There are a lot of logistics to consider when you are expecting a baby. A big one is where is baby going to sleep? Do you get a bassinet? Go straight to the crib? Twins add additional considerations. Do they sleep together or apart? Is there enough room to have two bassinets? Do I need two cribs? There is no one single answer to this. Let’s explore the options of infant twin sleeping arrangements.
AAP Sleep Safety
Safety is the most important consideration in deciding where your twins are going to sleep when you bring them home. The AAP recommendations are that each baby has their own sleeping place, be it a crib or bassinet. Babies should sleep on a firm surface, on their backs, and in the same room as their parent(s) until six months of age. Nothing else should be in the crib except for the baby.
Newborn Twin Options
The recommendation is that twins not share a sleeping space. When in doubt, err on the side of safety. This means two separate sleeping locations. To make this work with twins you just need to pick which is your favorite singleton place to have your baby sleep and get two. DockATot, rock and play, bassinet, your choices are open.
Lack of space and old twin advice leads a lot of moms to have their twins share a sleep space. Yes, the AAP recommends that twins not share a sleeping space. But almost every twin mom I asked said her twins shared for at least a little bit when they were newborns. I am not recommending any twin mom go against the safe sleep recommendations, but I do feel there is something to be said from the wisdom of other twin moms who have been there and done that. (I also want to note that the pediatrician my twins saw first told me that she can only give the AAP recommendations as to where twins should sleep, but every twin mom she knew had them sleep together at first.)
There are a few options for how your twins share a sleeping place. Besides the one baby per place rule, all other safe sleep rules should be followed. This means nothing a firm sleep surface, baby on his or her back, and nothing in the bed beside the babies.
I am not recommending co-sleeping, but it is an option that some people take. A positive to this option is that you don’t need an extra sleeping place, the babies sleep in your bed. They are close by for nursing and can be comforted by you as well as each other. The downside of this is all the safety risks. I never slept well if my baby was in bed with me, and I couldn’t even think of sleeping with two. If this is an option you want to consider it is something to think long and hard about, and it is something to research very carefully. Safety first.
There are actually twin bassinets you can buy. These combine the need for separate sleeping places and space-saving. Think a large bassinet with a divider between the babies. The benefit of this is that it takes up less space in your room, yet each baby still gets his or her own space. In a lot of this type of bassinet the babies are still pretty close together, so they are able to be comforted by the presence of their twin. A con of this type of product is that they can be a bit pricey for an item you are only going to need for a few months tops.
Another option is to start with both babies in a single crib. This opens up a lot of options because there are all kinds of cribs on the market. This can be a good choice in terms of space. Your twins can share a sleep location, but cribs are big enough that they can be far apart from each other. Another positive is that you will need the crib when your babies are too big to share anymore, so you aren’t making an additional purchase. A downfall of this option is that cribs take up a lot of space. I know our bedroom did not have enough room to fit a whole crib in it. My preference is to at least start with my babies in our room (it makes it way easier to nurse them in the night), so a crib wasn’t for us.
Shared Pack and Play Bassinet
Many pack and plays come with a bassinet top. There are options that have a small bassinet on one half and a changing station on the other. There is also the option of just having an add on top that covers the whole of the bassinet, basically providing a safe platform higher up on the pack and play. This is what we used with our girls. Yes, you could just use the pack and play as is if this is what you go with, but trust me it is way easier to put your babies down and pick them back up if they are not all the way in the bottom of the pack and play. I liked this option because pack and plays are something you will use for at least a couple of years. Traveling, independent playtime, just a general safe zone- there are a lot of uses for these. You can find them used pretty easily to save money as well. Just be aware of the weight limits on this type of bassinet, as you have two babies in there.
Shared Twin Pack and Play Bassinet
There are pack and plays that come with twin bassinet tops. The bonus of this is that each baby gets their own space, but overall it doesn’t take up any more room than a regular pack and play. And the ones with the twin tops aren’t always more expensive than the singleton version. As I mentioned before this option is a good one in terms of cost as you will use the pack and play portion for a couple of years. They can be a bit harder to find used or get as a hand me down, but check out your local twin group and you can try to find a deal.
Older Twin Babies
Once your babies are ready to be in their own room it is time to think cribs. Yes, you will need two cribs. One can work when your babies are newborns and can’t roll. Once they can wiggle more and roll over it is no longer safe to have them sharing. And chances are they will just play with each other and not sleep, which isn’t the goal. This is a time when you don’t get two for the price of one, but there are a lot of crib options for all price ranges.
Transitioning to the Cribs
I know there can be some concern as to how twins who have been sleeping together will transition to sleeping on their own. If your babies are sleeping in separate places this transition is the same as with a singleton. If your babies share a sleep space there is some worry about moving to two different beds. Making the switch early means babies are usually pretty easy to transition to the new bed. They are too little to notice a big difference. If they are older, they are more likely to notice. This is when having twins can make the switch easier. Once your babies start wiggling and rolling, they start waking each other up more. My girls seemed very happy to finally have their own room to sleep. You might just find your twins sleep better on their own.
Crib Set Up
A lot of twins share a room. Ours do as we don’t have enough bedrooms for them to not share. As twins have already spent their entire existence together, I think they do well room sharing, at least while they are younger. The question comes up of how do you arrange two cribs in one room?
One option is to have the cribs side by side or end to end, touching. This can give twins comfort because they can still reach through and touch each other. They still have their own safe sleep space and space to move around. A con is that they can touch each other. This means pacifiers or lovies (when it is safe to have them in the crib) can be passed back and forth. I worry it also encourages older babies to try to climb into each other’s beds to play together, which is not what I want happening when they are supposed to be sleeping.
Cribs Far Apart
If your room allows, you can have the cribs not touching at all. This doesn’t provide the same proximity comfort that side by side allows. And instead of passing items back and forth they may throw them. (At least my girls have done this.) But they can’t mess with each other as much. Each twin can feel more like they have their own space instead of a shared space with a divider. Make sure the cribs are flush with no gap between them and no way to create a gap.
Twin Crib Safety
One important thing to consider in twin crib safety is the distance between cribs. Children can and do climb out of their own bed into their siblings. If cribs are just a few inches apart there is the possibility that the climbing child could fall between the cribs and become stuck. I don’t want to be alarmist, but this isn’t a risk I am willing to take. If your cribs are not flush against each other and securely in place, put at least 3 feet between them.
Safe Sleep for All
As you can see there are a lot of options available to twin parents. The first thing to consider is always safety. Make sure your babies have safe sleep environments. After that you just need to decide what will work best in the space you have available and what works best for your budget. Take a look at all the options and talk to your fellow twin moms. They are a fount of information and tips. The goal is for everyone to be safe, and of course for everyone to sleep.