To Rescue or Not?

In our RIE® Parent-Infant Guidance™ Classes, we discuss the importance of giving trust to very young infants. We emphasize the value of allowing a struggle for some time and letting the baby work on their challenges. Additionally, we recognize the need for our support and assistance in various situations. One of the mothers, Nelly, in my class, asked, “How should you help the baby, and at what point?”

Sensitive objectivation can help us understand how to best support our children during their struggles. There is no universal formula that applies to all situations. Let’s begin by slowing down and examining different scenarios.

Let’s explore various situations:

Nelly mentioned that her daughter recently learned how to turn from her back to her tummy. However, one of her arms often gets stuck, causing discomfort. Should Nelly help her move her arm or roll her back? Alternatively, should she wait, and if so, for how long? What actions could she take?

  • Begin with observation. Take a few seconds to see what your daughter does. You might realize that she doesn’t require immediate assistance.
  • If you notice frustration building up, bring your face closer to hers and narrate the situation: “You rolled onto your tummy. Your arm got stuck, and it seems uncomfortable. You’re trying to free it.”
  • Give it a bit more time. If your daughter continues to struggle and appears tired, communicate this to her and pick her up, saying, “You’ve tried really hard. I think it’s time for a rest.”

Sometimes, you may realize that you assisted her too quickly or waited too long—it happens. Adjust the timing accordingly next time. Striking a balance enables learning, trust, nurturing, and assistance.

Another scenario: sometimes she manages to turn onto her tummy but doesn’t yet know how to return to her back. Consequently, she grows tired after a while. Should Nelly roll her back? The same approach can be taken:

  • Begin with observation.
  • Bring your face closer to provide support.
  • Narrate what you see.
  • Once you feel she’s too tired to remain on her tummy, avoid rolling her back. Inform her that you’ll pick her up and hold her in your arms, allowing her to rest.

Occasionally, Lori plays with toys that end up out of her reach. From her gaze, it seems like she’s seeking help.

  • Once again, start with observation. Sometimes the baby is engrossed in their movements and doesn’t currently need the toy.
  • Support her by narrating and identifying what you notice, such as saying, “I see the ball rolled away. It’s over there now.”
  • Acknowledge her frustrations and any other emotions she might be experiencing.

Parents often inquire about knowing the right time to intervene. There are no strict formulas or exact science for this. Sometimes, we act too quickly, and other times, we wish we had acted faster. With each experience, we become better observers. Ultimately, we aim to provide our babies with the support and empathy they need while also trusting in their abilities.

Let me know if you need more information about RIE® Parent-Infant Guidance™ Classes.

Wishing you all the best in the challenging yet rewarding journey of parenting!


Teacher Kira

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Parent-Infant Guidance™

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Facilitated by a RIE® Associate, small groups of parents and babies come together in a relaxing, infant-friendly environment to make friends and enjoy learning together.


What will you and your child learn in RIE class ? Children move, explore, discover, play and learn.


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