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Note: The following post was written by a friend of mine. I asked her to write a post about PU/PD since I myself have never used the method. She has found great success with it and I hope that information and her personal experience she shares in this post will help you if you decide to use this sleep training method.

Pick up/put down is a sleep training method described in the book, “The Baby Whisperer” by Tracey Hogg. It offers your baby the reassurance that you are there but also the independence to help him learn to sleep on his own. It is important to note that this method should not be used before your baby is 4 months old.

There are several case studies described in the book where Hogg was called in as a consultant to help tired families teach their little ones to sleep (These can be found in all three of her books by looking at the index section for PU/PD or sleep training.).

My husband and I were advised by the pediatrician to let our son cry it out at 4 weeks old. He said, “bath at 6, bottle at 7, bed at 8. Put the baby in his bed awake and let him cry if he needs to.” After 5 nights of the crying for over 45 minutes at a time, and it got longer each night, I gave up and went back to feeding him to sleep. At 5 weeks old my mother-in-law brought me the Baby Whisperer book and my life changed forever! We started swaddling and put my son (and us) on E.A.S.Y.

By 4 months old my son was sleeping from 6:30 PM until 8 AM. He got his bath at 6, had a bottle and was swaddled and put in bed no later than 6:30 PM. As he’s gotten older, he goes to sleep a little later because he plays longer in the bath and now we read books. But the most important thing to remember with any sleep training method is consistency. It is the key to getting your little one through the night.

With PU/PD you offer your baby reassurance by being with him but you don’t become his sleep aid or “prop” because you remove the extra reassurance the second your baby does not need you.

So, when your baby cries for help***,

1.You go into his room. You go right to his bed and do NOT make eye contact, do NOT speak, just go to him, pick him up, a pat on the back or a rub of the head is fine, and then as soon as his body is calm you put him back in his bed.
2.You do this until he is completely settled and going back to sleep.
3. If he wakes early from a nap, you do the PU/PD method until he either goes back to sleep or it is time for his next feeding.
4. In the night, you do it until he goes to sleep (this can take 2-5 hours or more depending on what reinforced habits you have, you can read about my detailed experience in a bit).
5.You should keep a journal of every attempt because then you can see the progress you have made.

***(there are different types of cries, a mantra cry is very rhythmic. A mantra cry is your baby trying to put herself back to sleep. You should not go into your baby’s room for a mantra cry. Always stop outside the baby’s door and wait. Listen to the cry and determine if it is a cry for assistance or a mantra cry)

My Experience with PU/PD

Sleep Journal One:

At 5 months old we went on a trip. I went on a 3-hour flight with my son and we stayed at my parent’s house. We made the room he was sleeping in just as dark as his at home room (he is a spirited baby and so all distractions must be eliminated to achieve sleep.

That night my son woke up unfamiliar with the smells and the crib, so I did PU/PD:

Night 1: 6:00 PM – Bath, Bottle, and Bed by 6:30.

10:30 PM – Dream Feed.

1:00 AM – First waking. I picked him up, did one-two gentle (like burping)

pats on his back and put him back in his bed. He cried out once, rolled over and went to sleep. I did this 3 separate times in the night.

3:00 AM – Second waking. Repeat 1st waking method.

5: 30 AM – Third waking. Repeat 1st waking method.

7:30 AM – Up for the day.

Night 2: 6:00 PM – Bath, Bottle, and Bed by 6:30.

10:30 PM – Dream Feed.

7:45 AM – Up for the day.

Now you can see from that sleep journal that there was a LOT of improvement that second night. We left that next day so there was no more nights on that visit and upon returning home, the baby went back to sleeping from 6:30 PM until 8:00 AM.

Sleep Journal Two:

At 8 months old, I got into some “accidental parenting”.

At this point, my son’s routine was well established. He was napping during the day, sleeping at night, crawling all around the house and eating solids. Plus, he was still sleeping from 6:30 PM until 8:00 AM.

Well, one night he woke in the night and was crying.

