Twins sleep arrangements
A big question parents try to resolve before the arrival of their twins or multiples is where they will sleep. It is widely acknowledged that co-sleeping with twins (in the same room) until they are 6 months old is the safest. Please refer to the Tamba safety instructions here https://www.tamba.org.uk/document.doc?id=625. If co-sleeping is not possible or practical try and make environment as safe as possible for them.
Twins can sleep in the same cot/crib or cot bed until they are around 3 months old or move too much. A cot or crib can usually be used up to age 2, a cot bed until age 5. You can also opt for a moses basket (one per baby) for day time sleeping. This allows you to carry the twins around with you from room to room. Our twin girls were born prematurely at 32 weeks so I wanted them with me at all times. We decided to go straight from moses basket to cot bed and at age 5 are still using the same cot beds.
Swaddling your babies until they start to move around too much is a good way to calm them down and induce sleep. Large muslin blankets are fantastic for this or indeed swaddle pods. See here for options:
How much do twins sleep?
When babies first come home they will spend most of their day asleep and wake up for feeding only. They will stay awake briefly and go back to sleep. On average they will sleep 14-17h when newborn.
Below is the age appropriate sleeping durations recommended by the National Sleep Foundation:
0-3 months: 15-17h
4-11 months: 12-15h
1-2 years: 11-14h
3-5 years: 10-14h
Click here for more details on the National Sleep Foundation advice:
When to introduce a sleeping routine?
By 6-12 weeks old your babies will start to establish a more predictable and recognisable sleep pattern. At this point it is useful to introduce a bedtime routine that they will get used to and get them used to the idea of sleeping. There is no right or wrong in what you do as long as you stick to the same routine that your babies will recognise. The go to sleep routine should start an hour before the lights go out and should involve lots of cuddles and parent bonding. We started to introduce a nightly bath and lullaby (which then became story time).
When will the babies sleep through the night?
This of course is the question everyone always asks…and the answer will vary hugely from family to family and from baby to baby. Firstly, let’s establish what that actually means. Sleeping through the night at baby stage means a good 6-8 hour stretch (not 12 hours). A baby’s tummy is far too small to easily sustain a 12 hour stretch without feeding. The generally accepted minimum weight a baby needs to reach before ‘sleeping through the night’ should even be contemplated is 12 lbs or 5.5-6kg. Until then they simply aren’t big enough. Since twins are often born smaller or indeed early, this weight can take much longer to reach than with a singleton baby (girls and boys also vary greatly since boys do tend to eat more).
Babies who suffer from reflux will also struggle to go through the night early on because they tend to require smaller and more frequent feeds in order to be comfortable. We found that dream feeding our girls around 11pm enabled them to sleep a longer stretch until 5 or 5.30am despite their severe reflux. Dream feeding does not work for everyone and I would not recommend it to everyone but when it works it is very helpful! Here is some more information on dream feeds:
At newborn stage your twins will wake up to feed every 3-4h and not follow a predictable sleep pattern. By 6-8 weeks old, they will start to stay awake for longer stretches and require 3-4 naps a day (sometime more). Here are some general tips on number of naps although every child is different and you will need to watch your babies and children for cues on tiredness to establish the right nap schedule. With twins, I found that having a set routine and schedule was what allowed me to stay sane. At 3 months I started the sleep training and rigorously stuck with it (both on the same schedule) until they dropped their napping (rather too early!) at 2.5 years old. It did mean giving up on some classes and meet ups that did not match our schedule but it was a price worth paying. My twin girls went to sleep very easily at the same times every day. It allowed me some time ‘off’ for recuperation and other household chores. That being said scheduling is not everyone’s cup of tea so you should do what you feel comfortable with.
Newborn-8 weeks: awake every 3-4h to feed (awake time 1-2h)
8-12 weeks: 4 naps a day or more
4-6 months: 3-4 naps a day
6-9 months: 2-3 naps a day
9-18 months: 2 naps a day
18 months – 2-4 years: 1 nap a day