As the founder of Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE), Magda Gerber has spent decades helping new mothers and fathers give their children the best possible start in life. Her successful parenting approach harnesses the power of this basic fact: Your baby is unique and will grow in confidence if allowed to develop at his or her own pace. The key to successful parenting is learning to observe your child and to trust him or her to be an initiator, an explorer, a self-learner with an individual style of problem solving and mastery.
Now you can discover the acclaimed RIE approach. This practical and enlightening guide will help you:
Develop your own observational skills
Learn when to intervene with your baby and when not to
Find ways to connect with your baby through daily caregiving routines such as feeding, diapering, and bathing
Effectively handle common problems such as crying, discipline, sleep issues, toilet training, and much more.
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All the unwanted parenting advice in one book
This book contains a collection of unsolicited advice that new parents constantly get bombarded with and many times try to avoid. It was written by someone who hasn't had a baby of their own in a while, and the narrator's elderly nanny type voice fits.
If you want a book of opinions, this is the one for you. Or, you could just call your mother in law and save some money.
That said, she did make some points I agree with, such as giving your baby respect like any other human being. Perhaps my definition of respect as far as babies go differs from hers, I do strongly agree with it. I definitely agree that you shouldn't surprise you baby by picking him/her up for example from coming up behind the baby. I let my child know before I pick him up. And I respect his body, if he doesn't want me to play with his hair, I won't. I think the author more aligns her definition of respect for babies similarly to respect for adults.
Along with small trinkets of good advice are tons of irrelevant random bits, such as, don't pat your baby on the back because the author is of the opinion the baby doesn't like it. The author seems to want the parents to question their natural parenting instincts and adapt the authors outdated advice with no or little grounding.
I believe babies cry sometimes because they want to be comforted and you as a parent, within reason, shouldn't feel like it's wrong to help.
I believe babies need constant verbal interaction but you shouldn't feel like you're doing something wrong if you forgot to tell the baby that you are about to kiss him/her goodnight. As a really young infant, it probably doesn't matter what you say, as long as you talk to him/her regularly.
One thing I really disagreed with was the advice to tell your baby you're putting the baby down so the parent can rest because the parent is tired. What if you don't rest, or you're not even tired? Did you just lie? What if you do the dishes instead? I put my baby down so my baby can rest. As a parent, it is not fair for my children if I depend on them. They need to depend on me, but not the other way around. The baby doesn't sleep because I NEED him/her to sleep. The baby sleeps because the baby needs to sleep.
If this book is works for you and your parenting style, that's great. This book and I did not mesh well. I have read many parenting books and this is my least favorite.
That said, I couldn't finish it. I got several hours in, but had to put it down as I was getting annoyed with a lot of things she said as a self-proclaimed expert. I'm sure there's more valuable advice in the book that I'll never get to because I was tired of weeding it out.
A few good nuggets
As with all parenting books, this one will be a bible for some and for others will be totally worthless. I fall somewhere in the middle. I appreciate Gerber's philosophy from a high level, that babies are competent learners and parents should be there to support their children, not dictate every minute of their lives, however I found myself becoming incensed at some of the more practical advice she gives. I would have preferred more references to scientific studies to support her theories, since I got the distinct impression that her training was more of the "on the job" variety. I might recommend this book to other parents, but I would caveat by saying that this is just one woman's opinion, and not to take her word as gospel.
The idea that newborns, infants, and toddlers are worthy of respect and should be treated as capable individuals is one I can get behind. What I really didn't like is Gerber's implication that parents should adjust virtually all aspects of their lives in order to accommodate their children's needs. She states that parents should, whenever remotely possible, reorganize their lives so that one parent can stay home with the child, and that the first two and a half years of a child's life should be spent mainly at home. I almost stopped listening when I heard these things. Children are meant to be in the world surrounded by a variety of people, and the assertion that they will suffer by being out and about is preposterous.
Probably not. I disagreed with at least half of what Gerber promotes and what I did agree with I had already incorporated into my parenting style. Dr. Sears' The Baby Book was a much better reference for me.
- Rhiannon McCallister