Toddler Twin Sleep Tips: A Troubleshooting Guide
Toddler twins can be bundles of energy. While that is super adorable and fun, it isn’t so much fun when it causes trouble at bedtime. Sleep issues can pop up at any time, but the toddler years can be especially trying.
My girls can be stubborn, like a lot of toddlers. They don’t always want to stop the fun to go to sleep. But there are ways that we have found to combat twins sleeping problems.
Here are eight tips to help with toddler twin sleep, even when it seems like you will never get through bedtime.
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Toddler Twin Sleep Tips
Just when you think you are done with twin sleep issues, the toddler years arrive. Toddler sleep disruptions, like the 2-year-old sleep regression, stink! But you will get through them.
Remember Disruptions Will Happen
I know I wish I could guarantee we never had any child sleep problems. But that just doesn’t happen. Once you get through baby sleep I feel like you should be done with sleep problems!
But twin toddlers face so many changes in their lives and it makes sense that sleep problems would arise. Potty training, potentially starting preschool, all the learning they do every day. It’s a lot.
And with two babies you might get two totally different reactions. One twin might sail through transitions without them impacting sleep, and while the other may develop problems falling asleep.
Despite this, there are some things we can do to help everyone in your home sleep better.
Keep a Consistent Schedule
I know, this goes without saying. Consistency works wonders for kids. But during the toddler years, it is easy to lose that consistency. Baby sleep can fall apart when a nap is missed or is late, but toddler sleep can take those changes.
Being able to have more flexibility can sometimes lull us into thinking we don’t need to be as rigid about sleep time. But we do, our toddlers still need plenty of rest. And I have found a lot of our sleep problems come from a lack of consistency.
Consistent schedule means more than just a consistent bedtime and nap time. (Yes, toddlers still need naps!) Keep that daily wake time consistent too.
By waking up at the same time every day you make it easier for your child’s circadian rhythms to settle at night. That can be tough as parents, I would love to let me toddlers sleep in. But we all sleep better when they have consistency.
Don’t Neglect the Bedtime Routine
A good bedtime routine for twins doesn’t have to look different from a bedtime routine for a singleton. Although I do think ours has gotten a lot sillier with the addition of more children.
My twins get pretty silly at bedtime, and let’s be honest, it’s fun! But we can have fun and still hit the major components of the routine. (Learn what makes a good bedtime routine here: The 4 Core Parts of a Solid Bedtime Routine)
This means that sometimes I do need to be tough and end the fun. Yes, it can be hard, but it is worth it. And when I am consistent every night my twins don’t fight us. Sure, there is some grumbling. But they don’t have major meltdowns because they know what is expected of them.
Don’t Jump to Toddler Beds
A big toddler sleep issue is climbing out of the crib. One of the biggest solutions to that I’ve seen is to switch to toddler beds. I’m not convinced that is the answer.
Before we go too much farther let me say: Safety First. Of course, if your twins are getting out of their cribs frequently and it appears to be dangerous then get them out of the cribs. Safety first.
If you can convince your twins to stay in their cribs, do it. Why? If your twins are already not sleeping how is being able to get up and play going to help?
This is especially true with twins. They have a playmate right there with them. Why sleep when they can get up to play? You can’t blame a two-year-old for wanting to play.
So do your best to hold onto the crib. (Learn how we stopped our twins from climbing out of the crib: Keep the Crib! Stop Escaping Twins)
Fall Back On Your Sleep Training
This does not mean let your toddlers cry it out to sleep. Sleep training is about teaching your little ones to rest. Toddler disruptions mean you might have to go back to those methods. (Yep, we sleep trained without tears. You can too: No Cry Sleep Training)
When my twins have sleep issues we still go to them, I think they need to know that their parents are there when needed. But we don’t get them up. I do my best to keep my twins in their beds.
We still keep the sound machine going. We keep the room dark, even if we need to do a diaper change. Keep the sleep environment intact.
Overall, make not sleeping not an option. My twins don’t get up after bedtime. They don’t come sleep in our bed. This helps them get back into good sleep patterns.
Tire Those Twins Out
Have your twins gotten enough physical and mental stimulation during the day to be tired? That sounds obvious, but it can be tough in our busy schedules to make sure we are plain old tiring out kids out.
Bad weather can make it hard to get out and let them play. So you might need to find ways to run around inside.
We all know little ones need to blow off steam, but don’t forget they need enough mental stimulation during the day too. Playing games, learning letters and numbers, using their imagination. These are all important things they need to be mentally tired as well.
So if your twins aren’t sleeping well, take a look at their activities during the day and add in the mental and physical exercise they need.
When One Twin Won’t Sleep
A specific twin issue is when one twin just won’t sleep. This can be handled in the above manner provided they aren’t keeping their sibling awake too. Yep, sometimes the awake twin tries to wake up the sleeping twin.
