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Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child's Natural Abilities - from the Very Start [Paperback]

Magda Gerber , Allison Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Feb 2012
"At long last –– Magda Gerber′s wisdom and spice captured in a book ––what a treasure! Now parents and caregivers everywhere can benefit from learning what it means to truly respect babies." –– Janet Gonzalez–Mena , Author of Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers and Dragon Mom "Magda Gerber′s approach will deepen your understanding of your baby and help you truly appreciate the complexity, competence, and amazing capacities of the small human being for whom you are caring." –– Jeree H. Pawl , Ph.D. Director, Infant–Parent Program University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine 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 learning to observe your child and to trust him or her to be an initiator, an explorer, a self–learner with an individual style of problem solving and mastery. Now you can discover the acclaimed RIE approach. This practical and enlightening guide will help you: Develop your own observational skills Learn when to intervene with your baby and when not to Find ways to connect with your baby through daily caregiving routines such as feeding, diapering, and bathing Effectively handle common problems such as crying, discipline, sleep issues, toilet training, and much more.

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Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child's Natural Abilities - from the Very Start + Caring for Infants with Respect + Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (23 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118158792
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118158791
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Back Cover

"A vital resource for new and expectant parents."— Ed Greene, Ph.D., Board Member, National Association for the Education of Young Children "At long last—Magda Gerber′s wisdom and spice captured in a book—what a treasure! Now parents and caregivers everywhere can benefit from learning what it means to truly respect babies."—Janet Gonzalez–Mena, Author of Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers and Dragon Mom "Magda Gerber′s approach will deepen your understanding of your baby and help you truly appreciate the complexity, competence, and amazing capacities of the small human being for whom you are caring."—Jeree H. Pawl, Ph.D., Director, Infant–Parent Program University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine As the founder of Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE), Magda Gerber 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 learning to observe your child and to trust him or her to be an initiator, an explorer—a self–learner with an individual style of problem solving and mastery. Now you can discover the acclaimed RIE approach. This practical and enlightening guide will help you: Develop your own observational skills Learn when to intervene with your baby and when not to Find ways to connect with your baby through daily caregiving routines such as feeding, diapering, and bathing Effectively handle common problems such as crying, discipline, sleep issues, toilet learning, and much more

About the Author

Magda Gerber founded Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) and created a series of instructional videos. Allison Johnson is a freelance writer.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I really liked this 15 Feb 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Magda Gerber does not give a 'run-of-the-mill' tutorial and childcare. I rather had the sense I was reading Ayn Rand for kids, but from my experience with a two year old I can say that the techniques work. The youngster is a confident, competent individual and you can see a market contrat between him and his peers. I am of course conscious that a father cannot assess his own son without a bias, but I would seriously recommend this work.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most common sense approach of any time 25 Jan 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
It is often said, "When you don't know what to do, you do what you know." Without the RIE approach, I would have repeated many of the very serious mistakes my mother made.
This book so articulately describes the "how to's" and "why's" of child-rearing. There are very few unanswered questions. It is a wonderful guide book not only for raising children, but for relating to people of all ages. Magda Gerber reminds us that frustration, anxiety, fear and other stresses are normal experiences for parents and children. Even with the struggles life dishes out, one can realistically build a life-long relationship with your infant by modeling respect.
One of the many of the messages I came away with from reading this book is that aside from the obvious fact that parenting is hard work, it also can be fun and we have the right to relax and enjoy it. Magda Gerber presents guidelines that really work because they are so logical. The experiental aspects of the RIE approach in raising an infant are described in a clear, understandable and applicable way. I wish it were required reading for all parents.

This book is now the gift I give to all my friends who are parents or soon-to-be parents. My only criticizm is that the book ended.

Wendy Kronick - Los Angeles, CA.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every parent should read this 16 Dec 2012
By Zoe
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Haven't finished reading it yet but so far, it's the best parenting book I've ever read. Lovely easy read, very practical advice. Not the kind of book that makes you feel guilty about everything you've been doing wrong. I wish I'd found this before I had my first child!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book! 27 April 2014
By Tonto
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Such a welcome difference in child care approaches. I'm a nanny and use this book all the time. Great if you're first time parents or working or studying in child care.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  56 reviews
115 of 116 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At odds with Attachment Parenting at times, but still worth reading 5 Dec 2011
By Ivy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I literally couldn't put this book down when I received it. I must have read a few dozen parenting books by now, but this one still has new insights worth reading. However, as an attachment parent, I disagree with several points.

