“You are going to have twins. Congratulations!” were the most mesmerizing words I had ever heard.
My husband and I had to do some serious planning for bringing up two babies born at the same time.
Two kids to feed, soothe and put to sleep is a huge challenge. Each baby has his or her own quirks, especially when it comes to sleeping. I had to read countless blogs and fat parenting books to learn how to sync their nap time.
Since you are taking out the time to read my article, I’m assuming that, right now, you are exactly where I was 3 years ago. Don’t get worked up. It’s totally possible to sync the nap schedule of identical twins. You just need to have a lot of patience, a little bit of luck and someone to guide you through the whole process.
I can’t teach you how to be patient or bring any luck to you either. But what I can do for now is to impart my twinning wisdom to you. So here I have summed up 6 smart, easy and effective techniques to help you put your twins to sleep consistently at the same time:
1. Kids Who Eat Together Nap Together
The most surefire way to nail the twin baby sleep game is to sync their tummy time, first. Your babies have probably spent 3-4 days in the NICU of the hospital. The nurses have already gotten them on the feeding schedule.
Ask the nurse to write down their timings for you so that you can continue it at home.
However, tandem feeding twins for the first 6 months could be intimidating. You need to remember that each baby is a different person. Each will have a different appetite, feeding needs and quirks.
It’s very much possible that one of your babies will simply refuse to eat in tandem with his twin sibling. It’s not healthy to feed a baby when he is clearly not hungry. It could increase the risk of overeating, causing tummy pain, acid reflux, and general discomfort.
For the first 6-10 weeks, let your fussy twin’s hunger dictate the feeding time during the day. Follow a schedule during the night only. As the fussier baby grows up and begins eating solids, he will automatically start eating with his twin.
The bottom line being, take it easy. Syncing the feeding schedule of twins can be challenging and needs time and patience.
2. Sleeping at the Same Time
When you are finally close to putting twins on the same feeding schedule, the next step is going to be easier.
If they finish eating and burping more or less at the same time, they will be tired and show sleep cues simultaneously too. However, as you might have already understood, each baby is a unique little individual. What if only one baby is sleepy and the other is throwing tantrums?
If one of them is acting all cranky, swaddle and soothe him, sing a lullaby, give him a gentle back and a belly rub. You could also make him play for some time to exhaust him. Do whatever it takes to make him fall asleep simultaneously with his sibling.
The first few weeks are going to be tough, no doubt. But if you manage to make them stick to a well-established sleep routine, they will adjust to it automatically after a few weeks.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Wake a Sleeping Baby
Dr. Shelly Flais, author of the book Raising Twins: From Pregnancy to Preschool says “If one baby wakes in the middle of a night for a feeding, wake the sleeping sibling and feed him too,”. Sounds kind of cruel but doable, right?
However, here’s another challenge some parents face: what if one of the twins wakes up for feeding while his sibling is still snoozing peacefully? Would you still wake the sleeping baby up?
Yes, you would. Disturbing a baby who is sleeping like an angel might sound like a crime to you right now but it’s important. Here’s why:
Normally, during the first 8 weeks, babies should send you hunger cues at night every 2-3 hours. If he doesn’t, he could be sleeping through hunger which is detrimental to health. Besides that, it would be the biggest roadblock to syncing your twins’ sleep schedule.
Don’t worry. You probably won’t have to go through the unpleasant ordeal of waking up your sleeping twin after 4-8 weeks. By this time, babies develop their own nap cycle. So if they eat and go to bed at the same time, their midnight nap-feeding schedule will gradually sync up too.
4. Make the Nursery Sleep-friendly
Comfortable room temperature, perfect level of ambient relative humidity and a soothing night light can make the crankiest babies fall asleep easily. Babies are highly sensitive to temperature changes. So if your twins are crying all night, refusing to sleep or eat, adjust the thermostat. Use a temperature monitor if needed. Also, dim the lights and adjust the noise level in the room right before the nap time. A lot of babies fall asleep faster and better while listening to soothing white noise in the background.
5. Take Notes and Pay Attention
It’s very important to note down their feeding, nap, playtime and diaper change schedule every day for the first few weeks. You could use a Wi-Fi baby monitor to keep track of their hunger cues, sleep cues, sleep patterns and behavior without constantly sneaking into the nursery.
If you keep a daily log, you will eventually notice a pattern that will help you set and sync their sleep schedule, easily.
You can also pass the notes to your partner or the caregiver if needed in the future. It will also help them follow your twins’ set routine consistently.
6. Embrace the Change
Truth be told, it won’t be possible to consistently follow the schedule at times. Sleeping and feeding patterns are bound to change as your babies get older. Sticking to the schedule will be even more difficult when one of the twins is sick or all of you are traveling.
Don’t sweat it. Occasional disruptions in the routine won’t ruin everything. The effects of it will only be momentary. If you are consistent, their sleep schedules will start syncing again in no time.
The Bottom Line
The key to sync the sleep schedule of twin babies is having lots of patience. They are kids after all. And kids can be very unpredictable. On top of that, no matter how consistently you follow the routine, there will be a few hiccups along the way. Don’t worry about it too much. Keep a log of their daily activity, set a routine accordingly and roll with the punches.