Twin wake times and bedtime routines. How to get your twins on a schedule.
Get those twins on a schedule! Are you a twin mom if you haven’t been told that a million times?
It’s true, having newborn twins and twins, in general, is so much easier if you are on a schedule. But how exactly do you get that elusive schedule in place?
That’s what we’re learning here. In this series, I am showing you exactly how I put my twins on a schedule. We started with the daily wake time with twins in my last post. Now we are going to work on two more key points: Waking your babies up and putting them to sleep.
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What's In This Post?
Building a Twin Schedule
Having twins can be overwhelming, but getting a schedule into place makes everything easier. That schedule doesn’t have to happen overnight. Give yourself and your babies grace and get your schedule into place one step at a time.
As a reminder, a lot of these ideas can be found in the Babywise book. I had read it with Ben and used it for inspiration to build my schedule. But this is how we put Ali and Sammy onto a solid routine. It worked really well for us. We built our schedule up naturally and it felt right.
Wake Them Up: Twin Wake Times
Besides utilizing a daily wake time to help your days fall into place, wake your twins up.
I know that is the last thing a lot of moms want to hear. Wake up sleeping babies? Trust me on this one though, wake them up.
Now, we aren’t waking them up willy-nilly. You want to wake them up to eat. Waking up your twins goes hand in hand with scheduling feeding sessions. And it is a myth that schedules ruin milk supply. (Learn more about prioritizing feedings: Scheduling Doesn’t Diminish Milk Supply)
When Should You Wake Your Twins?
The three-hour schedule is a good place to start. And if your twins were in the NICU chances are they were on a three-hour schedule. If that is the case, stick to that.
So every three hours, or slightly before actually, wake your twins up to eat. Don’t be afraid to have a shorter timeframe though.
My girls were not in the NICU, but like most twins, they were on the smaller side when they were born. So we actually started with a 2.5-hour schedule.
So yep, during the day I woke my girls up every 2.5 hours to eat. Yes, it is tiring. But it doesn’t last long.
Keep Feedings Close at First
As your twins get older the time between feedings naturally starts to spread out. In the beginning, you need to stay on top of the hunger though. The last thing you want is to be stuck with two crying, hungry babies. (Here is how to deal when both babies are crying though—> How to Calm Crying Twins When You Are Alone)
By keeping feedings close together you are actually giving yourself more freedom. If you need to feed a little later because you have an appointment or just need to get the grocery shopping done, you have a little wriggle room.
(Over time the optimal wake time will change. This post explains all about this—> Optimal Waketime Lengths)
Don’t Be Afraid to Have Different Intervals
When I first set a schedule I thought I had to make sure every eat, wake, sleep cycle was exactly the same. This isn’t the case. You can adjust them as needed.
The morning cycles for Ali and Sammy were usually 2.5 hours. But in the afternoon they got closer together. And during the witching hour, we utilized a cluster feed. (Learn more about the witching hour—> Surviving the Witching Hour with Twins)
Don’t let yourself get locked into using only the clock to set your schedule. Make it work for your babies’ needs.
Why Wake Your Twins?
Why should you wake your twins? The most important reason is to make sure they are eating enough. Twins are often on the smaller side, which means a smaller stomach that needs more feedings. And newborns just need to eat 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. So you need to make sure you are feeding your twins enough.
It is much easier to feed two babies at once if they are not freaking out with hunger. Having feeding sessions closer together means your babies won’t be frantic with hunger and that helps to settle into feedings.
If They Don’t Eat Enough During the Day, They Make It Up at Night
Waking your babies up during the day helps you work towards eliminating nighttime feedings. The overall goal is to have your twins sleep through the night when they are old enough and big enough to do so.
Now newborns are going to need to eat at night. There is no getting around that. But you can make sure that you are giving as many opportunities to eat during daytime hours as you can. That will help them need fewer calories overnight.
(If you need help with breastfeeding your twins check this out —> Breastfeeding Twins: The Ultimate Resource)
Consider a Dream Feed
Babies tend to have one long sleep period during the 24 hour period. It is very helpful if you can line that period up with your sleep. This can be done with a dream feed.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on this (you can get all the info here—> The Dream Feed with Twins), but it runs on the same idea. Wake your babies just enough to feed them before you go to bed.
You don’t want them completely awake, but you are waking them up. Waking up your twins will actually help them get on a solid schedule.
Bedtime Routines and Twins
The flip side to waking your twins up is putting them to sleep. While it is important to wake your twins to make sure you are feeding them enough and they are getting enough wake time during the day, you need to be sure you have a solid sleep routine.
Having a strong schedule means you know when your babies will eat AND when they will sleep. Here is how to help your twins sleep.
Start with Consistency in Mind
A good bedtime routine can be brief, and you can start it from day one. I believe a good bedtime routine really consists of four main parts (learn the details on those here: The 4 Core Parts to a Solid Bedtime Routine), but the most important thing is consistency.
Keep your routine simple, but aim to keep it consistent. Swaddle, sing a song, and lay them down sleepy but awake (as best you can). It doesn’t matter where your twins sleep, keep the routine.
Create a Safe Sleep Space
Safety is of course key for babies. There can be questions as to where to have your twins sleep. Should they share a sleep space? Try a bassinet? A dock-a-tot? Etc.
The AAP recommends that twins have their own safe sleep space. Although many twin moms will tell you their newborn twins slept together. (Ali and Sammy did.) My recommendation is of course to follow all safe sleep guidelines. But it isn’t a bad idea to talk to some twin moms.
You can check out different arrangements and see what works for you —> Twin Sleep: Safe and Practical Arrangements.
Consider Your Sleep Props
Sleep props aren’t all bad, and they are an important part of a quality bedtime routine. Swaddles are very helpful to encourage twins to sleep. I like to use pacifiers. I find that they signal sleep time and help babies stay asleep.
The biggest sleep tool you need for twins is a white noise machine. Chances are your twins will share a room. (In the early months it makes it easier to keep them together.) Twins do sleep through each other’s crying very well. But a sound machine just makes that easier.
If you are looking for more sleep tools check out this list put together by 8 moms who really value sleep in their babies—> The Best Sleep Tools for Babies
Wake Those Twins Up Then Put Them to Sleep
Waking your babies throughout the day and putting them to sleep consistently will help your schedule fall into place.
Waking them up ensures that you are feeding your babies enough during the day. Stomach cues are huge for getting routines in place. You are also making sure that you are prioritizing feeding sessions.
A consistent bedtime routine in a safe sleep location helps your babies fall asleep. You are helping them learn that it is time to rest and setting up good sleep habits.
These two factors will help your schedule start to appear, even without worrying about naptimes. But don’t worry, those are coming up.
Need to review step one? Here is the first thing you need to do to get your twins on a schedule: Daily Wake Time with Twins: How To Get Your Twins on a Schedule
Next up: Anchor Naps: Setting your twin naps schedule
Here are some more resources to help you out:
Twin Schedules: Birth to Two Years
How To Do a Dream Feed with Twins
5 Real Mom Truths about Breastfeeding Twins
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