HOW I GOT MY TWINS TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT
These two identical twin boys of mine slept from 7pm-7am. This is a victory.
They've done this before. Actually since they were 5 months old. But then they started teething, then they got their first cold, then their first cough, first ear infection, and the list goes on and on. Kind of like motherhood...it never ends. The only constant is change. And love. But one thing that remains as constant as we can possibly get it, is our intention for scheduling. And when you have twins, life is already some kind of crazy and chaotic and for all intent and purposes, for us, scheduling keeps everything in some bit of order.
I've had numerous messages and questions about sleep and schedules with the twins and so I thought I'd break it down as best I could. Also, for the record, I'm pretty sure having this kind of structure in our already hectic life as twin parents, was life saving.
Also, I'd like to preface this by saying that every child and parent is different and some schedules/regimens don't work for everyone. But in an effort to relay to you what I've learned, here's how I got my twins to sleep through the night. And here is also what has kept mommy and daddy from losing their shit.
P.S. Regardless if you have twins or not, at some point while raising babies, you will lose your shit. With twins, you just lose it more often because 2. So here's what worked.
Start a schedule ASAP. Like as soon as you are in a rhythm, do it. For us with the twins, it was probably 1 month, but it can vary. And by schedule at 1 month, it was something simple ike bath time was every night. Then by 2-3 months, we were very consistent with them on a strict sleeping and eating schedule once they reached their weight milestones. (Side note) I nursed and did formula after nursing and our routine was the same every time. Consistency is key. The doctors said this, the nurses, our night nurse too. Consistency early on gives them security and routine and they like routine.
Sleep training? Yes or no? Well, we read all the books and by month 4-5, we tried "our version" of sleep training. My favorite book on this topic is Healthy Sleep Habits Healthy Child, by Marc Weissbluth because it was the most fitting for my personality. I read the same book for twins, but found the one for singletons more helpful as far as structure. ( I used this book to sleep train my firstborn but was slightly more lenient with her, because well, she was my first.) By this month (5) they were in separate cribs and were doing great. And so a little crying it out (per the book) for my twins and they learned to sleep. It wasn't easy as it never is. But truthfully, it works. And let me tell you, when it worked with my twins, life was changed.
And like I said, you must do what works for you and your family, but for me, this quite possibly changed my life and my marriage. When you lay down in your bed with your husband and you know you don't have to get up till morning, it's a party.
Now like I said, then the twins began teething, or got sick, I was back up in the middle of night during some of this time, but once the illness ceases, it was back to usual. A little crying, but not much and we were back to normal. Again, consistency is how they learned to sleep through the night. And aside from the normal travails, they have been sleeping through the night since the 5/6 month period. And it's been a game changer.
My twins have been on 2 naps a day (don't quote me I was very tired at the six month mark) since they were about 6 months (when they just wouldn't do the 3rd evening nap anymore) and now they are 17.5 months and getting close to transition to 1 nap.
Here's a glance at our daily routine now:
6:30/7 wake and play (drink or snack)
8 breakfast & play
12 lunch and play
(One twin naps well on this nap, the other won't nap and just plays in crib or crys till we get him. The other sleeps through it all. The magic of twins is that although they are twins, they do things very differently, like sleep. Don't be alarmed if one naps 2 hours and the other naps an hour and change, just don't let the other twin sleep like more than 30 minutes to an hour more than the other so you can keep on the schedule.)
4-5 The Shit Show, also known as the witching hour, mom makes dinner and babies play or cry. (this is why I'm about to discover some crock pot recipes so I can avoid the stress of getting dinner ready at the witching hour).
6:15-7 bath bed routine
7 lights out
The most important part of all of this is we try to be consistent and yet when we are not, we try not to fuss about it. Napping in the car works, it's just not as long. Or peaceful. And if they miss their afternoon nap because you have school pick up for your older child, then so be it. Crying happens. But there's snacks. And there's always another day. And then month. And then they stop crying because they're older and they're excited to see sissy at pick up. It's hard, but here's the thing. You're doing this momma and you've survived. That is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud.
I honestly woke up this morning feeling like a different person. Proud of my boys, proud of us, proud of me. 8+ hours of sleep for parents is a big deal and it's payed off. And not kidding, helped our marriage.