Sleep training 101 for Twins and more
We all know that one of the hardest parts of being a parent of new Multiples is the lack of sleep . Sleeping though the night or even 5 hours of straight, gorgeous sleep seems like a lifetime ago. So when we came across a fellow Twin Mom to identical twins – Christy Brunton – who had written a book summarising a popular technique that has worked for numerous families we absolutely had to have her share some tips. Sleep training is always a sensitive topic amongst parents and I want to note that this may relate with some families and some families it may not – which is equally ok. Twin Love Concierge is all about providing Twin parents ALL the options out there, we are not a one size fits approach.
Christy shares her story:
I still remember the day I found out I was having identical twins. So many thoughts were going through my head at that one moment including how was I going to handle two babies at once and would I know what to do with them when they arrived?
On May 16, 2005 when I became the proud mommy to two beautiful baby girls. We spent our first nine days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and I was given the green light to take them home on day ten. When my twins were six weeks old, I joined my local twins club and I can still remember sitting next to a red-headed mom who had twin boys and looked all put together and I remember grilling her before and after the meeting and many meetings to come about “How do I get the girls to sleep…and more importantly, when do they sleep through the night?”
The answer I got…sleep training. Many people associate sleep training with intense schedules and scary methods such as cry-it-out. When I look at sleep training, I look at a skill I am teaching my kids that they will use the rest of their lives.
Healthy sleep habits are not just about “how do I get my baby to sleep through the night?” I know this is the million-dollar question all new parents ask. I know I did. Healthy sleep habits are about the 24-hour sleep cycle and teaching techniques that will be with your children through adulthood. Day sleep is as important as night sleep and getting it right all starts with sleep training and a consistent schedule. Babies won’t learn this or fall into the pattern by themselves (unless you are extremely lucky!). As a parent, it is our job to get them there; to teach them the technique, similar to how you would teach them to ride a bike or tie their shoes.
With multiples, schedules are key even if you aren’t a “schedule person.” Having multiples is already tough enough but having multiples on two separate schedules will make you crazy. Below are a few tips on getting started with sleep training.
- Choose a plan that works for your style of parenting. There are many different sleep training plans out there. I used the method by Dr. Marc Weissbluth who teaches the two-hour wake rule. He teaches the importance of sleep and teaches that babies can really not be up for more than two-hours before becoming tired again. I found this to be very true. Using this two-hour wake rule method and watching for drowsy signs allowed me to get my twins on a very consistent nap schedule as early as six weeks old.
- At six weeks old, start “practicing” your schedule. They won’t truly understand how it works until about three – four months old, but practicing early will help them fall into the a routine that which will make it much easier when you officially start sleep training.
- At four months old the morning nap will really start to develop. This is also the time where you can tackle night training with success. There are several methods you can use to tackle night training including cry-it-out, check and console and scheduled awakenings.
- At six months old, the afternoon nap starts to become consistent. By this point, my twins were on a very regular schedule (I could set the clock by it). They were also sleeping from 7 pm – 7 am regularly.
- For twins, it is sometimes helpful to separate them for naps or at night during sleep training in order to understand their different needs and patterns.
- Finally, if you are going to sleep train, you have to commit to it. Find a time where you aren’t traveling and can be at home for most naps.
- Plan your outings and errands around the nap schedule so your children can get used to the schedule and used to sleeping in their cribs. This consistency will pay off!
If you want to get started quickly on a plan but don’t have time to read a lengthy book, I wrote a cliff notes version of Dr. Weissbluth’s method that can be read in one night. It is broken up by age and gives several tips and tricks on getting started including example schedules and special tips for sleep training twins, triplets and more. I even helped a mom of sextuplets get her six on a schedule and sleeping through the night.
I am not going to say it is easy. It takes patience, dedication and, most importantly, consistency. But, if you are willing to dedicate a few weeks to it, it will pay off. It takes teaching and it takes practice. As a result, you will get a happy, well rested and adjusted children who likes knowing what comes next. I am still reaping the benefits of all the hard work I put in that first year with my two nine year olds and six year old. They are still great sleepers today!
To see a sample of the book and to buy click here or search Sleep Training for the Exhausted Mom on Amazon.
Christy Brunton is a mom to identical twin girls who are nine years old and a singleton girl who is six years old. She was involved in her local moms of multiples club where she served as president for several years. It was in this role where she realized how many parents struggled with getting their babies to sleep and how they all wanted the same thing…quick answers to their many sleep questions. This is where the idea was born to write a quick reference guide about sleep training which has helped hundreds of families so far with their sleep issues.