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Newborn Twin Sleep Tips

Newborn Twin Sleep Tips

“I’ve never written about twin sleep.”

As a twin Mom and a child sleep coach that’s helped hundreds of twin families in the past 5 years, I think it’s a little crazy that I’ve never written about twin sleep! 

So from today forward, that statement will no longer be true! 

I’m flashing back to those newborn days with today’s post and sharing with you the top newborn twin sleep tips I wish I had known.

Tip #1: Realistic Expectations

I had NO idea what was normal for newborn sleep. Like at all. I had heard the expressions “sleep like a baby” and “sleep when the baby sleeps.”  Both of which are kinda funny now.

Newborn sleep is straight up chaotic, never mind newborn twin sleep.  Trying to navigate the eating and sleeping needs of two (or more) babies is tricky.  Plus on top of that, we are up all night long, with not just one baby, but two.  Can you say sleep deprivation?

Just know that at first, your newborns will seem like they are napping around the clock.  I remember fighting it and being miserable because I was up a lot at night. 

There is a beauty in acceptance. If you know “this will pass” and you embrace it, you’ll enjoy the newborn period more.

Your little loves won’t get their days and night figured out until around 8 weeks. This is when you should start getting a longer stretch of sleep at the beginning of the night if…

Tip #2: Frequent Feeds

…you give your twins frequent feeds during the day.

Many twins are born full term, 37 weeks or later, but many twins arrive early.

If your babies have a NICU stay (so hard!), when they get home, try to keep your little ones on the same schedule that they were on in the NICU. This will set you up to make sure you are meeting both their nutritional needs and their sleep needs.

For those lucky ducks that avert the NICU stay, check in with your pediatrician to determine how often your little loves needs to eat. Many pediatricians recommend that your little ones are eating every 2.5 – 3 hours around the clock at first. 

If your babies are still napping at the 2.5 hour mark, wake them up to eat.  Those 4 hour naps during the day may seem so sexy, but getting up a million times at night with your hungry cherubs won’t seem so wonderful!

Excuse me, Christine, what? Wake sleeping babies?

You got it! 

If your babies are eating enough during the day, once their day to night confusion begins to disappear (around 6-8 weeks), your babes will be able to sleep longer stretches of sleep without needing to eat as frequently.

Tip #3: One Baby Up, Second Baby Up

In order to give you some balance and down time without always having a baby awake, if one baby wakes up and….

You are alone: feed the first baby and get them back down and then feed the second baby. Unless you are superwoman and can tandem feed, then throw on your cape and feed them both at the same time!

If you have help: once the first baby wakes, wake the second baby at the same time to feed.

Keeping your little ones on the same or similar schedule means you will be able to get as much sleep and rest as you possibly can with newborn twins.

Tip #4:  Schedule

Newborns can only stay awake for really short periods of time. One of the biggest mistakes that I see parents make is to keep their babies awake far too long. This results in overtired: babies, short naps and lots of wake ups at night. 

These are the average awake times during the newborn period:

0-8 weeks: 45-60 minutes

Month 2: 45 – 75 minutes

Month 3: 60-90 minutes

These times are not when you want to start getting your babies down for sleep, but when they are actually asleep again.

At first, it is going to feel like you are on a never-ending cycle of eating, sleeping and pooping.  This is what you want!  Short awake windows will help your little ones from getting overtired and ultimately improve sleep.

Tip #5: Sleep Environment

I remember having my boys sleep in the rock-n-plays in front of the TV until ungodly hours while I watched TV and dozed on and off myself.  In case you missed it, rock-n-plays were recalled and aren’t considered safe sleep!  Please learn from my mistakes – I am not a child sleep consultant because I knew what I was doing and I won the baby sleep lottery and got unicorn babies!

During the first 6-8 weeks, your little one will be able to sleep pretty much anywhere, but your chest will be preferred.  This is normal.  Try to put your little ones down for at least 2-3 of their naps, if you can, so they don’t get completely dependent on only sleeping on you.  

Setting up a twin bassinet in your room will give you a safe place for your twins to sleep at night and be at close reach for night feedings. Plus you can try having them sleep in the bassinet for naps and maybe you can catch a nap too!

For your bedroom and their nursery, you want to ensure that the room is optimized for sleep:

  • Cool (68-72)
  • Dark
  • Consistent white noise for all sleep periods

White noise is so important for babies.  White noise mimics the loudness in utero so trying to sleep in a silent environment feels very strange for newborns. These are my favorite options.

When your babies start smiling at you, usually at 6-8 weeks adjusted age, this means that they have gone through their first sleep milestone and it will be harder for your little ones to take longer naps if they are napping in a bright, noisy space.  This is when you want your little loves to start taking naps in their cribs.

Napping in their cribs will give you the best chance at a quality nap, without being woken by the light and noise. You’ll also be able to live your life when the babies are sleeping.  I spent a lot of time washing the million pieces of Dr. Brown bottles when my boys were napping!

Newborn Sleep Tip #6: Swaddle

Even if you think your babies hate being swaddled, they don’t!  At first, they might fight it, but swaddling for newborns is imperative because they have a strong startle reflex which will make it difficult for your little loves to sleep long periods of time.  They will continually wake themselves up! 

Even if your newborns seem to hate it, when you incorporate other soothing techniques (see below), that is when the magic happens.

Our favorite swaddle is the Swaddle Me Easy Change Swaddle. It is Velcro around the arm, keeping the arms secure, but it loose around the hips and it has an ingenious zipper at the bottom to make diaper changes a breeze.

Not all babies like to have their hands swaddled down.  Many babies like to keep their hands by their faces. In this case, I love the Love To Dream Swaddle Up.

For the sake of your entire house’s sleep, don’t rule out swaddling if at first your babies don’t seem to like it!  Use the soothing techniques below with swaddles and if that doesn’t work, try different swaddle options.

Newborn Sleep Tip #7: Soothing

This is one of the newborn twin sleep tips I had known much sooner!

I brought those little cuties into Dell when they were 10 weeks to introduce them to my colleagues who were so super sweet and supportive during my pregnancy.  One of my colleagues said to me “you have to read The Happiest Baby on the Block!”  He said it was one of the best things he and his wife had read when their daughter was a newborn.

He dropped off the video and the book to me and it was like angels descended on our house! 

Dr. Harvey Karp, the author of the Happiest Baby on the Block, is a renowned pediatrician who uncovered a series of 5 soothing steps that are amazing for calming babies and helping to relax them for sleep.  This book / video is worth its weight in gold IMHO.  It was a game changer in my house and I think it will help you too.

GO WATCH IT NOW!

I could go on and on about newborn twin sleep! My top tips for newborn twin sleep will definitely help you with your twinkies, but you may want to go deeper or you may needs some help. If so, book a newborn sleep consultation with me! During this 60-minute session, I’ll answer all your questions and give you a toolkit to help you to develop healthy sleep habits from the start!  More sleep + twin parents = heaven!

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