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Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child's Natural Abilities -- From the Very Start
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Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child's Natural Abilities -- From the Very Start

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  747 ratings  ·  75 reviews
As the founder of Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE), Magda Gerber has spent decades helping new mothers and fathers give their children the best possible start in life. Her successful parenting approach harnesses the power of this basic fact: Your baby is unique and will grow in confidence if allowed to develop at his or her own pace. The key to successful parenting is ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 15th 1997 by Wiley (first published December 1st 1997)
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Ariana Norgren
Oct 10, 2010 rated it liked it
I am reading this as part of Brynn's Parent-Young Toddler class. These are comments on the book's content rather than on its writing. As someone who has been mostly practicing attachment parenting, I found some of Gerber's ideas difficult to swallow. Gerber spends a great deal of time discussing the theraputic benefits of crying. Babies should be allowed to cry and parents shouldn't jump through so many hoops to get them to stop. She cites adult anecdotal evidence of "feeling better after a good ...more
Sharon Allen
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A guide to parenting that aligns remarkably well with principles of neuroscience. An authoritative/ cooperative approach to parenting, rather than authoritarian/directive. I value the ideas about not attempting to help a child with tasks they have not yet developed to do, and when helping a child giving only the smallest amount of support to allow the child to complete the task (allowing for mastery). A method of parenting that really supports a child learning through exploration of the world (a ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This overlapped with Montessori on a number of good ideas: be respectful, treat your kids like people, promote independence.

And like Montessori, it gets a little weird once the author gets down in the weeds. Mirrors are bad, for example. Babywearing is bad. Roughhousing is bad. Tummy time is bad.

Most of these are based on the assumption that babies and kids think and act like dignified adults, and even then, some logic is missing. (Adults strap themselves into roller coasters to experience a s
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read YSCB and Janet Lansbury’s Elevating Child Care in rapid succession; while this review will focus on the original work by Magda Gerber (founder of RIE in Los Angeles, CA), I may touch upon a few thoughts and ideas from Lansbury’s book as well.

The advice and ideas espoused in this book rest on two central premises:

Major premise; your baby comes built in with the tools it needs to learn and navigate its environment, and will create its own learning problems and discover its own solutions whe
Kalyani Mccullough
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing

This is my favorite parenting book so far. Treating babies with respect and like the tiny humans that they are really makes sense to me.
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've found a lot of value in principles from the RIE approach to parenting but there are definitely some things I disagree with. These are my thoughts.

What I find valuable:

1. Look at you baby as an individual, whole person that deserves respect from the very beginning.

2. Tell your baby what is going on and what you are currently doing. They may not understand what you are saying at first but you'll be surprised at how quickly they can comprehend and doing it builds good communication habits that
Nov 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
Describes RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) approach developed out of necessity for Hungarian orphans by Dr. Pickler. Concept is to observe and allow baby to explore on its own through its own innate curiosity, rather than constantly entertaining and stimulating. Instead of distractedly carrying baby all the time, she recommends letting the baby explore on its own in a safe area, and then actually focusing and interacting with the baby during quality time. Approach is more of an anecdotal par ...more
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
It wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but it wasn't particularly good. The writing is abysmal. She copies and pastes entire paragraphs and doesn't seem confident on what is and is not a sentence. For content I disagree with at least half of what she preaches. The stuff I liked was about respecting my child, listening to his cues, and encouraging him to work through problems himself. That would have taken at least an index card to convey...
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, parenting
This and Janet Lansbury books and blogs are the only parenting books i would recommend in retrospect, esp. to first time parents. This would have saved me so much grief with my first born. Relaxed, respectful parenting that makes sense and guilt free self-care included.
Alexis K.
Your Self-Confident Baby is not a good book for new parents. It has too many personal opinions and philosophies hiding under the guise of "best-practices" and "expert advice" that you should avoid it at all costs. This is especially true if you do not have first-hand experience with children and can weigh the "crazy" with the "reasonable."

Reasonable Ideas:

1: Try to focus on your child when you are in the room to the best of your ability. So, put your phone away.

2: You do not need to intervene ev
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it
First, I don't believe in subscribing to parenting styles. Can people really identify with everything laid out by one particular set of rules? I doubt it.

That being said, I thought I'd try reading about RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) for the under 2 crowd. Our daycare's infant room teacher, somebody who I've come to respect as an "educarer" and as a mom (her youngest and mine are born two weeks apart) is a strong believer in it in the classroom and at home, so I thought I'd read up on it s
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
There are very useful tips and advices in terms of child independence and autonomy but I can not say the same in terms of parental guidance(parental authority) and affection. The whole idea of the book is "challenge/nonintervention brings mastery and self confidence(whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger )" but where is the limit to stop and when it starts to be damaging for the child is a very big question mark in the book.

