Menu

What is RIE parenting? What parents need to know about Resources for Infant Educarers

And six ways to implement this parenting philosophy into your life.

What is RIE parenting? What parents need to know about Resources for Infant Educarers

"How did you get her to talk like that?" an inquiring woman wanted to know as my daughter and I shared conversation over a puzzle at the library.

"I'm not sure I necessarily got her to do anything," I kindly replied, "but I've always talked to her like she is a person."

Both my husband and I bypassed baby talk and spoke to our young children in words they could understand, in a voice that is our own. I recall a moment when questioned why I was responding to 9-month-old babble, why I would engage in a conversation with no translation. At that time I did not fully know what my captivated child understood, but I believed that offering him my attention and being present in the dialog was more beneficial than it was harmful.

My parenting beliefs continuously evolve from my experiences as a mother, through studies in the fields of psychology and education, in reading research, engaging in discussion and attending to intuition. I choose not to follow one path of parenting but value many aspects of various styles. There exist recognized parenting styles such as authoritative, neglectful, permissive, and authoritarian, amidst many other perspectives of parenting.

I was recently introduced to a philosophy of parenting called RIE, Resources for Infant Educarers. Some of the ideas resonated with me, many of the practices I had already been doing without realizing that there was a name, label, or respected viewpoint.

Here's what I've learned about this practice.

What is RIE?

Magda Gerber, an early childhood educator with a passion to care for young children, created the RIE philosophy alongside pediatrician Emmi Pickler, who shared the vision that young children will reach their full potential when viewed in ways that allow them to be active participants in their own lives.

It is my interpretation that the basis of this philosophy is respect, to treat a child as a human being and not an object. By the way we look, listen, and learn from others, we demonstrate our reverence for their uniqueness. The goal is to develop an authentic child who feels secure and able.

How to implement RIE

The RIE method is guided by trust in a child's capacity to learn and is executed through observation. When we pause with awareness we can notice subtle expressions and behaviors that serve as cues for communicating needs and desires. We can then choose to actively teach a lesson or intentionally allow one to transpire. Gerber considered that children thrive when encouraged to independently explore in safe and supportive environments.

Here are a few practices related to the RIE method.

1. Allow space for safe struggle and feelings of frustration.

Intentionally stepping back to watch an infant try to reach a toy that is slightly further than arm's reach can be difficult to witness, but the joy that transpires when the goal is finally accomplished is significant in developing confidence and independence. Offer support through acknowledging the effort, maybe say, "I saw you work so hard!"

2. Establish clearly understood and consistent boundaries that communicate expectations with care.

This can be communicated through sharing details rather than demands. Instead of shouting, "Stop that, because I said so" try calmly and clearly saying, "Please choose something else, that is not a safe choice."

3. During an activity, encourage a child to be an active participant rather than a passive recipient.

This is possible by being fully present, offering interaction, and generating mutual enjoyment. An example of this might include telling a baby what you are doing before you do it. "I am picking you up to change your diaper."

4. Honor a child’s unique path.

We may want to tie a young child's shoes because it is faster and we do it the "right way" but in the spirit of learning, if the shoe gets tied does it really matter how? There will be a time to refine skills, while there is also a time to realize abilities.

5. Watch from a distance, and let them be.

There are moments to engage and moments to allow self-directed play, both equally essential for development. This can be difficult as guilt creeps in and we wonder if we are doing too much or not enough. We can check our intention here and ask ourselves, are we seeking to ignore behavior or encourage being?

6. Recognize that as much as we do not like being interrupted while working or doing chores, they do not either, and play is their “work.”

Instead of demanding "come here now" simply say "choose one more thing to do, then please come here" communicates honor and models respect.

What REI is not

One criticism of this philosophy is that it is too hands-off. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but as guides of our children, we must discover what works best for them, the relationship we share and the moment we are in. I believe that allowing a frustrating experience to happen with the intention to learn is beneficial as long as we know that comforting a crying child is essential.

Although there is a strong emphasis on independence, this philosophy is one of parenting with awareness. Above all, RIE revolves around respect. A young child is placed in a safe space with soft boundaries intended for discovery and growth. When we offer children the freedom to discover in a supportive atmosphere, they seek, see, and strive.

You might also like:

14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Detective set

Plan Toys detective set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Rae Wellness: Essential daily supplements to help you shine from the inside out

Rae Wellness is a women-led company with the belief that nurturing your mind and body isn't just essential—it's your power. Their collection of daily supplements leverage vegan, non-gmo, high quality ingredients to help you "shine from the inside out." With formulas to designed to fuel your calm, sleep, energy and more, consider them your daily dose of self care, mama. Even better, 5% of every purchase goes directly to Girls. Inc., the non-profit organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold through direct service and advocacy.

Beyond Yoga: Luxuriously soft athleisure you'll want to wear 24/7

Whether you're lounging or lunging, the butter-soft activewear from Beyond Yoga is designed to support women to live fully and confidently. Their thoughtful, California made pieces are crafted with every woman's shape in mind, complementing curves and laying comfortably on all body types.

The Dairy Fairy: Feminine, functional intimates for nursing and pumping mamas

As any mama who has wrestled herself into a less than sexy, over-the-top utilitarian nursing bra knows, it can be quite the demoralizing experience. Add to that the annoyance of having to switch out to a completely different contraption in order to pump hands-free, and it's even more of a let down (pun not necessarily intended.) Frustrated by this all-to-universal dance, founder Emily Ironi made it her mission to create an all-in-one bra that not only works for moms, but celebrates them. Her line of pretty, feminine intimates for nursing and pumping combine function with aesthetics to keep you looking and feeling your best as you rock new motherhood.

Milkful: The Dairy Fairy's size inclusive sister company

Part of the Dairy Fairy's mission was to create a line of nursing and pumping bras that would make women feel comfortable and confident. Since launching in 2012, Emily heard from many women of different shapes and sizes, asking, "why doesn't this come in my size?" Adding sizes to the line didn't quite feel like enough. Instead, she set out to create an entirely new way to support their specific needs during such an important time in their lives. Thus, Milkful's line of size inclusive nursing and pumping intimates was born.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

Cameron Diaz on having a baby at 47: 'You really have to work hard for it'

"The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

This is the decade that saw the face of first-time motherhood change. The number of first-time mamas under 30 is shrinking, while more and more women are becoming moms after 40.

Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

"A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."

Keep reading Show less
News