(This, after 4 months of not having him wake at all in the night besides for 1st the visit to my parents (we went up another time at 7 months and everything went smoothly. He even had other people put him to bed at night)

I went to him, and did PU/PD. After about an hour I thought, he might be hungry, 8 months is a pretty big physical development age and maybe he didn’t get enough to eat or is going through a growth spurt. So I made a bottle and he drank 10 oz down so fast you would’ve thought he hadn’t eaten in days. I then put him in bed and he slept fine.

About a week or two later he woke in the night again. This time, I was tired and wanted to go back to sleep quickly, I just made a bottle and went to him and fed him. Here was my mistake. Considering anything could’ve woken him, the best thing to do would have been PU/PD. And I look back at this moment and think, why did I give him that bottle? And thus my problems began.

At first the night-wakings for bottles was inconsistent, sometimes it would happen and sometimes it wouldn’t. There would be 2-4 days in a row that he would sleep straight through and then there was 2-4 days where he would wake up and I would give him a bottle. I was still trying to convince myself it was hunger and continued the bottles.

By 11 months, he was waking 2-3 times in the night, drinking 2 oz and going back to sleep. Now, I new that he wasn’t hungry and didn’t need the bottles and it was just a “prop.”

We were moving at the end of his 11th month, so I decided to use the move as a time to re-sleep train him, since I would need to be doing that anyway.

By 11 months old, babies are set in their ways. Habits are MUCH, MUCH, HARDER to break, but NOT impossible. And that is the key. It took nearly 3 weeks to get my son back on track with his night-time sleep. However, I am happy to report that after those 3 weeks of PU/PD he has been sleeping from 6:40ish PM until 8:00 AM again, it’s been 2 months!

Here is my sleep journal from then:

Night 1: Dad got him down in about 45 minutes with P.D. by 10:00 PM (late night because the movers were still at the house and son threw up from a grape allergy, only allergy he has…weird though)  Wake time was 6:30 AM

Night 2: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke around 1:00 AM, got him to sleep with P.D. and light back rub in about 10 minutes.

Night 3: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke up once, got him to sleep with P.D. and light back rub in about 2 minutes.

Night 4: Got the crib set up, had been sleeping in the pack n play.  Played in the crib and was SUPER excited about it during the day.  Regular night routine, would not go to sleep, kept standing up and crying. Tried to do P.D. but he started falling to the mattress and laughing whenever I went to P.D.  I got annoyed that he was making it a game and left the room.  He cried, I came back, he eventually did the same thing.  This went on for 30 minutes and my husband took over.  Same thing.  We thought maybe he got too excited from our brisk visit with the new neighbors before bed and so we got him up for 20 minutes and then redid the bedtime routine.  Woke at 11:35 PM, got him to sleep with P.D. and light back rub in about 1 minute. Woke again at 1:30, got him to sleep within 1 minute.  Woke at 2:35 AM, got him to sleep within 1 minute.  Cried off and on until 3:20 AM.  Full blown crying and I could not settle him.  At 4:20 I traded with my husband.  At 4:40 he thought maybe son was hungry and said I should give him a bottle (probably a bad idea, I know).  Gave him 4 oz of water first because I didn’t want to reinforce the previous bad habit.  He drank it all and then I gave him 8 oz of milk and he drank it all.  Then he went right to sleep until 8:00 AM.

Night 5: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke around 11:35 PM, got him to sleep with P.D. and light back rub in about 10 minutes.  Woke around 2:35…did P.D. until 4:20, husband got annoyed and we were so tired from previous night and the move that we caved and gave bottle to save our sanity (truly a bad idea in hindsight).

Night 6: (after the previous night, I spent the day resting and decided that I needed to dig in my heals and stick with P.D. and be CONSISTENT).  Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke around 11:35 PM, got him to sleep with 43 P.D.’s and light back rub, and WI/WO towards the end and he went to sleep around 1:35 for the night.  Wake time was 7:30 AM.

Night 7: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke around 12:00 AM, got him to sleep with 27 P.D.’s and light back rub, and WI/WO towards the end and was asleep by 1:30 AM for the night.  Wake time was 6:00 AM.

Night 8: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke around 11:35 PM, got him to sleep with minimal P.D. and light back rub, and WI/WO in about 40 minutes. Yay! 7:00 Am wake up.

