Under-threes play ideas - mirrors

Play with mirrors helps build baby and toddlers' self-awareness and satisfies their fascination with people's movements and expressions


  • Make sure you provide only safety mirrors. Include mirrored tiles to hang on walls, indoors and out; large mirrors for the floor; hand-held mirror, ideally with handles on both side to make them easier to pick up; and mirrors that can be incorporated into displays.

  • You could also provide concave or convex mirrors or invest in a triangular floor mirror (www.tts-group.co.uk) or similar, so that a child can crawl inside and see their reflections on all sides.

  • Look out too for day-to-day objects that reflect images such as large spoons and pots, and reflective paper.


  • Create a large mirrored area on one of the walls in the baby room at toddler level so that the children can look at their reflections whenever they want.

  • Place a small mirror next to any displays of the children’s photographs.

  • Attach mirrors to the side of children’s cribs.

  • Attach a mirror to the ceiling, or wall, of the baby changing area so that the children can see their reflections during care routines.


  • Move a hand mirror from left to right in front of the baby/toddler and encourage them to track it.

  • Sit in front of a wall mirror with the baby/toddler in your lap and facing away from you. Allow the child plenty time to look at their reflection, then encourage them to look closely at their face in the mirror. Touch first their nose, then their other features, in the mirror and encourage the child to touch their features in the mirror.

  • Sitting in front of a large wall mirror, oint to your features one at a time, saying the name as you touch it – or singing a rhyme about the face. Repeat the activity/rhyme, this time pointing to each of the child’s features. Develop the activity by both touching your features at the same time or focusing on other parts of the body while singing ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’.

  • Change your expression while looking in a large mirror and see if your baby notices. Sit with a calm expression and then change to a happy, animated face. Encourage the child to copy your expression and smile back. Can you make your baby laugh? Have fun making funny faces?

  • Play peek-a-boo in a mirror, using a facecloth or scarf to cover your face. You could play peek-a-boo with the mirror too.

  • Drape a scarf or piece of fabric over a mirror and wonder aloud where the baby/toddler has gone. Snatch the material way and show surprise that they baby/toddler is still there.

  • Put on a child’s shoes or brush their hair in front of a mirror to make everyday activities more interesting and to let the child see what is happening.

  • Have fun trying on a selection of hats or big colourful scarves in front of the mirror.

  • Incorporate puppets into your storytelling and tell the story in front of a wall mirror.

  • Organise tummy time in front of the mirror or lay a mirror on the floor for babies to lie on and look at their reflections. Put a towel or blanket under their stomachs to make it more comfortable for them.

  • Roll a ball across a mirror and let the child reach out and grab it.

  • Prop up a large mirror some way away and encourage the baby to crawl towards it.

  • Cover a mirror with baby lotion or similar to provide a sensory experience with little mess. If a baby tends to put everything they touch in their mouth, you could consider using yoghurt instead. Encourage the baby to ‘draw’ in the lotion or slowly wipe patches clean until you reveal all of the child’s face.

  • Spread small fluffy animals, discs from stacking toys, etc over a mirror for the children to explore.

Reflective paper

  • Cover a small table top with sticky-backed reflective paper (available in DIY stores).

  • Invite the children to gather round the table and look at their reflections.

  • Add to the experience by offering small amounts of foam or similar for the children to experiment with on the table top.

  • Alternatively, cover the reflective table with a thin layer of custard and allow the children to uncover their reflection, or make marks.

  • You could also spread the reflective paper across the floor.

Other items

  • Share baby books with ‘mirrors’ in them such as Faces by John Fordham (Macmillan’s Children’s Books) and Amazing Baby: Baby Too! (Templar Publishing).

  • Provide very large shiny spoons or similar for the children to explore their reflection.

When using these suggestions, make sure that your resources are clean and safe for young children and that the activity is age appropriate - the ideas outlined cover the birth to three age range 

Based on ideas by Alice Sharp, managing director of training and resources company, Experiential Play, http://www.experientialplay.com

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