I feel human again!!! Yes, my twin girls are sleeping through the night (at 14 weeks old). They go to bed at 6pm followed by my 3 year old at 6:30pm and 5 year old at 7. That’s right, by 7pm all 4 kiddos are asleep and I get a few hours to myself and with the hubster. And they stay asleep until 6-7am! What a difference it makes to have a few hours that you can count on having for yourself or to get things done. It’s amazing. I wasn’t totally sure how it would go, but turns out getting twins on a sleep schedule is the same as 1 baby.
So wanna know how I did it? Let me start by saying that I truly believe that everyone has to do what works for them and their baby (or babies). Motherhood is a journey, no one’s journey is the same, and there’s beauty in that. Some moms are more strict than others, I know I struggled with being strict with my oldest and went through A LOT of trial and error to get him to sleep but once I found what worked I stuck to it and then replicated it for the next 3. So in sharing this please take it for what it is – help for those who want it. I know I’m not perfect. I’m ok with that. I don’t expect all moms to do what I do. I’m more than ok with that. But right now I’m a happy, rested mom and my 3 month old babies are happy, thriving, sleeping 12-13 hours every night and they take 2 naps that last 2-4 hours each. It’s amazing. They are super happy and playful when they are awake. After a few days of learning, I simply put them in their crib and they go to sleep with no crying which has made my life a million times easier vs. the first few months trying to rock 2 fussy babies for hours to get them to doze off. Bottom line, my whole family is benefitting from our new daily routine and I am happy to share what has worked for me in hopes that I can help some other moms get the sleep they need!
To start, you have to understand infant sleep. It’s not just common sense – in fact once I started really learning about it, I was surprised by most of the facts and FYI the advice people offer about getting babies to sleep is usually totally wrong. I love when people tell me if I put my kids to bed later they’ll sleep later in the morning. Umm NO. Worth noting the people who usually say this to me don’t have kids! So before driving yourself crazy, do a little research. It’ll end up saving you time I promise, and to make it super easy for you, here are my 2 favorites.
- A friend of mine who I’ve worked with for over 4 years now, Kathy Moren, wrote a fantastic article on getting your baby on a schedule. It starts right from day 1 and just gives you a quick glance of what to expect all the way up to 15 months. When the girls were newborns and we had a hard day I would read this just to remind myself that it gets easier! (I promise, it gets easier!). Kathy has been a RN BSN IBCLC for over 20 years, is a mom of 4, and just plain knows what she’s talking about!
- I swear by the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth MD – and of course this time around I grabbed a copy of “Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Twins.” It’s a quick read and is full of great information. It goes over a couple different methods to get your baby to sleep. It also has great troubleshooting for toddlers and preschoolers.
As I said, with my oldest I tried it all. I got out of bed 800 bagillion times to pop that pacifier back in. I got an app with a timer to do the Ferber Method. I read stories, sang, and rocked him to sleep for hours and then did the stealth put the baby in the crib slowly then drop to the floor and crawl out of the room. Yup, I crawled out of his room on my hands and knees. More than once. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I was a new mom and I wanted to do everything I could for my son to be happy and well rested and yeah I was also dang tired! I spent a full month on sleep trial and error until I realized he was smarter than anything I was trying. Nothing listed above worked. Like at all.
So I had to suck it up and let him cry. Luckily, as I came to this realization a former co-worker of mine recommended the book mentioned above and I don’t think I could have followed through with it without that book. I needed to truly understanding infant sleep and understand that I need to teach my son to put himself to sleep, in order to feel good about my decision. I should probably explain that I had babies before my close friends and family so I didn’t have many people to turn to (hence the month of trial and error). My mom was and is my first go-to for all questions on mommyhood but obvi it had been a few years since she got her babies to sleep through the night. So I hope this post helps some of you that are in the same position. Even if you’re in this position now, you’ll make mom friends and you’ll cherish them.
