I have to say that the hardest part of welcoming twins into our home was the months and months of not sleeping well. I look back at those photos when the girls were newborns and all I can think is how haggard and greasy-haired I looked. I’m pretty sure I sacrificed a shower for a few more minutes of sleep way more often than I should have.
When your twin babies are not sleeping, you’ll try anything. I tried sleep training methods, particularly from the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins”, and found them to be unsuccessful. I think the key component for sleep training that authors don’t mention is that one parent has to always be home, and with other children in the family that just isn’t possible. Naps and bedtimes in our home were frequently off-schedule because of needing to go to football practice or run some errand that really couldn’t wait. Moms have sleep trained their twins, and they’re very vocal about their success in the online communities, but I’ve never met such a miracle worker in person.
Many other twin moms have dealt with twins not sleeping (and survived to tell about it), so there are some things you can do.
Swaddling is a great way to help twin or singleton babies sleep better. My twins were eensy-beensy, so I had to go online to find a preemie swaddle blanket. We used the Halo swaddle sack and it worked well for their tiny size.
With twins, you have to decide early on if they are going to be co-sleeping with mom and dad, sleeping in separate cribs, or sleeping in the same crib. Some moms decide to keep their twins in one crib after months of having slept in separate cribs, and the babies don’t respond well to the addition of their sibling in their sleeping space. Ours slept in the same crib for just over a year, and transitioned well to separate cribs after that.
Another suggestion that I’ve heard from moms is to “powerfeed” right before bedtime. Give your babies a really big feeding (bottle or breastfeeding) right before putting them down, and then don’t feed them overnight. According to Children’s Health Network pediatrician Barton D. Schmitt, MD, babies can be weaned from night feedings at 6 months. That being said, many moms (not this one) feel more comfortable knowing that their babies are nice and full if they are given a little rice cereal in their bedtime bottle. I personally didn’t do that, and my twins were still sleeping through the night at 6 months.
At around 6 months, many babies begin teething. No matter what you do, your twins may struggle with sleeping through the night because they are going through the discomfort of getting their first teeth. You can try Orajel or infant Tylenol to ease the babies’ pain. Moms also rave about the effectiveness of a Baltic Amber teething necklace. I’m going to give this a try during the next round of teething, I’ll let you know how it goes.
To sum up, here’s my advice for when your twins babies are not sleeping :
Sleep training? Meh. Swaddling? Definitely. Also, stick to one sleep arrangement, powerfeed, and teething is a bummer. Did I miss any good tips? Please share in the comments!