A Guide To The Pick Up, Put Down Method

by Sarah Hosseini

Sleep deprived parents need all the help they can get. For some, this help comes in the form of sleep training their baby. Sleep training methods often vary in theory, methodology, and execution, but their ultimate goal is the same: get babies to sleep safely. One technique that has gained popularity in recent years is the Pick Up, Put Down method. Admittedly, this training appears slightly confusing at first, but with anything it just takes a little practice. Parents in desperate need of Zs might be wondering how to do the Pick Up, Put Down sleep training method, and do it effectively.

Before delving into the details of the Pick Up, Put Down method it's important to establish the readiness of your baby. Most babies at 4 months old are ready for a sleep routine, according to the Baby Center. Trying to implement a sleep routine before this milestone might be a waste of your time and possibly even harmful. "Prior to 4 months, the baby still communicates with the caregiver through their cry, possibly needing comfort, and also needing to be fed often and throughout the night," Dr. Gilma Marimon, a TopLine MD pediatrician in Miami, tells Romper. "Therefore, I do not recommend letting a baby cry to sleep until after the age of 4 to 6 months."

If you've determined that your baby is ready and you're wanting to give Pick Up, Put Down a whirl, there are some basic tenants of the method that will work on any age. If your baby is crying (be it nap time, nighttime, uncharacteristically early in the morning) the caregiver is instructed to offer comforting words to the baby, a comforting touch and a 2 to 3 minute pick up if necessary according to the My Baby Sleep Guide website. After those few minutes have passed, the baby is then placed back down in their crib and the process is repeated until the baby stops crying. Just as a heads up (not trying to scare you), the whole Pick Up, Put Down method cycle could take an hour or more.

Avoiding constant holding is the basic premise of the Pick Up, Put Down method and many other sleep training methods as well. "Ideally you want to teach the baby to fall asleep on their own rather than being cradled," Marimon stresses. She says she's supportive of sleep training in general, but discourages the Pick Up, Put Down method because, "the purpose of sleep training a baby is to teach them the skills to soothe themselves, rather than depending on constant parental prompting."

As with any training in life consistency is key. No matter what sleep training you use Marimon suggests sticking with a pretty strict daily routine. "Put the baby down at the same time every night, avoid co-sleeping, and encourage the baby to develop his or her own soothing mechanisms, such as an attachment object," she says.

Additionally, the method you execute will take a few nights, so don't get discouraged if it doesn't seem to be working right away. At any point in time if you feel like a particular thing you're doing isn't working for you or your baby, do what you think is best. At the end of the day, it just matters that you and your baby are getting the sleep you need to function — how you get there is entirely up to you.