The ability to mirror the actions of others is inherent, present from birth and an important stimulus for social and language learning in infancy.
It also plays an important role in the learning of motor skills and is a powerful tool for encouraging an infant to "follow instructions" and participate in activities.
The research literature has documented the development of different forms of mirroring in infancy, but there is little reference to the role attention plays in mirroring. The infant's capacity for focused and sustained attention is important for all sensorimotor learning and poor attention skills are a possible limiting factor in mirroring as it is in motor learning.
The video clips
This first clip shows Will just six days old imitating me sticking out my tongue. You will see how this episode of mirroring becomes possible when I support his head so that we can have a face to face encounter.
The other two clips show extended social interactions with Roan aged 9 months and Will aged 8 months. Revisiting these clips I am struck by the delight my grandchildren and I take in each others company as well as their ability for sustained attention.
The other thing to notice is how I allow lots of time for a response when I initiate an action and if there is no response I back off and we move on.
Will 6 days - sticking out his tongue