So congratulations you have two bundles of joy nestled in each arm. I will NEVER forget that day when our twins were finally born and I was gazing in each tiny little face, drowning in love, fear and OMG I have 2 babies what the hell! After a journey of two weeks through special care and NICU, our little boy and girl were finally able to come home and our journey of a family of 5 was to begin. The first week was ok and then ALL hell broke loose. I was surviving on 4 hrs sleep in a 24hr period, hubby was exhausted and the dogs were hiding under the bed. Lost in a sea of breast milk, nappies and chaos we realized quick smart something had to change. Here is what I wish I had known.
When it comes to sleep any rules applying to 2 or more babies is harder. It requires an extra effort in forethought, planning, communication and work on you as a parent.
-identical twins sleep more like each other than fraternal twins.
-the process of falling asleep is a task that each twin needs to learn for himself- the process of self soothing is a journey.
-assess the fact that just because they are twins that the sleep needs of one baby does not dictate how you manage the other.
– -its ok to experiment with different sleep situations- try something different for a month, and if it doesn’t work try something else- be prepared that change will always be happening over time.
-be open to different sleep arrangements for naptime and bedtime, and that this can change with developmental milestones and age and sex of baby.
-twins are 2 separate human beings with individual sleep needs and it is really difficult to force them to adapt to a schedule just because it would work better for you.
-a parent needs to learn how to co-ordinate 2 babies schedules and sleeping styles, taking into consideration age and developmental capabilities of each baby.
-there are parent’s that swear separating them from the start will prevent them from waking each other up, and others that swear keeping them together prevents this.
– you can apply gentle sleep shaping techniques by the time the twins are 6 weeks old OR using the adjusted age (counting 6 weeks from due date).
-Start by putting them down drowsy but awake at least once a day and watch sleep windows carefully.
-wake them at the same time each morning (dramatic wake-up), or allow one to naturally wake the other, to get them more in sync early on.
-you can keep them 20min-40 mins apart from each other feed requirements depending.
-keep a simple food and sleep log- this log will help you see how long their sleep windows, sleep cues and internal clocks differ and where they over lap.
-weight depending it is reasonable for them to sleep about 8-10hrs at a stretch by around 4-6months age adjusted. Prematurity is not always an excuse for not dealing with sleep needs.
-SIDS guidelines to stay in the cot together until one starts to roll over.
-mostly always sleep through each other’s sounds, but be careful about responding to quickly to one fearing it will wake the other one up. This can lead to re-inforcing the troubled sleeper while you protect the one who is asleep- thus teaching one if she makes noise you will come flying in to pick her up.
-when 1 twin sleep’s well separate them at night till the poorer sleeper is sleeping better, then return them to sharing together. This can be essential during times of teething and illness.
-good sleepers tend to be more flexible and can more easily adjust to a tempory new sleeping place.
-consider separating for day naps as daytime sleep consolidation occurs between 3-4 months- this can be useful during the 4 month sleep regression developmental stage.
-hard to sleep when there is a playmate to distract or be distracted by in the next cot
-do what feels best for your twins. Put one down a little earlier (the better sleeper), so you can spend time with the poorer sleeper.
-keep bedtime routines simple 10-15minutes- put on PJ’s, read book, lights out. Split night routine between parent’s if work schedules allow it.
-you want any schedule changes to be similar- within 30mins of each other, so morning naps are at similar times.
-tweak schedules periodically depending on when each child goes through growth spurts or hits developmental milestones.
-swaddle, white noise/music for all naps and nights.
Twin Sleep Strategies:
It’s hard to remember the fun part when you’re struggling to get your crying babies to sleep.
Put your babies to sleep at the same time
Most twin families want their babies on the same sleep schedule as this is the key to developing a healthy sleep pattern and giving you some well-deserved rest. If your babies nap or go to bed at different times, one or both of them may be awake at any given time – leaving you feeling overwhelmed is often the feeling.
Establish a calming bedtime routine
A quiet, soothing bedtime routine, such as a warm bath, a bedtime story, and a few minutes of cuddling, back rubbing, and quietly talking or singing, helps prepare your babies for sleep. If you stick to a consistent bedtime routine, your babies will soon learn the signal that it’s time to settle down.
Swaddle your babies-This will help feel safe, secure, and ready for sleep.
Put your little ones to bed drowsy, but not asleep-Help them learn to fall asleep on their own by letting them drift off once they’re in bed, rather than just before you put them down to sleep.
-One cot or two- safe in a cot until rolling.
Settle your calm baby first
If one baby is typically fussy and the other is usually calm, you may be tempted to tend to the one that’s loudest, make sure that your quiet baby does not miss out on the bedtime attention she needs.
So before you focus on the more temperamental one make sure your quiet one is happy and settled. Don’t worry about one baby waking up the other: Most twins and multiples don’t seem bothered by their sibling’s crying, even when they’re in the same room.
-Accept that multiples sleep through the night when they’re ready
-A Regular sleep schedule often depends on your babies’ weight, not their age. Identical twins tend to sleep through at almost identical ages. Fraternal twins’ sleep patterns may be more independent, especially if they’re very different in size or temperament.
Night time tips
-Discourage nighttime waking- don’t dream feed.
-if one wakes to feed, wake to feed the other twin- trial this for first 3 months.
-Keeping your babies as calm and quiet at night as possible, even during feedings. Keep their room dimly lit, and don’t handle them during the night more than necessary.
-Feed them and put them right back to bed. This helps them learn that nighttime is for sleeping.
-If your babies are at least 9 months old, you can encourage self-soothing by giving them each a special soft toy or blanket to sleep with. These “transitional objects” are comforting and can help them go back to sleep.
-Hold, touch, and rock your babies often during the day
-Don’t be afraid to “spoil” your babies by overdoing it with cuddling when they’re awake.
Colic and twins
Don’t let colic bring you down- I had 2 colic and reflux bubs- and I survived.
Colic is a pattern of crying that usually happens in the late afternoon or evening, for no apparent reason. Try every calming technique you can think of: warm baths, massage, swaddling, listening to soothing music, carrying your babies in slings, putting them in rocker seats, or any combination of these strategies.
Ask your family and friends or hire someone to help you so you can get a break from what may seem like never-ending wails. Remember, most babies outgrow colic by 3 to 4 months, so hang in there!