Elevating Childcare: Be Aware Of Your Baby’s Perspective And Use Parenting Wisdom

Be aware of baby's perspective and use parenting wisdom

Parenting advice is everywhere. It’s aimed at us from websites, magazines, and TV. It’s shared with us by parents, friends, and nosy strangers. What’s far rarer? Parenting Wisdom.

You know when you find wisdom because it has a way of interconnecting with what you’ve already found to be true. More importantly, it confirms what your parent’s heart whispers to you.

That’s why I feel blessed to have stumbled across Janet Lansbury’s site, Elevating Childcare.  Janet runs Resources For Infant Educarers (RIE) classes for infants and writes sensitive, wonderfully useful posts about parenting the smallest people in our lives. Each time I read what she writes I feel a yes inside.

Related: What To Say To Children Instead Of Be Careful

The RIE approach to parenting was developed by early childhood educator Magda Gerber. It is based on respect for the child. At its core, RIE parenting has to do with being aware of the baby’s (or small child’s) perspective. Instead of striving to direct our babies, an approach that’s exhausting and often frustrating for parent as well as child, RIE encourages us to understand the world as the baby experiences it. I’ll let Janet explain more clearly as she does in the introduction to her must-have book Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting.

RIE parenting can be summed up as an awareness of our baby’s perspective. We perceive and acknowledge our infants to be unique, separate people. We enhance our awareness by observing them—allowing them the bit of space they need to show us who they are and what they need.

RIE parenting also makes us more self-aware. Through our sensitive observations we learn not to jump to conclusions; for example, that our babies are bored, tired, cold, hungry, or want to hold the toy they seem to notice across the room.

We learn not to assume that the grumbling or fussing means babies need to be propped to sitting, picked up, or rocked or bounced to sleep. We recognize that, like us, babies sometimes have feelings that they want to share and will work through them in their own way with our support.

We learn to differentiate our children’s signals from our own projections. We become more aware of the habits we create (like sitting babies up or jiggling them to sleep), habits that can then become our child’s needs. These are artificially created needs rather than organic ones.

In short, RIE parenting asks us to use our minds as well as our instincts, to look and listen closely and carefully before we respond.

Sensitive observation proves to us that our babies are competent individuals with thoughts, wishes and needs of their own. Once we discover this truth there’s no turning back.

In short, RIE parenting asks us to use our minds as well as our instincts, to look and listen closely and carefully before we respond.

Sensitive observation proves to us that our babies are competent individuals with thoughts, wishes and needs of their own. Once we discover this truth there’s no turning back.

Another way to look at this principle is through a relatively new concept that is called mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something or a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

Mindfulness is a wonderful way to consider the RIE form of parenting, and there are several more resources on how to use mindfulness in your everyday life that can be used for parenting. Below are some ways you can create a more mindful experience in your everyday life, and become a more mindful parent if the methods are applied correctly.

  1. Stay present, and in the moment, even when you find your mind drifting off. Parenting can sometimes be boring. I mean, how many times can you knock the same blocks down over and over again? But being mindful causes you to stay in the moment and focus on what is going on with you (or in the case of parenting, your child). What are they learning? What concepts can you expand on?
  2. Create something, anything. This applies to babies and older children. Creating something with your child- a tower of blocks for them to knock over or a craft- will create a more mindful parenting experience.
  3. Breathe deeply. We all need this. Taking deep breathes can bring us back to the situation at hand instead of responding with anger or stress in a stressful situation.
  4. Disconnect from your phone. This is something that most people struggle with on a daily, nay hourly, basis. Put your phone away when you are with your child. Focus on what they are doing, saying, or how they are acting. Let them know that when you are with them, you are actually present with them instead of just physically.
  5. Be bored. Day to day stuff with kids can be BORING. The aforementioned block building and knocking over is just one example. Playing with your kids isn’t always exciting or fun. It’s ok to be bored. Allow it. Recognize it and use the opportunity to be more mindful of your child and what they are experiencing in that moment with you.
  6. Do not multitask. This is easier said than done for most parents, and sometimes it’s inevitable. We have to make dinner and do laundry while our children are around. But take breaks during the day to simply just BE with your child. This mindfulness will come into play when there are several things going on and your child is acting out.
  7. Have fun! Be silly with your kids! Dance, jump, and play. Playing with them doesn’t have to be boring and you will find yourself enjoying the time and being more mindful of their experiences when you get down on their level. Literally and figuratively.
  8. Take care of your physical and mental health. Be sure to take time for yourself, too- just yourself. As the old adage goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” If you only focus on being mindful with your children, you might have a difficult time keeping it up when your tank is empty.
  9. Learn to appreciate the small stuff, and don’t take things for granted. Being mindful when you are with your children helps you to see the small things. The way they smile when you make a certain noise. How their eyes light up when they accomplish a certain task. How their brain starts to process things as they get older. The RIE method of parenting allows you to look at your child’s perspective, be mindful of their experiences, and really see how they grow and change as a person.

Related: Empowering Parents: How To Help Picky Eaters

Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting is a selection of 30 pivotal articles that originally appeared on Janet’s site. She bases her work on observations of hundreds of infants over 20 years as well as raising her own three children. Each time she shares a new article on her popular Facebook page the comments are wildly enthusiastic, like “finally someone gets to what the baby experiences” and “I had my doubts but this really works!”

Here’s a tiny sample of the book’s articles.

  •  “What Your Baby Can’t Tell You”
  • “Sitting Babies Up: The Downside”
  • “How to Build Your Child’s Focus and Attention Span”
  • “Allowing Your Toddler to Succeed”
  • “7 Myths that Discourage Independent Play”
  • “Best Ways to Encourage Toddlers to Talk”
  • “No Bad Kids–Toddler Discipline Without Shame”
  • “I Think I Know Why You’re Yelling”

This is an important book for all of us parenting young children. Get a copy for yourself and a copy for expectant parents. It’s that good. You can open it anywhere, read a few pages, and come away with a bit of wisdom to make your parenting path more naturally peaceful, compassionate, and respectful.


Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

3 thoughts on “Elevating Childcare: Be Aware Of Your Baby’s Perspective And Use Parenting Wisdom”

  1. This sounds very much like _Your Baby and Child_ by Penelope Leach. There were many times I would rejoice in her advice because she really seemed to get at what was going on from my baby’s perspective.

  2. I’m so happy to see this article to spread the word on Janet’s site. You said exactly what I think when I read Janet’s articles too. Her’s is one of the few websites that I feel I’ve gained real parenting wisdom after reading.

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