Pick Up Put Down (PUPD) Sleep Training

This is a gentle sleep training method that can be used with babies after about four months of age, although it works best with babies over five months. It helps teach your baby how to sleep independently, in a supportive way, that involves minimal crying. PUPD is about offering the reassurance, support and trust that your baby needs to learn to sleep without assistance. It’s not suitable for older babies or toddlers.


How to do it


  1. Start with a good wind down routine and make sure your baby has been fed, changed and is ready for sleep. Lie him (or her) in the cot whilst quietly ‘shushing’ and then sit silently on a chair in the room, close to the cot. Keeping your eyes closed will model sleep for your baby and it might help you to relax as well.


  1. Allow your baby five minutes or so to fall asleep independently. If your baby is crying consistently after this time, go to the cot and stand by its side. Spend one minute using your touch and your voice to help soothe your baby. You might rub his tummy gently, sing softly or ‘shush’. If your baby is moving around the cot, don’t restrain him. If your baby ‘gets stuck’, move him to the middle of the cot and simply use your touch and voice for reassurance. If your baby stands up, lie him back down silently and swiftly. Only move him once or twice if you feel you really need to but then leave him be.


  1. If after a minute your baby’s crying is not lessening (he is getting more worked up and is not calming down), pick him up and offer a ‘boring’ cuddle, with a slow pat, just until he is calm. Don’t walk around, jiggle or rock too much as the skin-to-skin cuddle should be enough to show your baby you are there for comfort and support. Continue just until your baby is calm but definitely not to the point where he is getting drowsy. Drowsiness is the first stage of sleep and the aim is for your baby to fall asleep from an awake state.


  1. Repeat the process. It can be a good idea is to put your baby down in the cot and count slowly in your head to one hundred, as this works out to be about a minute. If your baby doesn’t calm down, pick him up and repeat the steps above. Consciously back off the pickups each day and reduce your touch, so that you are leaving more time between each pickup and you are giving your baby more time to settle independently, just with your voice.


  1. If your baby goes into the cot and he doesn’t cry or cries intermittently, or just grizzles a bit, you don’t need to pick him up. Just sit by the cot and use your voice with soft singing or shushing. If your baby settles, the best thing to do is simply close your eyes and model sleep.


  1. Continue the process until you think your baby is asleep and then wait for a further ten minutes just to be sure he’s asleep, then leave the room. Use the same technique to resettle your baby for any overnight wakings when he’s not due a feed.




Q: How long can I hold my baby for when I pick him up?

Hold your baby for no longer than three to four minutes. If your baby continues to cry after this time, put him down for another few minutes. He might just need a little more ‘space’ to settle off to sleep on his own.

Q: How long should I continue PUPD sleep training for?

For the lunchtime nap, continue for an hour. If your baby hasn’t settled after this time, get him up, offer a quick feed and a play for twenty minutes and then put him back into the cot for another twenty to forty minutes of PUPD. If he subsequently falls asleep but wakes early from the nap, use PUPD for a further thirty to forty minutes before getting him up. You would then consider that nap cancelled. If you are sleep training overnight, continue until your baby goes to sleep, no matter how long it takes.

Q: How long will it take until I see results?

You should see improvement in your baby’s sleep within the first 2-5 days, depending on your commitment, patience and consistency.

Tips for Success


  • PUPD is not a quick fix or an easy approach to help your child sleep better. You’ll need to put in a lot of  time and effort to see improvement. Do you have support from a partner or other family member? Dads are often the best at this!
  • Keep in mind that this process will be hard work for a few nights and that you’ll need to be committed and consistent over a long period of time (tiring but well worth it).
  • Staying strong and supportive for your baby means sticking to the plan and following through no matter how long it takes and how tired you are. Your baby will thank you for it!
  • Patience and perseverance are your allies. Don’t give up! The point at which you feel like giving up is usually when you will see results.
  • If you want sleep to get better, you need to make the pick ups ‘boring’ with low stimulation and consciously work on less and less interaction each day.