Twins are truly incredible! Double the love, double the fun and, well, double EVERYTHING. It’s a beautiful blessing but when they start to fuss, cry and wake up at different times, it can be exhausting and take a lot of effort! There are ways to make twin sleep schedules easier and more aligned to make things easier for everyone – sounds good right? In this post I’m trying tried and true tips on how to get twins to sleep at the same time and to stay asleep together.
How To Get Twins To Sleep At The Same Time
Creating a consistent schedule for both babies
It may be tempting to let your babies sleep and wake to eat when they want but for your sanity, you are going to want to adjust their schedules so that they are eating and sleeping at the same time. This means that if one baby is waking up to eat overnight, you wake the other one up and feed them. Doctors consider 37 weeks to be full term for most twin pregnancies
If your babies were born prematurely, like many twins are, it may take time for them to start to take larger feedings, this means that they may fall asleep while feeding or need additional nighttime feedings in the beginning. This is all normal and expected. Just remember that you are working to create a consistent internal clock for both of them so if one baby is a better eater than the other, you may want to start the feeding for your other twin 10 minutes before the other. This will get easier as they get older.
Create a bedtime routine that works for you and your twins
Routines are critical for all of us but especially for babies, and especially twins! You can start to create a bedtime routine as early as when you return from the hospital. It doesn’t need to be anything extensive, it can include a bath/washing, change into PJs and swaddle, feed, sing a song and put your babies into their sleep space.
You also want to make sure you’re creating a safe sleep space. The room in which your twins sleep in should be dark, cool, and quiet for all sleep, both naps and night.
Circadian rhythms are largely determined by exposure to light, and even a small amount of light can disrupt sleep, so it’s important that the room in which she sleeps remain dark. Think blackout shades and avoid the nightlight outside of feeding times. These blackout shades are fantastic! They are also great for travel and very reasonably priced. The Blackout EZ shades blackout the entire window so you don’t have to worry about light coming through at all but they are a bit pricier!
The room in which your twins sleeps should remain between 68- and 72-degrees Fahrenheit. Babies are safest and sleep best in cooler environments.
I highly recommend the use of continuous white noise for both naps and nighttime. White noise helps to mask outside noises that can be disruptive (especially as your twins sleep cycles are ending and sleep tends to be lighter!). The YogaSleep Dohm is my favorite white noise machine, I highly recommend it!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend the ABCs of safe sleep:
ALONE – while the AAP recommends room sharing, they also recommend a separate sleep space for the baby.
BACK – always place your baby on her back for sleep and be sure the surface is flat. Avoid any sleep positioners such as wedges or risers, and avoid any sleep in swings, bouncers, or rockers.
CRIB – be sure your baby is sleeping in a crib or bassinet free of any pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, or bumpers. The only thing you want in your baby’s sleep space is a fitted sheet and your baby.
Also, if you haven’t already done so, make sure that you drop the crib mattress once your baby is able to pull herself up to a standing position in the crib. You do not want your baby to accidentally fall out!
I always recommend starting your twins off by putting them in a shared room. There is a lot of research that shows twins sleep better in the same room as opposed to separate rooms. Now this is a personal choice but it is completely safe to have your babies sleeping in the same room and can actually help get your twins on a consistent sleep pattern and align their sleep cycles.
From the beginning, try to work to get your twins on a consistent sleep schedule. If your twins were born early, you’ll want to align their schedule off their adjusted age. Adjusted age is calculated by actual age in weeks – week premature = adjusted age. Newborns can really only stay awake between 30-45 minutes which is just enough for a feed, diaper change and back to sleep. Sticking to a sleep schedule for your twins will really help ensure they aren’t getting overtired! If you aren’t sure if your twins are tired, watch out for some of the common sleepy signs; rubbing eyes, ear pulling, fussing, staring off into space. These are signs that it’s time to put your baby to sleep!
Sleep Training Twins
You can start sleep training twins when they are 16 weeks adjusted age. When you decide to start sleep training, this doesn’t mean you need to drop all night feeds. Here’s my blog on how to keep night feeds while sleep training. Many twins are born premature and need to keep a night feed or two for weight gain, you can still work on sleep and keep nighttime feedings! Try not to focus on when your baby sleeps through the night, try to focus on setting solid sleep habits and the longer stretches will come!
When you start sleep training, you want to pick a sleep training method, this method is what you will use to address your twins when they wake up early from a nap, overnight and it’s not time for a feeding or in the morning before 6am. There are gentle sleep training methods that involve more parental presence and others that involve leaving your baby to learn to self soothe on their own. If you have a hard time with your baby crying, you will want to start with a more gentle method like the pick up, put down method or the chair method.
A note on sleep training method and crying, your twins are going to cry, that is the only way they know how to communicate.
If you decide to start with a gentler method and start to observe that your twins get more upset with a parent in the room, you may want to consider switching to a method that involves less parental presence, this may be hard the first few nights, but it will allow your twins an opportunity to settle themselves and start to learn to self soothe.
You will also want to align your twins to an age-appropriate schedule, you can find these on my Instagram page. When you start sleep training, your twins will likely be overtired due to inconsistent sleep, this is normal! You’ll want to use a sleep that is appropriate for their age and be sure to put them in their sleep spaces at least 15-20 minutes before you want them asleep, this will give them time to put themselves to sleep which is the skill you’re teaching them!
Twins are a true miracle but it can be overwhelming to figure out how to attend to two babies who require your attention at the same time! With practice, time and patience, it will get easier. Be sure to ask for help in the early stages, extra sets of hands for feedings, diaper changes and for help around the house is extremely important. I hope this tips help you when it comes time to start sleep training your twins!