How to survive the 4 month sleep regression with twins.
There are a few things about babies that are just mean.
How they just smell so darn good and make you want to snuggle them and have a million more even though you know you are done having kids.
They smile and coo at you after spitting up all over, making your heart melt despite making you smell of baby puke all day.
They lull you into thinking they are going to sleep longer once you are out of the fourth trimester and BAM! The 4 month sleep regression hits.
And, as is twin life, you have two babies doing this to you. Don’t worry, you will survive the 4 month sleep regression with twins. Here is your survival guide.
What's In This Post?
- 4 Month Sleep Regression with Twins
- How To Survive the 4 Month Sleep Regression with Twins
- What Not To Do During the 4 Month Sleep Regression
- You Will Survive the 4 Month Sleep Regression with Twins
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4 Month Sleep Regression with Twins
In order to get past this challenging time, we need to understand what is happening.
What Is the 4 Month Sleep Regression?
The 4 month sleep regression is pretty self-explanatory. At about 4 months old, lots of babies hit a time where their sleep regresses. They start waking up during the night more, having short naps, and having a hard time falling asleep at night.
In other words, you stop sleeping again and it stinks.
(Get more twin sleep tips: Twin Sleep for the First Few Years)
Why Does the 4 Month Sleep Regression Happen?
This regression isn’t our fault. It’s actually a biological thing. Your twins are shifting from a new baby sleep cycle to a more adult sleep cycle.
We all go through cycles when we sleep of REM sleep, light sleep, and deep sleep. As we go through these stages we actually lightly wake up through out the night. As adults we know how to put ourselves back to sleep so we don’t really notice them.
Babies notice them more. These cycles are changing at the same time that your newborn twins are becoming more aware of the world around them.
This means your twins are waking up more, realizing they are awake, and chances are they are not liking it. That gets you the sleep regression.
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How To Survive the 4 Month Sleep Regression with Twins
So we know why these wake ups are happening. But that doesn’t really help anyone when you are exhausted at 3 am with two crying babies.
What can we do about this regression?
What needs to happen is you need to be teaching your babies how to put themselves back to sleep when they wake up. Since you can’t just sit down and tell your babies to go back to sleep (trust me, I’ve tried), here is what to do.
(Get tips on how to handle when both your babies cry and you are alone by clicking here.)
Focus on Full Feedings During the Day
Wait, we’re working on a sleep issue and we’re going to solve it by food? Kind of. If your twins are not eating enough and not eating consistently during the day, they are going to wake up more often to eat at night. That does not help anyone get more sleep.
By maintaining a solid feeding schedule you are making sure this basic need is met and eliminating a need for a middle of the night wake up. Think about it, if your babies are already having a tough time staying asleep, why do you want them waking up more to eat? You don’t!
Feeding is also something you can control as a parent. Sleep isn’t. So just knowing that you have a say in what happens will make you feel more in control and help with the stress of parenting twins through bad sleep.
Aim For Sleepy But Awake
Ah, that sweet spot of putting your twins to bed sleepy but awake. It can be hard, but it matters.
Since your twins are more and more aware of their surroundings, they are aware if they are different when they wake up then when they fell asleep. So if they fell asleep in our arms and wake up in the crib? They are going to notice.
Some babies might not care, but some will. It is important to do your best on this.
With twins, it can be hard to line up sleepy cues, but keep an eye out for them. And if you notice your twins have fallen asleep and you need to move them to their beds still, don’t be super smooth with the transition. Even a slight wake up to notice they have moved can be enough.
More Twin Sleep Tips
Practice Skills During the Day
Sometimes your twins won’t fall asleep well because they are learning new skills. Rolling, pushing up, etc, are new and exciting to little ones! (Then standing and walking for toddlers.)
And why sleep when you can work on your new tricks?
The way to combat this is to offer up plenty of practice time during the day. If they are getting these skills down during wake times, it lessens the need to practice when they are supposed to be sleeping.
Have a Consistent Bedtime Routine
It is super important to let your twins know it is time for sleep. A consistent bedtime routine is the key to this.
I don’t think bedtime routines need to be anything big and exciting. You don’t need baths, lots of books, or anything elaborate. (This is extra good because having twins makes bedtimes elaborate enough.) You need a good sleep environment and a few simple cues that let your babies know it is time to rest.
