RIE Method Advocates “Do Less, Observe More” Parenting

ss_ISP2093704Want to raise a peaceful, confident baby? Forget the dangling mobiles, Baby Einstein—even playpens. RIE(short for Resources for Infant Educarers) devotees, including celeb followers such as Tobey Maguire, Helen Hunt, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jason Alexander and Felicity Huffman, would argue their paired-down, empathy-for-baby based method is the way to go, The Daily Beast reports.

Co-founded in 1978 by Magda Gerber and Tom Forrest, a pediatric neurologist, RIE (pronounced like “rye”) is a parenting philosophy that emphasizes treating infants with respect in order to help them grow into well-adjusted, independent individuals. Followers seek to take their parenting cues directly from their babies,  connecting to the actions and feelings a child exhibits in hopes to gain an understanding of what their little one is experiencing. Simple kitchen utensils and household items, for example, are opted for instead of battery-operated devices that are thought to distract rather than engage.

Similarly, a crying baby isn’t immediately soothed but is encouraged to ’let it out’, and asked why he or she is crying. “One of the most common misconceptions is that we just let the babies cry and we don’t pick them up,” longtime instructor Hari Grebler, who teaches in Santa Monica and makes RIE-approved toys and baby furniture, was quoted as saying. “What RIE talks about is, how do we pick them up? Do we just snatch them up from the floor? Or do we go over and talk and try to find out what’s up and tell them, ‘Now I’m going to pick you up.’”

Those dedicated to bringing up their babies under the guidelines of REI often attend REI training courses and meet-up groups. Emma Gray, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based fine art consultant and mother of two, appreciated the way these classes made her more focused and connected as a parent. ”It had a very profound effect …There’s this idea that the children have got to dance, have got to swim. What they need is nature. Basic stimulation from other children. Being outside. Natural stuff.”

This month, the method goes mainstream as RIE teaching materials arrive at 1,700 federally funded Early Head Start programs for families with infants and toddlers nationally.

Would you want your child to participate in these programs? Do you think RIE is a bit too ‘granola’ in its approach or do you see the method as a refreshing departure for our generation of ‘high-achieving super-babies’?

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  1. by Kathleen

    On November 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    I agree with the RIE approach to raising children. I think alot of parents today are caught up in “entertaining” their babies by using outside forces and basically just keeping them distracted & busy. Children like to be engaged in simple ways especially with the human touch, facial expressions, your voice, etc. There is no substitute for having time to spend with your children…it’s the best gift you can give.

  2. by HumbledDad

    On November 2, 2010 at 12:13 am

    For everything you ever wanted to know about the practical application of RIE, visit Janet Lansbury’s site at http://www.JanetLansbury.com. I have three RIE kids, all confident, authentic and excelling in life. It’s the good stuff, and soooo makes sense.

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  9. [...] promptly returned the toy.  I want to teach my kids to share, and no, I don’t believe in the RIE movement of letting your kids work everything out on their own.  But sometimes we hover too much. Or not [...]

  10. [...] friend Cassandra wrote about a parent who does the “RIE” method–and about what complete b.s. it is. I don’t know if these kids were raised to “do [...]