Your guide to night weaning twins.
We all know that when we have babies we are going to lose sleep. Babies need to eat every 2 to 3 hours, even at night. And with twins, well, we’re going to be tired.
But a few weeks of sleepless nights can leave us wondering desperately when we will sleep through the night again. A big part of getting that sleep is helping your twins wean off of nighttime feedings. No one can sleep if they are up eating, right?
But how do you end these feeds? How do you know your twins are ready? When can you even think about not feeding at night?
That’s what this post is all about. We will answer all of those questions and give simple steps to end nighttime feedings sessions. Here is everything you need to know about night weaning twins.
What's In This Post?
- Night Weaning Twins
- How To Night Wean Twins
- How To Drop Night Feedings Cold Turkey
- How To Gradually Wean Night Feedings
- Key Times To Not Wean
- Final Points To Remember
- Your Twins Will Learn To Go All Night Without Food
Night Weaning Twins
Are Your Twins Ready
Before you try anything to end nighttime feedings you need to determine if your twins are even ready to not eat at night, or at least go longer between feeding sessions.
The number one thing to do is check with your doctor. Is it healthy and safe to stretch out nighttime feedings? Usually, if your twins are back over their birth weight and steadily gaining weight you no longer need to wake them up to eat at night.
Once you don’t have to wake up your twins to feed them at night, you might notice they are naturally going longer between feedings. This is a pretty good sign they are ready to cut some night feeds as well.
Are You Ready?
Yes, you need to make sure you are ready for this too. While I think every mom wants more sleep, you need to be consistent in order to successfully drop nighttime feeding sessions. This means it might be a period where things get harder before they get easier.
It can be much easier to just feed your twins in the middle of the night as opposed to taking the time to soothe them in other ways. So make sure you are ready to be consistent and see this process through.
(And it is totally fine if you aren’t! There is more than one right parenting style.)
How To Night Wean Twins
There are two main ways to go about night weaning your twins. Cold turkey or gradually. Here is what you need to know about both.
Determine Why Your Twins are Waking Up
The first thing you need to figure out is if your twins are waking up to eat out of hunger, habit, or for another reason. This is very important.
Waking Out of Hunger
If your twins are waking up out of hunger then they are not ready to drop nighttime feedings. Wait a few more weeks and reassess.
You can try to add an additional feeding or two during the day to make sure your twins are getting enough to eat so they don’t need to make up calories at night. You can also try to add in a dream feed.
A dream feed is when you feed your babies one more time before you go to sleep yourself. Top off the tank if you will. This will allow you to line up your twins’ long chunk of sleep with your own sleep. So even if they aren’t ready to sleep through the night, you can maximize your own rest.
Learn how to do a dream feed with twins by clicking here: Dream Feed with Twins
Waking Out of Habit
Are your twins just waking out of habit? This is usually pretty clear when your twins wake up at the same time every night, regardless of the time you last fed them.
So if you feed your twins for the last time at 9:30 and they wake up at 2 am, or you feed them at 10:30 and they still wake up at 2 am, you might have twins waking out of habit. The best way to know for sure is to take notes for a few weeks and write down the times each baby wakes up.
If you find your twins are waking from habit you are ready to try to wean off of night feedings.
Waking for Another Reason
Obviously hunger or habit aren’t the only two reasons babies wake up at night. So consider if there is a different reason.
Are there any environmental reasons your twins wake up at night? A dog barking at the same time? Diaper too full? Temperature of the room not right?
Take a look at all of these things. Size up diapers if need be or make tweaks to your twins’ sleep environment. You might find the waking problem has nothing to do with feedings.
This is another time when it pays to take some notes and really observe what is happening when your twins wake. It is also why you need to make sure you are ready to wean off of nighttime feedings. It can be tough to wake up enough and take the time to really figure out why your twins are waking up.
(Learn how to set up a safe nursery for your twins: Practical and Safe Sleeping Arrangements)
How To Tame the Twin Chaos
How To Drop Night Feedings Cold Turkey
Stopping night feedings cold turkey can be the best solution if you think your twins are waking out of habit or if you have discovered an alternate reason for the wakings. Here is how to do it.
Just Stop Feeding
The simplest, in terms of the number of steps involved at least, way to stop nighttime feedings is just to stop feeding your twins at night.
Before we get too into this, hear me out. If you think your twins are hungry, feed them. No questions asked. I am not suggesting you do not feed hungry babies. (I feel like this is obvious, but I don’t want anyone thinking you shouldn’t feed a hungry baby.)
But if you think your twins are waking out of habit and not hunger, it is worthwhile to consider this option.
Soothe Your Twins in Other Ways First
As I said, this way is pretty simple in terms of explanation. When your twins wake up, don’t feed them.
Instead, go first to your other soothing techniques. These are the things you would do to calm your twins before nap time or to go to sleep at bedtime. As it is the middle of the night, I think it is okay to go to the sure thing get your twins back to sleep first (except feeding of course.)
