The Pick Up, Put Down Method of Sleep Training: TBSTP Perspective
As you can see from the title, the Pick Up, Put Down method IS a type of sleep training and as such, is not within the ethos of the group.
We have been asked before and will no doubt in future be asked again, why, this particular technique isn’t gentle so we would like to clarify.
The Pick Up, Put Down method fundamentally breaks down the communication between parent and baby and works on an extinction basis (a baby shuts down and ceases signalling/ crying/ communicating).
A baby who is distressed when placed down to sleep, who is then picked up and calmed in arms but is then placed back down to try again, is a baby who is communicating their need for comfort and their inability to soothe on their own. The fact that they calm in arms should not signal that they then can/need to be placed back down to self-soothe.
If they are placed back down and genuinely do pop off moments later without any distress then clearly this is where this baby is at developmentally BUT a baby who then cries out for their parent AGAIN, is very clearly communicating that they are NOT ready or able to find sleep in this manner.
A parent who isn’t sleep training would say, ‘okay, that’s not working, let’s do what we normally do’, and cuddle, nurse, rock, whatever it is they normally do to see their baby off to sleep in a fully responsive manner.
A parent who is sleep training, will continue to place their calmed baby back down and the communication breakdown will continue.
By placing that baby back down, a parent is effectively telling the baby, ‘I know you need X, but I’m only willing to do Y. I will continue to put you down even though I know you are telling me you aren’t coping.’
A baby who eventually ceases crying, has shut down as they have been told repeatedly that they are not being listened to.
In The Beyond Sleep Training Project, there will be windows in time throughout your child’s early years where you may wish to try different ways to help your child find sleep. This may involve them becoming a little more independent.
This is a natural progression BUT there is no fine line between truly responsively parenting your child and sleep training.
Anytime you are trying something out and you draw a line in the sand between you and your child and decide that XYZ will happen, you are stepping into the sleep training realm.
If you attempt changes while working with your child and listening and honouring them throughout the process then you can be sure you’ll also know when you should stop and pull back from the process as your child lets you know they are simply not ready for such a change yet.
This doesn’t mean they’ll never be ready, they just aren’t ready right now.
This is the heart of moving beyond the sleep training culture – working with our children, not against them.
More reading on the myth of self-soothing-
Hopefully that clears things up a little.