A quick disclaimer before I get started with explaining how we got our twins to sleep through the night. This is purely our own experience and our methods won’t necessarily work for all babies. I’m a big believer that the best thing is always using your instinct! That said, getting your baby to sleep through the night is one of the biggest battles during the early days. A lot of parents become desperate to know how others are managing it – especially if you have twins.
My twins were born at 35+1 gestation, with very minor issues. Summer was completely fine and was with me straight away, and Skye had just 24 hours in the NICU due to some fluid in her lungs.
Newborn to 8 weeks
Looking back, 8 weeks isn’t a long time. Try telling that to any new parents though! This was a really hard stage of waking every 3 hours for a feed (article: Coping with newborn night feeds), all through the day and the night. I tried to establish some sort of routine, but I soon realised it was far too early and the best option was to just go with the flow. I read somewhere online that babies can’t even tell the difference between night and day until they’re at least 8 weeks old.
This stage is definitely the hardest as it’s completely relentless and feels like it’s never going to end. My advice would be to just get sleep whenever you can, and invest in a coffee machine! I was always told ‘just sleep when the babies sleep’ but I personally found this impossible. I just felt like I had too much other stuff to do during the day when the babies were sleeping. Do whatever is best for you!
8 weeks to 4 months
My twins were 8 weeks old when they first ‘slept through’ the night. They slept from 10pm until 6am; I remember waking up and panicking when I saw what the time was! This was a huge step for us, as we now knew they could go a longer stretch of time without needing milk.
We still didn’t really have a properly established routine. They were still just sleeping a lot, rather than having structured naps during the day. We would wake them up to give them a feed when we went to bed at around 10pm, in the hope that would keep them full until the morning. This worked well for us most of the time, although we still occasionally had to give them another feed in the middle of the night.
We were still keeping track of how often they were feeding and how much they were drinking each time – someone recommended an app to me that was absolutely life-changing (Links:iPhone|Android)! It also allows for more than one baby – perfect for twins!
It was at around 8 weeks we decided to introduce some sleep training. Looking online, this was apparently a bit of a controversial decision. A lot of experts advise waiting until they are 6 months old but we felt it was important to introduce routine and familiarity as early as we could. We took a look at some different techniques and decided to try controlled crying. Again, this is apparently a more controversial technique but we really wanted our girls to learn to not need cuddling or rocking to sleep.
What is controlled crying?
This method is putting your baby down to sleep, settling them with a stroke on the head and quiet ‘goodnight’, then leaving the room. They will probably then cry. Check the time and give it a couple of minutes, then go back in the room and settle them again in the same way. Then leave the room again. If they cry again, give it four minutes this time until you re-enter the room. Repeat these steps, making the gap between settling them longer each time. Eventually they should settle, but of course use your own instincts if you feel it isn’t working.
Did controlled crying work for us?
Yes, and it only took two nights of crying before they could settle themselves. I believe controlled crying is the main reason my twins put themselves to sleep so easily and now sleep well through the night.
Forums and articles online had warned that it was ‘brutal’ and many mothers can’t bear to do controlled crying. I always knew I was going to be strict when it came to routine and sleep before I even fell pregnant! So this wasn’t a huge issue for me – I knew it’d be tough but if it established a routine I knew it would be worth it for all of us. The first night they cried for an hour and a half until they settled down to sleep, and I suppose it was quite brutal. I did worry and have second thoughts about it, but I had made a decision and wanted to stick with it.
After only a couple of nights, we could happily put the girls down to sleep and they would settle themselves. Since then we have never really cuddled or rocked the girls to sleep other than if they’re ill or extremely distressed from teething, for example. They understand when they’re being put down for a nap or to bed at night.
Other elements we used
Along with controlled crying, we also used other elements such as; oils, humidifier, comforters, white noise, and more. As this is quite an in-depth list, we have given it it’s own article that you can find here – Methods for getting your twins to sleep.
4 months – 6 months
We had a bit of difficulty during this stage. The girls all of a sudden wanted a feed in the night again! We did try to settle them down and stick with our methods, but ultimately they just wanted some milk before they would go back to sleep. Then I read an article online about the 5 month sleep regression. Unfortunately I can’t remember the author, but she suggested the 5 month sleep regression didn’t exist – the baby was just hungry.
I started weaning with purees at 5 months, having two small meals a day along with all their normal milk. We did this for about a month and then introduced a mix of baby led weaning (article: How to introduce BLW for twins)and purees at 6 months. By 6.5 months, they were eating quite happily! It was at about this age I felt they were ready for three meals a day, and it was like flipping a light switch! The first day they had three meals, they slept through the night and it’s been fantastic since then (currently 10 months).
We would still have to get up once or twice in the night on a ‘dummy run’ as we call it! The girls will often drop their dummies through the bars of the cot and then cry for it. This has made me wonder about getting rid of the dummies, but I’ve decided to stick with them for now. Other than that, they’ve generally been very good at sleeping.
6 months – 10 months
Since starting three solid meals a day, their sleeping has been excellent. We stick with all the same methods, other than we no longer play music or white noise in their room. I chose to stop this because I didn’t want them to always need noise to get to sleep. We barely have any dummy runs any more because they are able to pick them up and put them back in their own mouth (unless they’ve dropped onto the floor).
Of course we’ve had a few little hiccups – some evenings they’ve just refused to go to sleep properly, but there’s usually always a reason for this like napping too (link: twin napping tips) late during the day. If this happens, we just stick with our methods and learn from it, tweaking the routine slightly if needed. Generally however, every night they sleep from 6pm until 6am.
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