Sleep training your baby, like almost every other aspect of raising a child, is rarely black and white. What works well for one family may not work for another and vice versa. Finding a method that gently teaches babies to fall asleep on their own with as few tears as possible is a top priority for most. If you're just jumping into this whole sleep training thing, you may have come across the Pick Up, Put Down method and want to give it a try. But before you do, be wary of the one Pick Up, Put Down method mistake that ruins the whole thing.
Of course, the Pick Up, Put Down method isn't a one size fit all approach to sleep training (but if someone discovers one, sign me up ASAP.) Although it encourages babies to fall asleep on their own through repeated picking up and putting down — hence the self-explanatory name — it's more effective for some babies than others.
There is one thing that parents can do to ensure that the sleep training method is as effective as possible, and believe it or not, it doesn't have anything to do with the actual Pick Up, Put Down process.
Ask any sleep expert out there and they'll tell you the importance of establishing a predictable, calming bedtime routine from the time your baby is very young. Baby Center noted that creating a bedtime routine for your baby helps them know what is coming next, which greatly increases the effectiveness of sleep training.
The Pick Up, Put Down method especially relies on predictability. It hinges on teaching your baby that you'll always come back to pick them up if need be, comforting them until they learn to sleep without your help. Without predictability, the method is useless.
It can start before you even lay your baby down in their bed, with a predictable bedtime routine. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) noted that bedtime routines look differently for every family, but whether it's a bath and a bedtime story, or a few songs in the rocking chair while you nurse, having something predictable about bedtime every night can be huge for helping your baby adjust, especially when you're trying out a method that relies heavily on your baby's ability to trust what happens next (ie. that you'll come back when they wake up.)
So before you jump onboard the Pick Up, Put Down bandwagon, be sure to establish a routine before bedtime, and watch as your baby is much more receptive to the sleep training method once they have a sense of what is coming next.