What You Need to Know about the “Low Cry” Sleep Training Method

Note: The "Low Cry" Method is also known as the “Pick Up/Put Down” or "Rinse and Repeat" Method

The term “sleep training” is an umbrella term for helping a baby learn to sleep and, contrary to popular belief, it does not always mean having your baby cry it out.

In my work with families, I believe that there should be choices and options for how sleep learning takes place. As I often say, there is never a “one size fits all'' solution when it comes to learning how to sleep.

I also strongly believe that a method such as the “cry it out” is not a viable option until a baby shows signs of being able to independently self soothe. In other words, doing a cry it out method with a newborn or baby before they are developmentally ready may not lead to any sustainable sleep learning.

Too many untrained “sleep coaches” are suggesting the cry it out method for babies that are simply too young or are facing other obstacles to successful sleep learning.

The solution? The Low Cry Method

Why Low Cry?

For parents who do not wish to implement a cry it out method OR for babies who are not yet developmentally ready for a cry it out method, the Low Cry Method is a perfect solution!

For who?

Matching a sleep learning method with the parenting philosophies and values is important. Some parents simply do not want to engage with a process that involves a lot of crying regardless of the age of their baby.

Voila! The Low Cry is an ideal option.

This method works most effectively with babies that are 6-16 weeks of age. That is not to say that using it with babies that are older is not effective but it can take more effort.

What is it?

The Low Cry Method is a slow moving and very gradual method of changing a baby's sleep habits. While I have not found a NO cry sleep method that works, the R&R is a LOW cry sleep method that is designed to gradually introduce changes in baby's sleep associations and routines such that if they take to the method, they will begin to self soothe and sleep independently (relying less on their parents) for longer periods of time.

What does it look like in practice?

  • Follow your bedtime routine which may include a feeding, a bath, and a lullaby.
  • Once your baby begins to get very drowsy, lay him down. (See my drowsy but awake video for more on that).
  • Give the baby a chance to settle. If he’s quiet, do not intervene. But if he starts to fuss, offer a soothing touch. Placing your hand on the baby's belly or gently stroking his head (as demonstrated in the video) are two methods you can try.
  • If the fussing continues despite these efforts, pick him up and soothe him back to a drowsy state. (as demonstrated in the video). Look for sleepy signs (see this video for more on that) and then put down again.
  • Repeat as needed, capping the sleep practice at 20 minutes maximum. If after 20 minutes your little one is not settling or sleeping, then let it go and help them to sleep and begin again tomorrow.

Low Cry Method (AKA Pick up, Put Down Method) in Action

Managing expectations

This method can take upwards of 1-3 months to see changes so you want to be sure you have the patience and the energy for it.

Set yourself up for success:

  • This method may feel like 2 steps forward and one step back, that is ok.
  • Keep making notes about what you are observing in your baby. Keep the long term vision in mind and look for small and incremental changes and progress. Also track how you as parents are feeling (anywhere from patient and confident to frustrated and burned out is fine.)
  • Give this method 2-3 weeks to see how your baby and you respond to it. Then decide if you wish to continue with it or explore other options.

P.S. You are not alone

And what’s more is that you are not meant to figure this out on your own. I offer a gentle approach to infant and child sleep that is flexible, yet consistent, research-based, and most importantly nurturing and connected. Please reach out to me! I offer a range of services from classes to 1:1 consultations. Parents who take a class or work 1:1 with me report that they now feel prepared to:

  • Trust their intuition
  • Read baby’s cues and understand their temperament
  • Set their days and nights up for success
  • Establish healthy sleep habits for baby⁠

 Sarah Healy Sleep Consultant