How to get twins on a schedule.
One of the biggest questions I get as a twin parent is ‘How do I get my twins on a schedule?’ Every twin mom hears all about the importance of having a schedule when expecting twins, but they are rarely told how to actually make it happen.
It can be overwhelming to try to figure out how to get two tiny newborn twins eating and sleeping at the same time. After all, just because they shared a womb doesn’t mean they will share eating or sleeping preferences.
So in order to make things easier, you just go one step at a time. Here is the breakdown of how I got Ali and Sammy on a schedule.
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When To Get Twins on a Schedule
When is the best time to start getting twins on a schedule? You can start as soon as you feel ready, and the sooner the better. Remember you can go one step at a time, so start with step one and keep adding to your routine. Raising twins is a marathon, not a sprint.
How To Get Twins on a Schedule
A lot of the ideas I used in our twin schedule building come from the Babywise book. I chose to use this method because it went along with my parenting instincts. It felt right and gave me names for the ideas I had while giving me even more tips and information.
There are a few things that we tweaked to work better for us, and a couple things I prioritized on my own. But the benefit of a Babywise schedule is that it gives you flexibility. Because of this, I took the knowledge and terms from the book and made it my own. Here is how I made my schedule.
(If you want to follow a more traditional Babywise schedule try this—> How to start a Babywise schedule)
Step 1: Set Your Daily Wake Time
Want to know how to get twins on a feeding schedule? Make the first feed of the day be at the same time every day. If your twins start the day at the same time every day, there is a better chance the rest of the day will naturally fall into place. So set a daily wake time for your twins.
This wake time is the first feeding of the day. Every wake up during the night before that point is considered a night feeding. The daily wake time kicks off your breastfeeding twins schedule. It is when you start your eat, play, sleep cycle.
Learn more about the daily wake time and how to implement it here—> scheduling feedings does not diminish your milk supply
This is also the start of the eat, wake, sleep cycle. (Learn more about this—> Babywise eat, wake, sleep cycle)
Step 2: Wake To Feed
The most important thing is to feed those twins! (And no, scheduling feedings does not diminish your milk supply.) If your twins were in the NICU, they are most likely already on a 3-hour schedule. That means every three hours you are waking your twins to feed them.
I started with a 2.5-hour schedule with Ali and Sammy. This meant that yep, during the day I woke them up every 2.5 hours to feed them. Sometimes every two hours.
Scheduling out your feedings close together lets you stay ahead of the hunger. It helped me feel more in control in a chaotic time by knowing when my twins would need to eat and when we could get out of the house. (If you need help breastfeeding your twins click here—> Breastfeeding Twins)
Believe it or not, waking your babies to eat during the day will also help them sleep longer at night. So wake up those sleeping babies. They need to get the calories, so get them in during waking hours as much as possible.
Step 3: Bedtime Routine
It is never too early to start a solid bedtime routine for twins. A good routine will signal to your babies that it is time to sleep and help ease them into nap and nighttime sleep.
The routines do not need to be complicated. Simple is perfect. A good swaddle, some white noise, and any other sleep tools you find useful. (Learn the core parts of a bedtime routine —> 4 Core Bedtime Routine Parts for Success)
Learn more about waking your twins and bedtime routines—> How Waking Your Twins and Putting Them to Sleep Builds a Twin Schedule
Step 4: Focus on Your Anchor Naps
Newborn babies take a lot of naps. That is a lot of chances to get stressed out if your twins don’t sleep well. Add to that the fact that we couldn’t just stay home all day. Ben had things to do, I had to get out to feel normal. Every nap could not have the expectation of perfection.
So I decided to focus on the naps that would stick around the longest, what I call the anchor naps. This is the main afternoon nap and the first morning nap of the day.
I poured all our nap efforts into those two naps. I used a combination of the clock and eat, play, sleep cycle to line Ali and Sammy’s afternoon nap up with Ben’s. These anchor naps happened properly.
I want to note that in order to get my twin’s afternoon nap and sleeping schedule lined up with big brother’s, we had to adjust the feeding times a bit. When this is needed, fed earlier rather than later. (Feedings come first!) It didn’t hurt my girls to break the eat, wake, sleep cycle and eat before nap.
All the other naps? We did the best we could. Sometimes they happened on the go, sometimes they were just short. I refused to stress about them.
Learn more about these anchor naps—> How Waking Your Twins and Putting Them to Sleep Builds a Twin Schedule
Step 5: Work On Nighttime Sleep Training
First of all, sleep training does not mean cry it out. It is teaching our babies good sleep hygiene. We did not use cry it out with our twins. But I did need to figure out how to get twins on a sleep schedule.
(Learn how to sleep train without crying—> Click here)
Getting the daytime schedule into place really helps the night sleep fall into place naturally. For the first few weeks, I woke my twins up every 3 hours to eat at night. Once they were over their birth weight I let them sleep as long as they wanted.
I used a dream feed to help maximize my sleep. I highly recommend this. Click here to learn how to do a dream feed with twins.
We utilized pacifiers to great success to help with nighttime sleep. I would do as little as possible when my girls woke at night. I wanted to encourage them to get back to sleep on their own. The shush pat was a favorite method to help them fall back asleep.
(If you want to learn more about how babywise helps sleep check this out —> Babywise Sleep: Helping Babies Sleep Better)
You Will Find Your Schedule
This can still sound like a lot of work. But don’t worry. You will find your schedule. Honestly, the last thing you want is twins on different schedules. Days run much more smoothly when your babies eat and sleep at the same time.
This isn’t a crazy idea. I eat the main three meals at the same time as my kids and husband. I sleep at night at the same time as my family. Babies just need to eat and sleep more.
Any and all work put into creating a schedule is so worth it!! I have twins plus one. They all have the same daily wake time and close to the same bedtime. (Ben, of course, gets to stay up a bit later.) They all have nap or rest time at the same time. It’s wonderful.
A schedule gets needs met. You got this, Mama.
Here is more to help you out with your twins: