Sleep coaching one baby is no easy task. Even the most adaptable babies will take some time to adjust to new routines and ways of sleeping. If you are coaching a more challenging or slower-to-adapt baby, you may be in for an even longer journey, full of ups and downs. When you are sleep training twins, you are coaching two babies, likely with different temperaments, different needs, who play a part in each other’s progress every day. So, rather than double, things can be exponentially more difficult! But, with a little bit of planning and the right strategy, you can help your twins be champion sleepers too.
One of the most important considerations when deciding how to sleep train your twins is to decide whether to coach both babies at once or one at a time. We usually recommend sleep training twins separately, usually one at a time (unless you have help where each of you can take one baby), as this helps each baby progress more quickly in the beginning, which can make it more manageable for already overwhelmed parents, too. Of course, some families may not be able to make this work due to space, for example, and that’s okay. If you’re not able to sleep train your twins one at a time, don’t fret, as you can still make the same progress. It may simply take a bit longer in the beginning. Although it is true that twins tend to get used to each other’s cries, it can take a little longer to see results at the start of the process, as your little ones are likely to wake each other up. Just know it’s part of the process, but consistency will lead to progress.
After you have worked on your twins’ schedule and identified the sleep associations that are creating problems for your twins’ sleep, it is time to start moving away from those, and promoting more independent sleep using your chosen sleep coaching method. If you are able to sleep train your twins separately, it can be very helpful to start with the most adaptable, or with the twin who is the least challenging sleeper. If one of your twins is an easier sleeper or quicker to adapt, getting their progress underway first will help give you the confidence (and sleep yourself) to work with the more challenging twin after, in case it may take a bit longer (and more energy). If you are very lucky, and both of your little ones are adaptable, or if both are challenging sleepers, it is fine to begin with either one.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to have your little ones separated for sleep indefinitely. Once they learn to sleep independently relatively well, keeping only age-appropriate feedings, you can bring them together again. They don’t have to be sleeping perfectly, and it may take a few days to get used to sharing a room again, but with consistency they’ll adjust. Don’t worry about winning the sleep coaching race, and give yourself enough time to go at your own pace. It is not uncommon for the process to take a couple of weeks or longer to reach all your goals. Having an age-appropriate schedule for your twins will help sleep coaching go more smoothly, and prevent your babies from getting overtired, which is a common obstacle. Creating a plan for all caretakers to follow can also be extremely helpful in identifying your short- and long-term goals, as well as keeping everyone on track. If you are not sure where to start, or are too tired to create your own plan, consider getting a professional assessment as well as plan created just for you and your family.
Sleep training twins can be one bumpy ride, and things may not always go as planned. But, if you consider your timing, space, and strategy, and add a healthy dose of consistency, you too can help your little ones develop great sleeping habits for life.
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.