You know those useless pieces of advice everyone seems to continue to dispense about parenting? Things like, “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” and “The dishes can wait,” and, “No screen time before the age of 2!” (Okay NO ONE follows that one, *no one*)? Well, that whole thing about absolutely having to get twins on the same schedule or else the whole flipping thing is just impossible? That’s actually 100% correct.
Twins can be sleep trained in almost the exact same way as single babies, but they do require a few special caveats in their training plan. When it comes to sleep training twins, here are three pieces of advice I give all my twin families.
- When training for naps, it’s imperative to treat each child as an individual. Instead of aiming to have each child on the same nap schedule on day 1 (or day 10!) of training, approach sleep training as if you are training two individual children. While the end result we’re after is two kids napping at the same time, the first thing we’re after is each child learning to fall asleep on their own. Plan on each child taking their own individual path to sleep train and attempt to allow each to work through training on their own for the first 1-2 weeks. Once each child is falling asleep easily and quickly, it’ll be much simpler to put them down at the exact same time and know they’ll fall asleep within moments of one another. Don’t force them to be on the same schedule right off the bat – give them time.
- Nap train separately but night train together. Please just trust me on this. If you have a master bedroom and a nursery, then you have enough room to do this. One lucky kiddo gets the Pack n’ Play in Mom’s room and the other gets to stay in the nursery. Nighttime sleep usually progresses quickly for most kids, and even if one child is struggling more than the other, the hormone responsible for helping us sleep (melatonin) is so highly present overnight that it’s easier for twins to sleep through one another’s cries at night than it is for naps. During the day, one baby might have gotten a lot longer of a nap (and be less fussy as a result) had they not been woken by their sister’s cries at the end of sister’s short nap. As outlined above, each child should be entitled to go through the process at their own pace. Once both kids are settled, they’ll be able to go back into the same room for naps and bedtime.
- If you’re implementing a “check-in” based method for nighttime sleep, pick a “lead” baby and base all the checks on that baby. Your lead baby should be the one you notice seems to be fighting the process most. For example, let’s say twin A is a tough cookie and cries more steadily and longer than twin B. When timing checks, base the timer on twin A and when you enter, check on both at the same time. For overnight feeds (should you choose to keep one during sleep training), pick a time you’re going to feed – say the first time either baby wakes after x:xx AM – and once one baby wakes at that time, feed both.
The great news about twins is that they genuinely seem to be more adaptable than singletons as they’ve had to share their space and Mom’s attention since birth. As long as you have a clear plan of action and treat each child as an individual during daytime training, sleep training success should only be a few days away.