Creating Healthy Sleep Habits with Twins and Multiples – Part Two
Part Two of a Two Part Series
Getting adequate sleep with a newborn in the house (and helping the baby sleep) is a challenge for any parent, but if you are the mother or father of more than one baby, this can be especially difficult to achieve. Additionally, I tip my hat to you! I know first hand just how tricky it can be to have routine or rest in a houseful of babies the same age.
Yes, you CAN get them resting well, and get some sleep yourself, I promise. It is not easy, but it is so very worth it!
Here is the second half of my top ten tips column, so everyone in a home of multiple babies or toddlers, can get some rest!
Six: Accept support!
And don’t be afraid to ask for it! Whether it be the other parent, a sitter, a friend, your siblings, your inlaws, your parents, etc., you must be comfortable with reaching out. A worn-out, stressed, anxious, and/or upset parent, is easily sensed by babies and can make them feel anxious as well. Having support in the early months, or later when making changes, is crucial to your own emotional well-being, as well as theirs. Not to mention your sanity. If you are hoping to get them eating and sleeping at the same-ish time, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of a second set of hands as much as you need or want to.
Seven: Age appropriate amounts of awake times, to avoid them becoming overtired.
This is absolutely key as a tired or overwhelmed baby is never easy to put to sleep and they will usually sleep restlessly.
Eight: A routine bedtime and a bedtime routine
Choose an age appropriate and very consistent bedtime. The best time to put your baby to bed is sometime between 7 and 8 pm. This ensures that your child will be able to get a solid 11-12 hours in bed during the night, with wakings to eat of course, if they are infants. This time can fluctuate slightly based on the length and timing of the last nap, but should fall within 10 or 20 minutes of their bedtime.
It never too soon to start a routine. For newborns, this can be as simple as going into their room and changing them, putting on the swaddle/sleep sack, singing and soothing for a minute, and then laying them down, soothing them with some gentle touch and your voice.
For older babies, the routine can be longer, between 15 and 30 minutes. I find that children can easily become agitated if the routine is too long so unless it includes a bath every night, you may want to keep it closer to ten or 15 minutes. If you do not bathe them every day, bath should not be part of the bedtime routine, because it would not be the same each night. Instead, move bath time to after morning nap, or something similar. If you do bathe the babies every night, then by all means, have it as part of the bedtime routine.
Nine: The sleep environment
In part one of this topic, I discussed the importance of putting them to sleep in the same place every night. You also want to make some considerations about that environment and safety. The best and safest sleep practices include ensuring:
That the babies are not too hot. My rule of thumb is something similar to whatever they were comfortable wearing before bed, plus one layer such as a swaddle or sleep sack.
That they never have loose bedding or blankets in their sleeping environments. The sheets under them should be tight fitting and the swaddle should be tight. Companies such as Halo, make sleep sacks with a swaddle built in, so babies cannot possibly wiggle the swaddle over their faces.
That they are put to sleep on their backs.
Co-sleeping is a family choice, but I always caution against it. Breathing near a baby’s face, changes their breathing. Co-sleeping and over-heating is also thought to be a contributing factor in some cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and SIDS is more prevalent in premature babies.
If you have the babies in one crib/bassinet (and they don’t yet roll) it is okay to have them in the same bed. Later, f they are waking each other up or are rolling/bumping into each other, it would be best to move them to their own cots. Many parents choose to have the cots side by side at first, so the baby knows their other sibling is still right there.
Please avoid bumper pads. They are unnecessary and dangerous.
Ten: Keep a detailed log.
Some parents use an app to keep track of feeds, naps, and everything in between which is fine if you have your phone or computer handy. I prefer a notebook because I can jot down whatever I want, when I need to, without logging into anything or being limited by the apps options. Logging things will allow you to see patterns emerge and assist you in knowing where you may want to make changes!
There you have it… the rest of my ten favourite tips to having well rested multiples. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that every child is a little different – there’s no “magic formula” that will work 100% of the time for every baby!