From the moment they are born, babies are watching. They observe what mom and dad do, and as soon as their little body allows them, they start to try things out themselves. Sometimes moms think that the baby looks like them at birth, but when they start acting like them and becoming a little mirror, it's all the more telling.
Many of the baby's first big milestones happen because they are mirroring their parents. From their first smile to when they start waving bye-bye, babies are picking up their behaviours from the adults in their life, and parents should keep that in mind when they are around their little one. Unfortunately, sometimes mirroring can result in the baby saying some words that he has heard dad utter but that should not be said by a little parrot. Babies also pick up good habits like exercising and cleaning up. And a lot of the baby's pretend play will focus on the things that he sees mom do, such as cooking in the kitchen.
Not only is it adorable to see the baby mimicking mom and dad, but understanding mirroring can help parents be certain that they are modeling the behaviour they want to see in their baby while helping them hit milestones. Here are 20 ways newborns are mirroring their parent's behaviour.
20 Baby's First Smile
The first way that moms and dads notice their baby mirroring them is when they see their first smile. Eventually, the baby will be the one to smile first, but at the beginning, the smile comes when the baby is working to match the grin on another face.
It's amazing to see the baby's first smile and notice little dimples. It's a big milestone that comes around the time the baby is six weeks old. But many babies wouldn't smile if they never saw the expression on their mom's face beforehand. They quickly figure out that smiling means happy, and they figure out how to make their own little mouths express their joy.
19 Babbling Baby
It can be a year or so before the baby says her first words. But the beginning of speech starts early when babies imitate mom and dad with their babbling. They may not be able to do much more than make one consonant, but it's so sweet to see a baby obviously trying to express himself with his babbling.
A baby can go back and forth as if he is carrying on a conversation. He's mirroring talking as best as he can, long before he understands the words spoken to him, and yet somehow his mom and dad can enjoy the entire conversation.
18 Interest In Food
If a baby never watched his mom or dad eat, he might be happy with a bottle every day. But because he sees other people enjoying something yummy, they reach the first milestone when it comes to starting solids — showing interest in food.
It's funny to watch a baby open his mouth to get dad's chips or mom's slice of cake. He might soon graduate to baby cereal or the occasional cube of cheese or slice of avocado, but it's going to be a while before he has the teeth or the ability to digest some of mom's and dad's favourite dishes.
Sometimes moms can trick their kids into trying something they don't want to by eating it themselves. Babies will do anything to mirror their parents — even eat peas.
17 Waving Bye Bye
One of the cutest little things that you can teach an infant is how to wave goodbye. It takes some coordination and some time, but before attachment sets in, it's a great way to help the baby figure out that little bit of communication.
Many newborns start out by waving to themselves — they don't quite get the idea of a mirror image, so they bend their fingers toward themselves. Eventually, they turn their little hands around and get the idea of how to wave bye-bye like daddy does. It's so cute, and another big milestone that happens through mimicking.
16 Mirroring Emotions
Little babies are so smart. They can get in tune with what is going on with their loved ones when they are just a few months old. Babies can actually mirror their parents' emotions. That can be a good thing because it eventually teaches empathy, but it can also be a problem.
Babies can pick up on when their caretaker is upset, and that can make the baby even more upset. They can feel stress and anxiety, and that means that they can have a harder time relaxing and calming down. Parents need to remember to try to let go of their own anxious feelings — maybe putting the baby in a safe place and walking away — so that they can help their baby feel calmer himself.
15 Teaching No, No, No
Toddlers hear the word no a lot. That's because they are learning their boundaries. Parents have to teach them about safety and keep them from hurting themselves. And pretty soon, the baby picks up on the word no and starts to say it back.
Many times, the toddler will start off by telling themselves "no, no, no," when they understand that they are doing something that mom and dad said not to do. That's adorable — but it's not so cute when they turn around and start telling others "no." They are mimicking mom and dad, but also testing their own independence, and mom's patience.
14 Playing Kitchen
Pretend play is one of the biggest and most fun activities of toddlers. They can spend hours on certain tasks — and usually, one of the first things that they do is mimic their own parents. That often leads to some time in a pretend kitchen.
Kids love to make cookies and cakes in their own little ovens, and the best part might be when they serve their dinner, just like mom or dad does every night. Those adorable little chefs are watching everything that their parents do, so don't be surprised if you are told that the biscuits are burned or the soup is too hot.
13 Clapping Hands
One of the earliest games that moms play with their babies is patty cake. And it might take a few months, but before long the baby will learn to clap hands on his own, and that is a super cute milestone.
Moms and dads and grandparents and friends often applaud a toddler when they are doing something cute or amazing. It's hilarious when the little guy notices the clapping and starts to give himself a hand. It can become an adorable little game of mimicry that makes everyone laugh.
12 Funny Faces
Newborns have a lot of learning to do in terms of figuring out how their body works. And the beginning of that comes when the baby watches his mom and dad and starts to mirror some of the things that they do.
It starts with the face — the baby spends a lot of time looking into mom's and dad's faces and figuring out how to make themselves do the same thing. If dad sticks out his tongue, the baby gets interested in whether his tongue can do that too. Eventually, he can figure out how to wink and so on. It can be a fun bonding experience as the baby mirrors his mom or dad.
