Mothers of twins are always asked, “How do you do it all?” The honest truth, as most of these moms would tell you, is having a flexible but predictable feeding and sleeping schedule. Having a schedule is a great idea for parents of singletons, but an absolute necessity for parents of multiples.
You want to let your baby keep sleeping until they wake to eat. But, the reality is when you are taking care of two babies simultaneously, you just don’t have that luxury. Parenting twins is such an amazing experience, but there are a few challenges and this is one of them.
Now I know there are some people who have managed parenting multiples without a schedule and this is an incredible feat! However, if you are like many other parents- exhausted and ready to start getting the twins on the same schedule as each other so that sleep and feeding are synchronized now and then so you can be recharged and refreshed- here are my best tips for getting your twins on a feeding and sleeping schedule.
Use a thick, spiral notebook and whenever a baby wakes, change them, feed them, and jot it down. Make sure to include their name, the beginning time of the feeding, how much they ate and if they peed or pooped. You will slowly begin to notice a pattern over time.
This journal will be a key factor in helping you figure out their eating patterns so you can solidify a feeding schedule. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to remember everything in your bleary-eyed state.
The journal is also super handy when other caregivers are helping you out with the babies. Instead of asking a million questions, they can simply look at this all in one for reference.
Remember to check in with your pediatrician about how much and how often the babies should be eating. Your doctor will appreciate how you wrote this all down. Way to go, super parent!
Table for two.
The babies should be eating as close to the same time as possible. Even if one is asleep, wake them for the feeding. Keep them on the same routine. It will definitely pay off later.
Create a sleep friendly environment.
So what do you need to get the job done? Well, your job as a parent is to get these babies to eat and sleep on a flexible schedule, so you need to dig deep and get out those nursery tools! My favorite tools include swaddles, noise machines, black-out curtains, pacifiers, and humidifiers.
These items will make the room nice and dark, create a soothing environment for sleep, and help keep you on that schedule. Set the stage for success and use your tools to get you through!
From The Sleep Lady: One trick is to make sure they are awake in the morning within about a half hour of each other.
Make sleeping arrangements.
When the babies are very young they will probably have an easier time napping together in the same crib in the same room, but as they get older this might change and you’ll need to adjust the sleeping arrangements. Once the babies start waking each other up from naps, it is time to separate them for naps.
From The Sleep Lady: Although I normally keep twins together at nighttime, I often recommend separating them for naps, because daytime sleep is so much more of a challenge for most babies. It’s even harder if there’s a playmate to distract or be distracted by in the next crib. Some parents keep twins apart for naps for days or weeks, others throughout childhood. Do whichever feels best to you and seems to work for your kids.
Otherwise, your babies will not be getting the quality sleep they truly need. It makes the most sense to keep the lighter sleeper in the crib and move the deeper sleeper to a portable crib or pack n’ play in another room. Perhaps, eventually you will be able to move them back in the same room as long as they are napping twice during the day, maintain the arrangement.
From The Sleep Lady: Be careful about responding too quickly if one makes a noise. Parents often rush in as soon as they hear a peep, fearing that one will wake up the other one. You may be reinforcing the troubled sleeper while you protect the one who is asleep. You may be teaching her to make noises so you’ll come flying in to pick her up all the time. The sleeping twin may be oblivious, or she may stir but then get herself right back to sleep, exactly as you want her to do.
As your twins grow, the schedule will invariably change. What may have worked one week might not work the next. Try to be patient and realize there will be some setbacks, even after your schedule is set. As your children grow and go through different phases, expect to have to readjust your schedule some. Common reasons for a disruption in the schedule include illness, teething, and growth spurts.
These suggestions are a good place to start in getting a feeding and sleeping schedule together for your little ones, but remember that every family is unique. You are the expert in really knowing your children and you are getting to know all of their little nuances!
Follow your heart and your parenting instincts, be consistent in whatever you choose in that moment and know that you are doing the best you can, and that’s good enough. You will get a routine down and when you do, everyone will be happy. The time investment and patience will all be worth it!
This article was adapted from an original article written by Julie Burt Nichols