Babies And Parenting – 10 Things I Learned In 2010

1) Babies are not only as present and aware as adults, they are more so.

Recent brain studies show that babies can’t help but take in everything around them. They are big picture thinkers, unable to focus in on only one or a few aspects of their environment and exclude the rest. This “lantern-type” attention is what allows them to learn and develop more rapidly in infancy than they ever will again.

2) Babies may be born with morals, or learn them much earlier than previously imagined.  More proof of infant awareness came from Paul Bloom’s Yale University studies in which babies picked the ‘good guys’ and stared longer at the ‘bad guys’.

3) Children don’t joke or make up stories about inappropriate touching, even if they say they are joking. This I learned through a tragic, shocking situation, the most eye-opening experience I’ve had in years (and I still haven’t found closure). Sexual abuse is much more common than I had realized. It can happen to any child, anywhere, and sexual predators are ‘normal’ people we trust intimately.

4) Some of us (ahem) are easily engrossed by our computers, iPhones, etc, and allow these distracting devices to interrupt time with our children. A recent study shows that our inattention bothers children more than they let on.

5) A new round of studies emphasize the dangers of TV use for babies. Many parents are unaware that there’s a far better option. Infant specialist Magda Gerber provides it.

6) There are parents practicing Magda Gerber’s child care principles around the globe, without the support of classes or local community.  Join my community forum and find or give support to those in your area. Also, please check out some of these inspiring blogs by parents and professionals practicing the principles of Gerber, Pikler and RIE: Regarding Baby, A Pikler Experience, Every Moment Is Right, Little River School Online, Inspired By Pikler, Los Angeles Child Therapist, Compassionate Sleep Solutions, La Casa Naranja and Amarama.   (If I’ve left anyone out, please alert me immediately, because if there’s one thing I learned this year it’s that I don’t remember as much. Middle age is like having new mom ‘baby brains’ without the baby.)

7) If we can parent mindfully in the first few years, we are pretty much home free. This has been my belief and my experience for quite a while, but now that my first baby is 18, I can say it with complete conviction. Yes, there are difficult issues to deal with from time to time, but the guidance Magda Gerber gave me for those first 2-3 years has provided me all the answers I’ve needed for 18.  The respectful relationship Magda helped me establish with my children when they were infants and toddlers has continued almost effortlessly. I feel blessed and blown away, and it is the reason I teach and blog about her principles.

8) Feldenkrais practitioner Irene Gutteridge is making exquisite videos about natural gross motor development. If you are wondering when ‘tummy time’ ideally begins, this baby will show you.

9) The RIE “Educaring” approach to child care, officially founded by Magda Gerber in 1978 and inspired thirty years previously by pediatrician Emmi Pikler is now, at last (drum roll, please)…a celebrity trend!

10) I never tire of observing babies play. Okay, I already knew that, but I’ll never take for granted the opportunities I have to observe these small, hugely inspiring people. Their appetite for life, their curiosity, courage, wisdom, humor and joy never cease to surprise and amaze me.

What did you learn last year?

(Photo by Vato Bob on Flickr)


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

  1. What a great list Janet! I love your site and I love hearing what you have to say about babies and children.

    I honestly believe respect is the number one thing we need to be mindful of when raising our children. This is something I try to remind myself of daily.

    Happy New Year to you and your family and thanks for sharing all your wonderful knowledge and experience 🙂

  2. I learned that I LOVE being a parent! That I can balance school work, being a mom, being a loving partner and taking time for myself. (I have also learned that I need to be better at doing all those things more equally! New Year’s Resolution!) I discovered patience I didn’t know I had and fortitude beyond measure.

    1. Sounds great! Please come and teach me the balancing part….that’s one of my resolutions.

  3. Thanks Janet. I am delighted to be included in this company. The RIE/Gerber/Pikler approach continues to awe me with its radical simplicity. One thing I’m learning and thinking about these days I’m calling “too much attunement,” i.e. respect for babies but without the limits that Magda was great about modeling. I like the balance that RIE provides. Another thing I learned this year was how relentless all of our self-criticism as parents is and how harmful that is to parents, kids & community.

    1. Miven, you are right on the mark, as usual. Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights.

  4. I love number 7! I had a feeling that had to be true and now reading that you have found it true in your own life, only confirms my suspicion. And good news: I will be sending in $100 tomorrow to hold my position for RIE 1 this year! My mom and dad generously purchased all the required reading for me as a Christmas gift! Can’t wait!

    1. Woot! I’ll look forward to hopefully meeting you! Yay!!!

  5. Great list! I will share this with the parents and teachers who subscribe to our free weekly e-zine, Parenting News You Can Use, with a link in the January 18th issue. (More about that at RIE sounds amazing and in alignment with the course that I teach, Redirecting Children’s Behavior. I’ll check it out!

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