The self-reference effect in memory is the advantage for information encoded about self, relative to other people. The early development of this effect was explored here using a concrete encoding paradigm. Trials comprised presentation of a self- or other-image paired with a concrete object. In Study 1, 4- to 6-year-old children (N = 53) were asked in each trial whether the child pictured would like the object. Recognition memory showed an advantage for self-paired objects. Study 2 (N = 55) replicated this finding in source memory. In Study 3 (N = 56), participants simply indicated object location. Again, recognition and source memory showed an advantage for self-paired items. These findings are discussed with reference to mechanisms that ensure information of potential self-relevance is reliably encoded.