Night 9: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke around 1:00 AM, got him to sleep with P.D. and light back rub in about 20 minutes.

Night 10: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Slept through! WooHoo! 6:00 AM wake up (uggh)

Night 11: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke around 2 AM, P.D. and light back rub in about 1.5 hours. 5 AM wake up, did P.D. and light back rub about 20 minutes.  Wake time 8:00 AM.

Night 12:  Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke around 1:30 AM, got him to sleep with P.D. and light back rub in about 40 minutes.  EW of 5:30 AM, P.D. until 7:00 then started our day.

Night 13: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke once, got him to sleep with P.D. and light back rub in about 15 minutes.

Night 14: Regular night routine, but he started doing the playing with P.D. again.  Husband and I took turns.  Eventually he Mantra cried himself without us in the room to sleep in about 10 minutes.  Was asleep by 7:15 PM.  Wake time 5:00 AM, did P.D. and light back rub with WI/WO, took about 30 minutes to get him back to sleep until 8:00 AM.

Night 15: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke around 2:00 AM, took 3 P.D.’s then he played with his lovey sheep and chatted, so I left the room and he put himself down.  Repeat at 5:00 AM.  Woke up around 7:30 AM.

Night 16: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke at 5:35 AM, took 7 P.D.’s then he played with his lovey sheep and chatted, I left and he put himself down until 7:30.

Night 17: UGHH!  What the heck!?!?!  Great Nap today! Wonderful day, he was chatty and so much fun.  Bedtime he went to bed like normal and then 5 minutes later just screamed and screamed.  Went in to do P.D. and he kept running across the crib and playing and throwing himself around.  I left.  He started screaming.  I came back, rinse and repeat for 10 minutes.  He started screaming while I was in the room (bratty screams), didn’t want to be touched, didn’t want to be held.  Would NOT calm down.  Gave himself the crying hiccups.  After husband got angry at the ear piercing screams he asked me to leave the room.  Took son about 3 minutes to soothe himself to sleep.  He cried out off and on for 10 minutes and has not been up since (it’s 11:13 now).

Night 18: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke at 5:35 AM, put himself back 7:45 AM.

Night 19: Regular night routine, in bed by 6:45ish PM.  Woke at 6:00 AM, he cried out nce, went back to sleep until 8:00 AM.

Now, not every night is perfectly smooth, but I don’t go in anymore. He will cry out after a sleep cycle (45 minutes) some nights and put himself back to sleep within 5 minutes and that’s that. After 1 year, if you use PU/PD, you should implement the WI/WO method instead. You can find this on, the Baby Whisperer Forums at this link: http://www.babywhispererforums.com/index.php?topic=80750.0

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What is the 45 minute intruder?

The 45 minute intruder is a term that was coined in the book Baby Wise, but this is not a Baby Wise phenomenon. The 45 minute intruder refers to when your baby wakes up from a nap or nighttime sleep after only being asleep for 45-50 minutes. Why are some babies waking up at this point? Well, if they are in a growth spurt, it might be because they are hungry. However, if they are not in a growth spurt and are well feed it could be related to their sleep cycles. Babies cycle from light, deep, and back to light sleep in about 45-50 minutes. When your baby returns to light sleep, they may partialy arouse. If they hear a noise, smell something funny, realize they are too hot or cold, or are conditioned to need a sleep prop such as rocking or nursing to sleep, they will have difficulty returning to sleep to complete another sleep cycle. For more information on sleep cycles, read my post entitled “infant sleep cycles”http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Other possible causes for waking 45-50 minutes into a nap could be due to being overtired, overstimulate, or not enough wake/ play time. If you keep your baby up too longer, they may be too tired and wake up early from a nap. Or perhaps you had company over and everyone was playing with your baby, that may have overstimulated your child. Both overstimulation and overtiredness can cause a baby to wake early out of a nap. Make sure you are following your son/ daughter’s naps cues and you get them down for a nap before this occurs. For more on this read my post entitled “Sleep Windows: Get them to bed before it’s too late”  http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/ It may be possible that you did not keep your child up long enough. That happen to my son a couple of times. I put him down for his nap and he fall asleep relatively easy, but would wake up 45 minutes into his nap. It occurred to me that he was getting older and may need to stay awake longer. I adjusted his awake time and that solved the waking up at 45 minutes. I believe he just was not tired enough to take a long nap. For more about appropriate awake time lengths see my post entitled, “Baby & Infant Daily Schedules” http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/

