Thursday, 26 March 2015

Sleep Training Twins

For all you new parents, here is a post on sleep training.   It's a doozy but hopefully it can be of some help.

I've had a post marked for sleep training for months now, and now that I actually sit down to write it, I realize that the months of work we put in are all a blur.  Fortunately, for the first year of the twin's lives I DID keep a monthly writeup so I'll have to check back to remember the details.

Now that we are at 17 months, we have awesome sleepers!  I know that when you're just in the beginning, 17 months seems like forever away.  But after a point, things just keep getting better and better and all of a sudden, you realize that it's been days... or weeks... since you've been waking in the night.  And it's awesome.  So here is a little rundown of what we did and what worked for us.

Months 1-6:
We first contacted a sleep consultant at 5 months.  I know, that's early!  But we had twins, and they weren't necessarily always on the same schedule, and we were desperate for some order to the chaos of newborns.  The first thing we did was adapt the boys to the same schedule.  The goal was within 15 minutes of one going down, the other one would go down too.  We followed a eat, play, sleep routine at that point.  We also started to incorporate some healthy sleep habits, such as trying not to feed the boys to sleep, putting them down to bed awake, and creating white noise in their room.  We used the swing/stroller/car for sleep during the day a bit, but mostly the boys learned to sleep in their own cribs quite early on.  At this point the boys were napping 3x/day and up 2x/night.

Months 6-8:
During this time we continued being very diligent with the sleep schedule.  We continued with 3 naps per day and started to work down to one night feed.  Once this happened, it was sooo good!  Now, how did we work to drop night feeds?  That's a great question!  I actually don't remember, lol.  The boys normally slept well for the first 5 hours but then would wake shortly after midnight, and then again in the early morning hours.  Depending on when they woke (and if it was one of them or just both), we would go in, pat the back, give a soother and settle till they were asleep.  We stopped offering the boob and let them use pacifiers to try to self soothe.  By 8 months we had dropped the night feed (hooray!), although the boys didn't always sleep through the night and we still were up settling them multiple times.  It was during this phase that my hubby wanted to "fire" our sleep consultant because he felt so silly standing by the crib "shhh-ing" the baby while he was screamed at in the middle of the night.  But eventually, it did work and the boys started to learn to sleep.

Months 9-12:
Around 10 months started to have some trouble with naps, and night waking (especially with one twin).  We couldn't figure out why, but one twin often woke up too early (4:30/5:00am) and would not go back to sleep.  It was a combination of teething, going away on holidays, and other developmental leaps.   While we were away I started night feeding him to avoid waking up others in the house.  So once we were home we attempted the chair method.   This involves going into the room sitting by the bed until the child is asleep while "shhh" or patting the back, but not picking up.  Gradually you move your chair further and further away until you are outside of the room.  It is SLOW, but for us better than listening to our baby cry (and scream).  It was a weary process, but I think it worked.  The reason I say "think" is that we would do it for a few days, then we would have good sleep, and then another round of bad sleep would hit and we would go over it all again.  We also bumped up to an earlier bedtime (after dropping the third nap) and this made a big difference with night wakings.  The boys were in bed by 6:30, which was so nice for us to unwind after a long day.

Months 12-18:
Somehow, the one year mark was a magical time where the boys started sleeping through the night without waking.  Hallelujah!  Finally our hard work had paid off.   We still hit some snags (with the one twin) with early wakings, and still do during times of development or sickness.  But now we know how to manage the boys and it is not nearly as stress-inducing as it was.  We recently just dropped down to one nap at 17 months, though the boys have been fighting it for the past 2 months, so I think we could have transitioned earlier.  The boys still use soothers to fall asleep, and that will be the next challenge to remove (any tips????). 

What I'm really scared about is transitioning the twins to toddler beds.  I haven't done any research and just expect it's going to turn bedtime into a real battle (where so far it has been sooo nice and easy).  If anyone has been through this and wants to share tips, please do!!!!

Well, I hope that has been helpful.  If anyone has questions, just let me know and I'm sure I can dig up some more memories of how it actually went.


  1. I will have to save this post for when it's our turn! My sister-in-law used a sleep trainer and it made a WORLD of a difference!!!!

    PS they are so cute!!

  2. So glad you've been able to get your boys on a good sleep schedule and routine. We've done some of the same things with our boy too.
    My comment/suggestion for moving to big boy beds is to not do it too early. So long as they are happy in their cribs, leave them there! My boy was 2yr 3mo-ish when we transitioned into his big boy bed. He was still mostly happy in the bed, but as we have a 2nd one coming, I wanted to get him used to the big boy bed and not feel jealous of the baby "taking" his crib.
    His first night he only laid in the big boy bed 5 min. 2nd and 3rd night he wouldn't touch the big boy bed and from the 4th night onward, we've never looked back at the crib.