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How to Use the Pick Up Put Down Method to Get your Baby to Sleep

Learn more about the Pick Up Put Down Method to help get your baby to sleep. See how to successfully execute Pick Up Put Down and if it’s right for your family!

mom doing pick up put down

The Pick up / put down method (sometimes referred to as PUPD method) is a popular sleep training method founded by Tracy Hogg, the author of Secrets of the Baby

It is considered one of the more “gentle” sleep training techniques, because it has a lot of parental involvement and doesn’t include separation from parent and child as compared to other sleep training methods such as the Ferber Method.

Keep in mind that a gentle method doesn’t mean your baby won’t cry though—that’s how they communicate!

Let’s dive into learning more about the Pick Up Put Down method and see if it’s right for your baby!

baby sleeping in crib

How Does The Pick Up Put Down Method Work?

Pick Up Put Down is a sleep training method recommended for babies 4 months through 8 months of age.

Babies younger than 4 months old may be too stimulated by the technique, and it may not be as effective for babies older than 8 months old.

Some babies younger than 4 months old may do well with the Pick Up Put Down Method. I recommend trying the Shush Pat first if you have a baby under 4 months old.

newborn sleep program

Learn the different elements that help optimize a newborn’s sleep with my Newborn Sleep Program. You’ll learn how to establish daily routines and what to do when your newborn won’t sleep! Check it out here.

Here’s how the Pick Up Put Down Method works.

After following an appropriate baby sleep schedule, including your baby’s wake windows, and doing a soothing bedtime routine, you put your baby down for sleep while she is still awake.

If your baby is okay and doesn’t cry, you leave the room.

If your baby starts to cry and continues to get worked up, you go to her, pick her up and hold her to offer comfort and soothe her. After about 1 to 2 minutes—or if she stops crying sooner—you put her back in her crib and leave baby’s room again.

You repeat this process again and again until your baby falls asleep, meaning you could be picking up and putting down your baby for several minutes or even hours.

If your baby stops crying as soon as you pick her up, you put her back in her crib immediately.

With Pick Up Put Down, you are not soothing your baby to sleep.

Instead you are using your presence and body to help calm her down, let her know you are here, and then placing her back in her crib so she can put herself to sleep.

mom holding baby

How Long Does it Take for Pick Up Put Down to Work?

The Pick Up Put Down method is one of the sleep training techniques that can take the longest to see results. Because it has so much parental involvement, it can be more stimulating for babies and take longer to work than other sleep training techniques.

It can take over 100 pick-ups or up to 2 hours before the child is able to fall asleep, which can be incredibly exhausting for the parents, both emotionally and physically.

mom doing pick up put down

Pros and Cons of the Pick Up Put Down Method

There are pros and cons to every sleep training technique and part of the process of working with a baby sleep consultant will be figuring out the method that is best for your parenting style and your baby’s personality.

Pros of Pick Up Put Down

Here are the pros of Pick Up Put Down and why many parents choose to use it:

  • Allows the parents to be physically present with their baby. Some parents feel better having a physical presence with their baby as their baby learns independent sleep.
  • Gives the parents something tangible to do during sleep training. Some sleep training methods can leave parents feeling helpless, but Pick Up Put Down has parental involvement so it gives parents something to do.
  • Doesn’t create separation from the parent and baby during sleep training.
dad doing pick up put down method with baby

Cons of Pick Up Put Down

There are also some cons to using the Pick Up Put Down method:

  • It can be very physically demanding on a parent to pick up and put down their child multiple times, especially at bedtime or in the middle of the night.
  • It can take a long time for the child to fall asleep, sometimes up to 2 hours with over 100+ pick ups that first night.
  • For some babies this method is too stimulating and can cause frustration for the baby and parents when it is dragged out for too long.
  • It takes a lot of time and can be difficult to stick with, especially if you are solo parenting or have other children. This method requires a lot of patience from new parents.
  • Parents can get confused on exactly when to pick up their child and when to put them back down, since it’s not as cut and dry as other sleep training methods.
  • The level of parental involvement Pick Up Put Down requires can be exhausting, especially if your baby has multiple night wakings.
  • Difficult to do for older babies or babies who weigh more.
mom soothing baby in crib

Does Pick Up Put Down Method Work?

Pick Up Put Down can be a n effective sleep training technique, but it does require parental consistency. Sleep training is tough! One of the hardest parts about sleep training is parents sticking with it. (That’s where I come in!).

If parents can be consistent and Pick Up Put Down isn’t too upsetting or stimulating for their baby, then yes, it can be a very effective method, especially for younger babies (between 4 and 8 months old).

baby in crib

Which Sleep Training Method is Best?

There are four main sleep training methods:

  • Pick Up Put Down
  • The Chair Method / Sleep Lady Shuffle
  • Ferber Method / Controlled Cry / Check and Console Method
  • Extinction Method

Of course there are a lot of nuances and variety that you can do within each of the methods of sleep training.

Different methods work better for different parenting styles, babies’ temperaments, and even depending on the age of your baby.

When to start sleep training is also a personal choice and there are pros and cons to starting at various ages.

When considering which sleep training method is best, make sure to choose one that you can be consistent with. Consistency goes a long way in helping get your baby to sleep!

Amy Motroni