Ah, sleep. That time of the day where you get to blissfully stare at those gorgeous sleeping twins. To wonder what they will grow up to do and how they will change the world.
Every mother is guilty of wasting hours (when you should really be sleeping yourself) just gazing at their babies. But something so natural as sleep can be hard to get right.
New babies will sleep for around 16 hours a day (hopefully), so one of your first decisions should be how and where they are going to spend all that beautiful slumber time.
Be prepared for that painstakingly planned nursery to remain mostly unused for the first few months. You will probably find that you choose not to sleep your twins in there straight away.
There are plenty of considerations when deciding on your duo’s sleeping location from both a safety and a practicality perspective.
Depending on the size and layout of your home you might want the daytime naps to be somewhere handy to where you are i.e. in the lounge or main living area especially for the first month or two while you get accustomed to the settling routines.
For night time sleeps, it is recommended that newborn babies sleep in the same room as their parents for the first six months so you can closely monitor them. Again this provides the added benefit of having them close to hand for feeds and settling, especially if you decide to invest in a co-sleeper.
Together or Apart?
With twins, one of the major decisions you have to make is whether you would like them to share a bed or bassinet, or if you would prefer them each to sleep in their own bed.
Co-bedding your Twins
Co-bedding means babies share the same sleep surface for any sleep period. This is different from bed-sharing (co-sleeping), which means babies share a sleep surface with an adult for most or any sleep period, not just to be comforted or fed.
Many parents opt to co-bed their twins either out of space restrictions, convenience or because they feel that their babies will enjoy having the comfort of their twin close by.
There is plenty of research to suggest that twins who co-bed are more able to regulate both their body temperatures and sleep cycles and they will settle more easily.
There are some safety considerations if you do decide to co-bed your twins.
A hungry baby can mistake their teeny bed partner’s nose for a nipple and latch on, causing suffocation. But as long as you keep them well apart, then it should prevent any unfortunate nose sucking.
There is also a risk that they can become overheated, however, keeping them separated will again help to avoid overcooking your wee babes.
Try placing a rolled-up natural fibre blanket between your twins, this will keep them separate and prevent the dangers of nose sucking, overheating, rolling onto each other, or accidentally hitting each other with their startle reflex if they are not swaddled.
Cots or Cribs
Many twin parents (including myself) choose to sleep their new babies side by side in one cot until they get too big, or get too active to share a bed. I managed to keep my girls in the same cot until they were around 4.5 months old. By that stage, they were getting too long to fit across the cot.
If you plan to sleep babies in a cot then it is essential that you sleep them in a ‘feet to foot’ position. This means that their feet must be close to either the side or end of the cot to prevent them from wriggling themselves down and under sheets or blankets.
If space is not a consideration, then you might choose to sleep your twins in separate beds from the very start. This decision has its benefits, as they do not disturb each other as much, and they learn to settle without relying on their sibling.
Separate beds can be a great solution if you have one good sleeper, and one not so good sleeper. That way, your good sleeper will not be disrupted. Or it can work well if your twins are operating on different sleep schedules in the early months.
Another consideration for some parents is gender. There is no issue with having your boy-girl twins sleep side by side, but some parents choose not to. If you plan to sleep them separately within a short timeframe, then it is probably easier to sleep them separate from the beginning. That way they don’t have to relearn their sleeping situation.
Despite everything, it is important to remember that your twins have just spent the last 9 months living in very close quarters. So, keeping the two cots or bassinets close together will be comforting for your duo. It is also quite handy for you as with both beds within arm’s reach, you can do double back-patting duty with ease.
If your babies are born prematurely then you will have some extra sleep considerations.
You may have to factor in extra monitoring of your babies once you bring them home. This might mean watching over your babies when they sleep or using a movement monitor. This tool is placed under the surface where your baby sleeps and tracks their minuscule movements and breathing. For it to be effective, you must sleep only one baby per bed.
When premature babies are concerned, your best-laid plans might fly out the window! Be prepared to be flexible and potentially make changes to your sleeping plans once your babies are born.
Apart from the safety considerations, there are no rules around sleeping your twins. If you try one method and it doesn’t work, then experiment with a different method.
Nothing is set in concrete. The important thing is that everyone in the family gets the sleep they need, so you need to do what works for your family.