As parents, you have daily responsibilities to fulfil in caring for your infant.  Your days may seem to be predictable with a feeding, diapering, sleeping, and bathing schedule.   It can get mechanical and exhausting to juggle all these tasks while keeping your baby entertained.

Are you looking for a more calm, relaxed, and enjoyable parenting approach?  You may want to consider one of the parenting methods, RIE Parenting.

What is RIE Parenting?

RIE is short for “Resources for Infant Educarers.”  Magda Gerber, an early childhood educator, based in the United States, founded the approach in 1978.  Magda believes that parents can learn from their children alongside caring and educating them.

What are the Principles of RIE Parenting?

According to the From Dear Parent written by Magda Gerber and as published in the RIE Organization website, there are eight principles of the RIE Parenting Method, and they are as follows.

1.     Respect

RIE philosophy is based on respect for all individuals, even for an infant.

2.     Trust  

RIE also trusts in the child’s ability to be an initiator, an explorer, and a learner.

3.     Raising an Authentic Child

The goal of the RIE is to make the child feel self-assured, independent, capable, and connected.

4.     Sensitive Observation

Through observing the child, the parent sees, understands, and appreciates how fast a child learns during the first three years of his/her life.

5.  Involved Child during caregiving activities

RIE believes in the importance of allowing the child to become an active participant during caregiving activities such as bathing, clothing, and diapering.  

6.   Safe Environment

As parents, you need to provide your child with a secure and predictable environment to explore.  This supports the RIE philosophy that is built on respect and trust.

7.   Uninterrupted Time and Freedom to Explore

Allowing the child to enjoy and learn through his/her exploration and observation.

8.  Consistency

Consistency refers to providing clearly defined limits and expectations.

How can I apply RIE Parenting in raising my child?

1.  Allow the child to engage in solo play.

In RIE, the focus veers away from teaching the babies new skills and dictating what they have to do. Instead, it is keen on allowing the child to learn and explore on his/her own.

2.    Observe to see your child’s development and determine their needs.

Aligned with respecting and trusting the baby’s competence is to observe the baby’s actions.  Through observation, parents or carers can see and appreciate the baby’s development and see their needs.

You may see the development of the infant’s focus, grasp, fine and gross motor skills.  You may learn what interest your child.  You may also observe if the child is no longer interested in his/her toys and if it is time to rotate his/her toys.

Your child may cry, and that’s okay.  RIE experts believe that crying is the child’s way of communicating.  Parents should tune into the baby’s emotions.  When the baby cries, check for what the baby needs, and you may talk to the infant while you are identifying the cause of the discomfort, irritability, pain, or need.

3.  Prepare a Safe and Predictable Environment

Parents tend to guide or watch over the child excessively because of the known hazards in the home, such as sharp corners and breakable objects.  For you to allow your child to explore and learn freely is to ensure that his/her area is to prepare a safe environment for him/her.  You can refer to Babyproofing Checklist for your Home for some tips to keep your home safe.

Apart from babyproofing your home, a prepared environment means setting up the baby’s play area so that he/she has the freedom to move and access his/her toys.  A prepared environment also means that the objects available to the child are interesting and challenging enough for her current stage.

4.     Select toys that are simple and are fit for open-ended play.

Beautiful toddler child girl playing with toys on the carpet

For babies and toddlers, opt for uncomplicated and non-battery-operated toys.  Many of the commercial baby toys are often equipped with lights, loud sounds, and many textures.  They may look entertaining to you as an adult, but these are overstimulating for your child. 

Here are some attributes you should consider when choosing toys for your baby.  Choose toys that:

-        Have one or two textures or colours.

-        Are made with safe materials.  Remember, your baby will put it in his/her mouth as part of his/her exploration.

-        Big enough so that it is not a choking hazard.

-        Does not have loose parts

-        So simple that there is no one way of playing with it. 

Wooden blocks are an excellent example of an open-ended toy.   Also, do not limit yourselves to toys because babies are often interested in everyday objects found in the home.  You can let them play with clean and empty water bottles, remote control,

5.     Let your child become an active participant during caring activities.

Sometimes feeding, bathing, and diapering becomes such a routine or a hurried task that there is little interaction between the carer and the baby. 

RIE advocates that the carer let the baby participate during the caring activities. How?  You can talk with your baby and describe what you are doing.  As your child gets older and can do a simple task, you can delegate small tasks like getting the diapers, selecting their clothes, or undressing themselves with some assistance.

6.  Be Consistent

Follow the principles of RIE Parenting consistently.  Provide your child with a consistent and predictive routine, environment, and communication. Have a consistent sleep, eating, and play schedule so that the baby learns and adapts to a rhythm.

What are the advantages of adapting the RIE Approach?

1.    Parents feel more relaxed and less guilty.

RIE approach encourages parents to take care of both their and their baby’s needs simultaneously.  You don’t need to be with the baby all the time for as long as he/she is in a safe/secure environment. 

Parents can allow their babies to explore and play independently versus having to entertain their babies all the time.

2.   Children get in touch with their emotions.

In RIE, parents allow the child to try but at the same time acknowledge the child’s emotions.  Through this practice, the child learns to let the feeling flow.

3.  Children don’t accumulate toys.

RIE advocates simple and open-ended toys, so parents do not need to shop for the latest toys.

4.    Children develop independence.

Because the child is allowed to explore in his/her safe environment, the child fosters his natural curiosity and practices his focus.  It gives the child confidence in himself/herself.

What are the disadvantages of adopting the RIE Approach?

1.     Parents and Infant may need to undergo transition.

As parents, you may have been accustomed to the traditional parenting style, so stepping back may need some getting used to.  The same is true for babies who have been used to be with the parent/carer all the time.

2.     There may be more tears.

RIE focus is not on abruptly minimize the tears but rather making sure that the child’s need is met.

3.     Talking to the baby may seem awkward.

Some parents may feel awkward talking to their baby, who can’t talk back.  However, this is the first step of having open communication with your child from infancy onwards.

Parents have different opinions about RIE Parenting Approach, but at the end of the day, you have to decide how you will raise your child.  How do you feel about the RIE parenting approach?  Let us know your thoughts on the comment section below.

Tiny Steps

We play, learn, and grow with children. 

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