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The developmental milestone of self-recognition dawns on a toddler around 18 months. Till then the baby babbles and presses her head into the glass unmindful of who that other little person looking at her is. As a parent you too can help in the development of this cognitive skill.
The process of recognition starts very early on in babies. Obviously, the person babies recognise first is their primary caregiver, generally that being their mother. In time babies recognise their favourite toys, sounds, and other babies too. What is endearing is that babies love looking in the mirror, and they do so without recognising themselves. They are happy making faces at the ‘other’ baby in the mirror. As a parent, you can do some things to help your toddler reach this milestone.
Ways to Help Your Toddler Recognise Herself
Peek-a-boo is a game most babies’ love and it leaves them in peals of laughter. You can hide your toddler’s toys behind a pillow or under a blanket. Watch the excitement on your baby’s face as each toy is ‘found’. This activity helps your baby recognise herself and objects around herself.
2. Toys with reflective surfaces
Invest in a few toys with reflective surfaces for your little infant. Between the age of 4 and 6 months babies like playing with toys, so it’s a good idea to buy such toys for them. You can buy a cot mobile with a reflective surface. The baby will look at her reflection, which with time helps in self-recognition and identification.
3. Make funny faces
Make eye contact with your child and imitate her funny facial expressions. Make silly faces at her and imitate the sounds your child makes. This helps your child understand that she is a separate entity from you.
4. Photo albums
As your baby grows a little older, sit her in your lap and show her photographs of the family. Point out photos of your child and other family members to him. This is a good exercise to help your child recognise not just her, but other members of the family too.
5. The rouge test
This is a very popular test devised by experts in which you can tell when your child starts recognising herself. Apply a mark on your child’s face without her knowing it. Show her the mirror. Before 15 months the child will not try to remove the spot because she’ll not recognise it as her own face. Between the age of 15 and 24 months, the child will either touch the spot or try to remove it. This is when you can know that your child’s begun to understand that the face in the mirror is her own face.
With these activities, you can get a clearer idea of how and when will your toddler recognise people and objects. The thing to keep in mind is that no two children are the same, and it’s not necessary that all toddlers achieve the same milestone at the same time.