Sunday, August 17, 2008


Ellie, like most babies, has long been a fan of the baby in the mirror. She smiles and laughs and tries to grab the baby through the glass. Our best mirror is the full length one that is our closet door, and she learned, fairly early on, what was coming when the door was hidden and would start giggling as we pulled the mirror over so she could see herself in it.

Today, for the first time, she looked at me in the mirror, then turned around and looked at me sitting behind her. This is a big deal to me because, while I'm pretty sure she doesn't understand that the baby is her, she's beginning to understand what must be an incredibly complex and bizarre thing to a new mind, a reflection.

I'm fascinated by this, how babies pick up abstract notions. Learning the complexities of language, understanding that objects exist even when you can't see them, figuring out not just how but even that it's possible to propel yourself forward on those tiny, wobbly sticks. The reflection in a mirror, I think, is one of the most abstract of these. How do you comprehend a reflection? How do you learn that the baby you see is actually you? You have to match what you see in the mirror to what's going on around you, and that takes quite a bit of awareness, both of yourself and your surroundings. So, figuring out that I exist both in the mirror and behind her, amazing. Another synapse has connected in her mind. Next up, gravity!


AllisonDacia said...

I saw a really neat documentary on when babies realize "self". With the mirror test, they would put a smudge of lipstick on the babies cheek at ages 12, 15, 18, 21, and 24 months. I forget at what age, they looked at the baby in the mirror and wiped the lipstick off their cheek. They did a bunch of other "self" tests with the babies. I wish I remember the name of it, I think it would have been on Discovery or Discovery Health.

Martina said...

awww! she's growing up! your pic totally gave me an idea for a photo op. i'm gonna plug your blog when the time comes! :)

Stefanie said...

As someone else already commented, there are these 'self' tests. We tried it with Max, and put at sticker on his forehead. He didn't quite get it yet...but he has figured out that its me in the mirror.

One time, we had him laying on the bed where he could see the mirror, and I kept popping up from under the bed to play peekaboo -- he figured it out, by watching me in the mirror after I had disappeared from his view -- it was so cool to watch!

*jess* said...

how interesting and neat!

Kerry said...

Adorable! Peter told us about your blog so I thought that I would check it out! Ellie is getting so big and is so dogon adorable! I am so glad that you both are enjoying this time so much!