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Sleep Training: the Pick-Up, Put-Down Method

In the vast landscape of parenting, few topics are as debated and discussed as sleep training. With a myriad of methods and philosophies available, it can be overwhelming for parents to find the right fit for their family. This article will touch on various methods, including the Pick-Up, Put-Down method and the Ferber method (aka controlled crying), and delve deeper into Batelle’s approach.

Baby Sleep: A Complex Topic

Baby sleep is influenced by factors like naps, teething, and bedtime routines, and an overtired baby can further complicate these dynamics. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule early on can help in navigating these complexities, but its not always straightforward, especially when considering individual needs and challenges like sleep regression.

Many parents often wonder, ‘Why is my baby waking up frequently?’ The answer often lies in their sleep associations and routines. Around 3-4 months old, babies can develop sleep associations, relying on certain conditions or routines to fall asleep. If these conditions aren’t sustainable for everyone in the family or are causing sleep problems, it might be time for a change. Sleep training methods aim to reshape these associations to promote independent sleep through the night. Before embarking on any sleep training journey it’s a good idea to consult with your pediatrician to ensure there are no underlying health conditions affecting your baby’s sleep.

The Pick-Up, Put-Down Method: A Deep Dive

Originating from Tracy Hogg’s book “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer”, the Pick-Up, Put-Down method is a ‘gentle sleep’ training technique. One of the challenges many parents face is understanding their baby’s cries, especially when it’s just fussing versus a genuine need. The PUPD method emphasizes responding to the baby’s cues, ensuring they feel comforted. Here’s a deep dive into its nuances:

  • Age Appropriateness: The PUPD method can be introduced as early as a few months old. However, its effectiveness might vary with age. For younger babies, the method can be more about comfort, while for older babies, it’s about teaching self-soothing.
  • Duration and Expectations: The method requires patience. Some parents see results within a week, while others might need a a month or more. It’s essential to stay consistent and adjust as needed. A common misconception in sleep training is that success equates to uninterrupted sleep. However, everyone, from infants to adults, goes through sleep cycles with brief night wakings. The true goal of sleep training should be to help children transition between these cycles independently.
  • Naptime vs. Nighttime: While PUPD can be used both during naps and at night, the approach might differ slightly. During naps, babies might be more resistant, requiring more pick-ups and put-downs.
  • Critiques and Challenges: While the PUPD method is popular among parents seeking a gentler approach, its effectiveness varies. The repetitive nature of picking up and putting down can be challenging and physically exhausting for parents, especially during nights when the baby is particularly unsettled. It’s not uncommon for parents to pick up their baby a hundred times or more in a single night, which can be particularly taxing as the baby grows and gains weight.
  • When It Isn’t Working: If after consistent application, the method doesn’t seem effective, it might be time to consult with a pediatrician or consider other methods. Factors like underlying health issues or major family changes can impact its success.
  • Incorporating with Other Routines: While PUPD is a standalone method, it can be combined with other bedtime routines like reading a book or singing a lullaby.

Comparing PUPD with Other Methods

Every child is unique, and so is every family’s approach to sleep training. While some parents lean towards methods that minimize crying, it’s essential to note that all sleep training methods involve some amount of tears as they introduce change.

  • Cry-It-Out: This method, also known as extinction or CIO, involves letting your child cry until they fall asleep without any intervention from you. This can be tough to endure.

  • Pick-Up, Put Down Method: This method emphasizes quick responses to a baby’s cries, aiming to provide immediate comfort while gradually teaching independent sleep.

  • Taking Cara Babies:popular approach blending graduated extinction with unique nuances.

  • Chair method: Here, you sit next to your child’s crib until they sleep, gradually moving away over time.

  • Batelle Method: Rooted in reassurance and emotional attunement our method prioritizes consistent response to a baby’s cry, focusing on building trust and understanding the child’s unique needs.

The goal, regardless of the method, is to create a nurturing sleep environment. Batelle’s Sleep School emphasizes the importance of your responses, believing that the way you engage with your child during this process is paramount.

Factors Influencing Sleep Training Success

Regardless of the specific method employed, the success of sleep training hinges on several key factors. While each child and family situation is unique, there are common challenges that can hinder the process. Recognizing and addressing these challenges is crucial to ensuring a smoother sleep training journey. Here are some common reasons why sleep training might not yield the desired results:

  • Inappropriate Timing: Factors like your child’s age  and developmental readiness, health status, and major family changes like introducing a new sibling or starting daycare can impact the success of sleep training.

  • Inconsistent Application: Consistency is key. Alternating between methods or not sticking to a chosen method can confuse the child and reduce effectiveness.

  • Underlying Health Issues: Conditions like sleep apnea, GERD, or food allergies can cause sleep issues, making training ineffective until these issues are addressed.

  • Unrealistic Expectations: Sleep training is not an overnight process. Expecting quick results can lead to disappointment and premature abandonment of the process.

  • Wrong Strategy: Choosing a method that doesn’t align with the child’s temperament or the family’s situation can lead to failure.

Understanding these challenges can help parents set realistic expectations and be better prepared as they embark on their sleep training journey.

Batelle’s Approach: A Solution to Common Pitfalls

While many families have found success with the Pick-Up, Put-Down Method, it’s essential to recognize that the best sleep training method is the one that aligns with your family’s values and your child’s temperament and one that you can confidently follow through with. Batelle offers a more adaptable alternative:

  • Foundation of Trust and Safety: At the core of Batelle’s philosophy is the bond of trust between you and your little one.
  • Consistent Support for Parents: Batelle offers a robust support system to ensure parents have the guidance to meet their baby’s needs at every step.
  • Emotionally Responsive and Attuned Approach: The Batelle Method is designed to be deeply engaged and emotionally responsive, emphasizing understanding and addressing a child’s individual needs.
  • Adaptable and Comprehensive Approach: Batelle recognizes the ever-evolving nature of sleep in early childhood, including common challenges like sleep regression, and considers the needs of the entire family.

By guiding you, setting realistic expectations, offering evidence-based sleep tips, and emphasizing connection, Batelle aims to help you navigate sleep training challenges, ensuring a good night of rest for everyone.

Choosing a sleep training method is a deeply personal decision, especially for sleep-deprived parents seeking relief. While the Pick-Up, Put-Down method has its proponents, many parents find Batelle’s approach more adaptable and less physically demanding. Parents should be informed about the research, understand the strengths and limitations of each method, and choose an approach that aligns with their comfort level and their child’s unique needs.

This article was written by Batelle – team of sleep experts, lactation consultants, therapists, doulas, and early education specialists. Special thanks to Deanna.  

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