Practicing RIE

As a mother and postpartum doula, I am a huge proponent of Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE®).

RIE teaches parents and caregivers to trust the innate abilities of children to communicate their thoughts, feelings and needs from birth.

So, how do we get started you ask…

  1. We create a safe and simple environment
  2. We weave consistency and predictability through their days and nights
  3. We observe their actions and self initiative, for babies we wait for cues and vocalizing, with children who speak we look for a combination of what they tell us and what we see in front of us in that moment
  4. Participate in parent-infant guidance classes at a RIE center


Through our observation, we build awareness of subtle communication cues babies and children use to let us know what they require from us at any given moment.  I also feel we learn to anticipate their needs quite accurately by being observers.

As a parent or caregiver, we learn when children are inviting us to provide support and when we get to be a quiet observer; we also begin to discover the “beingness” of non-action.

Trusting yourself and your child

What I mean by beingness is, allowing our children to be autonomous in a safe environment, be with them and do nothing.

Our children in turn, learn to build confidence in their ability to communicate their needs accurately, confidence in us as responsive parents and caregivers and confidence in their own abilities to problem solve and work things out for themselves.

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Eileen Henry on RIE® and Compassionate Sleep Support for Babies

Sleep is foremost on the mind of most parents with a baby under one-year-old. What time should they go to sleep? Where should they sleep? How to get them back to sleep? I could go on and on.

For sleep-deprived new parents, their baby’s nighttime sleep pattern can become a never ending loop of trial and error without any relief. This dilemma often means no one in the family is well-rested and leads many parents to choose sleep training.

As a postpartum doula and a mother of two, I know there are ways to teach our babies from the beginning how to ‘eventually’ sleep independently. This will occur when it’s developmentally appropriate without ever needing to sleep train.

Eileen Henry is a Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®) Associate, author, and compassionate sleep coach. She educates families on how to respectfully and empathetically support their baby’s independent sleep in the most caring way.

I have read Ms. Henry’s book, Compassionate Sleep Solutions. I reached out to her because I study and practice RIE.

When it comes to infant sleep, I notice people think RIE means ‘cry it out’ and though I’ve never felt that way, I know many do.

In the interview that follows, Ms. Henry shares her perspective about cry it out (CIO) and the principles of RIE and infant sleep. As well, below she shares her knowledge and expertise in compassionate infant sleep.

Thank you, Eileen!

The RIE® Approach to Infant Care

What is the compassionate sleep solution?

It is a respectful and mindful approach to infant and child sleep. It is based in the RIE® Approach of caring for infants and grounded in Attachment Theory and Regulatory Theory. When practicing compassion, we are very present and actively listening to the other, in this case our child. To be this present we must be able to handle difficult emotions as well as positive emotions. All feelings are welcome.

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Deborah Carlisle Solomon

Deborah Carlisle Solomon on RIE and the Newborn

Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®) is a way of parenting that remained on the periphery of my own parenting until my first child was almost two. During his infancy, I was unsure how to practice RIE alongside attachment parenting (AP), but as he grew increasingly mobile, I was looking for a structured way to discipline, that would be respectful of him as an individual and allow him his own thoughts and ideas.

I began to read blogs and joined a RIE Facebook group for parents with toddlers. Then I discovered a book called, 1, 2, 3 … The Toddler Years: A Practical Guide for Parents & Caregivers, and it completely changed my perspective on my role as a parent. I learned to give my son space to figure things out on his own, and I saw him begin to trust in himself and his own abilities.

Deborah Carlisle Solomon

Deborah Carlisle Solomon

A year later when I was pregnant with my daughter and seeking resources on how best to use RIE from birth, I discovered Deborah Carlisle Solomon’s book, Baby Knows Best. What I was taught in Baby Knows Best enabled me to feel confident in practicing RIE with my new baby. It was especially helpful after the delivery, when I didn’t have the energy to adhere as closely to the tenants of attachment parenting.

Baby Knows Best educates about RIE from birth to 2 years old. It walks us through caring for our newborn, managing infant sleep, and even how to support developmental milestones naturally through freedom of movement.

Deborah is a leader in the field of child development and I’m overjoyed to share her wisdom on the topic of RIE and the newborn.

Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®)

For families unfamiliar with RIE, how would you summarize the philosophy succinctly?  

RIE® is a way of being with and caring for a baby that supports the baby to feel more peaceful and secure. When a baby feels peaceful and secure, he is easier to care for and this creates greater harmony for the whole family.

Magda Gerber co-founded RIE in 1978 with pediatric neurologist Dr. Tom Forrest. Her Educaring® Approach is comprehensive and addresses all aspects of a baby’s development and daily life. It includes gross motor, fine motor and socio-emotional development of the baby; respectful, attuned caregiving practices; sensitive observation of the baby to understand his needs; the importance of play and appropriate play environments; and consistency and clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline, among other topics.

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