Introducing emotions to infants to build a foundation of social cues
Infants love the human face. It’s one of the first things they get to focus on since there is always a caretaker up close. As soon as your infant is able to focus, have him lay on his tummy and place a “tummy time” mirror on the floor in front of him.
Make sure that the mirror is safe for babies and not just a regular mirror you would find at home. There are tons of options out there where babies can have hand held mirrors to play with made specifically for infants. Once your infant starts to crawl and climb, have mirrors on the wall that they can crawl up to and see.
Have photos of family members as well as large photos of different face expressions like sad, happy, silly, surprised, angry, etc. This will allow children to see that different emotions are acceptable and they can try to mimic those expressions in the mirror.
Sitting with your infant in your lap as you both face the mirror together allows for them to distinguish between her reflection and yours. Mirrors are so simple and so accessible yet lend to hours of fun!
Mirrors of various sizes and for various levels of development.
Photographs of face expressions
Family photographs of infants in class
Mirroring adult actions Responding with facial expressions and noises
Have various types of mirrors available to infants and toddlers for various areas of development. Some can be handheld, some can be part of tummy time mats, some can be inside of books, and some can be on the wall close to the floor that they can climb up to.
Have photographs of family members near the wall mirror as well as photographs of different babies making different faces. (Bonus if you can use photos of the infants in your class with the different expressions!)
Sit with the infant in your lap as you both face the mirror. Make different expressions and see if the infant reacts. Sing songs, say rhymes, play peek-a-boo, etc. to get them used to using the mirror.
Point to the different expressions on the wall and then say the emotion as you make the face. (i.e.- point to “angry” photo, say the word “angry,” and then make a face in the mirror that looks angry. Repeat this with different emotions.
Encourage infants and toddlers to go to the mirror independently throughout the day.
What is a mirror made of?
What is a reflection?
Can I make a silly face?
Can I match the face of my teacher in the mirror?
What does the mirror feel like?