• Martha Lewis

Sleep Tips for Newborn Twins

You have twins! Congratulations! And oh my!

As someone who doesn't have twins, I can't imagine what it's like. I thought it was hard enough with just 1 newborn. So hats off to you!

Encouraging healthy sleep habits for your babies is even more important if you have twins.

Read more for some tips about newborn twins so they become good, independent sleepers.

In my next post, I will tell you about how to handle sleep training with older twins who aren't good sleepers.

First of all, let me explain what a sleep association is. A sleep association is when your baby associates a sleep prop with sleep. Common sleep props are nursing, a bottle, rocking, a carrier, etc. If your babies depend on a prop to go to sleep, then they will need that prop when they wake up in the middle of the night.

There are a couple of reasons why getting twins to sleep well can be challenging.

  1. Many twins are born premature which has its own complications. Premature babies are often underweight. This means you may be concerned that they are eating enough and gaining weight. And premature babies are also pretty sleepy. So it will be hard to keep them awake while they are feeding. But it's important to keep them awake while they're nursing to ensure you aren't nursing them to sleep. If they fall asleep every time they are fed, they will most likely start associating feeding with sleeping. The association can interfere with independent sleep.

  2. With twins there's always the worry that one baby will wake up the other one. This fear has you rushing in to scoop up the crying baby so she doesn't wake up her twin. Babies will often cry out between sleep cycles and go right back to sleep. So rushing in doesn't allow them the space to figure out how to go back to sleep on their own. The good news is that a lot of times the other twin won't even wake up. Babies can sleep through anything if they're in a deep sleep cycle, even fire alarms! Sure, the other twin will wake up some of time, but not every time.

Now for the tips you've been waiting for:

  1. It's going to be easiest for you if you get your twins on the same schedule for naps and bedtime.. Sometimes one twin will have slightly different sleep needs than the other. But in general they need roughly the same amount of sleep. If one baby wants to sleep longer, let her sleep half an hour longer. Then gently wake her so they will both go down for their next nap at the same time. And then make bedtime at the same time for both of them.

  2. Now during the night, it's a different story. I suggest letting each twin sleep however long he wants before waking up to feed. If they're healthy and gaining weight, it's best to let them sleep during the night. I realize this may mean that you finish feeding one twin, you go back to sleep, and then the other one wakes up. I know it will be exhausting but it's short-term and only for the first few weeks. If you allow them to start consolidating their night sleep, they will gradually sleep longer at night. Which is what you want!

I hope this answers some of your questions about how to handle sleep for newborn twins. As always, I'm here to help. If your have twins who are past the newborn stage and aren't sleeping well, stay tuned for my blog next week. And feel free to contact me any time for a free 15-minute evaluation to talk about your child's sleep!

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Martha Lewis, MS

Jackson Hole, WY



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