Here are the main points that I found to be useful:

1. Have respect for the baby. He is a person, not a pet. If you need to do something to him,
let him know (now it's time to change your diaper....). This is similar to how a doctor talks you through a procedure beforehand so that you prepare for it mentally. I must say that these ideas are not entirely novel. Writings of Maria Montessori advocate respect for the child (see for example Secret of Childhood. Also, talking to your baby about what's going on is suggested by Bright from the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mindfrom Birth to Age 3. I can't remember where else I read about asking for permission from non-verbal babies (e.g. "Would you like me to pick you up now?") but I liked the idea, and has worked for me and my 2-year old. As a child what I hated most was relatives kissing and pinching my cheeks when I did not want that. My boy knows he has a choice in things that involve his body - he is not my property.

2. Crying is not the end of the world. I am one of those parents who feels like I have been stabbed in between my shoulders when my baby cries. I have, over time, figured out what different cries mean, and have relaxed. I still, however, immediately pick up my child when the cry is genuine (hurt, tired, etc.) I do not agree with the idea of letting infants cry when they are really young (regardless of why they are crying). The author contends that it's ok because that is their way of communication. However, wouldn't you want to be heard when communicating? Very young infants have very unexperienced parents sometimes, who don't know why the infant is crying. What if the cry is genuine? Even if it's not, I don't see how letting an infant cry while you take a shower makes sense.

3. Let the kid be. This is very good advice. I first got this from Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three and realized how much I got on my kid's way unintentionally. For e.g., when I bought a new toy, I was eager to show to him how it works, make funny sounds, put it in his hands when he lacked interest in it, etc. However, this book suggests that such interference from the parent robs the child from the joy of discovering himself what the toy/object is supposed to be and what it does. I changed my ways a long time ago, due to the Montessori book, but it was nice to see that this idea is supported by other authors. The end result is that my child does not need me for entertainment and can be left alone to play for a good 1-2 hours at age 2. I am of course, nearby, cooking or reading, so he knows where to find me. I also have babyproofed the whole first floor of the house, so he can be left alone to play unsupervised. The book suggests precisely that, similar to the Montessori source above - babyproof an entire area/room, and let the child roam free there and play with whatever he wants.

4. Free play is best. Forget about courses, music lessons, teaching ABCs, or any other form of "teaching" - the child will learn what he is interested in and by HIMSELF. There is a big push in recent years toward more free play (I remember a conference in the Bay Area last year about this), and I agree with it. We overschedule kids way too young because we want to provide them with choices, opportunities, and a competitive edge later on, that we probably lacked as kids. The book argues that a kid playing at home (indoors and out) by himself is all that is needed before the age of 2. This is similar in nature to the Waldorf approach (You Are Your Child's First Teacher: What Parents Can Do With and For Their Chlldren from Birth to Age Six).

5. With respect to discipline, this book has similar recommendations to Jane Nelsen (Positive Discipline: NO punishment of any sort - just choices, redirection, and logical consequences. E.g. the child throws the toy down the stairs - parent leaves it there and doesn't retrieve it. The child knows that throwing the toy away has the consequence that he may not be able to play with it anymore. I agree with the non-punishment view wholeheartedly. What does a child learn from time-out as a result of dumping juice all over the dinner table? If he is given a sponge and asked to clean it up, he may learn a thing or two (BTW, my kid is obsessed with cleaning up spills because of this approach - even before he could talk, he'd come to me and point out a spill and I'd give him a small sponge to mop it up).