11 Baby Sign Language
Babies learn to communicate with mom and dad really early. Some parents might think that communication begins with the first words around the first birthday, but the truth is that if the mom pays attention they will notice communication in baby's cries from just a few weeks in. And if they go through the effort to try baby sign language, the communication can be enhanced from six months old or so.
There are some babies that struggle with verbal communication. But they might be able to pick up on some signs that can help mom know if they are hungry or tired or a number of other things. Babies mirror their parents and figure out signs fairly quickly, and that can make a big difference in their relationship.
10 "Be Gentle"
Learning to interact with animals and other babies is a lesson that all little ones have to figure out. Usually, they start out by being a little rough, especially since it can be kind of hard to control their limbs. But it's important to be gentle, and the baby learns that by mirroring mommy.
Parents can't just tell their babies how to act. They have to show them. That's why they have to show how to pet a dog gently instead of slapping at it and pulling the fur. The same is true with touching a baby gently. It's cute to see them mimic that sweet behaviour.
9 Toddler Exercises
Babies watch their parents do everything, and the way that they mimic them can go from the small facial movements to the big whole body movements that they see when mom or dad stretches or exercises. They might join in on a yoga session or even try out a Zumba routine.
While having a cute little sidekick during a workout might be adorable, it's also a great lesson for the little one. It's important the children understand the value of exercise and watching and mirroring their parents can create habits that can serve him well all the way through to a happy, healthy adulthood.
8 Learning The Bad Words
We all know that babies are sponges, but when they can't talk a lot, we don't think about the fact that they might soon repeat the bad words that we say. But parents get surprised about how soon that they hear the bad words repeated by an unknowing talkative toddler.
In the second year especially, babies mimic their parents constantly. So just one accidental slip of a four-letter word could soon be echoed back. Sometimes the words are forgotten, but to avoid some embarrassment in public, it's best to be careful about what you say in front of the baby so they don't parrot it back.
7 Playing Telephone
Babies understand what objects are pretty quickly. It probably starts with a bottle, but it doesn't take long before the baby knows what a phone is and decides to start mirroring mommy. Toy telephones have been around for decades, although these days they make a lot more noises than they did in the past.
The fact that babies mirror their parents will cell phones is a bigger issue these days than it was before. Moms need to be careful about being too addicted to their devices because their little one is watching and learning from them. They don't want them to develop bad habits too early.
6 Baby Band Leader
Music appreciation starts early for little ones. Babies are known to even get attached to songs that they have heard while in the womb. And it doesn't take long for the baby to develop some rhythm while they are dancing. That becomes really evident when a child sees someone in a band and they quickly start mirroring them.
A lot of little ones start to conduct a band, mimicking the director. Or they pretend to have an instrument and play along. Of course, if mom and dad are dancing, so is the baby. It's cute, but it's also amazing to see how much the baby can follow the beat as they start to mimic adults.
5 Cleaning Up
There are a lot of household responsibilities that babies witness that they end up mirroring when they are able. That means that they will pick up on the good habits of mom and dad and even start helping them clean up.
Kids will complain about chores when they are older. But when they are little, they will actually want to do the things that moms and dads do. There are even toy vacuums and brooms and such since preschoolers enjoy doing what mom and dad do to clean up the house.
While they usually don't do the best job, moms should take advantage of the help that their child is willing to provide when they are little. They might create positive habits when they are young.
4 Putting On Mom's or Dad's Shoes
Little guys love to be like mom and dad. And one of the funniest ways that they do that is by trying on their parents' clothes. It usually starts with shoes, which is just so cute to see them toddle around with shoes that are four times the size of their feet.
Part of mirroring is about trying to act more grown up and independent. It's also about being just like the people that they admire the most. So walking in mom or dad's shoes is a perfect way to show they care and just want to be like the big people in their lives.
3 Playing Mama
Some people wonder about gender stereotypes being enforced really early. But boys and girls find themselves playing with dolls naturally in their toddler years, and part of that is because they are mirroring what mommy does all day.
Caring for a baby doll is perfectly natural for a little one, especially if he sees his mom taking care of his own little brother or sister. It's interesting to watch the baby be gentle with a baby doll, offering a bottle or even lifting their shirt to mirror their mom's breastfeeding. This is how a lot of babies develop their nurturing instincts, and it's so sweet to watch.
2 Pretending to Drive
Even though babies face the rear of the car for a year or two or even three, they still figure out what mom is doing up front. Little ones love to pretend to drive themselves, and they start young. It's really just about moving the wheel around, but moms should watch their language and any hand motions since sometimes their toddler would even mimic those.
Kids pretend to drive little cars, and they often get some practice in special grocery store carts or in little baby mobiles. It's so cute to see a little speed racer at play, but watch out so you don't recognize your own poor driving habits in the way that they mimic their mom and dad.
1 Bonding With Baby
We wanted to end this list talking about the fact that the baby mirrors mom and dad because she loves them. They follow their behaviour — from the things that they say to the tasks that they do each day — because they can't get enough of them. They want to be like mom, which is a trait that only stays around for a limited number of years and is totally out the window by the time they are teenagers.
Mimicking adults is how babies learn to be a part of the world. They start by making faces and pick up on good habits like cleaning up and exercising and maybe even some bad habits such as language. Parents might be surprised about how the baby picks up on things that they don't even notice. But it's all out of love, and it can help with bonding.