My son had chronic 45 minute napping problems

My son has chronic problems with the 45 minute intruder from the time he was 2 months up until he was 4.5 months old (maybe even almost 5 months old). You could set a stop watch and he would wake exactly 45-50 minutes into each of his naps. It use to make me nuts. At first, I thought he was a short napper, but he would wake up fussy. According to Baby Wise and The Baby Whisperer, your baby should not fussy if they just woke up from a nap and you’ve feed them upon waking. The Baby Wise book says that it can last a few day or even two weeks–ha! This lasted for 2.5-3 months. I never thought I would see the day when he would sleep straight through a nap.  By the time he hit 4.5 months old, he was sleeping through most of his naps without waking. We still had the occasional 45 minute intruder, but that was about 20% of the time. Now he is 7 months old and my son rarely ever wakes up early from a nap unless he is in a growth spurt, has a dirty diaper, or a sound from our condo building has stirred him.

What I did to get through the 45 minute intruder

Lay a firm hand on his chest: a little before the 45 minute mark, I would creep into his room and place my hand on his chest. I would press firmly on his chest and apply a little pressure. This kept him from startling himself awake when he was transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. I did this when my son was very young around 4-8 weeks old.

Swaddle/ Sound Machine: I started to swaddle my son really tight so he would not startle himself awake. This helped a lot. I bought a swaddle me (http://www.kiddopotamus.com/p_swad.php), but then I added an extra step to the swaddle me. I took a piece of cloth from a receiving blanket and would lay it behind his back and weave the fabric over his arms and tuck it behind his back again. This kept his arms good and snug so there was no way he could break free while napping. This kept his body from jerking himself awake. I got this idea from the miracle blanket. Watch their instructional video clip to see how I modified the swaddle me to keep his arms snug. http://www.miracleblanket.com/video.htm I also used a fan and later a sound machine to block out the noise he may have heard from living in a condo building. Both of these things helped greatly, but we still had our issues. The most important thing is to make sure you create a good sleep environment that eliminates as much stimulus as possible. For more on creating a good sleep environment read my post called “Creating a Good Sleep Environment” http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/create-a-good-sleep-environment/

Cry-It-Out (CIO): Around 10 weeks old, I believe that I start to just let Cooper cry-it-out at the 45 minute mark. The first week I started this, he would cry for almost 45 minutes until it was time to get up for his next feeding. But it only took a week, and after that if he woke up at the 45 minute mark, he would only cry for 5-15 minutes and then fall back to sleep for another sleep cycle of 45-50 minutes. This pattern of waking up at the 45 minute mark and crying lasted for about a month (the entire time he was 3 months old). The nice thing was, when I finally got him up to feed him he was always happy and well rested! Then around 4 months old, he would still wake up at the 45 minute mark, but just fuss or cry a tiny bit and drift back to sleep right away!

Other Nap Intervention Suggestions

I have not tired these various methods, but I have a friend who used the PU/PD method with great success. I have used the wake-to-sleep at night, but never during the day. It worked great for me at night. Both of these strategies come from the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. (p.251)

Wake-to-Sleep: “Instead of waiting for her to wake, go into her room at 30 minutes, because that’s when she starts to come out of a deep sleep…pat her gently until you see her body relax again. It could take 15-20 minutes of gentle patting. If she starts to cry, though, you’ll have to send her back to sleep with PU/PD.”

