Parents of twins have challenges when it comes to sleeping but with good planning it can actually be easier. These parents have to be more consistent and stick to the plan to make things work which sets up their twins for better sleep habits.
Some things to consider when deciding where and how your twins should sleep are;
- Age and weight of babies
- Location of sleeping space
- Temperaments and schedules
Age and weight of babies
Many twins are born early and some may even have to spend some time in a special care nursery or NICU at the hospital before they can come home. The age and weight of twins makes a huge difference about how they are treated. If the twins are similar in weight and size sleeping together in the same crib is advised. They will not disturb each other and they often develop the same sleeping patterns making care easier for the parents and comforting to the babies themselves. When they are little they can sleep on their back side by side on the long side of the crib in a “feet to foot” position which means having their feet at the bottom of the crib. If you prefer or another option when slightly bigger, is placing each one at opposite ends of the crib. One of the twin’s feet is at the bottom against the headboard and the other twin’s feet is at the bottom of the foot-board. and they are head to head in the middle. See picture for clarity. I also recommend alternating which end of the crib you place each baby. This will cause them to naturally turn toward light or objects in different positions, which will lessen the pressure on one particular spot of their head to prevent developing any flat spots.
Location of sleeping space
So where should your twins sleep? For the safest sleep and especially if your twins are preemies I recommend having them sleep in your room on a separate surface like a crib, pack n play or co-sleeper that is attached to your bed. Sleeping in the parent’s room is recommended during the first 6 months for all babies to prevent SIDS. However, when babies are full term, healthy and have established good sleeping patterns this is a personal decision by the parents to decide what and where is best for everyone as long as it is done safely. Many families move their babies into their own bedroom after a few months. I recommend putting them separately in their own crib somewhere between 3 and 4 months depending on their size and how active they are at night. By this I mean if they are wiggling around the crib and disturbing the other twin it is time to separate them. Also when you wean them out of the swaddle is another good time to separate them so they can sleep in separate sleeping spaces.
Temperaments and Schedules
All babies have different temperament’s or personalities that become very recognizable at an early age and twins are no different. Somehow mother nature seems to help most of our parents out by having only one twin that is more difficult than the other but some parents are not so lucky. Each twin needs to be treated as an individual and needs some one on one time with the parents. When I am working with twins and they need to be woken up to eat when they are very young I always wake up the easiest one first if I have a choice You always hear the saying when one twin wakes get them both up so they will be on the same schedule. This is great when you have 2 people available to care for them. However, when all of Mom’s help leaves after a few weeks she is struggling with handling two babies at one time often during their fussy period. By giving the first baby a small head start (10 -15 minutes) Mom can give some undivided attention to each twin. The one that wakes first gets some Mom time before the other one wakes and the second baby to wake gets Mom time at the end of their feeding or activity. If Mom is breastfeeding she can still feed both at the same time. Twins learn to take turns because they often are forced to wait for each other. If you can space them out just by 10 to 15 minutes they will automatically learn to wake slightly spaced out so it is more manageable for you. Sometimes it won’t work and that is fine as you will get good at juggling two babies. Over time and with consistency this will work and make things go more smoothly allowing you that one on one bonding time when only one parent is available. I think two bouncy seats are a must when working with twins and a boppy lounger has also been a life saver for me go to http://www.boppy.com/product/boppy-newborn-lounger/ to find out more if are not familiar with this product.