What’s more difficult than having a baby who wakes all night, takes short naps, or will only sleep being held? Having two babies who do that, of course! Double the sleep deprivation is downright torture. Forget having downtime to read a book or watch a little TV. How does one take a shower or brush your teeth when two babies demand almost every minute of your time? If your twins are past the newborn stage and still waking very frequently at night or taking short naps (or worse, skipping naps), then it may be time to sleep train. But, when is a good time to start sleep training twins? I am happy to share some pros and cons about sleep training twins at various ages. Before I do that, in my experience, quite a few twins are born prematurely. If your twins were born 4 or more weeks early, use their adjusted age to set your expectations about their sleep. And, without further ado, here are tips for sleep training your twins!
The primary goal with newborns is to bond, bond, bond! I highly recommend you wait and avoid any sleep training when your baby is 8 weeks or younger. Focus on getting to know your twins’ unique personalities, establishing a good feeding relationship, learn their sleep cues, and help them adjust to the outside world.
In general, it can be difficult to sleep train newborns and if you do, I highly recommend using gentler sleep coaching techniques and ease them into it, particularly if they are sensitive or having an extra difficult transition to the outside world. At 8 weeks old, we still expect nighttime feedings, especially if you are breastfeeding, so your goal in the early days is to help your twins learn to lay flat and be put down semi-awake to get themselves off to sleep. We aren’t expecting too much “sleeping through the night” just yet, but we can lay foundation and set the stage for good sleep habits moving forward.
Some babies who are 4 to 6 months old will start waking very frequently at night, even if they slept well as newborns. The 4-month sleep regression can wreak havoc on your twins’ sleep routines! This is a good time to begin sleep training your babies, usually before they are sitting up or crawling, which can make sleep training that much more difficult. Again, we may not have babies sleeping all night (as in 11-12+ hours straight through), but most babies are able to do at least one 5-hour stretch and eat just 2-3 times a night. Sleep may not become perfect at this age, but it can be much better than super short naps or waking every 1-2 hours all night!
If you haven’t started sleep training yet, you may be very motivated at this age. If your babies are going through the 8 to 10 month sleep regression, your sleep might even be more disrupted than when they were newborns! Although a difficult age to start sleep training, you may not be able to afford NOT to. If it’s tolerable, though, you may want to wait just a bit until you’re past the learning to pull up, stand up, “I can cruise!” stage.
If you have twins who are 11 months or older, you may be wondering if it’s too late to sleep train. Have no fear! It’s never too late to establish healthy sleep habits and change expectations. Almost any age after 11 months is a great age to sleep train and you typically don’t worry nearly as much whether your baby is hungry at night. So, be proactive and get going!
Hopefully these tips will help you have confidence to sleep train your twins almost at any age, when you feel they are ready and YOU are ready to commit. There is no “right” answer, but only the “right” time for you and your babies. After all, you know them best!
Need more sleep tips for your twins? Check this out!
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.