With a little bit of communication and planning, you can set up a structured schedule so that each parent gets a restorative shot of sleep. Maybe Mom is on duty from 9:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. Then Dad takes over from 2:00 a.m. until the morning. Take into consideration your family’s lifestyle, habits, and preferences, and work out an approach that meets both parents’ needs.
Managing our expectations around our babies’ sleep can be particularly important. Just like their other skills, sleep develops rapidly in the first few months of life. While sleep training twins isn’t a possibility in the early months, knowing benchmarks for sleep development can help set parents up for success.
It’s natural to be cautious and concerned over their condition, but many parents lose sleep because they are too in tune with every cry and snuffle as their babies sleep.
Caring for newborn twins or multiples takes time, help, training, money, and emotional backing.
Nighttime with twins is an all-hands-on-deck situation! Whenever possible, I encourage both parents to be present for feedings, and then you can take turns sleeping in another room between feedings. Some parents take a “one night on, one night off” approach so each parent has the opportunity for a full night’s sleep. Other parents divide and conquer, one tending to baby A and the other baby B for the whole night. Whichever method you chose, teamwork is key!
That shot of sleep will do wonders for your well-being and make for a much happier family.
Set the same bedtime for both Try two beds for two babies Establish a bedtime routine for two Settle your calm baby first Put your babies to bed when they’re still awake Swaddle your babies Discourage nighttime waking Accept that multiples sleep through the night when they’re ready Tips from BabyCenter parents
Developing a regular sleep pattern often depends on your babies’ weight, not their age. This means identical twins tend to sleep through at almost identical ages. Fraternal twins’ sleep patterns may be more independent, especially if they’re different in size or temperament.
With two babies, both parents will have their hands full. Soon enough, you’ve got a situation. Either both parents are exhausted and overwhelmed by the lack of sleep, or one parent is sleeping soundly, and the other is simmering with resentment. It’s time for a tag team approach.
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Develop a soothing bedtime routine – maybe a warm bath, bedtime story, and a few minutes of cuddling or singing – and make sure it’s simple enough to include both babies. Stick to the same activities and your babies will soon learn these signal it’s time to settle down.
Use a baby monitor to keep an eye or ear on your sleeping sweethearts, but don’t jump at every noise. With time, you’ll learn to interpret your babies’ cries and respond only to those that require your attention.
Many parents of twins carry over a lot of worry and anxiety about their babies, especially if they were faced with pregnancy complications or recuperating from a premature birth.
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Get your baby ready for the perfect sleep with these three simple swaddling styles.
While I can’t promise a full night’s sleep while caring for your newborn twins, keeping them close, feeding on a schedule and having reasonable expectations will all help your family get the rest you need!
Parents of twins often receive conflicting advice about when to feed their babies. Feeding on demand, that is presenting the breast or bottle when a baby signals that he is hungry, can result in chaos. One’s eating, one’s sleeping, and then they switch.
Once your babies begin social smiling and laughing, their sleep starts to develop, too. This generally happens around 2 months of age. At this point, our kids are starting to understand cause and effect, so beware of habits that may be beginning to form.
AAP. 2012b. A parent’s guide to safe sleep. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/pages/A-Parents-Guide-to-Safe-Sleep.aspx
While we can’t yet implement formal sleep training for twins, we can encourage healthy sleep hygiene and self-soothing. As babies become more socially engaged, it can become more difficult for them to fall asleep in a busy environment; they can more easily become over stimulated and thus, overtired. Keep an eye on the clock and put the babies in a dark, quiet room after an hour of wake time. An hour and a half is the maximum amount of time our babies should be awake. This may sound like a very short period of time, but preventing the twins from being overtired during the day will help them sleep more soundly at night.
The confines of swaddling also prevents the babies’ natural startle reflex from waking them up. It also reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Help your babies fall asleep on their own by letting them drift off in bed, rather than in your arms. This can mean putting each to bed after a joint bedtime activity – maybe a quick cuddle after reading a book together or singing a song. Resist the urge to rock or nurse each to sleep because babies who are put to bed while still awake learn to settle down on their own.
Don’t underestimate your need for sleep. Being a supermom (or dad) just makes you exhausted, not a better parent.
