RIE encourages parents to slow down and take parenting cues directly from their babies. This means observing your child and following the baby’s cues when establishing the daytime schedule. Respect for the needs of the individual child are emphasized.
The RIE method doesn’t believe that babies and toddlers need constant stimulation to be happy. It encourages parents to allow their babies time for uninterrupted play instead of running from one early learning class to another. RIE also urges moms and dads to take better care of themselves so they’re better parents in the long run.
RIE, or Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE—pronounced “wry”), is a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles founded in 1978 by infant specialist and educator, Magda Gerber, and pediatric neurologist, Tom Forrest, M.D.
RIE recommends that parents treat their children less like kids and more like resourceful and capable little adults in order to foster independence and responsibility. This means talking to babies in a clear simple way but without “baby talk.” It deemphasizes the need for baby specific objects such as highchairs, sippy cups, toys, and pacifiers. It also avoids yelling and traditional parenting punishments such as time-outs.
Some other tenants of the RIE method include:
- Allow your baby to participate in his or her own care—Obviously, your child can’t change his or her own diaper, but you can explain to your child what you’ll do before you do it. This will make your baby feel more secure and promote communication.
- Let your baby develop at his own pace—RIE doesn’t encourage putting baby into a position he or she can’t get into by themselves, such as propped up in a sitting position or even in a stroller before their core is strong enough to sit up on their own. Instead, babies should be allowed to reach those milestones independently.
- Observe your child—To find out what your child likes and wants, watch your child play, without distractions, for at least 15 minutes, three times a day.
- Play without distraction—Forget about multitasking. Turn off all technology, and give all of your attention to your child during playtime. This can help your baby discover his or her true interests and develop concentration.
- Don’t soothe right away—Instead of immediately trying to calm your child, encourage the baby to “let it out.” For example, a walking toddler will sometimes fall. Instead of rushing to pick the fallen child up, calmly narrate what happened: “Oh, you fell, I bet that surprised you,” and wait and see. “If they really hurt themselves, they’ll let you know and then you’d provide comfort. If we respond as if something terrible has happened and intervene, then they’re not going to get experience with brushing it off and moving on with life,” says Deborah Solomon, the program’s director.
Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE — pronounced “wry”) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to educate, mentor, and support parents.
- RIE encourages parents to slow down and simplify, instead taking their parenting cues directly from their baby.
- RIE promotes treating your child less like a kid and more like a little adult. That means no baby talk, high chairs, or sippy cups, and sticking with a simple safe contained play environment that they can fully and independently explore.
- It also means avoiding yelling and traditional parenting punishments such as time outs.