On the joys of the pick-up-put-down method

I really would like some sleep now. 

Since we started weaning / Jack started teething / life-and-stuff, Jack’s sleep has taken another major backwards step. Sometimes he wakes twice, sometimes three or four times, which I could cope with – but often the wakes, which used to be a 10-minute feed and back down, turn into a two-hour sush-athon which ends in Jack just being bundled into bed with me and held down until he falls asleep or I pass out.

I’ve already written off the controlled crying / cry it out method. I’ve got nothing against people who let their babies cry to teach them to self-soothe. I have a NO JUDGEMENT policy. It works really well for some people. However, I own a baby who, at the age of 6 months, has already decided that determination is his chosen character trait. He does not cry for a while then give in and go to sleep, he cries for a while, screams for a while, screams-so-loudly-your-neighbours-from-three-doors-down-think-about-calling-the-police for a while and then vomits and starts the process again. He is more determined than I am. 

So I’ve been recommended by several people to try the pick-up-put-down method. ‘It’s marvellous’ people say. ‘He’ll take an hour of being picked up the first night, but in a week he’ll self-settle in minutes’. This method relies on you putting your baby down awake, then hoping they’ll learn to fall asleep by themselves, so that when they wake they won’t panic, but put themselves back to sleep again, thus waking you up less. The practice is: put baby down, if they cry, pick them up but don’t feed, rock, otherwise comfort them, just wait for them to stop crying and put them back down again to start the process over.

OK I can do that. 

Jack can do that. 

WE CAN DO THAT. 

Surely?

Apparently not. 

The pick-up-put-down method works on the assumption that when you pick your baby up, he stops crying. 

It would be nice if, as a mother, I had the ability to stop my little boy from crying by picking him up, but, as previously mentioned, my boy is made of stronger stuff. Once he’s screaming, he will not stop until he’s good and ready. So when you’re holding the screaming baby and he’s still crying, do you just continue to pick him up and put him down while crying and hope that in all the confusion he’ll fall asleep? Or hold him against you without comforting him until he learns that your cold loveless arms are nothing but an extension of the prison that is his cot and he learns to accept his miserable existence? 

Or try rocking, bouncing, walking around, sushing, singing, feeding and begging until he stops crying and eventually falls asleep in your arms and you can gently place him down on his cot and wait an hour or two until he wakes and wants you again?

Option C it is. 

Back to the drawing board. 

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3 Comments

  1. I know the feeling. Mine is determined too, which is great when it comes to most things. With sleep, not so much. I used to laugh at Your Baby Week by Week when it suggested 'shh-ing' and patting your baby back to sleep, because that just used to make mine even more livid. And when I say 'laugh' I mean 'cry'.

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