Lauren Lappen – MA. Sleep Associate at Twin Love Concierge, Lauren is the proud mother of an older daughter Ellie and fraternal twin girls Kira and Rebecca. Lauren is a graduate from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Psychology and Educational Studies, and has an MBA from Babson College. She is also a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant by the Family Sleep Institute and an ICF certified Coach through Fielding Graduate University. Lauren always had a desire to use her coaching to help parents of young children and channels her passion for sleep by transforming the lives of parents struggling to get the well deserved rest they need. You can reach Lauren at [email protected] for more information on the Twin Love Concierge online Twins & Sleep class or private sleep consulting.
It is sometimes more effective to use a more scheduled approach and coordinate your babies’ schedules by feeding them both at the same time and putting them to bed together.
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Accept that multiples sleep through the night when they’re ready
Perhaps start the routine with a bath, a soothing activity that physically relaxes your babies. It’s never too early to introduce your babies to books by reading to them. Or spend a few moments cuddling in the rocking chair before settling them into their cribs.
Cuddle and talk to your babies all you want during the day. But at night, keep interactions to a minimum so they’re more likely to fall back to sleep. When they wake, don’t make eye contact, keep their room dimly lit, and put them right back to bed after feeding them.
A consistent pattern of activity signals the approach of bedtime, giving the babies a clue that it’s time to sleep. These rituals will become a cherished part of the day for both you and the babies and can be an excellent opportunity for sharing some one-on-one time and bonding.
The age-old custom of swaddling, or tightly wrapping each baby in a thin blanket, may help them feel safe, secure, and ready for sleep. Be sure to stop swaddling at about 2 months, before your babies can roll over. (You can then switch to a wearable blanket to keep them warm at night.)
AAP. 2012c. Twins: 2 cribs or 2 bedrooms? American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/Twins-2-Cribs-or-2-Bedrooms.aspx
Create an appropriate environment in their nursery or sleeping area. Keep things dark and quiet. If you need lights, make them soft and low. A dimmer switch works great for this. Reduce noise, or use background “white” noise like a fan or quiet music. A fan is also an easy way to reduce the risk of SIDS.
There’s no evidence that sharing a crib benefits twins, though many do it – and some parents say their babies seem to sleep better. But the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against crib-sharing, saying there is added risk of overheating, accidental suffocation, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Many multiples are comforted by the act of swaddling. Being wrapped up “burrito style” may give them a sense of safety and security that helps them fall asleep and ensures a sounder sleep.
Newborns need our constant attention, particularly if you’re dealing with two babies at the same time! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends babies sleep in the same room as a caregiver, on their own sleep surface, for at least the first 6 months of life (Ideally, for babies first year of life). Having the twins in your room will make tending to them through the night much easier.
AAP. 2012a. Getting your baby to sleep. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/pages/Getting-Your-Baby-to-Sleep.aspx
Often the best advice comes from people who have been in your shoes. Here are some tips from BabyCenter parents:
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If one baby is typically fussy and the other usually calm, you may be tempted to spend more time with the loudest one. Alexander Golbin, M.D., director of the Sleep and Behavior Medicine Institute, strongly advises against this. The problem, he explains, is that your quiet baby will miss out on the same level of attention.
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So if one starts fussing, check on the other one first to make sure she’s happy and settled. This makes sure that no one is overlooked, and both children feel secure and loved.
Juggling two babies all night can be hard work! To ensure you get a little rest, you’ll want to feed both babies at the same time and then put them back to sleep. If one wakes and the other is asleep, wake the sleeping baby when it’s time to eat. Otherwise, you’ll need to be feeding at least one baby all night long!
Find out why certified pediatric nurse practitioner Dr. Maureen Keefe says not to worry about it.
Zero to Three. Undated. Sleep challenges in infants and toddlers: Why it happens, what to do. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/331-sleep-challenges-why-it-happens-what-to-do#chapter-237 [Accessed 2013]
Swaddling works best with newborns. After a month or two, your babies will outgrow the comforting effects.
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Do whatever it takes to streamline the process and get your babies and yourself back to bed as quickly as possible.
Mindell JA, et al. 2009. A nightly bedtime routine: Impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood. Sleep 32(5):599-606. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19480226
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Whether you’re expecting twins, or you recently brought them home from the hospital, many parents have one big question on their minds – How will I ever get some sleep?!
As your infants grow and develop, they’ll start to sleep and stay awake for longer stretches of time. To help develop healthy sleep habits, you can start to develop bedtime rituals.
