Sleep is huge for new parents of multiples. We all know the challenges of a new baby who is awake around the clock, but two at a time! Let’s just set the coffee pot on continuous brew, shall we? Although sleep can be difficult for new twin parents, good sleep in your house is possible.
We all know that sleep is wonderful for healthy growth and development, but how do we get good sleep? Instead of looking at sleep (or lack thereof) as something that just happens to you, let’s try viewing it as a habit to work on. While some babies seem born to sleep, some may need more practice. Some may require a long nap each day, some, no nap at all at certain stages. Chalk it up to temperament. Lucky for you, twin parents usually take a more proactive approach to sleep because of their circumstances. You may find you establish good habits and are in tune with your babies much earlier on because of your lucky twinning odds. Without further ado, here are some top tips to help your little glowworms nap happy.
Tip 1: Create a Napmosphere (Nap Atmosphere)
Put yourself in your babies’ tiny shoes for a moment. If you had the luxury of a good nap in the middle of the day, what would make it enjoyable? Lights down? Soft music? Your twinzies are probably thinking the same thing. Create a sleep atmosphere that is conducive to sleep. Does your nursery get sunny during the day? Try black out shades on the windows to help keep it dim and calm. How about the temperature? Ensure it is not too hot, not too cold, but just right for sleepy time. Some background noise can also be helpful for some babies when the sounds of the day (or their twin) interfere with a good snooze.
Tip 2: Run With a Good Routine
How you structure your day can greatly impact naptime. Try to regularly “start” your day (even if you are still operating on a 24 hour clock) at around the same time. During wakeful periods in your routine, try to provide sufficient stimulation to encourage a developmentally appropriate for their age. For the sleep deprived twin parent, setting up your living room with a Baby Workout Circuit is quite common! When choosing your gear, think about what type of stimulation each station provides and balance it with touch time, and food time. Meeting all these basic needs helps set the stage for a good nap to follow.
For some parents, cabin fever—particularly if you endured bed rest like many twin mamas out there—and your routine may benefit from scheduled outings and social activities. Others may have older kids to manage and their schedules may largely dictate your plans for the day. Either way, make your best efforts to ensure you are not over committed to a schedule that makes napping difficult. Prioritizing sleep in your routine may make your day go a whole lot smoother.
Tips 3: Separate Sleep Can Be Good Sleep
You heard a whimper. You’re up! Damn your baby cells that make it impossible to get a good REM. However, don’t underestimate how much racket your twins can actually learn to sleep through. If you are prematurely curbing Baby A’s whimpers with the hope Baby B doesn’t wake, your tactics may backfire down the road. If your twins are sharing a nursery, consider white noise that is loud enough to neutralize those whimpers for the sibling. Yet if your twins really are struggling to nap together—space permitting—you may consider temporarily separating them for naps for the sake of everyone’s sanity. Consider what alternative spaces you have in your home, and it could be as simple as a pack-n-play set up in a mater closet with air circulation or a guest bedroom.
Tip 4: Be a Team and Stay Flexible
Routines are a powerful tool. While a good routine is useful, understand that it is just that – a routine. Don’t be a slave to your routine, rather make it work for you. If your son consistently gets drowsy 30 minutes before you plan for nap, be flexible. It may be helpful for him to stick to your schedule as best he can, but provide some wiggle room so that adjustments can be made as necessary to ensure that everyone is getting good rest. Try your best to read your babies sleep cues and get them down when they are tired, not overtired. Trust your gut and adjust the flow of your day accordingly.
Tip 5: Recognize the Stages and Ages
One of the most frustrating things about parenting in the early stages is how quickly things change. Four months in, everyone is rocking two naps a day and getting good nighttime sleep. Suddenly, out of nowhere, morning nap is a disaster and everyone is cranky all the time. Needs shift over time and will continue to as they grow and reach new ages and stages. The more prepared you are mentally for these shifts, the better you will handle them and reach your new normal for that stage. You cannot always control what happens, but you can control how you react to it. Be gentle with yourself and your babies, and remember that you are guiding them, stage by stage. Work with them, not against them and you will get through it.
About the Author
Out-of-the-box thinker, Krystal Workman, gets creative under stress…and life with twins happens to be full of it! In order to soothe her crying babies while alone, Krystal invented the first ergonomic twin baby carrier—TwinGo Carrier (www.TwinGoCarrier.com)—to cuddle both her babies at the same time. TwinGo now empowers thousands of parents worldwide to keep their babies close. As former President of one of the largest twins clubs in the USA, Krystal assists new parents with babywearing, breastfeeding, sleep coaching, healthy routines, and positive discipline. You can get more twin-related information on the TwinGo Blog.