Twins are a huge blessing, but let’s face it, a lot more work than having one baby. New parents are known to be exhausted, but with twins, that is compounded. That’s why developing and investing in good sleep habits is important for the whole family’s well-being.
On top of the extra work, teaching twins to sleep well is typically a bit more complicated than teaching only one baby for all the obvious reasons that come to mind. They often wake each other up when crying, so you’re having to soothe two babies, not just one. Because of this, parents tend to rush in to soothe a crying baby and get this baby back to sleep by any means necessary. This often leads to strong sleep associations that are hard to eliminate.
However, I’m here to reassure you that it is possible to teach both your children independent sleep skills. It will mean double the discipline on your part, but once they’re sleeping through the night, you’re going to cherish the benefits.
Can you just imagine what you’ll do with the extra time when your babies are napping on the same schedule and sleeping through the night? What a game-changer for you!
Below are some sleep strategies for twins that will maximize your chances for success.
If you’re able, my first suggestion is to put your babies in separate spaces. This doesn’t have to be a permanent arrangement. It can be a temporary set-up while your babies work on their sleeping skills. So, you may have to use your office as a temporary bedroom.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to have separate rooms to succeed. Your babies can share a room and still learn to be great sleepers. It’s just a bit easier with respect to the fussing and noises.
Identical Sleep Schedules
This is the most helpful strategy- develop a schedule that is the same for both babies. They’re the same age and their sleep needs are identical, so their nap and bedtime schedules should also be the same.
If one of your twins tends to sleep longer at naptime, that’s fine, but I would limit it to thirty minutes. Otherwise, the schedules might get too out of sync. When the next nap comes around, ignore the extra thirty minutes with regards to figuring out their wake window, just put both babies down at the same time.
As for the very likely scenario that one baby wakes up in the night and the other doesn’t, we want to keep them both on the same schedule, but we also don’t want to interrupt their sleep if we don’t have to. My advice on this situation, outside of weight gain issues or specific instructions from your doctor, let your babies sleep. If one wakes up for a feed, don’t wake the other one and offer a feed as well. We’re going to let sleep be the priority for a while.
The major benefit of identical schedules is the health and sanity of the mom and dad. Having a little time in the day to yourself is amazing and rejuvenating. It might help with the long list of to-do’s like laundry. So many tiny clothes to fold!
Avoiding Sleep Associations
When one of the twins wakes, it’s easy to resort to the quickest method to getting that child back to sleep so that they don’t wake their sibling. However, if you really want to develop good sleep habits, you’re going to have to resist rocking, popping the pacifier in, or feeding your baby back to sleep. These sleep props or sleep associations prevent your baby from developing the ability to self-soothe. Letting your children learn to fall asleep on their own is an integral part of creating better sleep habits.
If you’re persistent and don’t give into the “easy” route, it might mean a few longer nights when you initially start sleep training. My advice? Choose to start on a weekend when you don’t have to look your best the next day.
But… after three or four days, you’re going to notice something amazing happen. The crying or fussing of one of your babies won’t wake their sibling. This is because your baby will be spending more time in the deeper stages of sleep. This is where we get the phrase, “I slept like a baby”.
Sleep Begets Sleep
It’s true, sleep begets sleep. When your twins are overtired, they’re producing cortisol which keeps them up and stimulated. When they’re no longer overtired, they’ll have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep, and getting to that sweet, restorative, deep stage of sleep.
Are you ready for this type of sleep? Can you picture your family no longer functioning on fumes?
It’s going to be a bit of work to start, so you’ll have to be committed. If you stop abruptly a few nights into sleep training, it will be even more confusing for your twins. They’ll learn that if they fuss louder and longer, mommy will come and nurse or rock them to sleep. So, don’t just “give it a try” if you don’t think you’re ready to commit.
If you’re ready to commit, but are a little nervous to do it by yourself, my team or I will be there to support you every step of the way. We’d love to chat with you about how we can help you teach your twins independent sleep skills.