Another way to sync up your babies: As soon as one cries to be fed, wake up the other one and feed him, too.
Use a soft, soothing voice during nighttime feedings and other interactions to give your babies the message that nighttime is the right time for sleep.
If your babies are at least 12 months old, you can encourage self-soothing by giving each a special soft toy or blanket to sleep with. These so-called transitional objects are comforting and can help soothe them back to sleep.
In the womb, there was no distinction between night and day. Now it’s up to you to help them adjust so that they’ll learn that nighttime is for sleeping and daytime is for waking and playing.
Two months is also the age that we can expect nighttime sleep to lengthen. Hooray! Usually the earlier half of the night consolidates first, so it’s likely your babies will sleep for 5-6 hours in the first half of the night, and then be awake more in the second half. This is normal and will lengthen very soon!
What’s the worst thing about having baby twins? Most bleary-eyed parents would agree that it is the lack of sleep. Any newborn is likely to keep odd hours, but balancing the demands of two newborns means that sleep is a scarce commodity for parents of twins. Use these 10 tips to get more sleep when you have baby twins. Getting them to sleep means you’ll get more sleep, too.
Task Force on Sudden Infant Death. 2011. SIDS and other sleep-related Infant deaths: Expansion of recommendations for a safe infant sleeping environment. Pediatrics 128(5):e1341-e1367. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/e1341.full?sid=bd9574fb-4575-4d35-a46e-a63394e68331
Of course, keep your babies’ individual needs in mind. Talk to your pediatrician to develop an appropriate approach.
It’s important for parents to know that during the first 2 months (adjust the age if your babies were born before 38 weeks) we can’t have very high expectations for the length of time our children will sleep. But luckily no bad habits can be made yet. As long as your babies are sleeping in a safe sleep space (a twin bassinet is a great option), do whatever you have to do to get some rest. If you find you’re always rocking them or bouncing them to sleep, that’s ok. Many babies are calm when swaddled, so use a swaddle blanket liberally! The HALO® SleepSack® Swaddle is a great fuss-free swaddle – with its adjustable fasteners and reverse zipper, it makes swaddling in the dark and diaper changes easy. Some babies will sleep better with a pat from a caregiver’s hand – touch is so important at this age. The HALO® Bassinest® twin sleeper can again be an amazing solution for this. Thanks to its retractable sides and 360 degree rotation, mom or dad can easily lay in bed, reach over and tend to a fussy baby.
Your babies will learn to sleep through the night. You will again sleep through the night. These precious few months of twinfancy are but a moment in time, not a life sentence.
As a mom of twins and a Certified Sleep Consultant, I often get asked, “How soon can I start sleep training twins?” Parents should know that formal sleep training is discouraged until at least 4 months of age (and always with the approval of your pediatrician first). Never fear! There are many things to do to make nighttime more manageable. Starting in the first few months of life, you can begin to lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy sleep habits.
Repeat the multiples mantra, “This TWO shall pass…this two shall pass…this two shall pass.”
If you can afford it, hire a night nurse. Most charge by the hour (expect to pay $20 to $50 an hour), but with two babies, you’re getting double for your money. If you can’t afford it regularly, considering having a weekly or monthly respite. Or call on grandma, aunts, sisters, or neighbors to pull a night shift.
AAP. 2013. Colic. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Colic.aspx
Newborns are accustomed to the close confines of the womb, and sharing that space with their co-twin.
The idea is simple: Put your babies to bed at the same time, and they’re more likely to develop a synchronized sleep pattern. If you don’t, one or both of them will be awake at any given time – and you will become very tired, very quickly.
Take care of yourself during these tough times and give yourself some credit. You’ve got two babies to care for, and you’re managing it quite well. Tomorrow is another day and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get some sleep then.
Certainly, you should never ignore or neglect a child who needs you in the night, but you’ll get more rest if you learn to transition back to sleep as your baby settles back down.
This works especially well with monozygotic (identical) twins or babies that are approximately the same weight, who often have similar metabolisms and are more likely to be hungry at the same time.
Don’t try to be productive when the twins are taking a daytime nap. Take a nap at the same time so you will be more rested. When you have newborn twins, you have permission to let things go. Let someone else do the dishes, run the errands, or clean the bathrooms. For the first few weeks of your twins’ lives, your main priority is to feed and nurture them. Catch a few winks when you can.
