What is RIE parenting? 10 resources

February 18, 2014 · 6 comments

I got to visit the San Diego Fox 5 Studio and talk to anchor Shally Zomorodi during her Mommy & Daddy Handbook about RIE parenting. Check out the video:

Shally and I only had a few minutes to talk, so I wanted to provide more links for anyone who is interested in learning more about RIE parenting. If you haven’t heard about RIE before, here is a quick background:

RIE is Resources for Infant Educarers, a non-profit organization which was founded by infant specialist and educator Magda Gerber in 1978. Although it’s being talked about as a “hot new parenting trend”, it has been around Los Angeles for more than 40 years. It gained some publicity in the last few months because Vanity Fair published an article about it citing its celebrity following.

The article included some attention grabbing anecdotes about not giving babies toys, only speaking to babies like they’re adults, and of babies rioting after parents had been instructed “not to interfere”. While this sounds insane, RIE is actually a level-headed approach to being with babies and children.

I found RIE about three years ago when my oldest son was almost two, my second son was just a few months old, and we were struggling with sleep. A RIE “educarer”, Lisa Sunbury read about my struggles on my blog and introduced me to RIE and another blogger, Janet Lansbury. My relationship with my children was forever changed.

The cornerstone of RIE is respect and authenticity: RIE’s philosophy isn’t about using certain techniques to make your child into a super-baby or to give them an edge in life. It’s simply to see them and accept them for who they are.

In practice, it means I spend a lot of time just sitting and watching my kids. (This is astonishingly fun). I let them play at their own pace and with whatever toys they’re interested in. When conflicts occur, I talk them through it in a non-judgmental way by saying things like, “You want the ball and your brother has the ball now”.

The idea is to be there and support them, but to allow them to work through their conflicts on their own.

It also means we don’t have a lot of “stuff”. My daughter, who just turned a year old, spent most of her first year on the floor – no bouncy seat, no swing, no baby gym or other things to entertain her. We keep electronic toys out of the house, even for my older ones who are 5 and 3. And we lead a pretty quiet life with a consistent routine so everyone knows what to expect from their day without getting overtired.

The result is we have a pretty calm household. My kids work out their conflicts on their own. They all play independently. They’re all in bed by 7 and sleep until 6:30 the next morning (barring the occasional nighttime needs). We haven’t run into many of the common parenting challenges like sibling rivalry or sharing. Since I found RIE, parenting has become amazingly simple.

To learn more about RIE, follow these links:


Educaring (RIE.org)

This is the homepage for the RIE organization. You will find basic history, links for classes, and a shop to buy RIE books and other materials.

Magda Gerber’s RIE Philosophy – Basic Principles (MagdaGerber.org)

This website is run by Magda Gerber’s son and has a wealth of Magda Gerber wisdom. These five basic principles are a great starting point to seeing your child with new eyes.

Janet Lansbury, Elevating Childcare (JanetLansbury.com)

I don’t know if I could pick a favorite post from Janet’s site, because every post is full of practical, achievable advice on how to work through common parenting problems. She addresses every hot-button topic from sleep to discipline to sharing and everything in between.

Lisa Sunbury Gerber, Regarding Baby (RegardingBaby.org)

Lisa’s thorough posts about sleep, play, safety, physical development, RIE principles, and more will give you a great parenting background to build on. She has decades of experience as a RIE-trained nanny and now as a mother herself that she generously shares. One of my go-to blogs for RIE wisdom.

Tongonto (Tongonto.com)

This site was recently founded by a group of RIE moms who wanted to share what they’ve learned as they raise their children with the RIE philosophy. There are so many fantastic revelations here from the perspective of moms who are learning their way. I’m so excited about this new resource!


Your Self-Confident Baby

This book covers all the basics of raising your baby the RIE way. I found it takes a shift in perspective to fully understand how Magda Gerber talks about babies, because we simply aren’t used to seeing them regarded as fully capable humans. I go back to this book continually and find new wisdom in it every time.

Baby Knows Best

This is a new release that I’m just starting to read. It also is a full background on the RIE philosophy and how to apply it to parenting.

How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk

Even if your children are no longer babies, you can apply the RIE principles of respect and trust to your older children. This book gives all the basics on how.

Siblings Without Rivalry

This book was written by the same authors as “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk”, and it’s a gem. If you struggle at all with sibling rivalry (and who with more than one child doesn’t?), you need this book.

Simplicity Parenting

I mentioned a paradigm shift several times up above, and this book explains how to make that shift. As parents we struggle with sleep, discipline, sharing, and conflicts in our relationships. “Simplicity Parenting” explains how so many modern constructs contribute to those issues, and what steps we can take to go to a simpler place. I found that once we simplified our life, it was much easier to apply the RIE principles and connect with my children.

There are many other RIE resources out there, but this is a start! Happy reading and learning!

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