PU/PD (Pick Up/ Put Down): This method is intended for a baby 4 month or older. You pick your child up while he is crying and the minute he stops crying you put him back in his crib. If he starts crying, pick him up again. Then if he stops crying, place him in the crib again. You will repeat the pick up/ put down until he stops crying and will fall asleep in his crib on his own. “Granted the first time you try this remedy either situation, you might spend the entire nap period doing PU/PD. and then it’s time for the next feeding. Now both of you are tired! Because sticking to the routine is as important as lengthening her nap, you need to feed her and then try to keep her up at least half and hour before putting her down for her next nap- at which point you’ll probably have to do PU/PD again because she is overtired.” Just keep repeating the PU/ PD until he quietly lays in his crib without crying. (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p.221-224) I have a friend who used this method with her son with great success. For more on this method read: http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/pupd-pick-up-put-down-baby-whisperers-sleep-training-method/

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There are two books that I highly recommend you read if you have a small infant: Babywise and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. These two books have been a huge resource to me, especially when Cooper was under 4 months old. I have turned through the pages of these two books plenty of times. Both books talk about a daily schedule that follows a very simple pattern it looks something like this:

  1. Eat
  2. Awake/ Play
  3. Sleep
  4. Repeat (eat, play, sleep)

This pattern is important to follow because your baby does not learn to depend on eating (nursing/bottle) to fall asleep.

Be careful not to hyper schedule- be flexible

Depending on how old your baby is will determine how long each cycle (eat, play, sleep) will be. Your baby is not a robot and each cycle may vary by a few minutes each day. It is important not to hyper schedule and only feed the baby by the clock. Also keep in mind that at different parts of the day, your baby will be able to go longer between feeds than other times of the day. My son was only able to go 2.5 hours in the morning between feeds when he was under 3 months old. The rest of the schedule he was able to go 3 hours between each feed. Be flexible. Find out what works for your child and build your schedule around that.

Schedules Change

Schedules are constantly changing based on the developing needs of your child. Keep that in mind too! What worked last week might not work this week. Consider changing the amount of time your child stays awake if you child is having trouble napping by either decreasing or increasing his awake time.

What happens to the schedule when your baby has a growth spurt?

When a baby is in the middle of a growth spurt, if you are nursing, you must increase the number of times you feed your baby. This will only last a few days and you can go back to your normal schedule. If you are bottle feeding during a growth spurt, you can just increase the amount of formula in each bottle.

What determines the length of each cycle?

  1. Eating: this depends on how long your baby takes to eat (nurse/bottle). Newborns can take 20-45 minutes to nurse. As babies get older they get more efficient at eating. My son is now 6.5 months old and he nurses for 5 minutes on each side for a total of 10 minutes. When he was a newborn he was a fast eater, only nursing for a total of 15-20 minutes. Each baby is different and some take longer than others.
  2. Awake/ Play: this will depend on two factors- how old your baby is and how long it takes them to nurse. If your baby takes a long time to nurse then he will not have a lot of time left over to play. Below are some recommended awake times for each baby. Not all babies are the same. Some babies need shorter awake time while other may need longer. Remember to include how long your baby east when calculating awake time. As your baby gets older, wake times could vary. They tend to stay awake for a shorter time in the morning, longer in the afternoon, and even longer in the evening. See my post entitled 2-3-4 Nap Schedule for more on this: http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/2-3-4-nap-schedule-for-older-babies/
    Newborn 50-60 mins
    1 month 60 mins-hour and 15
    2 months 1 hour and 15 – 20 mins
    3 months 1 hour and 20 – 30 mins
    4 months 1 hour and 45 – 2 hours
    5 months 2 hours – 2.25 hours
    Late 5 months/early 6 months 2.25-2.5 hours
    6.5 – 7 months 2.75-3 hours. Some are getting more.
    8 – 10 months 3 – 4 hours. Some are getting more.
    11 – 12 months 3.5 -4.5 hours. Some are getting more if moved early to 1 nap
  3. Sleep (naps): this depends on how long your baby can stay awake and how long they can go in between feedings. Below is a the number of naps that each baby should take each day (this could vary). See my post Infant Sleep Requirements which gives more information about how long each nap should be.
    Newborn- 1 month 3-4 naps
    2- 3 months 3-4 naps
    3 months 3 naps
    4-5 months 2-3 naps
    6- 8 months 2-3  naps
    9- 18 months 2 naps
    18+ months 1 naps

I typed the schedules that I kept with my son every month. They have changed quite a bit as he has grown. http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/infant-schedules-by-month/

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