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As a parent of twins, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected! Just when you think you have these little ones figured out, they go ahead and change the game! A baby’s development is constant; sometimes it seems their abilities advance on a daily basis.
Teaching two babies to sleep through the night may sound more complicated. But generally speaking, the same rules apply.
The AAP clearly states that each baby should sleep on his or her own sleep surface, and not in the bed with an adult. Before you’re ready to put the babies in their own cribs in the nursery, use two portable cribs or a double bassinet for twins, such as the HALO® Bassinest® twin sleeper. The HALO Bassinest is designed to sit right next to your bed for convenient access to both of your babies with its ingenious 360 degree rotation. And, unlike other bassinets for twins it features a mesh divider in the center, allowing your babies to see, smell and soothe each other, while still sleeping safely in their own separate sleep space. It’s an ideal option for families of multiples to make night times easier. Do not put your twins together in a bassinet made for one baby. There is not enough room for them to sleep safely.
Twins born prematurely, or with low birth weights, have a higher risk of SIDS, and having separate cribs can lower their risk. Your twins may find it comforting (and can sleep safely) if you place the cribs close enough for them to see one another.
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Also, don’t worry too much about one baby waking up the other: Many twins and multiples don’t seem bothered by their sibling’s crying, even when they’re in the same room.
Employ your best strategic planning skills to maximize your sleep time. A little bit of preparation and planning will pay off in extra snatches of sleep.
Whether you bring in some reinforcements to get you through the tough times or make regular use of helpers, having help on hand can literally be a sanity saver.
I have learned that my twins are independent souls, and they sleep better in separate rooms. One sleeps through the night, and the other gets up in the middle of the night to eat. One waking up is better than two waking up.
Blackout curtains and white noise are a must for twins! No cute little night-lights, etc. I separated my twins for sleep training at 5 1/2 months, then put them back together in the same room once they were sleeping well on their own and dropped their last middle-of-the-night feed around 7 or 8 months.
My twins didn’t sleep well in the same crib, so they went to their own cribs but shared a room (and still do at 3 1/2 years). To help them sleep, I used a white noise machine. The sooner you get your twins sleeping in the arrangement that you want long-term, the better.
Our twins have shared a room since birth. Sure, there have been rough nights, but they needed to get used to one another. Sleeping has never come easy for my twins. We co-slept for a while because it was the only way anyone got any sleep! Then here’s what worked for us: We separated our twins the first half of the night – 7 to 10 p.
m. Then after a dream feeding, we put them in the same room. It’s been working for us. The next step is to put them in their room together starting at their 7 p.m. bedtime. My twins had a major sleep regression around 6 months, which culminated in their scooting and teething.
They had another regression around 10 months when they started cruising. When this happens, I recommend you give it time. Things should normalize again. Think of naps as practice – disrupting each other is inevitable, but they’ll learn to sleep through the other’s wakings.
Also remember that every new day is a fresh start. My twins are 8 months old, and they have to share a room. I have a great sleeper and a terrible sleeper. Life totally changed when I hooked an iPod up to speakers and played lullaby music softly while they sleep.
They are totally sleeping through the night since the first night I did it! I think it just reassures them if they happen to wake up in the night, which they were doing up to this point at least three times a night.
I did not separate my boys into different rooms. They got used to each other’s cries, and now it’s a piece of cake! I’ll rock one twin until he’s really drowsy, then I lay him down and let him fuss for a little and get situated.
Then I start with the second one. This means their naps and bedtimes start 15 to 20 minutes apart. With twins, you have to learn to be flexible and let go of expectations. Patience is very important. I just do everything one baby at a time.
That’s all you can really do.
When managing life with twins, schedule is key! Our newborns will need to eat around the clock, so for the first few months your schedule should be based on feeding times, as directed by your babies’ doctor. Weight gain is one of our main concerns at first, so you’ll need to wake your babies to feed them until their doctor has determined that they can go longer between feedings at night.
Advice, information, and tips for parents of twins, higher multiples, adopted children, and children with special needs
If bottle feeding, prepare bottles and formula in advance so that they’re ready to go when babies wake to feed in the night. Keep diapers and supplies nearby so that you can change babies and get them back to bed faster. Consider having the babies sleep in a bassinet (or bassinets) in your room so that you don’t have to travel far in the middle of the night.
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