You’ve just had twins (or more!)! Congratulations! Sooner or later (likely around 2 – 4 weeks of age, adjusted if your babies were born premature), you will likely find yourself with some very fussy babies, particularly in the late afternoon and evening hours. While this crying (often referred to as Purple Crying) is developmentally normal and perfectly healthy, it can drive parents insane. One moment you had precious, cuddly, sleepy babies and the next moment they’re crying uncontrollably as you look to your partner, your nanny, your 3 year old who is clearly doing nothing but angelically playing in the corner, for help. (At this moment, avoid any covers of People magazine and the like that may be showing Beyonce, her beautifully sleeping twins and her perfect post-baby body, smiling at you as if wondering why you can’t get it together!)
Are they hungry?
The first 2 months of life (or more if your babies were born premature, or are slow at gaining weight) are focused on feeding. Our number one priority is getting as much milk into the babies as they need to grow and thrive. If you’re feeding your babies on a schedule (generally every 2-3 hours, or as dictated by your pediatrician), you will be able to quickly assess whether or not it’s time for them to eat. If it is, feed them! If it’s not, keep reading. If you’re not feeding them on a schedule, save your sanity and start!
Are they in physical discomfort?
Once you determine hunger isn’t the cause of the crying, ask yourself if there’s a pain or discomfort. Have the babies burped after eating? Are they uncomfortable because of a dirty diaper? Do they seem otherwise healthy? If all seems clear, read on my friend.
Are they tired?
If you’ve ruled out hunger and physical pain as a reason for crying, it’s likely your babies are tired. Until at least 4 months of age, children should only be awake for an hour to hour and a half before sleeping again. Some of our babies will just doze off to sleep as they need it, but some are good actors! They’re very engaged in their world and are too busy looking around observing their environments to sleep. Parents think they’re happy and playing, but in reality, their little brains are abuzz with new information and rapidly becoming overtired.
Once babies are so overtired that they’re crying, what can we do? The first thing you’ll want to do is remove as many distractions as possible. Take babies to a dark quiet room where you can calm them down. Most babies benefit from being swaddled, so swaddle them up and rock, bounce, sway – pretty much do whatever it takes to calm them. Habits cannot be created with newborn babies, so as long as what you’re doing is safe, do what you need to do without fear of repercussions down the road. Pacifiers can be wonderful for soothing (and have been shown to help prevent SIDS), so definitely give them a try. White noise can also be calming for babies. A simple white noise machine (or the bathroom fan in a pinch!) can be a lifesaver.
If crying persists and you are at your wits end, put the babies in a safe place, such as a crib or pack n play, leave the room, take a deep breath and repeat my absolute favorite parenting mantra, “If they’re crying, they’re breathing. As long as everyone is breathing, we’re all going to be ok.”
About the Author
Lauren Lappen – MA. TLC’s Associate for Westchester and Connecticut, is the proud mother of an older daughter Ellie and fraternal twin girls Kira and Rebecca. Lauren is a graduate from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Psychology and Educational Studies, and has an MBA from Babson College. She is also an ICF certified Coach through Fielding Graduate University and always had a desire to use her coaching to help expecting and parents of young children. Alongside being our Associate for expecting parents Lauren’s passion is transforming the lives of parents where their Twins sleep needs help. You can reach Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our services in Westchester and our online Twins & Sleep class.