Happy Healthy Homestead

Book Review: Your Self Confident Baby

This month I read: “Your Self Confident Baby: how to encourage your child’s natural abilities – from the very start

Favorite Quotes

“What is essential is to observe. Get to know your child. If you really recognize what your child needs, if you feel what is causing him grief, feel what she needs, then you will respond in the right way. You will guide and bring up your child well.” – Dr. Pikler

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll probably not remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.” -Native American saying

Main Takeaways:

Like many parenting books that I have read there are things I learn and apply and there are other things I completely disagree with. I think the key to getting the most out of non fiction books is that you don’t throw all the information away just because you don’t agree with some things. For example, I think children do need direction and parent involvement more than this book suggests. However, I do agree with allowing the child to try and figure things out for themself, letting them explore, and not hovering.

This book discusses the REI (respect, esteem, honor) method in detail and what that looks like practically throughout childhood. She lists many good ideas for sensory and cognitive development. Overall, I am glad I read this book as I did learn some new practical ideas and I do partially agree with some of the methodology.

Summary of Notes:

REI= respect, esteem, and honor

Respect in terms of parents and children = accepting, enjoying, and loving your child as she is and not expecting her to do what she cannot do. Allowing the child time, space, love and support to be herself and to discover the world in her own unique way. Trying to understand her point of view.

Basic principles:

  • basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer, and a self learner
  • An environment for the child that is safe, nurturing, and cognitively challenging
  • Time for uninterrupted play
  • Freedom to explore and interact with other infants
  • Involvement of the child in all caregiving activities to allow the child to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient
  • Sensitive observation of child to understand their needs
  • Consistency and clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline

Dr Pikler studies:

  • she believed that restricting a baby’s movement (such as infant seats, walkers, etc) not only impedes his motor development but also affects his cognitive growth, social skills and personality.
  • Studying accident statistics she found that wealthy children kept indoors cared by nannies had more injuries than poor children allowed to play in the street. The children who played in the street learned how to fall and were more aware of their physical abilities and limits.

Dip, American rei model:

  • Ages 5-24 months
  • not intervene unless child’s Safety was involved, child was frightened, or if child was frustrated solving a problem
  • Even if there is a disputed over a toy first observing to see of children can figure it out. You can say “I won’t let you hit Jake. That would hurt him. What else can you do?”


  • When spending time with them try to be fully present and have high quality time. This will help refuel them for when they are by themselves on s blanket across the room or when you are not there
  • Babies don’t need flashing black and white cards or loud rattles in their faces to be stimulated.
  • Dr pickler “peaceful babies – contented mothers”
  • The baby’s first need is to form an attachment to her parents. Meaning that the child achieves a healthy dependence on parental figure (usually the mother). She becomes secure knowing if she cries the mother will come, if she is hungry she will be fed, etc
  • She must first feel secure to later seek independence
  • Develop a predictable daily schedule that helps develop trust
  • Don’t baby talk to your baby but talk in gentle normal voice
  • Talk to your baby often to build up vocabulary
  • Tell your baby what you are going to do before you do it. I’m going to pick you up now.
  • While this is hard to do with other children in the house try to make the environment as calm and peaceful as possible for the baby
  • If music is played have it be calm and peaceful and not all the time
  • Babies should be allowed to sleep for as long as possible
  • Infants should be kept at home the first few months. Ideally errands can be ran by others during that short time.
  • Try to have meals, naps, bath, bedtime at the same time everyday. So baby can have a predictable schedule.
  • Place baby on back. Once she is big enough to roll over on her own then she has developed the muscles to do that and it’s her choice
  • Choose designated place inside and outside for playing and possibly also sleeping. Ideally playpen. Baby will start to feel comfortable in that area
  • Babies don’t need to be constantly held or carried in carriers. Spend quality time when carrying and holding your baby so that the baby is ok on their own for a bit nearby.
  • Newborns don’t need play objects, although these are important for older babies.
  • Breastfeeding not only is healthy but the sucking can prevent ear infections
  • It’s best to teach babies how to sleep on their own. First in a bassinet and then in their own cribs
  • Wrap baby in sleeping sack where they can still move
  • When baby cries check if basic needs are met. No need to jostle baby about and pat on the back. Try to comfort baby calmly. If all needs are met and it’s their time to lay on their back on a soft quilt in a safe place like a baby playpen area then wait a few minutes and observe when baby cries. This is also how they learn to self soothe.
  • Don’t give babies pacifiers but rather have them self soothe

