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Original RIE Manual

This collection of papers describes a unique way of seeing and caring for infants.

Time Outdoors

I always tell parents how much easier they could raise healthy, “happy” children if they would make outdoor living a regular habit for your babies. Why? Because babies thrive out of doors. They sleep better, eat better, look better, play better, and learn better. Fresh air both soothes and stimulates.

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Quality Time

“Wants Nothing” Quality Time: just floor-sitting, being available, being there with all the senses awakened to the child; watching, listening, thinking of only that child.
“Wants Something” Quality Time: when you do have a goal to accomplish something together, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, etc. You can make sure the child knows that this time is different from your “Wants Nothing” time by actually saying, “Now I want to diaper you,” or “Now it’s time to get dressed,

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Time Alone

A baby can learn to spend time by himself. It is important for him to discover satisfaction and joy in his own independence. And, when the mother finishes with her own time, she can come back to her child and be able to fully concentrate on interacting with him without distraction.

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Learning and Teaching

Teaching is not a separate function. It is an everyday life experience. (Read How Children Learn [(1967)] and How Children Fail [(1964)], by John Holt.)

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Toys

Toys should be sturdy but simple. I do not like busy toys. I like busy children manipulating their toys in many imaginative ways. Include objects that are safe and simple. These objects should be basic, able to be manipulated in many ways, and not requiring adult help or supervision. They should require the child to be active, not passive.

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Discipline

A positive goal to strive for when disciplining would be to work at wanting to have children we not only love, but in whose company we love being. Lack of discipline is not kindness, it is neglect. Give yourself the same respect you give your children, that teaches the children respect for you also. Structure, expectations, predictability — all add to responsibly raising and loving our children.

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On Loving

If one were to list all the cruelties and maltreatments, both physical and emotional, that parents and adults inflict on children under the guise of love, the list would be a long one. But, going beyond such sinister examples, even kissing and hugging may or may not convey to a child that he is loved. 

Love is a feeling, an emotional state. Artists, writers, philosophers, poets have tried to define it. Marcel Proust says, “Love is space and time measured by the heart.” What is space and time? It is the here and now. It is you. 

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Crying

Very young infants cry when they feel discomfort from hunger, pain, feeling too cold or too warm, sudden changes in position, transitional times, and too much stimuli from environment. Respect the child’s right to express feelings, or moods, whether crying or smiling. Try to find and eliminate discomfort.

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One Point Of View

The key word in Magda Gerber’s philosophy is RESPECT . . . respect for your baby and respect for yourself, the parent. An awareness of your child’s point of view, as well as your own, will greatly help in building a respectful relationship.

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