Updated: Nov 23, 2022
Newborn babies and sleep deprivation usually come hand in hand, leaving the whole family both mentally and physically drained. Often you will think ‘I can’t go on’ or ‘this will never end,’ the answer of course is – you do and it will.
For parents of multiple babies, this is an extremely testing time and one people seem to enjoy pointing out ‘you do know you won’t get a minute sleep.’
The first ten weeks will be the hardest, after all, your lives have just been turned upside down, you’ll feel as if you’ve aged 10 years and you’re hormonally unstable!
Fear not because there are ways to help you get a couple of hours straight sleep at a time and answer those burning questions ‘how do I get newborn twins to go to sleep at the same time?’ and ‘where do I start and how do I get them into a routine?’
Unfortunately, nobody will wave a magic wand, granting you six hours of uninterrupted sleep, but that doesn’t mean that with a little organization, preparation, and consistency on your part, this can not be achieved after a relatively short period of time.
As a mother of twins, these 8 tips not only worked but kept me sane and strengthened the bond between me and my babies.
1 - Swaddle your babies
Babies are used to the cramped living conditions of the womb and feel quite unsettled with their newfound freedom. Swaddling a baby in a light blanket helps to recreate the warm, secure environment they have just left and will make their transition a more welcoming and familiar experience.
2 - Let them sleep in the same cot
Not only is it extremely cute to see multiples sleeping together in the same cot, especially when one is sucking the other one’s nose or forehead, but it also helps them to readjust to their new surroundings in a more natural and stress-free way. After all your babies have just spent the last 9 months in close proximity and have learned to comfort and support one another through touch, sight, and sound.
To separate them now would undo all they have grown accustomed to and could leave them feeling insecure and fretful.
Depending on the weight and size of your twins, most twins are able to co-bed until they are about 2-3 months old.
If one twin keeps on kicking the covers off during the night put them both into sleeping bags or Grobags.
A lot of parents like to have their newborn babies sleeping in the same room as them for the first couple of months, having your twins sharing a cot makes this more feasible and practical.
3 - Put them to bed at the same time
The best way to ensure your babies get into a healthy routine is to put them down for their sleep at the same time. If you permit your babies to sleep at different times you will only be making a rod for your own back and will forever be entertaining one baby throughout the day and night, leaving you exhausted and unable to function properly or productively.
When one baby wakes up, wake the other. This will enable you to get them into a normal feeding and changing routine at the same time, which in turn will give you more time to attend to your other children (if you have any), catch up on your household chores, and most importantly allow you to get some much-needed rest.
4 - Separate day and bedtime routines
The first couple of days after bringing your babies home will blend into one and you will lose all perception of time. In some ways, it’s like suffering from really bad jet lag. So, the sooner you establish a day and bedtime routine the better for everyone.
The secret to any successful routine with children (and life in general) is to stay consistent. This reinforces the sequence of events and the baby will be able to anticipate what will happen next.
During the day give your babies a lot of love and attention by holding, singing, or just chatting about general things of interest. Babies love it when you make eye contact with them; they watch your facial expressions with wonder and respond to the calming tones of your voice by cooing or gurgling.
As they get older use this time to stimulate them physically through gently exercising their limbs, placing a baby gym over their bouncy chairs and mobiles over their cots, which will encourage them to interact with the toys.
When preparing for bedtime be sure to make this as relaxing and calm as possible. Around six o’clock in the evening start to wind down by reading them a story, giving them a bath, massaging their bodies with natural oils before getting them dressed, and then giving them their milk in their dimly lit bedroom. Black-out blinds or curtains are very useful, especially in this part of the world.
Once you have bathed the babies it is a good idea to stay in the bedroom, if you bring them out again you will give them mixed messages and they may think it’s time to play (which is the last thing you want!). If you have family members who wish to say goodnight, ask them to do so before taking them into the bedroom.
