As a mama of “singles,” I know how especially tiring those early days are with an infant, and I so admire the families who do it with twins (and triplets or more!).
While sleep can be challenging enough as it is with just one baby, it can be all the more daunting with multiples, but it’s still very possible!
So for you twin mamas and daddies out there, I’m going to share my top twin and multiples sleep tips, including:
- How to determine your twins’ or triplets’ schedule
- Keeping your twins’ schedules within 30 minutes of each other
- Night training and nap training twins in the same room or separate
- Using two sound machines – one for each child
- Waiting before responding when one twin wakes in the night
1. Go by adjusted age for twins’ sleep schedules
As most twins and multiples are born a few weeks early, rather than measuring awake windows and milestones (i.e. transitioning from the swaddle) by their actual age, we want to use their adjusted age.
Adjusted age is measured from your baby’s due date – so if your baby was due on August 1 but was born a month early on July 1, they would be considered “one week adjusted” on August 8 (rather than 5 weeks old!).
For more help with figuring out what kind of schedule will work best for your little ones, snag The Ultimate Guide to Sleep Schedules!
2. Keep your twins’ schedules within about 15-30 minutes of one another
When it comes to both feeding and sleep, keeping your twins on similar schedules will be helpful for everyone involved!
I know it seems so unnatural to wake a sleeping baby, but if Twin A wakes up before Twin B, make sure you wake up Twin B 15-30 minutes later to keep them on a similar schedule. Then for the next nap/bedtime, put Twin A down first, as they have been awake slightly longer, and then put Twin B.
Exception: Night feedings
Although keeping your twins on similar schedules is helpful during the day, this is not the case for night feedings. Let the night feeding schedules develop naturally (don’t wake Twin A because Twin B woke up!), and you will likely find that they end up being on similar night feeding schedules, anyway.
If your doctor has recommend you wake them every 3 hours for weight purposes, absolutely do so! But remember, no dream feeding! We want babies to recognize when they’re hungry, know that they’re eating, and realize they’re back in their own bed to drift back to sleep. So if you still need to feed them at regular intervals throughout the night, wake them to feed them rather than trying to dream feed!
And once your doctor gives you the okay to let them sleep longer stretches, let them wake to feed naturally!
3. Decide if your twins will sleep in the same room or separate
Many families desire to have their twins share a room, and this is absolutely possible!
Night Train in the Same Room
When sleep training, I recommend starting where you aim to finish. So if your goal is that your twins will share a room, let’s sleep train with them sharing a room! Yes, Twin A could prevent Twin B from falling asleep as quickly, or Twin B could wake Twin A more easily, but that’s part of the process for twins.
You will likely be surprised, either from the get go or early on in the process, that your twins are often able to sleep through the others’ fussing!
You can also sleep train in separate rooms and still put them together after the process is over – you may just have an extra week of adjustment as they get used to falling asleep with another babe in the room. If you do plan to sleep train separately but eventually bring them back together, you could set up a pack ‘n play in a spare room or your bedroom to make this possible. Or if you don’t have an extra sleeping space, set up a SlumberPod in a more quiet area of the house and your little one won’t know anything differently!
Nap Train Separately
While it’s easier to do the night time sleep training in the same room, I often suggest nap training separately, as daytime sleep is just harder than night time sleep – we don’t have melatonin on our side. So if it’s possible, keep naps separate, especially while taking three or more naps.
If your goal is to have your babes share a room for naps, as well, this will be much easier 0nce they are on a two nap schedule, as their sleep will likely be more consistent and predictable at this point!
4. Use two sound machines, one for each twin
When your twins are sharing a room, having a sound machine by each of their sleep spaces will help drown out a bit of the noise the other might make in the night.
Could they still wake each other? Yes, because we’re working with people, not robots! Which leads me to…
5. When you hear one wake in the night, WAIT!
Just like we do when other siblings are sharing a room, if Twin A wakes up, try wait 10 minutes before responding! I know, I know, what if they wake up Twin B? To be honest, they might wake them up, but if we rush in right away, we’re hindering the process of learning to sleep and could actually end up stimulating them more and causing a greater night waking.
So once you’ve waited 10 minutes, gauge if it would be helpful to respond and intervene, and then be consistent with your response according to the sleep plan you’re following.
A few extra notes on sleep training twins and multiples…
- One twin may be more challenging when it comes to sleep, and that’s totally normal! If you are working with a sleep consultant and knowing their personalities anticipate one to have a harder time, tell your sleep consultant so she can plan accordingly!
- Your bedtime routine may need to be about 15 minutes longer, as you need to feed both twins…that’s okay! Twin A could have some tummy time or hang in the Boppy while you feed Twin B, then switch!
- If Twin A is taking longer to fall asleep then Twin B, do your best to not give extra “help” to Twin B in order to get him fall asleep more quickly – try to remain consistent with your plan and the way you helped Twin A!
In all of this, the biggest key to sleep success is PATIENCE and CONSISTENCY. Teaching our kids to sleep is not an overnight process; it takes time and may be a bit of a roller coaster at first, but over time you will see success! And that goes for twins, or triplets, quadruplets, etc…you don’t have to wait until your kids are in college to sleep!
Remember that you don’t have to do this alone! If you are expecting multiples or are already loving on your babies but don’t know where to begin when it comes to sleep, I’d love to help! Book a FREE, no-strings-attached phone call to chat more about what that could look like.
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