This week in weird celeb news: famous moms and dads are enrolling in parenting classes where instructors tell them to hand-feed their children, stop rocking, singing and playing on the floor with them, and eschew mirrors, mobiles, playpens, high chairs, or toys with batteries.
This may sound crazy to some parents (especially the ones who couldn't not rock and sing to their babies if they tried), but this technique, "doing RIE", is the new back-to-basics approach that Hollywood power parents like Tobey Maguire, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jason Alexander, and William H. Macy are embracing. According to The Daily Beast, RIE, which stands for Resources for Infant Educarers,
"eschews the conventions of American infancy from baby strollers, high chairs and battery-operated toys to excessive praise, forced sharing, and even lullabies. The end result, advocates say, is not just more competent and self-aware children, but a more peaceful world."
RIE is a reaction to the idea of intense over-parenting, where kids enrolled in a battery of classes and pushed to achieve early on. The point of RIE seems to be to take things down a notch by eliminating the noise of certain toys and many extra-curricular activities, and allowing the baby to fully take it all in at his own pace. Parents are encouraged to narrate everything they do so baby feels a part of things. Babies shouldn’t run errands with parents, which can interrupt the calm flow of their day. A crying baby isn't shushed, but asked why he is crying.
That sounds nice, but some people are calling the new trend "cult-like." Obviously, this technique won't make sense for most parents – who gets kid-free errand time on a regular basis? And lots of parents feel an instinctive need to rock and sing to their crying babies.
What doesn't sound instinctive to me is how instructor Hari Grebler described the RIE method of picking up a baby: "(We ask) how do we pick them up? Do we just snatch them up from the floor? Or do we go over and talk and try to find out what's up and tell them, ‘Now I’m going to pick you up.’”
I'm all for getting back to basics, but some of this sounds overly complicated and like something I wouldn’t go for. What about you? Is Hollywood on to something?