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RIE®: Resources for Infant Educarers

RIE’s educational philosophy is referred to as the Educaring® Approach, and is summarized as follows:

  • The infant needs an intimate, stable relationship with at least one primary person (e.g., a parent figure).
  • This relationship is best developed during caregiving activities. These activities offer excellent opportunities for developing cooperation, language, body image, consent, and mutuality in task-oriented experiences.
  • The infant is an active participant rather than a passive recipient while being cared for.
  • The infant needs a safe, carefully designed environment to move, explore, and manipulate objects. They thus achieve the stages of gross motor and sensory-motor development in their own time.
  • Spontaneous, self-induced activities, which the infant pursues freely and autonomously, are essential for physical and mental development. The pleasure in the process of exploration and mastery is self-reinforcing. The infant becomes intrinsically motivated to learn.
  • Meanwhile, the Educarer® must learn to observe, understand, and respect the infant’s individuality and respond with sensitivity and empathy to the infant’s cues.

The RIE Principles are the starting point for establishing a healthy and supportive relationship with our baby. RIE empowers parents and caregivers with the tools and perspective to understand each baby their unique relationship and find balance in the individual situation or setting.

RIE isn’t a list of rules you follow to a T. It’s a framework for understanding a baby, their needs and competencies, assessing the parent’s values and needs, and putting those together in an intentional way.


We not only respect babies, we demonstrate our respect every time we interact with them. Respecting a child means treating even the youngest infant as a unique human being, not an object.


An authentic child feels secure, autonomous, competent, and connected.

An authentic child feels confident in expressing any and all feelings and as they develop language their thoughts.

When we help a child feel secure, feel appreciated, and feel that “somebody is deeply, truly interested in me,” by how we look and listen, we influence that child’s whole personality, the way that child sees life.

  1. Basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer, and a self-learner

Because of this trust, we provide the infant with only enough help to allow the child to enjoy mastery of their actions.

2. An environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging, and emotionally nurturing

Our role is to create an environment where the child can best do all the things the child would do naturally. The more predictable an environment is, the easier it is for babies to learn.

As infants become more mobile, they need a safe, appropriate space to move. The environment should not handicap their natural, inborn desire to move.

3. Freedom to explore and interact with other infants 

Instead of trying to teach babies new skills, we appreciate and admire what babies are actually doing and learning.

4. Time for uninterrupted play

We give the infant plenty of time for uninterrupted play.

5. Involvement of the child in all caregiving activities to allow the child to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient

During care activities (diapering, feeding, bathing, dressing, etc.), we encourage even the tiniest infant to become active rather than passive recipients of the activities. Parents create opportunities for interaction, cooperation, intimacy, and mutual enjoyment by being wholeheartedly with the infant during the daily care routine.

“Refueled” by such unhurried, pleasurable, caring experiences, infants are ready to explore their environment with only minimal intervention by adults.

6. Sensitive observation of the child to understand their needs

Our method, guided by respect for the infant’s competence, is observation. We observe carefully to understand the infant’s communications and their needs.

The more we observe, the more we understand and appreciate the enormous amount and speed of learning during the first two or three years of life. We become more humble, teach less, and provide an environment for learning instead.

7. Consistency and clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline

We establish clearly defined limits and communicate our expectations to develop self-discipline.

Magda Gerber –

Dr. Emmi Pickler pioneered his model of respectful care in 1946. Magda Gerber applied it to the family when she came to America in 1957. This approach has a long and rich history of study, practice in both group and family settings, and data on the observations of thousands of infants and toddlers over half a century. More on Dr. Emmy Pickler

Janet Lansbury Elevating Childcare –

In the two decades I have studied and practiced RIE® in my parenting, relationships, and business, I’d say this is one of the best short descriptions I have ever seen of what we practice.

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