Magically, it has happened. Your twins are finally sleeping long lovely stretches at night. Glorious day. It’s amazing how a 12 hour stretch provides a big enough energy boost that you feel like you could run a full-blown marathon (or binge watch Stranger Things with a glass of wine if that’s your style). Then…. No, that faint cry you are starting to hear is not your imagination or the beginnings of a horror movie. Your twins are up! Your 12-hour window is shattering before your eyes. How could this happen to you? Where did you go wrong? Noooooooooooooo…………
Deep breaths friends. Deep. Breaths. The fact of the matter is sleep regressions happen. Generally, you can expect potential regressions at the 4-month, 8-10 month, 12 months, 18 months, and the terrible twos stage. What is a parent to do during these troubling times?
1. The Nitty Gritty of Sleep Regression
At 4 months, your twinzies are shifting out of newborn blob mode and starting to interact with the world as they become more alert. This can lead to more difficulty falling and staying asleep as they are distracted by moving around and taking it all in. At 8-10 months you may find them increasing even more in mobility (maybe pulling up to stand) and shifting their nap schedule (often dropping one of multiple naps). At 12 months they are in the walking zone and will take every opportunity to learn their new skill (often at 3 a.m. especially if naps are again changing).
As they head into the heart of toddlerhood at 18 months, you can often expect a difficult regression that tends to be coupled with separation anxiety and teething. If that’s not enough, you may even see a final regression as they start to assert their independence and become their own people. We’re looking at you terrible twos!
2. Think Big Picture and Cover Your Bases
First and foremost, recognize this for what it is – a regression. Don’t panic! If properly handled, this will only be a temporary blip in the sleep success you have had with your chubby cherubs. Keep your naps on track, adhere as best you can to your regular sleep routine, and make sure your sleep environment sets your twinzies up for success. Many regressions are associated with growth spurts in addition to developmental milestones. If you feel like this may be part of your issue, work on full bellies in hopes of full nights of sleep. Cluster feeding in the evening may be helpful. And let’s not forget that teething troubles can also be part of the regression, so pain management may be needed. Keep your long game in mind and remember that this too shall pass.
3. Resources and Routine
Like any good mystery novel detective, you need to gather some tools to help you solve this regression puzzle. If you haven’t already, now might be the time to pull the trigger on a video baby monitor. This will give you a glimpse into their sleep space and help you make some strategic decisions.
You might also consider doing some twin sleep homework with baby tracker apps such as Jumelle that enable you to track eating and sleeping patterns, which can help identify any trends or details to pay attention to. Finally, a little bit of background reading in resources such as ebooks available from The Baby Sleep Site might help you identify the specific situation you are in so that you can move past the regression as quickly as possible.
4. The Twin Factor and Final Takeaways
It’s hard enough dealing with one baby who is regressing, but two at the same or back to back regressions can make a parent downright batty. Twins are different people. Especially if you have fraternal twins, expect that they will develop at different rates. Stages will often happen at different times. If they occupy the same sleep space, you may find that temporary separations may be necessary to keep progressing towards better sleep habits. Now may be the time to consider whether two cribs are advisable. In the scenario where you are separating from one crib or moving to different rooms, do try to recreate their environment in the temporary space as best you can. This may mean things like keeping the same white noise they have been used to, as well as lighting and temperature consistency.
If you remember nothing else written here, please consider these two final points. Changes you make can quickly become bad habits, so be mindful of how you are adjusting your routine to get through the regression. Giving in to an easy fix might create more work for you in the long run. Keep your eye on the goal. Finally, remember that the sleep experts emphasize: sleep begets sleep. Tweak your routine here and there after you’ve studied their patterns. Keep those naps going as best you can. Maybe play with the timing? Strive for an early bedtime if possible. You are their guide teaching them through the regression. You are the best person for the job and we are confident that you can instill good habits!
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.