Anna and I had the wonderful experience of participating and being taught parenting education classes through the RIE method in Los Angeles with all of our children. It is a method that is focused on parenting infants through the 2 year of life. My memories of those parenting classes was that they felt more like meditation groups, where we as the parents had the priviledge of watching and being in an infant driven world for those 2 hours once a week. Deborah was actually my RIE teacher, and I am thrilled beyond belief to share her new book with you. I interviewed her a few weeks ago and here is what she had to say:
Related: Parenting is a Work in Progress
• Tell me about the title, what was your inspiration for it?
The book title, Baby Knows Best, was inspired by Magda Gerber, the Founding Director of Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE ®), who said, “Who knows best how to be a baby?” Nature has a plan for babies to grow and develop!
• What would you like parents to take away from this book?
My hope is that parents will use Baby Knows Best as a guidebook, and that practicing RIE principles and concepts will help them to become more confident parents. When a parent is confident, the baby is more peaceful and secure; thus making parenting easier and more enjoyable.
• What kind of healthy and supportive foundation can a pregnant couple create for a respectful rapport with their baby?
The first days and weeks with a newborn can be exhilarating and exhausting; all at the same time. I recommend that parents practice three things that will help to create a greater sense of calm, for baby and parent:
1. Move slowly when you’re with your baby; whether you’re picking him up and carrying him, or entering a room where he is present.
2. Tell your baby what you are going to do before you do it. “I’m going to pick you up.” “Let’s take off your diaper.” “I’m going in the other room and will be right back.” Telling your baby what is about to happen is respectful and he can relax, knowing there will be no surprises. You can also talk to your baby about what is happening around him. “The door slammed. It startled you.” “The dog barked.” “Someone rang the doorbell.”
3. Tarry time. After you’ve told your baby what is about to happen, tarry, or pause, to give him time to process what you have said. Since babies take longer to process verbal communication than adults do, it’s important to wait for your baby’s cue that he’s ready. He may lift his arms to be picked up or otherwise let you know that he understands what you have said.
• What do you think are the 3 most problematic issues about parenting infants in our culture today?
1. Time. Many parents, whether they are working or not, don’t have the luxury of a lot free, unhurried time. Babies enjoy a slow pace and a predictable schedule. These two things are sometimes at odds. Magda Gerber taught that caregiving times of diapering, dressing, bathing, and feeding are relationship-building times. Rather than hurrying through these intimate activities, try to slow down and enjoy these significant moments together.
2. Multi-tasking. When a baby is fed while the parent sends a text message or is diapered while the adult talks to a friend, the message sent to the baby is: “You’re important enough that I will tend to your need, but not important enough that I will give you my full, undivided attention.” In the digital age, perhaps the greatest gift we can give one another is the gift of our full attention.
3. Anxiety. A lot of parents are anxious – about the environment and the economy – among other things. Some of this anxiety gets passed along to their babies, and manifests in worry about what their baby is not yet doing or what lies ahead, many months or even years down the road. Sadly, this robs the parent of enjoying what their baby is doing in the present moment. The first two years are so fleeting. If I had one wish for parents, it would be that they could sit back, relax, and enjoy this precious time with their baby.
• What are you hopeful about today in the way we parent our young?
I’m heartened by the parents who find their way to RIE Parent-Infant Guidance™ classes; eager to learn how to respond to their babies sensitively and accurately, and how to create a respectful and reciprocal relationship. It’s not just RIE parents, of course. Many parents are seeking to learn more about infant development and how best to care for their babies, and that is very good for building healthy families.
Deborah Carlisle Solomon, RIE Executive Director and author of Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, the RIE® Way.
Deborah Carlisle Solomon is the Executive Director of Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®) and author of Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, the RIE® Way, published by Little, Brown in 2013. She teaches RIE Parent-Infant Guidance™ classes and in RIE’s Professional Development Program. Deborah has presented at national and international conferences, and enjoys speaking with parent groups about Magda Gerber’s unique approach to being with babies and young children. You can contact her directly here.
Interview conducted by Alisa B. Donner, MSW, LCSW, Co-Founder of PAM, and mother of an amazing wonder.