Before having baby:

  • arrange for meals to be pre-prepared or brought to you
  • Arrange for someone to help with regular house chores, laundry, other children etc

Parenting guidelines:

  • be optimistic
  • Feel secure but don’t be rigid
  • Be accepting but set limits
  • Be available but not intrusive
  • Be patient but be true to yourself
  • Be realistic but consistent in your expectations
  • Have the wisdom to resist new fads
  • Achieve balance between giving quality time to your baby AND yourself
  • Achieve a state of self respect and give equal respect to your children

Young babies:

  • when putting them to bed give a recap of the day. Today it rained and we went for a walk, you had this for lunch, etc. Then tell them what is going to happen tomorrow. This gives them a sense of past, present, and future
  • Establish bedtime routine with books, songs etc
  • Put child to bed awake
  • Some crying may happen. She suggests the Ferber method which is different than letting them cry it out. You go in at specific intervals and comfort the baby without picking them up.
  • Malls and stores are not for babies as they overstimulate them. Try to keep babies at home in a peaceful environment as much as possible in and outside
  • Dress child in comfortable play clothes
  • Let them be naked for part of the day
  • Let them be barefoot, no skid socks, bendable moccasins, etc (babies don’t need real shoes)
  • Don’t get child flashy loud toys, but rather simple toys that encourage learning but not over stimulate
  • Help your child to problem solve. When the baby loses the ball and cries. Instead of immediately getting it for her, say “where do you think the bell is? Did it go under the blanket? Let’s check there”
  • When they are older you can safe proof their room and gate it off and then leave them to play alone. If they cry you can say “I hear you. I’m in the other room, I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
  • Children don’t need excessive loud praise for their actions. Try positive reinforcement by reflecting for support. Ex: I saw you finish that puzzle, that looked really hard. Or thank you for waiting patiently while I made your dinner.
  • Mirrors are for older children. Can be confusing for babies

Older babies/toddlers:

  • Give your child a heads up. In 5 min we are going to put our shoes on. In 10 min we are going to get ready for bed.
  • Having a safe area to play is essential at this age, they do not need access to the entire house
  • Don’t slip out when child is not looking, instead tell her you are leaving. Even if she is upset at first it will likely be over soon. this way the child trusts you.
  • Don’t use labels about your child or others “Suzi is s good eater. Miley talks too much.”
  • Offer child choices when they are available. Do you want the blue cup or the red cup. Gives child sense of freedom.
  • Do not ask child questions that have one answer. Would you like to get in the car? Instead: we need to get in the car now.
  • Children need to learn how to fall to prevent worse injury, so don’t constantly prevent them from falling
  • If child falls and cries don’t make a big deal about it, be calm, reach out your arms and say “you fell. Would you like my help getting up?”
  • If a child is crying because they are hurt or scared don’t tell them “you are ok” because they don’t feel ok and it confuses them from understanding their own feelings. Don’t say “don’t be scared it’s only a siren”. Instead say: “that’s a loud siren. Did it scare you?”
  • TVs should not be in a child’s play room
  • The author doesn’t believe in rough horseplay (dads throwing children in air, moms tickling them, and things that cause hysterical laughter and are done to them) – Jess note: not sure I agree with this, maybe not good for younger kids but I don’t see a problem for older kids
  • If 2 kids fighting over toy. You can give the message “I think you can handle this. Im here if you can’t”
  • Fit younger babies she recommends feeding them while sitting on your lap. For older babies she recommends giving them a small table and chair they can get in and out of (instead of high chair)
  • Don’t force kid to sit but explain if they get it they cannot eat/take food with them
  • Reintroduce a new food several times. They may not like it the first 4 times.
  • Don’t force feed
  • If child starts playing with food or cup meal time is over
  • Allow a child to express their feelings whether positive or negative (Jess note: not sure I agree with this. If it’s about someone else then how I would handle it is to take them aside and say, do you think when you said that it hurt his feelings? How would you feel if someone said that to you?)
  • She doesn’t recommend teaching them to read until they are in school and ready for it (Jess note: not sure I agree with this. I think teaching kids to read at an early age can be engaging and fun.)
  • If taking your child to a restaurant you can say “let’s use soft voices”. At the same time don’t expect your toddler to act like an adult. Get a babysitter and go without him.
  • She doesn’t believe in time out or spankings. She believes in all actions having consequences though. Also teaching them what to do better next time. (Jess note: would have been helpful for her to give more examples of what her consequences are.)