Fearless Baby, Empowered By Risk (Surprising Video!)

This video is somewhat surprising at first glance – just about every glance, actually. Even when my 9 year old daredevil son saw it, he exclaimed disapprovingly, “You let her get on the table again?!”

The “table” is actually just a wooden platform a few inches high, a focus of interest and activity for babies in the RIE Parent/Infant Guidance Classes. The 8 month old baby in the video is an extraordinarily agile, athletic and energetic girl with an unusually unflappable temperament. But her choices of action and astounding reactions are really just a demonstration of the way all babies are naturally wired to learnthey risk. They challenge themselves, stumble (literally and figuratively) and get up again. What we might perceive as “mistakes”, they accept as just another interesting life event and a challenge to be overcome (unless, of course, it hurts too much).

It is indeed scary and challenging for parents and caregivers to let babies practice their motor skills as freely as this baby does. But isn’t her determination, perseverance, tenacity, ingenuity (note her figuring out how to pick up the wiffle ball), endurance, capability and self-confidence inspiring? These are traits well worth encouraging, and trusting a baby to explore independently in a safe, age-appropriate environment like this one with minimal intervention is the best way to do that…

Whew! That mommy is a trooper. And a special thank you also to the mom who got there in time to spot the baby’s fall #3!

But this was only the beginning… Super Baby continued her adventures (and testing her mom’s nerves) outdoors. In this next video, she practices pulling up to a standing position and getting down again. Guess which one’s harder? Her mom was concerned because the baby had been face-planting at home, so first I did a spotting demonstration and then mommy took over. Again, Super Baby amazes. Even after getting tired (can’t imagine why) determination wins out. Watch what she does after she cries a little and then finally gets down…

What luck and what a privilege it is to have witnessed (and recorded) these monumental moments of risk, struggle and development in this delightful girl’s life. I have no doubt she’ll continue to grow and thrive with self-confidence, courage and conviction…and an obviously irrepressible sense of humor.

“Learning to fall, getting up again, and moving on, is the best preparation for life.” -Magda Gerber

Note: These video clips are edited highlights from over 60 minutes of Super Baby’s uninterrupted play that day. She experimented with each of the activities we see in the video for an extended period of time (plus many more).

Please share your impressions!


Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. I love this! She reminds me a lot of my baby London. The videos and your post make me feel happy that we are allowing London to follow her urges to challenge herself, and that despite the anxiety it produces, she should grow up with “self-confidence, courage and conviction.” Yeah!

    1. Yeah! That’s exactly what I want to do for you and London.:)

  2. This reminds me of my son too, as soon as I discovered RIE, and let him be who he is. He climbs up kitchen chairs and up tables now (14m) plays a bit up there, and as soon as he realizes how high he is, cries for help. I try to guide him down, but he’s really scared, and as soon as I come near him, he’ll spring into my arms like a scared cat. BUT, if I pretend I’m not paying attention, I’ve seen him stand at the edge and look like he’s bracing to jump. Of course I jump into action before he attempts. So, I keep the dining chairs in another room now lol.

  3. This reminds me alot of our son! He is very adventurious and a great climber. Now 13months we often find people comment on how cautious and calculated he is when he is climbing high or attempting new things. By letting him fail and fall, he has developed a very acute sense of his own abilities, and now masters safely returning to the floor very quickly!

  4. Our son (26 months) is also very adventurous and loves to climb up and onto things. He is a remarkably resilient little boy. At the moment we are in the process of having him diagnosed for a motor disability which greatly affects his ability to walk, run and climb. This is of course compared to other children. He however does not see it that way and will continue to pick himself up time and again.

    I truly hope he keeps this inner strength and belief in himself as he grows.

    I have to say thank you for all your reassuring posts as we have been going through this process. They remind me to see him for him and let him be him. Nothing less and nothing more.

    1. Kate, your boy’s inner stength and belief in himself will definitely continue because you obviously trust and believe in him. Your understanding that achieving motor skills on “schedule” is of little importance compared to a lifetime of self-confidence, authenticity — comfort in one’s skin — is the key. As you obviously recognize, belief in oneself can’t be taught, bought or encouraged through praise. (I love the way, in the second video, the baby shines her mom on when she gives her a little praise. She’s totally inner-directed and intrinsically motivated!) As long as you continue to believe that his natural abilities and interests are perfect and “enough,” he will, too. And he’ll continue to inspire you with his resilience. He’s a lucky boy to have such a wonderful parent. Thanks for sharing!

  5. avatar April Stalker says:

    I watched the videos her with my 4 month old daughter on my lap… she and I loved it. My babys eyes were glued to the baby in the video!

    My son is 26 months. He was just like this when he was learning to pull up and walk. I let him fall a bit. Was not shocked by the video. Baby did not get hurt. My son now a days regularly skins his knees but no longer gets the goose eggs on his forehead 🙂 he has learned how to fall and get up again… lots of confidence and very athletic – more than me! Oh and I am a helocopter mom regarding other things though… panic inside but let him explore, while I observe and protect if really needed.

  6. I love this video. My daughter is 8 months old and I recently discovered her standing in her crib moving from side to side. She fell a fews time in her attempts to change from the standing position. But soon figured how to put her knees down and slide onto her bottom. Upon showing my husband he immediately wanted to jump in and catch her before she fell. I asked him to relax and watch her work it out. He was surprised and stated she won’t figure anything out if I don’t give her the opportunity. It can be hard for parents to relax when babies start moving, but it’s really amazing to see them work it out for themselves. Of course, safety first, but they really need that chance to explore and utilize their skills.

  7. I love this. This little girl is exactly like my 9 month old son. Ever since he could roll I’ve given him the run of our back room which is completely safe and he is more than happy to play by himself for up to an hour. He’s crawling and pulling himself up to standing and his favorite thing to do is for me to lie down on the carpet and for him to crawl over the top of me. He’s had a few face plants but doesn’t mind and keeps trying. He’s so determined! I love it!

  8. My daughter has learned to pull herself up to a standing position. However, like the little girl in the video she doesn’t know how to get back down. It appears that she actually becomes more scared than frustrated. Any suggestions how I can help her learn to get down on her own? I think in the video I heard someone say “can you bend her knees?” but then what happened after that was edited out. Did the mother help bend her knees or just tell her to? I’ve tried talking my daughter through it but she just becomes increasingly worked up and scared. Thanks in advance.

  9. I find this website and the babies very inspiring – I’m just wondering how long to leave my five month old to play by himself. He seems content for well over an hour, but I feel like I’m just neglecting him. Is it really benign? Am I just stuck in a cultural rut (feeling the need to entertain!).

    1. I totally understand the worry, Helen, but I’ve learned that we really can trust our children to let us know when they need us. So, enjoy! It may not always be this way. For me, it was hard not to spend a lot of time being present and observing, but I was careful not to interrupt the magic.

  10. I absolutely love this. It takes great patience in the parent. But watching your child literally learn right before your eyes is priceless.

  11. This is great and very timely.
    Our second child started to turn on her side just before turning 2 months old (she has done that 4-5 times) and a couple of days ago at 2.5 mo I found her on her tummy, with her hand stuck under her. I was shocked, since I couldn’t even imagine this can happen so early. Our first child was completely different. I had the urge to help her but stopped. A few moments (and a few cries) later she turned on her back again. I was at a loss, it seems that she likes to be on her back and move freely but I am quite nervous. I found myself not really knowing what to do, help or not help, show my excitement or not. Isn’t this too early? How should we respond? Thank you, Janet. (sorry for my English, it’s not my first language).

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