RIE® Practice: Wants Nothing Time

What is quality time with your baby?

“Quality time is what everyone really wants: a gift of time and attention.” — Magda Gerber

How to do it:

  • Carve out time when you can be fully present with your child. Your infant, toddler, or child will appreciate your ability to be fully present with them even if it’s just for 10 minutes. This is the true definition of quality time. This is much better than being half present for a longer period. 
  • Set aside your devices. They take your attention away from baby.
  • Seat yourself on the floor near your child in a space where they can safely explore. If you can’t sit on the floor, just get as low to the ground as they are so they can really feel your presence. Get comfortable. Have a good view of what they are doing.
  • Let go of any agendas for how you think your baby and you should spend this time. This is why we call this “wants nothing” time — because we don’t want anything from our baby. There is no expectation, no task to complete, etc.
  • If this is new for you, and you feel like it, you can say something like, “I just like being with you. I’m going to be sitting here enjoying watching you play.”
  • Let your child lead the interaction. How do they decide to use this time? Do they want to play? Do they want to sit on your lap? What’s important is that they choose how to use this time.
  • Observe them. What can you learn about them from what they are doing or the choices they make?
  • Think about how good it feels when someone you love gives you their full attention and appreciates you for who you are.
  • Participate when they show you they want you to get involved or ask you to. But still follow their lead.
  • Enjoy being fully present with your child.
  • When you are out of time, you can tell them in a straightforward way that it’s now time to do whatever comes next.
  • Try to schedule a time like this with your child on a regular basis.

Why we do it:

  • We learn so much about our children during these quiet moments of observation. 
  • We all want to be seen and understood. 
  • Children feel deeply connected to us after moments of full attention making it easier for them to be separated when you can’t be together.
  • It helps you understand how your child is developing.
  • It builds a deep sense of connection.

Ties to Principles:

What parents and carers say:

“Let your baby bask in the golden glow of your attention.” Lee Fernandez, RIE Associate 

Adapted from Dear Parent by Magda Gerber and the RIE Manual


Gerber, M. (2002) Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect (pp. 75-76)

Greenwald, D. and Weaver, J. (2013), Gerber, M. (1979) The RIE Manual for Parents and Professionals Expanded Edition Extended Edition (pp.16-18)

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