessarily reduce the mirror fun.
Recommended Baby Safe Wall Mirror
(No affiliate relationship with Ikea; Affiliate link to Amazon.com)
Ikea’s Drommare mirror [LINK] is an inexpensive acrylic mirror that we have attached to the wall in our son’s bedroom, inside a bottom bathroom cabinet, and on the rolling kitchen island counter. It is long and small (6 1.4″ by 195/8″), so we put two side-by-side or end-to-end in most locations.
This shape also lends itself to the placement featured on the How We Montessori blog and to school lockers for older children.7
We first put a single mirror in several locations around the house to see where our son noticed them most. Then we reduced the number of mirror locations and doubled up on mirrors in the places he used them most. We now happily need to re-position the mirrors because he has gotten taller.
We agree with Drommare reviews on the Ikea website that dislike the sticky pads included with the mirror. We opted for our usual Command Strips (Affiliate LINK to a good price on the small strips). We stuck Command strips directly to the back of the mirror with a good bit of the tab sticking out so we can grasp it. Magistri Milo has tried to pull the tabs but has not been able to get the adhesive to release.
If you are impatient like me and don’t get the Command strip to separate from the mirror and wall correctly by pulling slowly and consistently, the strip can pull the mirroring substance off the back of the acrylic mirror. This is apparently one task I will need to ask the spouse to undertake next time.
A Baby Safe Mirror to Avoid
I suggest that you AVOID the Bright Starts Sit and See Floor Mirror (Safari).
We purchased it early in our search for a baby-safe mirror because it was an Amazon’s Choice item, was relatively inexpensive, and good ratings (overall 4.2 out of 5 stars). I read the reviews stating that the plastic mirror was poor quality, thinking “how bad can it be?” Unfortunately, the answer was “the mirror is so distorted that we wondered if it would have negative effects on Magistri Milo’s developing vision”.
Amazon.com did not want the item back when we completed our return, and I put it in the trash rather than pass it on to our local baby charity or thrift store. I did not want any child seeing the world reflected in that distorted surface. I have no idea how this poor mirror has such good reviews.
- Review by Lisahb99, “Slim, Sticks and Great view,”