Sleep for twins

It can be hard to get a good night’s sleep when you have a newborn baby; however, if you have twins, it can be even more difficult. Twins often sleep at different times and this can make it almost impossible for you to enjoy long periods of undisturbed sleep. The article below will offer some advice and tips on helping your twins to sleep well and improving your own sleep patterns.

Tips for helping twins to sleep

There are many ways you can try to encourage your twins to sleep at a similar time; these are outlined below:

  • Swaddling: all babies are used to the comfort of the womb but twins are particularly used to being snuggled up as they have shared the space with their sibling. Swaddling twins can help them to relax and feel more comfortable; swaddling involves wrapping the babies up in a blanket or cover. Twins often feel safer and more secure when they are wrapped up and placed close to their twin; this will usually only work during the first couple of months when your babies are still very small. Swaddling also helps to reduce the risk of cot death and can be comforting when babies wake up suddenly in the night; when they realise that they are safe and comfortable, they will usually nod back off without waking the other baby up.
  • Separate day from night: babies are not used to changes between day and night so it is beneficial to try and teach them as early as possible; during the day, play with them, talk to them, take them out for short periods of time and expose them to natural light (this is not advisable if it is very bright). As evening approaches, slow down the pace, bath the babies and wrap them up warm, feed them, get them ready for bed, dim the lights and then put them down together in their cot; some mums and dads also like to read bedtime stories and play soothing music to their babies. Once babies get used to the difference between night and day they will start to wind down naturally as the day draws to a close.
  • Ask for help and share the load: if you are with a partner, ensure you both get up with the babies; some couples take it in turns and some have 'duty’ periods when one parent does a shift and then the other does a shift. If you are a single parent, try to ask a friend or relative to help you out now and again; just a few hours to catch up on sleep will make the world of difference to you.
  • Put the babies down at the same time: this will help them to get into a routine of sleeping at the same time; in some cases, the babies may sleep at completely different times and some parents adopt different routines for each child; it depends on what you want to do as a parent. Babies who are used to sleeping together from an early age are more likely to sleep at similar times further down the line. Some babies may sleep for much longer than others; if this is the case with your twins, continue to put them down together at night as the baby that sleeps for a shorter period of time may learn to sleep for longer.
  • Let your babies fall asleep independently; put them to bed when they are tired but not already asleep; if you stick to a relaxing evening routine, they should start to feel tired during the evening and then they will be more likely to fall asleep when they are put down at night.
  • Put the babies down in the same cot: when the babies are still small they will be comforted by the presence of their twin and this is likely to help them sleep better. Do not put twins in a Moses basket together, as there is not enough space. Once the babies are old enough to roll over, put them in separate cots.
  • Don’t worry if one of your babies seems to cry a lot more at bedtime than the other; twins get used to the noises their sibling makes very quickly and most are not really bothered by the crying; try to make sure that the calmer baby is settled and content before you go to the one that is crying. Identical twins usually have similar sleep patterns and will start to sleep right through the night at a similar age; non-identical twins may have completely different sleep patterns and one may start to sleep through the night much earlier on than the other.

Tips for getting more sleep

If you have twins you may find you are constantly rushed off your feet and don’t have much time to catch up on sleep; here are some tips to help you get more sleep:

  • Sleep when your babies sleep; you may have to get used to cat-napping in the early stages; try to catch up on sleep during the day when your babies are napping.
  • Ask for help: if you need a few hours sleep, ask somebody to watch the babies for you; ask a relative or friend you trust and know well to watch the babies while you get some rest. If you have a partner, try to share the responsibilities of getting up with the children in the night. You may also consider putting your children into nursery or getting a childminder for short periods of time when they are a bit older; you shouldn’t feel guilty about doing this as it will allow you to re-charge your batteries, have some time to yourself and get everything sorted. You will then have more energy and will be able to spend quality time with your babies.
  • Try to establish a routine early on; try to encourage your children to relax during the evenings so that they learn to wind down before bedtime. You can start to introduce a bedtime routine from about 6-8 weeks; if your twins were premature, you may find it takes a little longer for them to adjust to a routine. 

Guide to Sleeping for Mother and Baby:

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