Make a quick and simple routine you can always do, and then do it. (Learn how to do that here: The 4 Core Parts of a Solid Bedtime Routine.) Every night at bedtime, and at your anchor naps Do the routine.
Cut Bad Habits
If you have any bad habits with your twins’ sleep, now is the time to cut them out. I feel like it can be harder to develop too many bad habits with twins. It is hard to physically rock two babies to sleep at the same time, for example. Other habits could exist though.
If you rock your twins to sleep, nurse or bottle-feed to sleep, always using a swing or bouncer for sleep, STOP. Yes, it is hard. And I totally understand why these habits develop. I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty for doing what they need to do to get enough sleep to function.
But it is time for the tough love, which is knock it off. You are only making your life harder in the long term if you provide these sleep crutches for your twins. Choose your sleep tools carefully, they can really help. Then get rid of the bad. (Learn which tools work best for twins: The Best Sleep Tools for Twins.)
Utilize the Pause
The pause is one of my very favorite parenting tools. It is so simple, but it is amazing how easy it is to forget to use it.
When your twins start fussing and you go to check on them, pause and assess the situation.
Is your baby just making sounds and not really waking up all the way? Then you don’t want to run in and wake them up completely. Does it seem like your twins are awake, but calm and not freaking out? Give them a chance to go back to sleep on their own.
We all want to run in and save the day for our children, but taking the time to let them try to get back to sleep on their own will help.
Use Minimal Interactions When Your Twins Do Wake
Time to be a sleep ninja. When your twins wake up, you want to do as little as possible to soothe them and get them back to sleep.
You can replace the pacifier, use the shush pat method, make sure your twins aren’t uncomfortable/in pain, or rest a hand on their belly for reassurance.
You should try to avoid turning on lights, talking too loudly, and making eye contact. And as mean as it sounds, picking up your twins should be a last resort! Your goal is to have your twins asleep in their own sleep space, so keep them there.
Use all your sleep training techniques here. Sleep training is about teaching, and you are trying to teach your babies through this regression. (Learn how to sleep train without cry it out: No Cry Sleep Training.)
(Yes, you can help your twins sleep when they share a room. Here is how! How To Sleep Train Twins in the Same Room)
Give It Time
This is the most annoying piece of advice, but give your twins time to get through the regression.
The 4 month sleep regression lasts for 2-4 weeks. That feels like forever when you are in it, but realistically it isn’t that long. So give your twins some time.
I found that 4 months was the hardest time for both my twins and my singletons. I’m not telling you that to be a downer, but to remind you that the end will come. You won’t be in this sleep regression forever.
Just for Twin Moms
What Not To Do During the 4 Month Sleep Regression
So that was a list of everything you can do to make this obnoxious regression work better. But should you make sure not to do?
Don’t Just Straight to Feeding at Wake Ups
Before I get into this, do not misunderstand me. If you think your twins are hungry, feed them! Always always always feed if your twins are hungry.
But I would take the time to assess the situation and make sure your twins are actually hungry before you feed them. The last thing you want to do is add in night feedings that you don’t actually need and create a need for the bottle or breast to fall asleep.
It can be really tough to take the time and check if something else is wrong in the middle of the night when you know a snack will get your twins back to sleep, but keep your long term goals in mind. Sleeping through the night. It is worth it to put in the tough work now for long term solutions.
Don’t Start Habits You Are Unwilling to Keep
I get it, you just want to sleep. You need to sleep. So you do what you have to do to get your twins back to sleep. You rock them, use a swing all night, co-sleep, whatever it is.
I’m not here to tell you not to do those things, that is up to you. But do you want to keep doing those things for months to come?
At 4 months your twins are just becoming more and more aware, and if you start a bedtime sleep prop they might want to keep it for a while.
Only you can decide what tools and habits you are comfortable with. Just take the time to think it through before you start something you don’t want to keep up.
As I said, this is a phase. It is a normal phase. Sleep regressions and issues happen throughout childhood, but this is that first big one. And it is so annoying if your twins go from sleeping to not. (Or sleeping poorly to worse.)
Remember that you will get through it. A little effort now will have huge payoffs. Because what you are doing now is not just teaching your babies to sleep, it is teaching you how to help them sleep. And those skills will help you for the whole time you are a parent.
You Will Survive the 4 Month Sleep Regression with Twins
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