Having twins is probably the highlight of your parenthood. You must be on cloud 9 with your babies in your arms. Just seeing them gives you goosebumps. And we all get it. But as they grow up you need to teach them how to live on their own too. Sleep training is an essential part of their growing up. Let’s see how to do it-
When is the Right Time to Sleep Train Twins
training twins might not be all that different than single babies, but it will be double the effort. Deciding the right time is also tricky because a lot of twins are born prematurely. Therefore it is best not to sleep train them right after they are born as in when they are newborns.
Instead, you can focus on creating a bond with them so that it is easier to sleep train going forward. It is also important to identify your twins’ individuality and personality. Although they might be identical (or not), they have different personalities.
In the first 4 months, they will be sleeping and waking up to eat. So it is better not to try to sleep train. It might also backfire in a way that will keep them up all night instead of sleeping. Usually, babies sleep a lot during this time. So you can focus on feeding them.
This is the best time to train your twins. At this stage, they finally start adopting a regular baby’s schedule. They stop nighttime feeding and start sleeping more throughout the night. Therefore most experts recommend sleep training at this time.
Any time after this period you might find it a bit difficult as your babies will start moving more and crawl out of the crib. However, it shouldn’t be all that worrisome. It will just be a bit more time-consuming than a 4-6 months period. If you keep trying consistently you will reach that level.
How to Sleep Train
There are multiple sleep training methods that you can try. Again, it depends mostly on the baby’s personality. What method is good for your children can be decided by you. It also matters what method parents are most comfortable with. Some methods are more flexible than others. You can opt for trial and error too. You can apply one method and see if it works on your baby. If it creates more hassle than lessening you can wait a few days and then try again with another method.
Cry It Out (CIO)
The most common method is to cry it out (CIO). The method lets parents cry their children when they are being put to bed. As the baby cries parents leave the room. What exactly the method means that babies can tell when you are responding to their cry.
So if you pick them up after a certain period of crying they will keep crying for longer periods until you pick them up. As a result, babies keep crying longer and longer every time.
The CIO method allows you to do all the things that you usually do for your child’s bedtime. Reading stories, singing lullabies, giving them cuddles, etc. Then you put them to bed regardless of whether them being sleepy or awake. Like an adult, they go to bed and don’t see their parents until the next morning. What happens is that they get tired by crying or just naturally and learn to sleep on their own at the right time.
You do visit them when it’s time for them to eat in the middle of the night. This method is also known to work the quickest way of all. However, you should make sure your baby is well-fed, safe, and hasn’t wet the diaper. According to experts’ comments, it doesn’t affect the baby if you are giving them constant love and affection at other times. But quite understandably most parents don’t find it to be comfortable for them.
So they resort to another method that is less emotionally exhausting for them and the baby. And some parents think it affects the baby emotionally. So if you don’t want to follow this method there are others.
This method also means progressive waiting which is a popular sleep training method. It was developed by Dr. Richard Ferber to help babies build healthy sleeping habits.
With twins, it might be a bit difficult for parents to develop. But it can be achieved with consistency and careful planning. In the end, both parents and babies can sleep peacefully. Some of the key components of this method are:
- Coordinating their sleep time and keeping it consistent. They will slowly adapt to the routine and their schedule will be synchronized.
- Keeping separate spaces for both twins or multiples is important during training. It will prevent them from waking others up and intervening in others’ schedules. You can keep them in the same room but in separate cribs. To make your job easier, here’s a portable crib for twins!
- There has to be a peaceful bedtime routine. It can be reading, singing lullabies, bathing, etc. But again, consistency is crucial. It will make your baby’s bodies believe that it’s bedtime when it gets to it.
- Gradual self-soothing is an important part of this method. It’s all about teaching your children how to self-soothe by allowing them to fall asleep on their own. You can put them in bed when they are sleepy. Then leave the room and wait for 5 minutes once they start crying. Then go and calm them down. Then come back and wait longer. Like this, you gradually increase the amount of interval.
- As parents of twins you need to coordinate the comfort. Once one of the babies starts crying, you need to hold back the urge to comfort the other. Let them be for the interval amount of time. This will help them prevent waking each other up.
This method will also take a longer amount of time to adjust. And it might not even work on your babies. Be mentally prepared to face these too.
This is a relatively new method of sleep training that was outlined in a book called The Happy Sleeper. This method follows a gentler method that is almost like the Ferber method. It is most effective in older babies, say 9 months or older. It helps them cope with sleep regression as they have separation anxiety once their parents leave the room.
As the babies are older in this method, it has some sentences for you to say once your babies cry. You leave them in bed and check in every 5-10 minutes and say “I am next door, don’t worry about it. I love you. You can sleep”. This method helps your babies calm down and be confident that you are there for them. You don’t need to pick them up either. Just check in after a certain interval and your babies will be fine. It gives them reassurance and prevents them from crying.
The Chair Method
It is also known as the camp-out method. It is a sleep training approach that involves gradually moving away from directly comforting your babies to promoting independent sleep, while still offering reassurance and support. While implementing the chair method with twins may require additional considerations due to having two babies, it can be an effective strategy to help them learn to fall asleep on their own and establish healthy sleep habits. Here’s how you can do it-
- Be consistent with the environment in which your babies fall asleep. If they are used to sleeping in a dark room listening to lullabies, keep doing that.
- Place the chair next to their cribs. In this method, parents sit in the chair until babies fall asleep. It reassures them that their parents are nearby and prevents their separation anxiety. For twins, you may need to place two chairs and alternate between the cribs. The main idea is to comfort the babies without directly comforting them.
- As the next step you need to move the chair further as they get used to it. Keep going towards the door day by day with your chair. Ultimately outside the room where they can’t see you. This will make them independent sleepers while also reassuring them emotionally that their parents are with them.
- An important part of this method is providing them with reassurance from a distance. Verbal assurance works best in this case. You can tell them you love them, offer them help, and make them know about your presence. But gradually removing yourself from their sleeping method is the key to this method.
- You also have to be consistent in your effort and routine so that they get used to it. Refrain from touching your children once you have started the process. It will only slow it down. You need to control your urge to help them. As a parent, it might be disheartening but it is one of the many things you will have to do throughout the process.
- You can also adjust based on their individual personality. Be flexible and adaptable to their needs and wants. See the comfort level of twins and act accordingly.
The Fading Method
This is known as the gradual or gentle method. It is more comfortable for twins. It involves gradually reducing parental involvement in helping babies fall asleep, with the goal of eventually having them fall asleep independently. Implementing the fading method with twins may require some additional considerations due to having two babies, but with careful planning and consistency, it can be an effective approach to improving their sleep.
To follow this method you have to first start with some comforting methods. For example, you can follow by putting them in the crib, rocking them, patting them, etc. Once they get used to it and fall asleep quickly you slowly reduce the comforting methods. If you sued to pat them for 20 minutes now you reduce it to 10 minutes. Slowly they learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own.
The only setback is that it will definitely take a long time. And also it might not work for them as you are physically offering comfort. Your children may get too used to it that they start waking up at first. You can also try positive reinforcement. You can praise them and clap for them once they do it on their own. It will motivate them to do better next time.
Each baby has a different personality. What works for one child might not work for the other. The key is to learn their behavior and apply the one that suits them. Similarly, the method needs to be feasible for parents too. Let’s hear what a doctor has to say about sleep training twins