At about 4 months of age, I remember my own daughter smiling and gurgling each time I put her in her car seat. I soon realised she had discovered herself in the back seat mirror. Mirrors are not only a great source of entertainment but can also encourage speech and language development. Here are just a few tips and ideas about what to do with your baby in front of the mirror:
- Early sounds. Babies will imitate sounds before they can imitate words. Sit with your baby in front of the mirror and try the following:
- Blowing raspberries. Babies begin to blow raspberries at about 5 months of age. Babies will enjoy watching you blow raspberries into the mirror and with time will begin to copy you back.
- Babbling: Babbling typically starts at around 6 months of age. You can encourage your baby to babble by saying ‘Babababa’, ‘Mamama’ and ‘dadadada’ into the mirror. Watch as your baby studies your face with curiosity even if they are a bit off copying you yet. They’re taking it all in!
- Actions. Babies will also imitate actions before words. Here are some actions to try with your baby:
- Hi & Bye. Each time you approach the mirror, take your baby’s hand and say ‘hi’. At the end of mirror play, practise waving ‘goodbye’. Babies generally learn to wave ‘bye bye’ anywhere between 7 and 10 months.
- Clapping. This is another skill babies acquire between 7 and 10 months. Sit with your baby and sing the ‘clap handies’ song in front of the mirror. Put your hands over theirs so that they learn what to do.
- Knocking. Knock on the mirror first, then pause and wait. Give your baby time to copy you back.
- Facial expressions
- Get as creative as you like with this one. Babies love fun so enjoy and experiment with different facial expressions!
- Target sounds
- For an older child who may be working on a specific speech sound with their speech therapist, the mirror can give feedback as to whether they are producing the sound correctly or not. Take the [t] sound for example: the mirror will help your child see the tip of their tongue reach their palate. Link with your child’s therapist for the correct way to produce a target sound.