RIE Parenting: The Latest Trend Out of Hollywood


What’s the latest rage in Hollywood? No, I’m not talking designer duds or a Scientology spinoff, but a new parenting technique called RIE.

High-profile moms and dads – such as Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy, Helen Hunt, Jamie Lee Curtis, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Hank Azaria and Tobey Maguire – have embraced RIE Parenting, which is an acronym for Resources for Infant Educarers.

Essentially, RIE promotes treating babies like adults.

While many parents turn to toys, soothers and baby carriers to engage or calm their babies, RIE, instead, encourages parents to treat children like mini adults.

The technique – which promises more competent and self-aware children in the long run -was founded in 1978 by early childhood educator Magda Gerber. The guidelines advocate respect between a parent and child, stating that adults should allow their children to solve problems without interference.

Here are some examples of RIE Parenting guidelines:

  • No bouncy seats – these only encourage your kids to zone out.
  • No bottles or sippy cups – these imply your child is incapable of drinking properly.
  • No high chairs – they do not encourage babies “to eat in a dignified way.”
  • No baby talk.
  • No toys – According to RIE, “children don’t need toys.”
  • No rattles.
  • No mobiles.
  • No pacifiers – According to RIE, “the pacifier is a plug” and your “infant has the right to cry.”
  • No rocking babies to sleep – By trying to soothe your infant, you’re, “interfering with his emotions.”
  • No babywearing.
  • No walkers.

Hollywood has been embracing this new parenting trend.

“RIE takes you back to basics. RIE makes us all better. Better parents. Better partners. Better people,” mom-of-two Jamie Lee Curtis told Vanity Fair.

And actor Hank Azaria shared: “I wanted some kind of a rule book that told me how to handle every situation with an infant. RIE is the closest thing that I have found to this holy grail.”

Critics are calling RIE Parenting everything from kooky to cruel. As for myself, I can see some value in these techniques, but I can’t say I would follow the guidelines to a T.

Just like all the other parenting trends – from attachment parenting to helicopter parenting to the CTFD Method – I see value in some of these techniques.

I think it’s a great idea to allow your baby to explore her/his world. In our fast-paced society, RIE reminds us to slow down and encourage our babies to take it all in, without time management restraints and other distractions. And I agree that baby talk can be nauseating (no, I’m not one of those moms).

But no babywearing or soothing at bedtime? No toys? No baby gear?

Sure, I think parents can over-use soothers, bouncy seats, etc. But, sometime, you gotta do what you gotta do. I’m definitely guilty of using both of these “crutches” amidst the rigors of early motherhood.

Parenting is difficult and draining. I feel that some of the rules and guidelines in RIE are too strict, and could cause unnecessary anxiety – which turns into mommy guilt – for far too many parents.

What do you think? Do you like the guidelines of RIE? 

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Photo credit: Celebrity Baby Scoop

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  1. Jen

    My mom raised us three kids (late 70s through 90s) using a similar philosophy, though she did use a high chair, and toys were given at Christmas and birthdays. We grew up in the country, though, where it’s easy to not rely as much on toys. We were given a long leash and long days to explore and play, via horseback and motorbikes. I grew up to be very independent, respectful, resourceful, and self-sufficient. And tenacious…at times, perhaps too much.

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