Worse than one child not sleeping is two (or more!). You may have finally bitten the bullet and started sleep training your twins only to find out you weren’t “done” in 3 days like the books said you’d be. You may have created a bedtime routine and even fine-tuned their schedule, so why aren’t they sleeping?! Today, I share 5 reasons sleep training may not be working with your twins:
They’re waking at two different times – While not all twins have to be on identical schedules, it can make things more difficult if you are letting one sleep a lot later than the other. The entire day’s schedule may be pushed off-course, making it difficult to put them down for naps around the same time and bedtime might be later for one. This can lead to long crying spells for either baby, depending on if they are not ready for bedtime or maybe the other one who woke earlier is way over-tired. Schedule issues are one of the leading causes of excessive crying during sleep training. Get the schedule in order and we set up your twins for success!
They’re waking each other – Twins can often tune out each other’s crying, but what if you have the type who wake each other up? Not once, but all.the.time! While some twins do tune each other out (preparing for those teen years!), not all babies can and will do so. When their brother or sister is upset, it makes them upset, too. This “empathy” isn’t a bad thing, except when it comes to sleeping! Some twins will adapt and once they are both sleeping better, this won’t matter as much, but if it’s been several weeks and they are still waking one another a lot, you might consider a temporary separation while they learn to sleep better. Once they are sleeping better, you can bring them back together and try it out!
You are treating them the same – Even if they are identical twins, it doesn’t mean they will have the same exact personalities and temperament. All babies are truly unique and, as such, sometimes you need unique strategies for each of them. While gentle sleep coaching may work for one, the other may need a less hands-on approach or vice versa. Some sensitive babies don’t respond well to cry-it-out type sleep training and need a more hands-on, and gentle, approach. You may need to consider tweaking your method to see better results.
Bad Timing – Although I encourage parents to be proactive about establishing healthy sleep habits at any age and at any time, there are times we need to keep our expectations realistic. Newborns often have a harder time being a consistent, good sleeper ALL the time. Likewise, our babies go through many developmental leaps and sleep regressions within their first couple of years of life. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue working on sleep training, but we may not have “perfect” sleep just the same.
It’s too hard – Sleep training is easy for some and hard for many of us. When it’s “too hard” we often lack consistency, which sends mixed messages to our children and leads to inconsistent results. While some babies are sleep trained in 20 minutes, others take over an hour. Follow-through is important as well as consistency. We need to stay consistent for enough hours, days, and weeks in a row to make lasting changes. Consider when you are establishing a new habit such as exercising more regularly or eating healthy. It takes far more than a day or two to make that stick and you will have good days and bad days. Be consistent for your babies, because you can set them up for success and have long-lasting progress.
If sleep training your twins has proven difficult, if not impossible, know you are not alone! Some babies find sleep easy while others have to work hard at it, but your work will pay off in the long run. Keep up the good work you’re doing and sleep will come for you and your family.
Nicole Johnson is a married mother of two wonderful boys and owner of The Baby Sleep Site. When her eldest son was born, he had a lot of sleep problems – he would wake every one or two hours, all night long! She got busy and thoroughly researched literature and scientific reports until she became an expert in sleep methods, scheduling routines, baby developmental needs, and more. She overcame her son’s sleeping issues in a way that matched her own parenting style, and knew it was her mission to help other tired parents “find their child’s sleep”. If you have your own sleep issues, Nicole and her team at The Baby Sleep Site® can help! Download the popular free guide, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night, to get started today.