The toughest part of raising newborns is sleep disturbance, meaning that the caretaker of a newborn is usually sleep-deprived. Babies don’t sleep like adults.
They sleep for a few minutes or 1-2 hours, then wake up, then sleep for some time, and then wake up again. This cycle really doesn’t give the caretaker a chance to get a good night’s sleep.
Consider this when there are two babies to look after. Twins sleeping problems are one of the biggest and most common issues of new twin parents.
Being a mom of twins, I am here to help you by sharing the information and tips I learned that helped me survive those early days of raising twins.
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First, you need to identify if your twins are fine sleeping with each other or if they are having any problems. If you have both babies crying or sleeping at the same time, that is normal.
But if one twin is sleeping and his brother or sister’s cries disturb him, then this is a problem. Additionally, if both babies were sleeping well at first, but now they are not then this is could be a sign of twins sleeping problems.
What if your twin kids have never slept well with each other? By identifying if your twins actually have sleep problems, you will be able to better understand how to work on fixing them.
The most prominent part of twins sleeping problems is when your twins hit a sleep regression. Sleep regression is when a baby’s sleeping patterns start to change and he wakes up more often or spends more time awake.
Twins sleep regression can be really challenging because they could happen at the same time or at different times. Here are some tips to help you survive those days.
- Consistent routine: Make sure your twins have a predictable routine. A sleep regression will still mess with their schedule, but try to stick to it as much as possible. A reliable sleeping and eating schedule can help babies settle down and sleep again.
- Soothing sleep environment: Provide your babies with a suitable sleeping environment like a dark and quiet room. Blackout curtains in the nursery will help darken the room even in the daytime and a good sound machine may help them stay asleep for longer.
- Bedtime routine: Having a quick bedtime routine is a good thing. Different sleeping spaces for the nighttime and a special nighttime lullaby can cue your babies it’s time to sleep.
- Feed before bed: Make sure that your twins’ tummies are full before you put them to bed. This will prevent them from waking up as often due to hunger.
- This is temporary: Understand that just like other phases of parenting, sleep regression is temporary. This time will pass and be forgotten before you know it.
Personally, I have always used the Ferber method for sleep training. I have found it to be very effective.
This method of sleep training was first introduced by Dr. Richard Ferber, who is a pediatric sleep expert. This method is a gentler form of the cry-it-out method.
Using this method, you will have to provide your baby a chance to soothe himself and sleep on his own. But you will check on him and comfort him at regular intervals.
The time of leaving your babies alone in their cribs will gradually increase. As this happens they will slowly understand that they can put themselves to sleep on their own.
- If your babies are crying make sure they are not hungry, sick, or needing a diaper change.
- Ensure your babies have a proper sleeping environment – the lights are dim in the room and the temperature is comfortable.
- Don’t give up and stick with it! This will be HARD, but it is worth it. It will not work if you give up after day 1 or after the first hour.
Step By Step Ferber Sleep Training for Twins
Here are the steps you should take to implement the Ferber method of sleep training with twins.
The very first thing is that you need to make sure that your babies have a set bedtime. It will be easier for you to sleep train them because they will naturally be tired and fall asleep at this time after some effort.
When your babies are sleepy but still awake, put them in their crib after their usual bedtime routine. Leave the room for a few minutes and give your babies a chance to soothe themselves.
When your babies start crying, leave them alone for 2-3 minutes. If they are still crying, return to them and soothe them. Settle your babies for sleep and leave again. If needed, return after another 5 minutes.
Next, you will increase the time interval for which you are leaving your babies alone. When your babies start crying after you leave, return to them after 10 minutes instead of 5. Next time return to after 15 minutes.
I will also mention that I found it super helpful to have a video baby monitor for sleep training. It gave me comfort to be able to check on my babies from afar and know they were safe.
Don’t forget you will need two cameras too.
With time, the crying spells will begin to diminish. And within a few days, your babies will feel fine when left alone and amazingly will start to sleep on their own.
If you want even more details on implementing Ferber sleep training, check out the book written by Dr. Ferber.
You can start to sleep train your baby as early as 6 months old. There is no hard and fast rule about this. 6-8 months is an ideal age, but you can still sleep train later than that.
Every baby is different. A baby can learn in a day or two or it could take a week or more. Ideally, you should start seeing good results in 3-4 days.
This was the case for me for all my kids.
Yes, you can sleep train your twins in the same room! Very often twin babies are not bothered by each other. But, if you think that it isn’t working then you can consider sleep training them in different rooms.
It is also possible that you end up sleep training your twin babies one by one. Train one baby when he is able to sleep on his own, then train the other when he or she is ready.
Even after surviving the newborn and baby stage with twins, you can still face twins sleeping problems when your babies become toddlers.
Here are a few tips that can really help you to survive the toddler twins sleep regressions.
1 – Have a Consistent Daily Schedule
Having a dependable schedule is a very important thing for both adults and kids. By having a routine, the body and brain understand what is coming next and is prepared for the next event.
Going to bed at the same time every day will help your toddlers fall asleep more easily and to sleep better through the night.
Toddlers need to take a nap. This is important, but also make sure you have a fixed napping time. It should be no more than 1-2 hours.
If you find your toddlers sleeping for longer than that AND having difficulty sleeping at night, you should wake them up. If your twins sleep for too long during the day, they will have difficulty falling asleep at night.
Provide your twins with active play during the day. Try to keep them away from the screen and get twin toddlers toys and games that require them to be more physically active.
Luckily with most twins engaging them in games is easier as compared to a single child. If they get tired during the day, they will be sleepy and fall asleep easily at night.
If you feel that your twin toddlers are regressing in their sleep training, you can use the Ferber method again to sleep train them, just as explained above.
I personally have done this a few times for my kids. The good news is after going through sleep training once, the next time you have to do it, it will take a shorter amount of time to start working.
It can help to have daytime naps be slightly different from the nighttime sleep routine. You can follow these tips to implement this.
- Keep the kids away from the screen in the evening.
- Dim the lights at least 1 hour before bed.
- Give them a healthy dinner that is easy to digest.
- Storytime is ideal for toddlers and preschoolers’ bedtime routines.
- A warm bath or massage might help them sleep better.
Your children’s bedroom should be suitable for a peaceful sleep.
- Dim the lights. Warm light is much better for sleeping for example dim yellow light.
- Make the room as soundproof as possible.
- White noise machines or sound machines can help kids to sleep better.
Most twins are totally fine with each other’s presence, but if you are noticing that one of your twins is being disturbed by the other, there is no harm in providing them with separate rooms or separate sleeping spaces.
If your toddlers are usually fine, but one of them is going through a sleep regression and is disturbing his brother or sister, then it might be a good time to separate them. It could even be a temporary separation.
8 – Check For Other Issues That Impact Sleep
If your toddlers have been sleeping well, but now they are having problems, you should try to identify if there is an underlying reason. Some questions you might want to ask include:
- Is one of your twins teething?
- Was sugary food eaten at night?
- Was there screen time before bed?
- Does your child have a fever or is sick?
When your twins have sleeping problems it is stressful! Hang in there and use the tips above to get them on a schedule that provides the whole family a good night’s rest.
One of the biggest and most common problems for parents of twins is exhaustion and figuring out how to get more sleep. Having a consistent schedule, a bedtime routine, a soothing sleep environment, and implementing sleep training can really help solve any twins sleeping problems you are having.