If you’re a parent who’s new to having twins, you’re probably willing to bet your life savings that you’ll never see a solid night’s sleep again. Put your checkbook away.
With a little guidance, your babies will be on track to developing healthy sleep habits that will set everyone up for sleep success. As a professional nanny with over 15 years of experience working exclusively with families of multiples, I’ve helped dozens of newborn babies (and their parents) get the sleep they need.
Here’s my five best tips.
1. Know how much sleep your babies need
Newborns can sleep 15-18 hours per day or longer. Premature babies may sleep much more and fussy babies, much less. Many parents don’t expect their babies to sleep and sadly, they live up to those expectations. Expect your babies to sleep and you’ll be surprised with how much they do.
2. Establish a routine
While the debate between feeding on demand or on a schedule may never be resolved, for moms of twins, getting on a schedule and establishing a routine is essential. With two babies, if you opt to feed on demand, chances are you’ll be feeding babies all day. Strive to be on an eat, wake, sleep cycle feeding every 3 hours or so (perhaps every 2 if breastfeeding).
Many new moms have told me their twins do not like to be swaddled. This is usually because they aren’t being swaddled properly. If you are unfamiliar with swaddling techniques, consider using a HALO Baby SleepSack or a Miracle Blanket (never put loose bedding in the cribs).
4. Use background noise
Newborn twins are used to being surrounded by noise. From the womb to the delivery room, they’re accustomed to non-stop sound. Use a fan or white noise machine to recreate a constant flow of background noise. When you do, you’ll find sleep times dramatically increase.
5. Put your babies down to sleep, when they are still awake
Avoid the temptation to rock your babies to sleep. Instead, when they appear drowsy, put them in their cribs so they can drift off to sleep on their own. Learning to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own is one of the best gifts you can give your babies and yourself.
If you’re feeling like a good night’s sleep is a lifetime away, take heart. By 12 pounds, most healthy, full-term babies can sleep 6 or more hours in the night.