Are you trying to establish a predictable routine for your twins? Up to now, you may have only focused on tips and tricks for sleeping and feeding. And this makes complete sense for the newborn stage because Melatonin—the drowsy hormone—is at its most potent for the first 2 weeks of life (making it a perfect time for those adorable sleepy newborn photos). If your twins are premature, that dreamy newborn stage can last longer than average.
Moving past the newborn stage, your developing babies will gradually increase periods of wakefulness. Around 6 weeks old, your chubby cherubs will finally make eye contact with you and flash you a genuine smile—not related to gas. Creating a routine that encourages wakefulness during the daytime and during feeds will ultimately help you establish consolidated feeds, regular naps and consistent night sleep.
Working with a feeding and sleeping schedule, you can incrementally encourage longer periods of wakefulness by providing an age-appropriate amount of stimulation. A good rule of thumb for the 1-4 month age range is a wakeful span of 1.5-2 hours between periods of rest. Wakeful periods include feeds, so your job begins with keeping your twins awake at the breast and/or bottle. Though it might seem hard to establish your sleep/wake routine, if you focus on increasing wakefulness by small increments (think 5 minute increases every other day), you will get in your groove. Day by day, you are “studying” your babies and becoming parenting experts on your twins. Through periods of wakefulness, you are discovering who they are! Here are four fantastic tips for keeping your dynamic duo awake for milk and momma snuggle time.
If you were gifted a bunch of adorable tiny outfits or you were lured into buying coordinating twin clothing during your pregnancy nesting phase, chances are postpartum you discovered that none of it is useful. Once ten diaper changes a day and constant spit-up sets in, that adorable sailor outfit with twenty oddly placed buttons may no longer seem so practical. However, think of the dressing experience as a chance to stimulate your babies. Perhaps mid-feed your twins become drowsy, give them a good burp, strip them down to their diaper and resume the feed. Chances are the newfound alertness will encourage continued feeding. Then after the feed—when that drunken, sleepy milk feeling begins to set in—dress your babies in that adorable ensemble to encourage just a few additional minutes of wakefulness! Go forth and have a fashion frenzy! In the process, take some fun photos of those sweet babies rocking their rompers.
Circuit training for adults has been popularized by such programs as Ninja Warrior and Crossfit. The variety these programs offer is what makes them so interesting, when compared to a 30-minute run on a treadmill like a hamster. With the challenge of keeping not one, but two babies awake at the same time, having a plan that involves a variety of short-interval activities can be to your advantage. Set up a few baby stations and make a game of it. Let each baby spend only a few minutes doing the bouncy seat, play mat, tummy time, swing, or whatever “little gym” equipment you have on hand. Plus, if you work babywearing into your “circuit,” you will get individual snuggle and bonding time with each baby. Score!
Young or old, who doesn’t like a little spa time? While most adults view bath time as a welcome break from the stressors of the day, for babies water can encourage alertness. For twins that are just starting to engage with the world around them, the novelty of water can be just the thing to keep them wakeful and exploring. Our favorite time for a regular daily bath is during the witching hours sandwiched in between two feeds. As an example, if your babies are melting down around 4:45pm, give them a feed followed by a bath, and then a second feed around 6:15pm once dressed. Chances are they will have worked up a good appetite to take the extra feed and will be eager for their night snooze.
For those flying solo for bath time, make sure you have all the things you need laid out and accessible to your reach so that you can keep everyone safe. If getting twins in the tub seems too tricky, consider babywearing one while bathing the other (and then switch) or opt for a warm tandem cloth sponge bath on a bath mat. After you’ve cleaned those chub rolls and find you need more wakeful tricks, finish off their spa time with a little brushing of the hair and a baby massage with your favorite lotion. They’ll be on cloud nine!
William Wordsworth once said, “Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” What better way to encourage alertness than to exposure your dynamic duo to natural light and spend time exploring the outdoors. Studies have found that exposure to sunshine in the afternoon can have a positive impact on night sleep. Grab a blanket and enjoy the shade under a tree in your backyard or consider Babywearing your twins while you stroll around the neighborhood. In those exhausting early days of twin parenting, the outdoors may refresh both you and your twins and help keep you going when you are overtired and overstretched. Nature can replenish the soul.