This year has been a succesful one for summer reading. You may recall one of the books I put on my reading list is today’s Wednesday Words of Wisdom. Respecting Babies: A New Look at Magda Gerber‘s RIE Approach, is today’s choice.
I have spoken about the organization, RIE, before. But if you are a new reader to my blog, I will do a brief overview. RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) was founded by Magda Gerber, in 1978. The RIE Approach is one that provides a way to maximize infant/toddler capacities for self-regulation and purposeful activity, within the context of parents or other primary caregivers.
The RIE Approach toward infant care is what the book, Respecting Babies, is about. Author Ruth Anne Hammond, is a specialist in infant-toddler development and caregiving. She is the former president of the Board of Directors of RIE and now teaches infancy courses at Pacific Oaks College and for RIE in Los Angeles.
Respecting Babies, was a book I picked up at a recent RIE conference. I selected it because I wanted to further my understanding of RIE and found this book to be a well written, very readable. It is an excellent book for parents, especially new parents.
The book is written to educate parents and caregivers about the RIE Approach, but with a new perspective. There are two parts of infant/toddler care that are addressed in the book. The first part is: Building Security and Creating Cooperation through Respectful Interactions. The second part is: Initiative, Integrity, and Autonomy.
The book is part educational information and part story telling. I like how Ms. Hammond uses personal examples to explain concepts of RIE. The first section of the book discusses topics: touch with care, routines, environments, language and literacy, and setting limits. Each topic is clearly discussed within the RIE context.
One of my favorite parts of this section is a wonderful description of how to pick up a baby. The approach toward the simple act of lifting an infant is excellent. The description reminds the reader of how differently a baby views being picked up. It reminds the adults to slow down and keep the infants needs in mind.
The second section discusses: freedom of movement and self-awareness, play as an expression, babies and toddler together, and learning to pay attention to the infant. The important focus of this section is play and observation.
Play is, “what babies do when they not involved in a caregiving activity or sleeping.” Quiet observation time encourages children to pay attention to their play, as opposed to having attention paid to them. Both concepts are an important part of encouraging autonomy.
Several of the concepts discussed in this wonderful book are new. The RIE Approach toward infant care is slower and gentler. It is a contrast of many of today’s quick paced, high stimulating parenting styles. But for many who read this book, it will be welcoming to know that doing less can really encourage more from infants.
I had the great honor of meeting RIE founder, Magda Gerber, over 20 years ago. It was a meeting I will never forget. Her ideas of how to care for infants still influence my thoughts today. This book, Respecting Babies, may have the same influence on you.
Enjoy my friends. Talk to you soon.