By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) — Have you ever wondered just how much a baby understands? A group of moms and some experts believe it may a lot more than we think, and they are using that idea as the basis for a new style of parenting.

It’s called RIE parenting, which stands for an organization called Resources for Infant Educarers. It’s a philosophy that teaches moms and dads to do less while the baby learns on his own.

Julie Papadopolous is a RIE mom. When she serves a meal to her 17-month-old son, Elias, he is not in a highchair. Instead, he sits at a small table on the floor. He even drinks out of a glass.

“He has the freedom to get up if he doesn’t want to eat,” Papadopolous explained.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

Kristen Eliasburg teaches parents how to work the RIE style of parenting into their every day lives. “The approach emphasizes a certain basic trust between the infant and the parent starting from day one,” she said.

At a playgroup of RIE families, mothers sit back and watch their toddlers play with simple items. They do not intercede unless there is danger. If a child falls or takes a toy from another, the children must work it out by themselves.

“We tend to baby babies, and that just doesn’t make sense to me,” one mom said. “They’re humans. Just because he can’t say complete sentences to me doesn’t mean I have to talk baby talk to him,” she added.

Some childhood development experts like the RIE approach, but Professor Catherine Tamus Lamondus says the RIE philosophy has no basis in research.

“If the baby is happy sitting in the high chair looking at you and splattering and playing with food, use the high chair,” she said.

Comments (2)
  1. Alan says:

    My children are 34, 31 and 27. Since the first day they were born they were spoken to in complete sentences as if they knew exactly what was being said (I believe they did know!). They were read to several times a day and everything was explained to them as though they understood. When they spoke with their mouth or their eyes they were responded to with complete understanding. When I said something and they even gestured I responded positively with re-enforcement we were on the same page.

    I could go on for hours about this, suffice it to say it worked. We have 3 well adjusted children, all of whom have graduated from very good colleges.

    By speaking “baby talk” to your children and treating them as if they know nothing you are doing them a HUGE life long injustice!

  2. joanie elbourn says:

    same here. Of course children are developing adults- what else would they be ? We raised our kids ( 4) that way without, apparently , knowing it was a “thing.” American, over the yrs, has dumbed down its children- botha t home and at school. For centuries , parents raised kids as capable small people- girls quilted and cooked, boys worked in the gardens, hunted etc.. They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. And, oddly enough, there was no designation of ” teenage” til fairly recently.

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