It may not be as controversial as cry it out, but parents are definitely divided when it comes to the pick up, put down (PU/PD) method. Proponents argue that it’s a gentle and effective sleep training technique, while others say that it’s confusing and frustrating—for kids and parents. Here’s the lowdown on the approach so that you can decide what’s right for you.
What is it? Popularized by Tracy Hogg in her book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with your Baby, the pick up, put down method promises to teach infants how to fall asleep on their own without making them feel abandoned. Parents are highly involved in this approach that works best for babies aged four to eight months, although it can also be used for those who are a little older.
I’m intrigued. How do I try the pick up, put down method? After a soothing bedtime routine, put your baby down in her crib or bassinet drowsy but still awake. If she doesn’t fuss, leave the room. If she starts to cry, follow a “stop, wait and listen” approach (i.e., don’t immediately rush into the room but instead listen to see if she’s just fussing or actually needs you to comfort her). If she continues to get worked up, go in and pick her up for a minute or two (the pick up part) and then lay her back down (the put down part), again making sure that she’s still awake. Repeat this process until your baby is fully settled and has fallen asleep—which could be a while (think: hours and hours).
Does it work? Like other sleep training methods, whether or not the PU/PD approach will work depends on the baby and their temperament. While some infants find this gentle process soothing, it may be too stimulating for others. But before you try it, know that this isn’t going to be a quick fix—parents who have seen success with the pick up, put down method report that it can take several weeks or even a couple of months to really stick. Patience is key. (Also, be sure to switch it up with your partner so that you don’t lose your mind—or break your back.)