If you’ve recently had twins, or are about to, you probably have a few questions about how to get some much needed shut eye. Lauren Lappen our resident certified Sleep Expert from Wee Sleep Solutions, answers some frequently asked questions regarding newborn twin sleep, to guide you to a more sound slumber for the whole family.
If my twins are born premature, will this impact their sleep?
When we speak about sleep development, we assume babies are born at 40 weeks gestation. If you hear people saying that babies should hit certain milestones at a particular age, this age is assuming a full term birth. If your babies are premature, you’ll want to adjust their age (and your expectations!) accordingly. For example, many children are ready for a true nap schedule at 4 months of age. However, if your twins were born at 34 weeks, they may not hit this milestone until 5.5 months of age.
The good news, though, is that NICU nurses tend to get the babies on an excellent schedule, so when you’re discharged from the hospital, you’re one step ahead. Stick with that schedule as you adjust to life at home and you’ll be on your way to healthy sleep for your twins (and yourself!).
When can I expect my twins to sleep through the night?
While some parents hit the jackpot and have babies who sleep through the night at 6 or 8 weeks of age, this is by far the exception and not the rule. Most children are able to sleep 10-12 hours at night when they are 4 months old. Keep in mind, as mentioned above, if your twins are born premature, you may have to adjust your expectations.
We want to make sure our babies are eating enough and gaining weight appropriately, so always check with your pediatrician before you eliminate any feedings.
If my twins share a room, will they wake each other up?
This is a common concern of parents of multiples. If you chose to have your babies share a room, they will learn to sleep through each others’ cries. Crazy but true story, I was away with my family and one of my twins (18 months at the time) does not do as well sleeping outside of our house. She had a particularly challenging night (yup, even sleep consultants’ children can have an off night!) and woke the whole house…except for her twin sister who slept soundly right next to her!
If you do plan to separate your twins, I recommend doing so by around 4 months of age. As babies mature, they become very aware of their surroundings, especially if they are lucky enough to have a sleep over every night. The earlier you separate them, the easier the transition will be.
What do I do if one of my twins is a good sleeper and the other isn’t?
This is a very common problem, especially for fraternal twins. Sometimes parents feel they need to sleep train one twin and not the other. In this case, you may chose to separate the twins for a few nights, or nap times. When you do this, you always want to keep the baby with more sleep challenges in his or her regular sleep environment and have the more flexible sleeper sleep in a pack n play in another room (or at grandma’s house!).
I’ve always heard you should never wake a sleeping baby. Should I wake my twins up to feed them?
If you have more than one baby to care for, schedule is key! When babies eat more solid “meals” rather than grazing, they’re able to sleep more soundly, and mom can rest assured that if they fuss between feeds, they’re not hungry but needing attention for another reason. It is more common for bottle fed babies to eat on a schedule and for breastfed babies to eat on demand. However, once mom’s milk supply has been established, there’s no reason why breastfed children can’t feed on a schedule. While I do suggest giving yourself 30 minutes of wiggle room (life happens and we need to account for that!), I do recommend waking your babies to eat, both during the day and at nighttime. As babies mature, you should be able to stretch their night feedings and ultimately eliminate them around 4 months of age (adjusted age if necessary) with the ok from your Pediatrician.
Still need help with your Twins sleep and nap times? Join Lauren for her monthly online Twins & Sleep 101 class and let her put you on the right path to some much needed sleep. You can find more details and register here