3 Reasons to Try RIE With Your Baby
While trolling the internet at 3am, after googling “fussy 6 month old”, I stumbled upon a life-changing childcare philosophy called RIE (pronounced “RYE”, stands for Resources for Infant Educarers, weird, right?). The RIE approach to parenting believes that babies are whole and competent, worthy of the same respect, trust, empathy and validation that you or I are. The approach is very child-led giving parents the space to sit back, observe and allow their child to develop physical and cognitive skills at their own pace while they problem solve, explore and experiment with their bodies and minds, exclusive of our (and society's) own agendas for them.
The RIE philosophy has changed my life and my relationship that I have with my son, husband, family and friends. Here are my top 3 reasons why I am now RIE or DIE.
1. Enjoy Diaper Changes and Mealtimes
Imagine something unspeakable happens to you and leaves you unable to walk, talk, feed, bathe or dress yourself. Now imagine how it would feel if your caretaker did all of these things to you without warning, patience, or narration- not giving you time to adjust, understand or opportunity to participate in these intimate caregiving moments.
RIE believes in doing all of these activities a different way-- with your baby, not to them- the way that you would want someone to do them with you. Prepare for transitions. Move slowly. Give time to adjust and let them know when you are going to wipe their ass (as I am sure you would appreciate someone doing for you).
This will change everything. For starters, enjoyable diaper changes and meal times. I know, I know, it’s not possible. But I promise, these activities that you fear, try to put off, and engage in like you are being slowly poked with needles are my favorite times of the day. And there’s more. Little to no “tantrums” or meltdowns around: nighttime routine, bedtime and naptime, carseats, and setting limits and boundaries. Read more about what this looks like here and here.
2. Have a Better Connection With Your Baby
We communicate openly, we do things together and we respect one another. I trust my son and I give him the space to be able to problem solve, create, discover, and explore his physical and emotional feelings and in return, I have gained the trust of my son. And that trust is everything. My son knows that he can count on me to keep him safe, to remain calm, to give him the space to fail and conquer. This is big. HUGE.
OK so what does this sappy crap really mean? I rarely get frustrated with my son, with his antics or any fussiness (because there rarely is any). We barely engage in any power struggles and I am meticulous about picking my battles with him and I truly believe he picks his with me. When it matters, I make it count and he gets it. When I feel like I am just making a rule to prove to him that I hold the power in our relationship, I stop myself. It’s not worth it and it’s not right. Read about it here.
3. Don't Feel like Cedric the Entertainer 24/7
Sometimes I think I discovered ‘the secret’- stress free, enjoyable parenting. In practice, RIE involves a lot of listening, observation and narration. To an outsider it might look like I am aloof, uninvolved, and maybe even negligent, but I am doing so much more than nothing. I am observing my son’s abilities so that I know what his body is capable of which in turn allows me to be hands off and trust him to explore his little world on his own.
He directs his play and decides what he wants to do and has the freedom to choose how he wants to do it. His play is not about me-- what I want him to do, or how I or anyone else might expect him to do it. Enjoy my peaceful and fulfilling days with my creative, active and silly son? Yes. Act like a volunteer circus clown? NO. I am pretty sure I don’t have to let you know the perks of this one. This article was a huge help for me. And check out this illustration of ‘hands off parenting’ here.
Are you RIE Curious? If so, I encourage you to check out these resources: Janet Lansbury, and Magda Gerber. And please join my Facebook group- RIE/Mindful Parenting- Los Angeles to learn more about how to implement the RIE philosophy into your lives through the LA community.
If you are REALLY curious, consider checking out a class at the incredible studio I belong to, Hari's RIE Studio in Santa Monica.
Meet Our Mama!
Ali Moses is a RIE enthusiast and super mama to her ever-smiling little guy, Ace. She also holds a Master of Social Work and currently works as a therapist at a treatment program for adolescents dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues.