I remember the moment I found out we were having twins. We were thrilled, excited… and slightly terrified. We knew how blessed we were, but having two babies? How would we handle two babies at once? Of course, all I could think was: I am never going to sleep again.
My multiples were my first set of twin clients, and since then, I've gone on to helping countless other multiple families. The good news is that whether you are dealing with one baby or multiple, the fundamentals of healthy sleep are the same. The difference is in your organization and how you execute your plan. There are a few steps you want to make sure you cover:
Don’t Start Too Soon
There is a higher chance of premature birth when dealing with multiples, so we want to make sure we aren’t starting a formal sleep program too soon. You would want to start your program at an age appropriate time based on their adjusted age--not their chronological age based on their birth date. Typically between 4-6 months in "age," corrected for their prematurity, is a great time to start.
Stick to the Same Routine
Getting them on the same feeding and sleeping schedule right from the start is always a good idea. If one wakes up to feed, then wake the other to feed. This is going to help keep them in sync, and it means mom and dad won’t be up all night with one or both babies. Many twin moms I speak with struggle because a lot of the times they are on their own at bedtime. I’ve been there and remember the struggle. An extra 15 to 30 minutes difference between them is no big deal. If you can’t feed them at the same time, feed and change one, then go on to the next one.
Keep Them in the Same Room
When working with multiple clients, it’s very rare that I separate the babies. If the plan is that they will share a room for a while, then it’s a good idea keep them together. If they were in the same crib, I would recommend putting them into their own cribs at around 4 months of age. At this point, they start moving around more and trying to roll over. We want to keep the environment safe and don’t want them to wake each other up. They will get used to each other's sounds and cries, and this is something you want to encourage.
Before having twins, I never understood the moms who couldn’t fit in a shower. Well, when you have two babies to care for (and a toddler as well in my situation), showers are a distance memory, as is laundry and brushing your teeth. I really needed to have every half hour accounted for to make things doable. I scheduled in cooking, laundry, SLEEPING, showers, feeding babies, sleeping babies, and playing with babies. EVERYTHING was scheduled in. This was what worked for me, and that was what I needed to do, although it may not be a solution for you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Now is not the time to try and do it all yourself. Check that pride at the door and accept help when it's offered... and don’t be shy in asking for some too. This was a tough one for me. Asking for help doesn’t come easy, but I had to, and I was so incredibly thankful for it. Husbands, friends, and family want to help--so let them.
It goes by fast, guys. Believe me, I remember the days just being a blur, just trying to survive to the next. I now look at my almost 4-year-old twins and wonder: how did we get here so fast? Stop and take a breath and truly enjoy these incredible little beings. Twins and multiples are so special, and the sleep will come again.
It may seem like an overwhelming task but you can do it. They are capable, and so are you.