Twins: double the fun, double the cuteness, double the cuddles!
But also double the feedings. Double the rocking. Double the diaper changes. Basically, double the work!
And for some parents of twins, double the exhaustion. If you think trying to get one baby to sleep well is difficult, imagine two. Imagine getting one baby to sleep, only to have the other cry and then wake up the baby you just put to bed. Imagine two babies up at midnight, each one needing YOU.
It’s challenging, to be sure! That’s why many parents of twins are eager for sleep advice. Caring for twins is hard enough without being “so-tired-i-could-just-cry” exhausted.
Fortunately, we have some experience in helping babies sleep through the night and nap consistently and predictably. We’ve helped tens of thousands of families “find their sleep”, and we can help you, too!
Keep reading for our top 7 must-read sleep tips for families having twins.
Having Twins? Check out these 7 tips for better twin baby sleep.
- Round up all the help you can. The first few weeks after having twins can be tough; that’s why it’s a good idea to recruit help early. Ideally, you’d line up enough help so that you don’t have to worry about making meals or cleaning the house or running errands for at least 3 or 4 weeks; all that you’ll be left with is caring for the babies, and that is a job in and of itself! However, any and all help is good, so take everyone up on their offers.
- Work on a strong pre-sleep routine. Yes, your babies will likely be up every few hours. So yes, that means you’d be doing a pre-sleep routine about 10 times each day. But that’s okay! Creating a great bedtime or nap time routine is an easy way to start the journey to healthy sleep habits, because a routine signals to your baby that it’s time to settle in and sleep. That can be a huge asset in the months to come. Whether you are settling your babies in the same crib (since some twins sleep better when they’re together in the crib) or settling them in separate sleep spaces, a good pre-sleep routine can go a long way towards helping your babies sleep.
- Start working early on “drowsy but awake“. You don’t need to spend your first hours home from the hospital worrying about sleep (in fact, we wouldn’t recommend it!). However, there is just no parent who can stand months and months of caring for TWO sleepless babies, so you’ll want to start relatively early on helping your twins learn to fall asleep without the use of any sleep associations.
- Introduce a lovey. Since you’ll want to get your twins sleeping soundly (and preferably on the same schedule, more on that in a moment), it can be helpful to introduce a lovey pretty early. (For safety’s sake, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before introducing anything into the crib or cribs.) Keep it small, as you don’t want any suffocation hazards in your baby’s crib. But a small, soft rattle, or something similar, can make a great lovey that will help your babies feel comfortable and soothed in the crib.
- Consider weaning from the swaddle early. Speaking of soothing – we always recommend that parents wean their babies from the swaddle before they start to work on independent sleep. Why? Because babies need access to their hands and fingers in order to self-soothe. Since we generally suggest working on twins’ sleep a bit early, it can be a good idea to stop swaddling your twins by about 12 weeks, so that you’re poised to start sleep coaching right around 4 months (if not sooner).
- Start working on a clock-based schedule very early. For singleton babies, we don’t recommend paying much attention to the clock until about 5 or 6 months of age. But for twins, our advice is much different: start paying attention to the clock starting around 4-6 weeks. Remember, you are only one person: you cannot be expected to juggle two different feeding and nap schedules indefinitely. That would wear anyone out! Instead, it’s important that you start work early on timing up each twin’s nap and feeding schedule as best you can. Yes, you will have days that are off and out-of-sync, but that’s okay – if you work towards predictability from the start, you’ll be rewarded down the road when you have both babies eating and sleeping at roughly the same times.
- Sleep coach early. Now, take this with a grain of salt. If sleep is going okay for you, then don’t feel pushed into sleep coaching before you’re ready. All families have to work on sleep at their own paces. However, in our experience, sleep problems with twins aren’t merely twice as hard as sleep problems with a singleton. No, they’re about 15 times as hard. Getting up with TWO babies at night, and managing double the sleep regressions or short (or missed) naps with TWO tiny little ones is exponentially more exhausting than doing that with just one child. And that’s why many parents of twins decide that, for their own mental and physical health, they have to sleep train ASAP.