Monday, January 9, 2012

Twin Advice: Sleep

Both of our sets of twins were sleeping 6+ hours a night by 6 weeks and 8+ hours a night by 8 weeks. I'm not sure how much we had to do with accomplishing this - it may have been a miracle or an act of pity and/or self preservation on the part of the babies - but I will tell you some things that I think helped.
I am a huge fan of swaddling in general, and the Kiddopatamus SwaddleMe blanket (Kiddopotamus & Co. Organic Cotton SwaddleMe Small/Med 7-14lb - Ivory) in particular for nighttime swaddling. The SwaddleMe blankets are basically an idiot proof swaddling system which allows you to get a very tight swaddle and then keeps it tight with velcro. When we started using them with our first set of twins, it added 2 hours to the amount of time they slept at night. Life changing! For daytime swaddling, we used regular blankets to allow for a bit more wiggle room. The hospital nurses can teach you their tried and true techniques for doing this. It takes a little while to get the hang of it, but in my experience, it definitely leads to calmer, happier babies.
Let the babies sleep in car seats, bouncy seats, swings - whatever works. 
I figured out that the older girls slept much better propped up, so I put their car seats in their cribs, and they slept in those until they were 4 month old. I felt guilty about this until I talked to our pediatrician (a father of twins) who said that his kids slept in bouncy seats until around the same age. I did the same thing, with similar success, the second time around. In those early months, any extra sleep you can get is much more important than getting them sleeping in their cribs. In my experience, around 4-5 months, they were ready, and the transition was relatively easy.
Keep the babies on a regimented feeding schedule.
We did this with both sets of our twins because the babies were small and slow to gain weight, but I think it may also have had something to do with making them good sleepers. Initially, our pediatrician had us waking the girls up to eat every 3 hours. This was eventually spaced out to every 4 hours, and then, around 6 weeks, he gave us permission to let them sleep as long as they wanted at night, while keeping them on a strict feeding schedule during the day. As soon as we gave them the opportunity, they slept through the night and they never looked back. I think they were thrilled that we finally stopped bothering them and let them sleep!  The first time, I thought it was a fluke, but since the exact same thing happened the second time around, I'm a believer.  If (in some alternate universe) I was to have another set of twins that was gaining weight well, I would not necessarily wake them up at night (I don't think there is any way that I could drag myself out of bed unless I felt it was absolutely necessary), but I would certainly keep them on a regular feeding schedule during the day.

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