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Resources Centre / Twins Tips Introduction / Twins Tips / Sleep What Sleep! Routines for Twins & Multiples
Sleep What Sleep! Routines for  Twins & Multiples

It can be a challenge for any parents to get just one baby to sleep. When there is more than one, babies will often take turns in crying and playing all night long. This can quickly exhaust their parents. Getting babies to sleep at night is a common problem for a parent of twins. triplets. quads or more.

Here are some suggestions that may help you to establish a routine that will work for you :-

The added challenge:

Compared to a single baby. twins. triplets. quads or more have a few extra problems when it comes to settling down to sleep. such as:

  • They are often born prematurely. They would have received a lot of nursing and touching in hospital and. when they get home. they expect the same amount of attention.
  • Small babies have small stomachs and have to be fed more often.
  • A routine will be hard to establish if several people are helping to change. feed and care for the babies.

Suggestions for the first six months :

A baby's sleeping habits only become settled and predictable if he or she is put to bed in the same way every night. Discuss and plan with your partner (if you have one) and other helpers a set routine for your babies' bedtime. Some suggestions on settling your babies in the first six months include:

  • Experiment with sleeping arrangements to see which one suits your babies best, such as sleeping together or in separate cots. Please note: it's recommended that babies sleep in parents room for the first 6 months.
  • Synchronise your night feeds so your babies feed at the same time, even if that means waking one or all of them up.
  • Establish a set napping routine during the day.
  • Put your babies to bed at the same time every night.
  • Lead up to bedtime with a relaxation routine. including such things as warm baths. massage or soft music.

Hospital & Special Care Babies

Some hospitals put twins together when they are born; other units put twins in separate cots. What you experience in hospital will probably influence what you do at home. Recent research from the University of Durham into sleeping patterns of twins showed that co-bedding did not appear to be more risky than separate sleeping arrangements for young twins. Newborn twins can sleep side by side and the same guidelines for avoiding cot death should be adhered to with babies placed in the 'feet to foot' position in the cot. and ideally sharing the parents' room for the first six months. Sooner or later you will need to put them into two separate cots.

Suggestions for six to 12 months:

Your babies need to know the difference between night and day and to realise that night-time is for sleeping. Some suggestions on settling them when they are six to 12 months old include:

  • A regular relaxation and bedtime routine is just as important now as it was when they were younger.
  • Put them to bed quickly, say goodnight and don't linger to talk or cuddle.
  • Separate them if one baby is constantly waking up the other(s).
  • Don't take a crying baby back to bed with you or they will learn to cry just for the extra attention.

Suggestions for toddlers

As children grow older, their sleep patterns change into more individual rhythms. You might find that each child now has slightly different sleeping needs. Some suggestions on settling your toddlers include:

  • Encourage each child to have his or her own special bedtime toy.
  • If they're being naughty, try not to threaten them with an early bedtime or else they will feel badly about going to bed.
  • Similarly, don't punish them by sending them to their bedroom.
  • Try not to let them nap past mid-afternoon.
  • Don't read overly exciting or scary bedtime stories.
  • Limit their television in the evening.

Things to remember:

  • Getting twins, triplets, quads or more to sleep at night is a common problem for parents.
  • Twins, triplets. quads or more tend to cry and play in turns at night. which can be exhausting for parents.
  • Setting up a familiar bedtime routine is very important.

Where to get help

  • Multiple Birth Organisations eg Tamba / Twinline
  • Local Twins & Multiples Clubs
  • Child care nurses (particularly if your babies are in SCBU)
  • Your Consultant
  • Your Mid-Wife
  • Your Health Visitor
  • Your Doctor
  • Multiple Births Books
Looking for more information? Why not read through our twins tips on the challenges and solutions for The First Year with Twins & Multiples.

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