Playing soothing or classical music has a very calming effect so you may want to have it on whilst you prepare the bath. My boys loved listening to Harry Connick Jr. and you could see them, and me, start to relax as soon as we heard his sultry tones. Bath time became a very special part of our nightly routine where there was plenty of skin-to-skin contact, hugs, and kisses.
5 - Who should you feed first?
Okay, so both babies are crying for their milk and you only have one pair of hands – what should you do? Some mothers put them both into their bouncy chairs, sit in front of them and give them their bottle at the same time, while other mothers hold one baby whilst the other one is positioned carefully in the corner of the sofa with the bottle propped up with some cushions (common sense will tell you that this not a very safe option).
I personally didn’t like either arrangement and decided to give one twin half the recommended amount of formula, wind him, put him in his bouncy chair where I could still make eye contact and interact with him (I didn’t want him to fall asleep before he had finished his whole bottle), I then gave the other twin half his bottle, winded him and then gave twin 1 the rest of his bottle and so forth.
This way each baby got some one-on-one attention and I got the chance to really bond and connect with each baby.
Although feeding the babies this way can be more time-consuming, and a bit noisy at times, the babies will soon look forward to their one-on-one sessions with you and will get used to this routine very quickly.
6 - Midnight feasts
If your babies are waking up at 11 pm and 3 am for feeds, feed them in their bedroom, do not take them out of the room, and keep a night light on so you can at least see what you are doing, who’s who and which way is up! Keep the noise down to a minimum and try not to get into any bad habits like playing, talking, or singing to them otherwise they will come to expect this and find it very hard to settle down again.
Have your husband or family member help you with the night-time feed if at all possible, (one of you could prepare the bottles whilst the other person is changing the nappies) as you want this to run as smoothly and quickly as possible so you can get back to bed.
7 - Help them to settle themselves
There’s nothing more beautiful than to have a happy and contented baby sleeping in your arms, the only problem is that as soon as you place them in their cots their eyes shoot open (making you freeze and unable to exhale – in case they start to cry) and they want back in your arms. When this happens during the day you can be a little bit more lenient but at 3 am and your eyelids feel like they have sand in them and you’ve walked into the wall yet again, your whole being just aches to get back to that soft bed that you know is waiting for you!
The best way around this is to put your freshly changed and fed baby back in its cot sleepy, but not completely asleep. This will then give you time to attend to the other twin and will in time help teach each baby how to settle themselves.
8 - Recruiting an extra pair of hands
If at all possible, try and arrange for your husband to have the first 3-4 weeks off work. It’s extremely important for the both of you to experience this together and for you to find a routine that suits you both. This will also give you some breathing space from ‘normal working hours and to take turns catching up on sleep!
Once your husband goes back to work invite a family member, or really good friend, over for a working holiday (warn them beforehand that you will need them to help out) so they can help with the nighttime feeds.
If for any reason this isn’t possible and you are considering hiring a lady to help, please make sure she has relevant child care qualifications. Hiring a maid to clean your house is completely different from having her have sole charge or co-share looking after your wee ones.
If this is the route you intend to go down then sit down with your husband before the twins are born and look at your options thoroughly.
Hiring an au-pair, mother’s help, or nanny from a reputable agency may seem extravagant at first but when you consider how precious and irreplaceable your children are the initial payout is worth every penny! Most agencies will also run police checks and insist on references that can be easily verified for their authenticity.
Having someone who is competent, knowledgeable, and flexible to help with the babies will make the first couple of months a lot more stress-free and enjoyable. You will be able to spend quality time with each baby and have a support system in place if you, one or both babies fall ill.
When both of your twins have established the same sleeping pattern your life will change for the better as will theirs. But bear in mind that this may take more time than you wish if the twins are born premature or they suffer from colic.
Hang in there, before you know it those sleep-deprived days will seem like a distant memory, your whole attitude will be more positive and you will even look forward to your little angels waking up!
And who knows you may even think about having more children in the not-so-distant future!
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