Fortunately, I have found that my twins can sleep through each other pretty well. They’ve always shared a room so they are used to each other. (Learn about sleep training twins in the same room: How To Sleep Train Twins in the Same Room)
But as they get older they get better at waking each other up. There are a few things to consider.
Can you separate them? Even temporarily? This isn’t my favorite choice because it isn’t a long-term solution. And personally, we don’t have any other room in our house to stick a bed. But it is something to think about.
Creating a physical barrier between the two cribs might work as well. A screen or blanket of sorts would work. It’s a lot easier to calm down interactions between your twins if they can’t actually see each other.
Have an Earlier Bedtime
This might sound counterintuitive, but put your twins to bed earlier. If they are talking to each other and playing in their beds, put them to sleep earlier.
I have found that my twins need a few minutes to chat before they fall asleep. It doesn’t matter if they go to bed early or late, they take that time. So I give it to them.
Moving bedtime up a little bit allows your twins to get those bedtime sillies out with each other, but they can still fall asleep on time to get the appropriate amount of rest they need.
For naps, this can mean they have a longer nap time than a singleton. My girls are now three and they don’t always need a full 2.5-hour nap. But they always get that time to factor in talking time.
Work with the problem and it might create a good solution for all.
Your Toddler Twins Will Sleep
I hate sleep disruptions, but remember this is a phase. Your twins will sleep again, and so will you.
Here is more to help you out!
Sleep training is teaching good sleep habits. There are several ways you can improve your twin toddler’s sleep.
1. Have a consistent bedtime routine. Set the stage for sleep and make sure your toddlers know what is expected of them.
2. Have a consistent daily wake time. Starting the day at the same time will make it more likely your twins will be ready for bed at night at the same time.
3. Set a good sleep environment. Safe beds that are comfortable and encourage rest matter.
4. Have concrete consequences for getting out of bed at night. Sticker charts can be helpful to encourage positive behavior. The most important thing is to follow through with the consequences you set up.
Toddler twins still need a lot of sleep, and they should not be waking up repeatedly every night. (Though they will have some nights that they do wake up.)
1. Have a consistent bedtime routine that encourages rest and lets your toddlers know it is time for sleep.
2. Have concrete consequences for getting out of bed without permission. Then stick to them!
3. Make sure your twins are getting enough physical and mental stimulation during the day so they are tired at night.
4. Don’t drop nap time too soon. Toddlers still need some daytime sleep, and sleep begets sleep.
Sleep training is about teaching good sleep habits to your twins, and that can start as soon as you bring them home from the hospital. Working on solid overnight sleep often starts between 4 and 6 months. The goal of sleep training is to work towards positive sleep associations.
You can learn more about how to sleep train twins here: How To Sleep Train Twins
The AAP safe sleep guidelines recommend that twins each have their own separate and safe sleep space. Toddler twins tend to move around in their sleep a lot and for sure need their own crib or toddler bed.
Toddler twins can do very well with room sharing though. This way they are close by and can be a comfort for each other overnight. It is also easier as a parent as both your twins are in the same spot. You can keep all their nighttime needs (extra diapers, wipes, pacifiers, etc) in the same location.
No, twins do not have to keep each other awake at night. And yes, you can sleep train twins in the same room. Here is how: How To Sleep Train Twins in the Same Room
Toddlers will often try to climb out of their cribs. Twins can be worse at this because there are two of them figuring out how to get out. There are a few things you can do about this.
1. Make sure your twins’ room is as safe as possible if they do climb out.
2. Remove anything from nearby your twins’ cribs that they can use to climb out.
3. If it works with your cribs, move the crib mattress to the floor so it is harder for your twins to climb out.
4. Talk to your twins and explain why they need to stay in bed. (Kids are smart, they can get it.)
5. Have concrete consequences to climbing out of the crib and stick to them.
6. Consider a sticker chart or other positive reinforcement to staying in the crib. This is a good time to encourage teamwork with your twins. You can have a bigger reward that they both need to work towards.
7. If your twins really won’t stop climbing out, consider switching to toddler beds. Let safety be the biggest guide here.
Learn more: How To Stop Your Toddlers from Climbing Out of the Crib
It can be hard to soothe both your toddler twins at the same time, but there are some things that can help.
1. Keep your twins in their beds as much as possible. You do not want them thinking they can create a scenario where they get up at night.
2. Use your voice to soothe both at the same time. Sing the same songs, say gentle words, do your best to comfort them.
3. Offer lovies or other safe comfort items.
4. Offer hugs and physical reassurances while your twins remain in their beds.
5. Use your discretion for when it is necessary to remove your twins from their beds for comfort.
While personalized sleep consulting has its place, I don’t think most toddler twins need one. Sleep regressions are common in one baby, so having two that are just a year old or so can make it feel like no one is sleeping.
Try paying attention to each twin’s individual habits. Even start taking notes again like when you were dealing with newborn sleep. You will see that overall your twins are doing better than you think.
Consistency is key for toddlers. You can help your toddler twins sleep without spending mone on sleep consultants.
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