Sleep Training Twins Without Double The Stress
I absolutely LOVE getting to work with families of twins!
There is something so dreamy about it - twice the cuteness, twice the snuggles, and twice the love.
But as an experienced mom myself, I also know that means twice the tears, diapers, and chaos. It’s a beautiful blessing, but it definitely creates some unique challenges.
Which is why I’m so passionate when twin parents come to me for sleep help - they really need it! It can be tricky enough to navigate parenthood on little sleep with one baby. I can’t imagine what it’s like trying to function when you have two! Not to mention when they have alternating schedules for eating and sleeping. Those two things alone would become a full time job - with a whole lot of overtime!
What to lean into
There is so much you can do to help your twins sleep soundly. Just because you’re dealing with two different sleep needs and personalities, doesn’t mean they can’t work together. Buuut, it does mean that your sleep training will be a smidge more complex - like most parts of twin parenting, right?
Set realistic expectations. You can enjoy your full night’s rest just as much as singleton parents, but it might take a little longer to get there. That’s okay though! Those two little munchkins have different personalities, temperaments, and sleep sensitivity. All this means is that it might take a bit more time to reach the same goal. This isn’t a race!
Having one schedule will keep you sane. This is probably the biggest and most life changing tip I can give you, so listen up! Unless you’re otherwise advised by your child’s care provider, keep them on the same schedule when it comes to feeding and sleeping. Otherwise you will spend your entire day keeping everyone fed or put back to sleep - and it will become a lot.
Lean into this, especially for daytime sleep! You want those naps to be synched as much as possible, so they’re on their routine, and you actually get to experience a bit of time without anyone needing a change, crying, or climbing on you. It’s the little things, right?
Typically, one twin has a greater sleep need than the other - they are different people after all! Put them down at the same time each day/night. If one wakes up first, let the other one sleep for another 15-20 minutes, then gently wake them up to keep them on schedule. This goes for naps, and also morning wakes. It may seem rigid to keep them so scheduled, but believe me; it’s a lot better than two babies always sleeping at different times!
Keeping a schedule helps with consistency. Not only will it help keep you from feeling like you’ve gone off the deep end, your little ones thrive off of a consistent routine. This is actually a skill that will benefit each of you for years to come.
Don’t forget the white noise! You know my favourite white noise is the HoMedics machine, but any machine will do. White noise is especially important for twins, as they learn to sleep through the noise of their sibling.
Pro tip! Put the white noise machine in between your kids’ beds, so it works most effectively at keeping a noisy sleeper from interfering with the other twin.
For nights, feed your babies at the same time when they are super little. During those long days where they’re still feeding every 3 hours around the clock, feed simultaneously so you’re not up even more often during those newborn nights.
For naps, separate rooms if you can. Little ones just aren’t as tired during the day as at night if they wake up prematurely, so twinsies aren’t always able to sleep through the others’ noise in the same way.
If you have the space to separate them, then do so by setting up a play pen & Slumberpod somewhere else in the house - whether it’s another bedroom, en suite, or walk in closet, having that Slumberpod will help keep things super dark and safe, since they won’t be able to reach out and grab anything in their new surroundings. Total. Game. Changer.
BTW, Just so we’re clear, I recommend separating twins for naps (since daytime sleep can be a bit more challenging!), but keeping them in the same room for nighttime sleep.
If you don’t have the space to separate them, know that I get it. I get it all! Sometimes we already have a house full when our twins come along, or we just don’t live in multiple thousands of square feet. My advice? Keep them together for naps from the start. You might have to go with the flow a bit more, especially as they’re learning their sleep skills, but it’s totally doable. You’d be amazed what kids can learn to sleep through, and of course you’ll have your white noise.
What to steer clear of
Phew! That was a lot! But here’s the good news: There’s really only a couple of things that I recommend not doing, that differs from sleep training a singleton. So what’s different?
Don’t rush in the moment one of them fusses. Okay, this is something I tell all of my clients, but I know the temptation is much stronger when you have twins. Who wants to have one child wake the other? Instead, give them a moment before responding. Babies are actually quite noisy sleepers, and sometimes they’ll go right back to sleep. You jumping in the moment someone cries can actually wake them - even if you thought they were already awake. Over responding removes that practice to settle themselves, which can cause dependency down the road. If they truly need you, of course you go to them! Just give them that minute for everyone to figure it out. They’ll learn to sleep with a little noise.
Let them wake on their own in the night. Okay, I know I said you should wake them simultaneously for night feeds. And that is 1000% true during those early newborn days. But as your babies get a little older, those feeds become a little less crucial as far as timing. So once they start sleeping longer stretches in the night, let them wake on their own to feed - unless your child’s health provider says otherwise of course. If they don’t need to feed, there’s no sense in creating a habit of night feeds when it didn’t start out that way.
As far as sleep training goes, twins aren’t that much more complex than singleton kiddos are. It just takes a little more planning and a little more patience. But that’s okay!
If you ever need support when it comes to all things twin sleep, I’m here for you. I’ll guide you to the sleep you all need to thrive throughout the day. Book your call with me to get started, and bring alllll your twin sleep questions!