She reflects her "unhappiness" about her parents' way of parentin
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: new or expecting parents
I first learned about Magda Gerber in my RIE training classes. I studied at the RIE institute in Los Angeles, and learned a great deal that I apply to this day in my work. Her philosophy teaches parents and professionals to respect the infant by being very observant of their cues, thus allowing the baby to be an active participant in their environment instead of a passive recipient. When new or expecting parents ask my advice about what baby books are worth reading, this is the path I lead them ...more
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I would give it 3.5 if I could. RIE is way more okay with crying it out than they claim, and I find it bizarre that a high chair is like a "little prison" but a playpen is necessary? But the basic tenets of treating your child with respect and not interfering with their natural development and learning processes are solid, and I like that this book doesn't tell you what to do, but how they like to do things.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
nope. not impressed. Surprised by the reviews. Do not think it's balanced. For example she goes on about how staying at home until 2 is best for the child, inserts a little snippet that if stay at home isn't for you or financially isn't possible then do what you need to do only to sandwich it in with it's best to stay at home... that was the red flag for me.
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
There were some good tidbits, and I generally find the RIE approach to be sensical when it comes to toddlers, but I stopped reading when she started speaking fondly about sleep training using the Ferber method. There is nothing respectful about leaving your baby to cry and forcing independent sleep on an infant who is not developmentally ready to sleep alone.
Feb 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Controversial and not well written, but many ideas have saved some daily rituals like getting dressed, eating and diapering from meltdown and turned into moments of ease and connection. Easy, light reading. Must be taken with grain of salt; but Very useful.
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was a joy to read. Some of the advice was a bit outdated, but Magda Gerber's wisdom from years of watching young children develop really shines through.
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Says the same things as Dear Parents (but Dear Parents is better) but this one has a little more info on different ages
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lots of her philosophy resonated with me, but I'm glad I read it when I was confident enough in my own parenting to not be swayed by her occasionally heavy handed tone.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
This book surprised me in how practical it was, and how intuitive some of the advice was. There were a few instances where I disagreed with the author, but for the most part, her suggestions just made sense to me. Of course, this is also a potentially dangerous thing. Just because something sounds like it makes sense, it doesn't make it right. There is some referencing in this book, but not a whole lot of it. For the most part, Gerber is speaking from her own experience. It was a constant battle ...more
Teresa Bowman
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
It has some useful advice, particularly around conflict and independent play.

I strongly disagree with her about breastfeeding, babywearing, and high chairs. Breastfeeding has plenty of benefits after one year. Most babies love being worn, that's why we've done it for thousands of years. I don't babywear as much now that my toddler is 15 months, but it was something he loved when he was a newborn. And her thing about high chairs being restrictive and having kids sit at their own table, I think m
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
We were gifted this book by dear friends Jane and Joe who are also some of the parents we admire most. We both started out reading Magda’s protege, Janet Lansbury’s book, Elevating Childcare, where Lansbury repeatedly credits Gerber for all she knows and sings her praises. I appreciated a lot about the book and agreed with most things. It’s a book that I think we’ll come back to again and again as we navigate new parenthood. I loved that this one focused on those first two years of life — the ti ...more
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, babytime
I have heard a fair amount about the “respectful parenting” style, and was interested in learning more about it. After finding the collection of blog posts by Lansbury (reviewed earlier) difficult to follow, I turned to this book, which is more of a foundational text. I loved it--mostly because Gerber’s writing style is plain and understandable, her tone is absolutely grandmotherly but also serious, and because I simply agreed with a lot of her approaches. I particularly like how most of her sty ...more
Kathleen Cavender
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Overall, I liked it. It's the first "parenting" book I've ever read (even after being a mom for three years already). I've been winging it and not doing too badly. I decided to pick this up from a friend who was giving it away. I said why not? I like RIE, mostly. It seems to mesh well with what comes naturally to most parents, I think. There are several tips I took to heart to try with the next kid, things I definitely struggled with on our first one. I didnt like how the book read so infomercia ...more
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I jokingly called this the "Do Nothing" parenting book while reading it, but there is a kernel of truth to that characterization: Gerber focuses repeatedly on the need of the parent not to intervene when not necessary, and always to give the child as much autonomy as possible. This squares with my intuition, so of course I would enjoy it!

This is recommended, I would say. My one quibble: I think she was too dismissive of young kids reading. I would apply her philosophy of "observation first" to t
Mischa Andrews
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this critically to pick up excellent strategies for raising babies with respect (for them and you). Almost everything resonated with me, and after about a month of putting it into practice, I really feel a shift in how well I'm understanding my child and preparing the foundation for the next few years. Especially recommended for parents who value curiosity, problem-solving and independence. There were a few things I disagreed with, but that's bound to happen in just about any parenting book ...more
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
It’s fine, but I will keep saying that RIE can pry babywearing out of my cold, dead hands. 🤷🏻‍♀️I am first in line to see the whole child and respect the human being, but the placid speech, calm, in control, has never suited me or the immediacy of my feelings as a parent. I’m not saying I disagree with RIE speech, but those espousing it often fail to acknowledge my own turmoil as a parent and so the material has a disconnect for me. I am also not a fan of behaviorism as applied to humanity (see ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for all who spend time with babies and children. Written from the heart and soul of Magda Gerber. She was an extremely insightful and humane person. Thank you, Magda for writing a book filled with so much love and an insistence that we return to the basic and respectful approach of caring for our children. If only her philosophy could spill over into adult interactions as well, the world would be a happier and safer place.
Julie Aquilina
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
Interesting stuff. This is one of those books I sought out because it somewhat aligns with my thinking already, so I have to be careful because it is a little bit playing to my bias of wanting to see children as already unique people that we are uncovering rather than moulding. I like many of its specific action-based ways to do this. That being said, I feel it might be a little outdated. I'd like to read a more modern book on RIE parenting as well.
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