Getting an infant into a routine is not an easy task. Babies are demanding and need constant attention from caregivers. They cry for food, they cry in discomfort, they cry when they are ill, and they cry when they are restless. It is hard to get them to sleep without a prop or the warmth of the mother’s bosom to lull them into sleep. With all this, it becomes every mother’s search to find the right technique to make the baby less dependant on her for sleeping and to keep the baby asleep for longer. We discuss a technique known as the ‘pick up, put down’ or PUPD technique which works well for babies below the age of 1 year.
What Is ‘Pick up and Put Down’ Sleep Method?
This technique involves putting your baby down during nap time while the baby is still awake. If the baby isn’t fussing or if his slight gibberish calls are not too persistent, you try to leave the room. If this distresses your child, wait at the door while watching and listening. If the baby is continuing to feel distressed and is getting worked up, then you would go back and pick him up and calm him for one minute or two. Now put the baby back in the crib or bed while still awake. Repeat this process until the child falls into a deep sleep.
At What Age You Can Use ‘Pick up Put Down’ Method for Your Baby?
This technique is best used for babies who are older than 3 months of age. It is ideal for infants up to the age of one year and sometimes works for babies who are just a little bit older than that. It is also a technique that some babies may find stimulating instead of relaxing and it may not work for such babies.
Tips to Consider Before Starting PUPD Method
Before you decide to start using the ‘pick up, put down’ method, you should do the following consistently:
- Create consistency in baby’s bedtime. Our children’s body clock matures with time, and it becomes easier for us to understand their sleep patterns. By understanding this rhythm, you can create their sleeping pattern centred around that.
- Make sure to develop signals that calm your baby and make them understand that it is night and that this is a time for sleeping. Have soft lullabies played for 20-30 minutes before bedtime and make sure that there is no noise, no bright screens or lights when you are getting ready to turn the baby in for the night.
- Create a lull and put the baby down on the bed before he is asleep – when he is drowsy but awake.
How to Use Baby Pick up and Put Down Method?
- Have a key phrase like ‘nap nap time’ or ‘ sleepy time now’ which you often use as a signal to calm baby when he cries at the first put down. Reassure him gently each time.
- Pick up the baby again if he doesn’t seem reassured and make sure to say the key phrase a couple of times more.
- Once the baby stops crying but is still awake, put him back in the crib. Do not stop if the crying starts even before you have set the baby down completely.
- If the crying continues, then pick up the baby once more and repeat the key phrases and the calming. Do this until you feel the baby is settling down.
- Once the baby seems more settled, then do not pick him up again. Place your hand on the chest or back and talk gently using key phrases.
- Leave the baby’s room at this point.
- If the crying starts as you leave, stop, listen, and observe. If the crying becomes louder, then start once again and repeat all the steps until the baby sleeps.
How Long Does PUPD Technique Take to Work?
The technique may take as little as 5 days to show changes or as long as three weeks before you see a consistent pattern. Everything depends on the baby’s temperament and the consistency with which the routine is followed.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Picking up and Putting Your Baby Down for Sleep?
As with any method, there are pros and cons to the PUPD technique as we have listed below.
- With this method, the parent can stay in the room with the baby until the baby is in a deep sleep.
- The parent also has ample chance to comfort the baby while he learns to sleep by himself.
- The PUPD is not too rigid, yet has a structure to it unlike other methods such as the fading method which involves removal of sleep props for a longer duration.
- The method is very physically exhausting for the parents and baby.
- If the baby doesn’t sleep well at night, this technique will involve much picking up and waking hours can last for more than 2 hours. Consistency becomes questionable with such a tiring schedule.
- Some babies find the picking up stimulating, and some begin thinking of it as a game. This can become frustrating for baby and mom.
- Having more than one child makes this technique tedious because you have to tend to the other child as well.
- Parents sometimes get confused about when and what duration the picking up should last.
Tips to Adapt ‘Pick up, Put Down’ Method According to the Age of Your Child
The PUPD method can be tweaked to suit infants of different age groups between 4 months to 12 months.
For 4-6 Months
- Hold the little one for an upper limit of five minutes. If you don’t see signs of settling, put the baby down. Pick him up if he shows no signs of letting up on the crying.
- Do a pat-pat or a shushing in between pick-ups and put-downs while the baby is still in the cot.
- Pick baby up again if the key phrasing doesn’t seem to work.
- Put baby down as soon as the crying lets up, the baby looks drowsy or seems to be settling.
For 6-8 Months
For your 6 to 8 months old, try the following because you need to imitate baby’s pace.
- Resist picking up baby immediately in response to their stress. Offer your hands in a ‘let me get you’ kind of gesture. If the baby responds by reaching out, then pick him up.
- Do not sway or rock your baby at this age. Cradle him and use the shushing phrases. Do not lock eyes with the baby and put him down after you have done your patting-shushing routing.
- Follow baby’s pace and put your hand on his back as he settles. But understand if he likes it or not and continue accordingly.
For 8-12 Months
By 8 months you need to look at following some of these points with your little one because he doesn’t need to be picked up as much anymore.
- When baby tries to pull himself up, place him down very gently, but facing away from you.
- Focus on the key phrases because the baby has started recognising your voice.
- Start gradually retreating from the room after put-downs and see how this works out.
Additional Tips to Make ‘Pick up, Put Down’ Method Work
Pick up put down method for naps can be made easier by following these additional tips:
- Make sure that nap time and night time sleep are timed appropriately for the age of the infant.
- Create a solid winding down routine that involves soft music, dim lights, etc.
- Rest well before you have to put baby to bed because you need the energy.
- Understand the difference between a fuss and distress by listening attentively to baby.
- As the bring it down-pick it up routine is very physically taxing, take turns with your partner or get additional help for yourself.
A steely resolve and a strong back are essential for this method to work. If you feel like you have what it takes, you will soon enjoy the fact that your baby can put herself to sleep without all the fuss and distress that usually accompanies sleep time.