The Pikler Approach takes its name from found Dr. Emmi Pikler, a renowned pediatrician from Budapest, Hungary, who pioneered a child-rearing method based on observing and respecting a baby’s inherent competencies.
The approach is based on principles valuing and trusting a baby’s own ability to sit, crawl, walk (among other functions) when he or she is ready to do so.
According to Dr. Pikler’s daughter, Dr. Anna Tardos (President of the Association Pikler-Lóczy Hungary), her mother had a vision of a healthy baby “was an active, competent, and peaceful infant, who lives in peace with himself and his environment.” (Source: http://thepiklercollection.weebly.com/history.html)
Following World War II, there were many orphaned children in Budapest as well as children whose mothers had died either in childbirth or from disease, and it was then (1946) that Dr. Pikler opened and operated what would become the Pikler Institute (formally called the National Methodological Institute, nicknamed Loczy for the street on which it was located) for these many orphans. It was there that she put her theories into practice on a larger scale, and she operated this institute until 1979.
Some of the key principles of the Pikler approach include:
- giving the baby your full attention,
- slowing down to a baby’s “speed” and creating a calm environment,
- building trust and respecting the baby’s built-in competencies,
- working “with” the baby in a cooperative manner rather than simply doing things “to” the baby,
- ensuring that we don’t force the baby into a position that they can’t naturally get into on his or her own (e.g. rolling over, crawling, sitting),
- allowing the baby the opportunity to play independently, and
- observing the “cues” the baby sends us, letting us know more than we give him or her credit for (e.g. when the baby turns away when we try to feed him or her another spoonful and the baby may be saying, “I’m full.”).
Her work inspired another child development pioneer, Magda Gerber, who was so intrigued and impressed by Dr. Pikler’s approach, that she became Dr. Pikler’s friend and protégé, resulting in the introduction of the methodology here in the US, becoming known as Resources for Infant Educarers ® (RIE). RIE has gained thousands of adherents here in the US.
Dr. Pikler passed on at the age of 82 in 1984. Although the Budapest location is no longer residential, it is still operating as a day care center.