Here are the issues I have with this book's recommendations:

1. It recommends ferberizing the baby. The argument is that parents need their privacy and the baby should not be brought into the parents' bedroom. The parents have needs too, and they should be met, so the baby is cared for by better parents. Similar argument made by Jane Nelsen who I like a lot, aside from this viewpoint - children don't NEED to sleep in your bed, they may WANT to. I personally thought I found a new messiah in Dr. Sears when his Baby book The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Revised and Updated Edition) gave me the green light to co-sleeping. I did it because (1) it felt right (2) I had to get some sleep (so, here, meeting my needs), and (3) nothing else worked (and I did not have the heart to CIO my newborn). My 2-year old sleeps 12-14 hours at night and 1-2 during the day (if co-sleeping), so he is a much easier child to deal with (if not co-sleeping the total hours he sleeps in a day is about 10). Studies have found that 6-graders who got 1 less hour of sleep at night performed at a 4th grade level. Sleep is very important for babies and for adults. Whatever gets the entire family to sleep is the best solution. With cosleeping we get to sleep without paceing the hall to settle the kid when he wakes up at night, and he gets to sleep next to his most favorite people in the world. Have I mentioned waking up to cuddles and kisses? (BTW, about 48% of toddlers wake up at least once a night according to Pantley The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Gentle Ways to Stop Bedtime Battles and Improve Your Child's Sleep), so Ferberizing is not going to mature a baby's sleep cycles before it's time. (Just a bit of anecdotal evidence - all three of my siblings were sleep trained the exact same way - as adults, two of us have major sleep problems, while the other sleeps the moment his head hits the pillow. Interestingly, this was the case since we were babies).

2. As mentioned briefly above, I take issue with letting children cry. Throughout the animal world, a baby crying gets attention. How did anyone figure out that human babies cry to let off steam?

3. It takes the idea of leaving the baby alone while parent simply observes to the extreme. The baby needs human interaction, talking to pre-verbal babies is important for language skills, one-to-one interaction with the baby helps build trust and self-esteem (there is plenty of literature on this, I'm not simply stating my beliefs). How are we to ignore these and just observe the baby? And what if the baby grabs us by the hand and leads us down to the floor to play with them (that's what my kid used to do)? Babies are very social, and they crave human interaction, especially once they are more expressive (even though still not speaking).

