Top Tips for Twin Sleep

Infant Sleep

Twins are double the love, but are they also double the sleep deprivation? Quite honestly, the answer can be yes at first. There is no doubt that caring for two infants can be absolutely exhausting. However, having a plan in place makes a world of difference. As soon as you and your twin bundles of joy arrive home from the hospital, you can start implementing the following pointers.

Align Twins’ Feeding Schedules from the Start

Getting your twins on the same feeding schedule is the first thing you should focus on. If your babies stagger their feedings, you will be awake to offer milk near constantly. That is going to tire you out, especially at night when you should be sleeping as much as you can. 

When one twin shows signs of hunger in the first eight or so weeks, feed both. If one wakes for milk, feed both of them. This is hardest to do in the middle of the night when you would probably rather do anything but wake a sleeping baby. However, if you don’t, the second baby will most likely wake on his own shortly after, forcing you to get up and go through the whole routine again. Once your newborns are down to just one waking, stop waking them so that you all can maximize your sleep!

Align Twins’ Sleep Schedule from the Start

Feeding twins at the same time is the first step in aligning their sleep habits, which is your ultimate goal. When one twin shows sleepy signs, get them prepared for the nap or bedtime routine, and put them both down.

If one twin wakes early from a nap, try first to get her back down initially. The goal would be for both babies to sleep the full, restorative nap. Despite our best efforts, this is not always going to work. Thus, if the twin who is awake won’t go back to sleep, allow the other twin just slightly more sleep and then wake her up. It’s best to keep twins’ schedules close together.

At first, you’ll need to keep them within 15 minutes of each other. This ensures they can go down for the following nap together while awake windows are short. Thankfully, this staggered window will continue to grow as the little ones grow and wake times extends. Eventually, it’s not problematic to have your babies a half hour apart in sleep times. With a clock nap schedule (generally 6+ months), there is ample time to still get them down for the next nap at the same time.

Usually, one twin is a more flexible sleeper, so use the less flexible sleeper to guide the big schedule changes. For example, when one twin is ready to drop a nap, you should be able to push the other to do so as well. If the more flexible twin is ready first, wait it out until the more sensitive one gets there. If the twin who is not quite ready to merge or drop the nap is having a hard time, make sure to adjust with an early bedtime.

Sleep Apart but Sleep Train Together

Twins do everything together, right? There is an exception: twins’ sleep spaces should be separate.

You might put two pack-n-plays side by side in the master bedroom or two cribs in the same nursery. Regardless, every baby needs to follow the ABCs of Safe Sleep (Alone, on Back, in a Crib) – twins included. 

If and when you decide to sleep train your twins, do it all in one go. Use a similar method, and train them at the same time. This is much preferred over training one at a time, especially if they are sharing a room. There is no reason not to teach them both the value of independent sleep skills. By training together, the results will be achieved more quickly. 

When Twins Disturb Each Other’s Sleep

At some point, one twin may begin to disturb the other’s sleep. If this happens, give them a few minutes to work it out before you respond. You can also consider separate rooms temporarily. Once they’re sleeping well, putting them back in the same room is rarely a problem. You also might just separate them for naptime only, as naps tend to be more difficult than overnights initially.

There is an exception for separating twins, however. If the end goal is to have both kiddos in the same room together, it’s usually best to stay consistent with what you expect for the long-term. It has often beed said, “begin as you mean to go on.” Keeping them together is doable.

Twins are undoubtedly a lot of work, but the pay off is having two kids who share a bond like no other! And while there’s no denying how difficult it can be to care for two little ones at once, you can definitely make it easier on yourself with a solid plan in place. If you need help achieving the sleep you all deserve, feel free to reach out. Restorative rest can absolutely be a reality – even with multiples!

By Katie Pitts, Founder & CEO of Sleep Wise Consulting

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