What is RIE? What You Should Know About Resources for Infant Educarers

Jan 09, 21
What is RIE? What You Should Know About Resources for Infant Educarers

Parenting is tough. From feeding, diapering, bouncing, sleepless nights to shhh-ing and feeding again - it's a 24/7 gig. Caring for helpless newborns and testy toddlers is all about going straight into survival mode for some parents.

But is there actually a new way of raising kids? A method that allows parents the luxury of relaxing and enjoying parenthood? Parents are embracing RIE, which is essentially a more low-key, connected parenting concept.


Photo By: Milkweed Photography

What is RIE?

RIE (pronounced "rye") stands for "Resources for Infant Educarers." Educarer is a term to explain the idea that parents should treat even the youngest of babies more like human beings who are capable of understanding the world around them. It's not about letting your kids fend for themselves while you sit back; instead, think of it as giving them a little more freedom to learn and flourish without too much attention from mom and dad.

The technique was developed in 1978 by Magda Gerber, an early childhood educator. She worked closely with Emmi Pickler, a pediatrician who shared the same belief as Gerber that young children must seek their own interests and pursue them. Parents should be there to observe and not be the sole entertainment source while the child passively looks on. The duo believed giving young children more "freedom" would allow them to reach their full potential by letting them be active decision-makers in their own lives - from the very beginning.

RIE's ultimate goal is to raise an "authentic" child - a little one who has the confidence to move about in their daily life, feeling secure and connected to their environment. 

RIE resources

Photo By: Milkweed Photography

How RIE Works:

The RIE parenting system focuses on a simple, baby-centered philosophy. The method is guided by trusting your baby's capacity to learn. Instead of being at your baby's beck and call to help them figure out how to use a toy, entertain them, or make silly faces, parents only step in when needed.

Some basic practices in RIE often include:

1. Give space for (safe) struggles and feelings of frustration.

All parents will know the feeling: Your baby is trying to reach for a toy that's just a little bit too far. You probably want to jump in and give the toy a little nudge so your baby can play, right? With RIE, parents would instead watch the baby "struggle" and possibly even get upset, but once the goal is finally accomplished, the child feels an overwhelming sense of pride and independence.

2. You don't go crazy trying to entertain baby

RIE has a lot to do with solo-play. RIE parenting is more about letting young kids explore their interests. Just because you think they may enjoy playing with a specific toy, maybe they have another wish but don't have the motor skills to express that to you. When your little one gets to decide what they look at or play with, it will probably entertain them for much longer. 

infant education

Photo By: Milkweed Photography

3. A lot of communication with baby

Do you involve your baby in their own care? This ties into what we mentioned before, how RIE involves treating babies more like humans. RIE parenting consists of a lot of one-on-one talking with your baby. Parents will narrate events like a diaper change, bathtime, or mealtimes, almost like a sportscaster. Think about it like a play-by-play for your baby.

4. Spending a lot of time observing your child

Educaring, an RIE-focused site, explains that "sensitive observation" should be used to understand a child's needs. Caregivers will watch and listen to the children to learn about what they need at that moment. For example, instead of giving your baby the choice of two toys to play with, provide them with the freedom to (safely) explore the whole room. Instead of setting up a learning opportunity, let them find it on their own.

What RIE Isn't

Of course, the way you opt to parent your child is 100% up to you. Critics claim this method is far too hands-off while some say it’s the best decision they've ever made. It's all about figuring out what works best for your child. RIE parenting surely isn't one-size-fits-all. All in all, RIE centers around respect. It's about the belief that when a young child is given a safe space to roam and explore, they'll ultimately strive.