So why should AP parents still read this book? Aside from co-sleeping (which is an entirely personal choice IMO) and crying, I think this book provides balance. It may be easy to become a helicopter parent rescuing the child from all challenges when following an AP approach. The gist of the AP approach, however, is that in the newborn period, it's way too early to teach important life lessons like self-reliance. It may be difficult for AP parents to figure out when to teach such lessons, and picking the battles when doing so may be something worth reading about.
61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great philiosophy in easy-to-read book 15 April 2003
By J. Hayles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book explores the "proper" method to raise a child who is self-confident and respectful. I know there is no "right" way to raise a child but I feel the more informed I am the better my decisions will be. This book employs a philisophy the author terms RIE (pronounce WRY)-Resources for Infant Educarers. RIE adheres to the following principles:
* Basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer, and a self-learner
* Time for uninterrupted play
* An environmnet for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging, and emotionally nurturing
* Involvement of the child in all caregiving activities to allow it to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient
* Sensitive observation of the child in order to understand her needs
* Consistency and clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline
A couple of examples given in the book covers getting your child to sleep and communication. RIE recommends that you always put your child to bed awake. Why? Babies are aware of their surroundings. If a baby is lying in the living room and wakes up in a bed, it is confusing for the child. Another example is talking to your child. When you are going to change a diaper, it's recommended that you communicate this to your child and ask for her cooperation. This allows the child the opportunity to process this information and prepare for the activity as well as enable them to become a participant rather than a recipient.
I finished this book and found it extremely illuminating. For me, the things that stood out (i.e., things I didn't think about while around babies) are:
* Talk to the Baby, not about it
* Treat the Baby as a person not as an object. They have feelings and those feelings should be respected. If you want to do something to the baby, ask first. By asking, you are able to establish a routine (an area where children thrive) and they know exactly what to expect.
* Crying is Okay! Babies can't talk so they must cry to communicate. Instead of "hushing" or "quieting" a crying baby, let the baby cry and try to observe what is wrong with it. By immediately picking up the child, you are telling the child that what is really wrong (e.g., you are grumpy) is not important and being quiet is.
I am sure that some will disagree with this book and some will agree. I found this book right on in its approach and have decided to employ this philosophy with our first child. Gerber writes in a converstaional tone with easy-to-understand wording and structure. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in parenting!
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your Self-Confident Baby 31 May 2000
By Mikaelah Morocco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book when my son was 14 months old and began implementing Magda Gerber's philosphy of respect for infants and toddler's. It is amazing to my husband and myself how easy it was to gain the cooperation of our little boy just by explaining what we would be doing and giving him time to participate in his own care.
Primary times for interacting with your child are diapering, feeding and bathing. These times are no longer tasks to be hurried through, but moments of communication and interaction that set the stage for a lifetime of relating.
The book also addresses the needs of parents. It is the first book I have read that truly deals with the family as a unit. Realizing that parents also have needs and are better at parenting when these needs for rest and time apart from the infant are met was very helpful.
Also helpful were the ideas around creating safe areas for Noah to play in ... both indoors and out as a way for him to have space and time alone.
Allowing Noah to have his feelings when something comes up that doesn't suit him was another area that the book deals with. It is ok to be mad or upset or uncomfortable...and as a parent not to distract my son from being upset, which seems to be a knee-jerk response at times. It never occurred to me that just acknowleging Noah's feelings was enough. I didn't have to give in to all the demands to keep peace in the house. In fact, our home is very peaceful since implementing Gerber's ideas.
This is more than just a parenting book. It has helped me be more present with my son.
I only wish I would have discovered this book before we had our son so that I could have done some of the things she suggests earlier in Noah's life.
It is a book that I enthusiastically recommend.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect "new parent" gift! 11 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Nearly everyday my husband thanks me for having discovered this book (and the RIE approach). It has taught us to be more patient, trusting, and "present" parents. In my desire to be the perfect mother, I could easily see myself doing everything for my son, but this book helped me see how that was exactly NOT what my son wants from me. Learning to offer choices and explaining consequences has given us a positive model for teaching and discipling. And unlike anything else I've read, this approach has taught me that it's perfectly ok if my son and I don't agree on everything -- I can still do what I need/want to do and he can have his own feelings about it without me needing to distract him out what he is expressing (geez, what a complicated way of saying that if he wants to cry while I take a shower, that's ok for both of us!) By modeling respect (most of the time), we are teaching our child how important and capable he is. And so far the "terrible twos" are anything but!! Thank you Magda for devoting your life to infants -- and thank you Allison for sharing her theories with us! I have given or lent this book to every new parent I know with the full confidence that they will pick up at least one thing that will forever affect the way they raise their precious new baby!!
61 of 73 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for those practicing Attachment Parenting! 29 Aug 2010
By PJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Magda Gerber's basic idea is that kids and babies need to be respected as people. This is a great starting point and in the first few pages I thought this was going to be a great book, because I agree with that idea. This book did have a few little bits of wisdom, for example to talk to your baby and explain what you're doing so that they aren't passive objects having everything done to them without involving them at all~ although I have to say if one did this for every single act in an entire day it gets kind of tedious. I also like her ideas about not needing to do anything to encourage a baby's development, that it happens pretty much on its own given the right conditions. In America and other places parents feel this overwhelming need to "do" things to get their baby to develop, when in fact this is not needed and can even be invasive. However, Gerber takes this to the extreme that you should never ever put a baby in any position he or she wouldn't be able to get into on their own. Come on!

Most of her philosophy and ideas do not fit with an attachment parenting lifestyle. I had a hard time continuing reading after she advocated the Ferber method of "cry it out" ~ leaving a baby to cry alone at night in its crib. She also more or less believes that playing with your baby is somehow compromising his or her integrity, and suggests always just leaving the baby alone and watching. I do think attachment parents can tend to be somewhat invasive or smothery, and even babies do at times need their own space. So I appreciate that. But Magda Gerber believes this is the truth at all times and therefore babies should not be carried, picked up when crying, sit with adults while eating, co-slept with and played with. Huh? I could not disagree more. I find this approach very cold and distant, and for anyone who is even doing some of the attachment parenting principles this way will not be for you. There are so many better books than this one.
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