The RIE Philosophy - Is this new parenting craze for you?
Babies are not helpless - according to RIE which is telling us to ditch the usual baby arsenal of pacifiers, swaddles, slings, bouncers, sippy-cups, baby bottles, mobiles and toys. Read on to find out whether the RIE method is for you and your child.
A new trend in parenting has arisen: the Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) philosophy. RIE believes in giving a child — no matter how young the infant is — independence in learning, interacting and adapting to an environment.
As this particular parenting philosophy is getting more popular, let’s take a closer look at it and see how it works.
Basic principles of RIE philosophy
If you think the RIE philosophy would be an effective parenting approach for you and your child, here are some of the basic principles to guide you:
Let your baby cry
Out with the baby paraphernalia meant to soothe an upset child. The RIE philosophy believes in allowing children the right to express their true emotions, even if it means allowing them to communicate in the way they know naturally: by crying.
As parents, it is our responsibility to find and address the source of a child’s discomfort. What we’re not supposed to do is plug the baby’s mouth with a pacifier or put the baby on a bouncer to silence or distract the child. Such items serve to give parents peace of mind but not what the baby actually needs — which might just be to cry.
Don’t baby your baby
Infants have the ability to learn about their environment from a very young age. Therefore, the RIE philosophy encourages parents to expose their little ones to the grown-up world and allow them to experience it as it is.
Let kids participate in daily grown-up activities like drinking from normal cups instead of baby bottles or sippy cups. Let them even help out by performing small tasks such as throwing out their own used diapers in the wastebasket.
Encourage baby to explore
The RIE philosophy asserts that children should be given a safe space where they can roam and play without their parents hovering all the time to make sure they don’t get hurt. This also means no co-sleeping and no refereeing toddler squabbles by the parents. Aside from developing naturally, babies should learn on their own to adjust to their environment, whether that’s figuring out a way to put them to sleep or get out of a bad playtime situation.
No need to buy toys
How many of us are guilty of spending thousands of dollars on toys every year to keep our children entertained? From pots and pans to discarded cardboard packaging, a few basic “play objects” are enough for a child to be engrossed in an activity. According to the RIE philosophy, children who explore their environment to keep busy will adapt more quickly to the grown-up world they live in.
Refrain from using baby talk
This strictly means no “goo-goo, ga-ga.” Parents are encouraged to carry on real conversations with their children, even before they can speak. Doing so helps develop proper language development in children and builds mutual respect between parent and child.
Don’t praise, just acknowledge
Focus on the action, not the praising. Instead of exclaiming “Fantastic!” or “Look at how great you’re crawling,” tell the child, “Ha! You’re crawling!” This strategy helps boost the child’s courage to keep “doing” and not be burdened by concentrating on “doing it well” or seeking constant approval for a “good job.”
Is RIE philosophy the answer?
Karishma Vaswani, a mother of a 3-year-old girl and a 3-month-old boy, says, “I don’t agree with everything that RIE philosophy stipulates. For example, I’m guilty of co-sleeping and, in fact, I enjoy it and won’t be giving it up anytime soon! But the basic principle of respecting your child is common sense. We have found Aryana has really responded to it and we have discussions about issues, not tantrums (or not so many tantrums!).”
Just like other parenting methods, the RIE philosophy can be taken part by part to suit individual needs. For many parents like Karishma, they adopt this philosophy only in certain ways and blend it with their own parenting styles and beliefs. A mum like Karishma will disagree with the philosophy’s claim that co-sleeping hinders a baby’s sense of independence, but will agree with its position that speaking normally with a child like an adult will build mutual respect.
My personal take as a mother is to do what suits you and your family best and, more importantly, to do what your child is comfortable with since every child is unique.