You have your sweet babies home from the hospital, you understand a few twin distinctions in relation to sleeping, and you are feeling ready to help those babies learn to be great sleepers, but you are wondering where to start.
Since twins are often premature, sleep training will take place after the little ones have reached full term, which is typically measured by the due date. Even singleton babies born at full term pretty much eat and sleep for the first few weeks of life. The general structure still applies, but sleeping and eating to gain weight is more important than a firm schedule.
Once and the babies have reached full term, you are ready to sleep train.
Babywise Principles for Sleep Training with Twin Adjustments
As laid out in the article "3 Tips on How to Get Baby Sleeping Through the Night" in more detail, the core facts that drive the Babywise philosophy are:
Order – Getting your babies on a feed/wake/sleep routine sets a predictable schedule for both you and your babies. (For additional information on this routine see Sample Baby Sleep Schedules.)
Twin adjustment: This will happen more easily as twins approach their due date. As they approach the two or three week mark after their due date, you will notice more wake time and this pattern will emerge more obviously. The example sleep schedules should be calculated according to the due date.
Quality – Making sure that your babies get full feedings leads to productive wake time and better sleep. To help my newborn keep eating, I remember gently massaging her shoulders and tickling her feet.
Twin adjustment: This will require additional help, especially in the beginning. Eventually a breastfeeding mom may be able to feed both babies at once, but that will take time and experience.
Additionally, it may be hard to know if your newborns or premature babies are getting a full feeding. A good indicator of a hydrated baby is between 6-8 wet diapers each day.
Furthermore, as the twins are awake and more alert, having a consistent bedtime routine helps to give the babies cues that it’s time to go to sleep. Putting the babies down drowsy but awake, swaddling and avoiding overtiredness, will set them up for success in falling asleep on their own.
Twin adjustment #1: Keep both babies on the same schedule. Generally speaking, when one baby is up, the other one is up; and when one is fed, the other is fed. Obviously, there will be lag time because you may not be physically able to get both up or feed both at the same time, but keeping to the same schedule is necessary so that you aren’t attending to babies constantly on two different schedules.
Clearly, the caveat to this is when one baby is sick and waking up because of discomfort or other sickness related disruptions. Waking up both babies is reserved for the initial morning wake-up and nap wake-ups.
Twin adjustment #2: Sleeping arrangements
Often there is a fear of one twin disrupting the sleep of the other. But twins eventually adjust to each other’s sounds and are generally not disruptive to their sibling. According to Dr. Weissbluth, most parents of twins keep babies in the same crib until about 4 months and then move them to their own cribs.
Remember that sleep training takes time and consistency along with flexible adjustments. Enjoy your babies and learn from them. Don’t be overly anxious with every decision, but look at the big picture of setting your babies up for sleep success.
More Twin Articles
Tips for Breastfeeding Newborn Twins - Annie Wiesman
Things to Know Before You Sleep Train Your Twins - Annie Wiesman