Your goal is to have your twins eventually sleep through the night. Being able to fall back asleep when you wake up is an important part of this. So by working on self-soothing skills you are also helping your twins practice valuable life skills.
Here are some soothing techniques you can try:
Offer a Pacifier
The pacifier can be the perfect solution to twin night wakings. I found it to be super useful because I could pop it in before my twins woke up fully and became hysterical. They learned how to connect sleep cycles without me having to be awake for a long time at night.
Not everyone likes pacifiers, but you can learn more about the pros and cons here: The Truth About Pacifiers.
Use the Shush-Pat Method
Shush-Pat is when you make a soft shushing sound while gently patting your twins on the belly. This is calming and takes their minds off of why they are crying.
The bonus to this method is you can do it to both twins at the same time. You don’t have to actually pick up your twins for this method. Yes, that sounds mean. But picking up your babies can potentially wake them up more, so doing what you can to keep them in bed will help.
Utilize White Noise
A good sound machine can help your twins recognize that it is time to be asleep and stay asleep. In time just the sound alone can help trigger sleep for your twins.
(Get the best sleep tools for twin here: Must Have Sleep Tools for Twin)
Try the Pick Up Put Down Method
You want to try to avoid picking your twins up in the middle of the night. But we all know how hard that is for moms. And if just one twin is crying you don’t want the other to wake up.
A quick pick up to settle your twins can work. This should be the last thing to try (besides feeding), and make the cuddle as fast as possible. As harsh as that sounds, keep your goal in mind: Sleep.
How To Gradually Wean Night Feedings
Cold turkey doesn’t work for everyone. And your twins might not be thrilled to suddenly not get their middle of the night snack. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be working towards eliminating nighttime feedings.
Examine Day Time Feedings
Are you feeding your twins enough during the day? I know, it probably feels like all you do is feed your twins, but take a look at how many times they are eating during daytime hours. If your twins aren’t eating enough during the day, they will have to make it up at night.
Add in a Day Feeding
In order to remove a feeding at night, you might need to add an extra one to the day. Take a look at your daytime schedule and see if you can fit in an extra feeding.
(Get sample schedules for your twins to help you out: Twin Schedules)
Add in a Dream Feed
I am a big fan of the dream feed. Adding in an extra feeding before you go to bed can at least maximize the amount of sleep you are able to get, even if your twins still wake to eat at night.
Slowly Decrease the Amount You Feed
If you are confident you are feeding your twins enough during the day and that they are ready to eliminate night feedings, but you aren’t feeling the cold turkey method, you can gradually cut down on feedings.
Weaning From Bottle Feedings
Weaning can actually be easier if you are bottle feeding. Start cutting the nighttime feeds by an ounce. Hold it at that level for a few mights then cut another ounce.
What you are doing is training your twins to need less and less food at night until they don’t need any. (Remember to maintain daytime feedings or add in an extra when doing this!)
Weaning From Breast Feedings
Weaning from breastfeeding isn’t quite as simple as weaning from bottle feedings. You don’t have clear ounces to measure from the breast, so you need to go off the clock.
Time how long your twins eat at night and cut that down by one or two minutes. Hold it there for a day or two then cut down the time some more.
Theoretically, this isn’t too hard. But it can be really hard to stay focused and keep an eye on the clock when you are exhausted. Setting a soft alarm on your phone can help so you don’t zone out and forget to end the feedings.
If cutting off your twins isn’t working, you can always pump and feed breast milk from a bottle at night. This way you can simply cut down on ounces given.
(Need help with breastfeeding? Here is the resource you need: The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding Twins)
Key Times To Not Wean
There are times when you shouldn’t worry about trying to wean. If your twins are sick or teething then continuing to feed, especially nursing, can be a great comfort.
Also, keep an eye on your twins’ weight gain. Your twins should not be losing weight or failing to gain after you have eliminated nighttime feedings. Most babies will not just go to sleep if they are hungry, so you don’t need to be too concerned. But it is a good idea to keep an eye on weight and listen to your mama gut.
(Read about a mom who trusted her instincts to good result in terms of feedings: Breastfeeding Baby Not Gaining Weight)
Final Points To Remember
Even if you have dropped nighttime feedings, there will be times when your twins wake again. If they are going through a growth spurt they might wake up hungry. But that should only be for a few days, then you can go back to your non-feeding soothing techniques.
And remember that babies aren’t robots. We all have nights where we don’t sleep well or wake for no reason. Babies are no different. Don’t let one ‘bad night’ make you think you will never sleep again.
Your Twins Will Learn To Go All Night Without Food
It seems impossible when you are a new twin mom, but you will sleep all night again.
Weaning from night feedings is an important part of getting your twins to sleep through the night. And it will help you keep a solid twin schedule.
Keep at it, and get ready to get back to sleep.
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