Ok, back to it. For all 4 of my kids it took no more than 3 days of letting them cry for them to figure out how to put themselves to sleep. By that I mean at bedtime I put them sleepy but awake in their crib and with no crying they go to sleep. That’s right no crying. The twins share a room and it still only took them a few days. If they wake up and fuss in the middle of the night (it’s rare but happens) guess what, they know how to put themselves back to sleep and can do it in a matter of minutes. So no getting out of bed momma! The very first day I put her to sleep in her crib Keira learned to roll back to tummy and now she can roll tummy to back too. Kate scoots on her side and discovered she likes sucking her thumb (if you haven’t already you have to see the precious video of this I put on IG). I love seeing what they discover and learn (and how quickly they do it) when you give them the chance. I’ll be honest, letting your baby cry is awful. Those first 2 days are HARD. Even this time around, after I’ve done it twice and know it works, I still had a hard time and doubted myself. Then day 3 there was almost no crying. Day 4 was even better. Day 5 and we were falling into a nice set schedule. After a week, we were all pros. I am well aware some people are strongly against letting a baby cry or say it’s harmful. But I dunno, I feel like it’d be more harmful for them to cry at bedtime every night for months and month, but that’s just me. All I know is that my kids know I love them and they get the sleep they need and so do I, so it works for us.
THE NUTS & BOLTS:
- Begin around 3-4 months when baby weighs enough to sleep through the night without feedings. Talk to your doctor or LC about this especially if your little one is struggling to gain weight or not thriving. I had the babies in our room as newborns, and moved them to their own bedroom when I started getting them on a strict schedule.
- Create a detailed sleeptime routine, write it down, and go through the routine before all naps and bedtime. Example:
- Naps – go to bedroom, read 1 book and rock a little in glider for a few minutes, hugs & kisses, put in crib (sleepy but still awake), turn off the light and leave the room
- Bed – same routine as nap but start with a bath, brush teeth/gums, get in PJs, then book, etc.
- When I started a sleep schedule I stopped swaddling, got rid of pacifiers, nothing to soothe the baby so that they learn to soothe themselves. This makes it go a lot smoother and also makes your life a lot more flexible – my kids could fall asleep in any pack n play anywhere as if we were at home.
- Since the twins share a room I do put on soft music before I leave the room. They don’t really seem to wake each other up but I thought if they did it might help.
For the cry it out method it goes like this:
- Daytime naps: Do your sleep routine. If baby cries do not go back into the room, let them cry it out. If after an hour he or she is still crying get them and keep them up until the next “sleep period” (usually 90 min to 2 hrs later).
- Night time – Let them cry it out, put to bed around 6-7pm and go get him at 6am. Do not go in to soothe them.
If you choose this method, be STRICT! If you let them cry then go in and comfort them they are smart and know that if they cry long enough that you will come. I know it seems harsh but only once out of my 4 kids did I have a nap that they cried for an hour (my now 3 year old) it was terrible. I probably cried for the whole hour too. But she must have learned something because the next day she went right to bed without crying and has every night since. She’s almost 4. So remember it’s a few tough days for years of easy bedtimes. Also, I use a video monitor and highly recommend it for this method, I don’t think I could do it without. I wasn’t expecting Keira to roll over on day 1 so I hadn’t put the breathable bumpers on yet and she got her arm stuck in the crib. I knew her cry was harder than just a tired cry so I checked the monitor and of course went in and helped her out.
So the first couple of days I recommend taking really detailed notes on how each sleep went. What time you put them in? Did they cry? For how long?… and watch your child for sleep cues (rubbing eyes, yawning, getting fussing, etc).
The day follows a “Sleep, Eat, Play” pattern and they go back to bed about 2 hours after waking up
Based on a 7 am wake up the schedule is like this…
1st nap at 9am
2nd nap in the 12-1 time frame (depending on how long first nap is)
3rd nap in the 3-4 time frame
Bed at 6pm
Usually around 8 months they transition to 2 naps a day around 9am and 2pm. But again watch your baby and see what schedule works best for them. Andrew always only took 2 naps because he would sleep for 2 -3 hours each time, and the twins are the same way so they nap at 9-11am and 1-4pm (or around then) everyday.
Ok there you have it – my secrets to getting your baby on a sleep schedule. Good luck! Get some sleep!