Sleep is a big important issue for new parents. And if you’re expecting twins then there are some extra challenges and specific tips you should know. Here’s some sleep advice for parents expecting multiples from sleep consultant Cheryl Fingleson.
Remember that twins tend to arrive between 36 and 38 weeks or even earlier.
If your twins are born premature, remember that premature babies will be very sleepy. They sleep much more than full-term babies — up to 22 hours per day. Their tummies are so small that they have to feed often so they only sleep about an hour at a time. Premmie babies spend less time in a deep sleep and rarely are fully awake and alert.
My tips on how to make life with multiples easier
What to expect once your babies are home
- Organise a list of family and friends ready to be called on if you feel you are not coping during the first three months from birth.
- Usually twins start off by sleeping together in the same cot, if you have good sleepers this works really well. It is often the babies disposition, temperament and sleep habits that will determine whether or not to continue to sleep them together or in separate cots to prevent one baby disturbing the other. It is advised to separate the babies sooner rather than later.
- While some babies may not be bothered by their twin’s cries, others may have trouble sleeping through the sound, and this would be the time to consider separate cots.
- White noise in the room is very useful for blocking out the sound of crying.
- I suggest you start a simple routine and apply it in your own way. This will give you some direction and help you get through your day.
- It is important to not let your babies go hungry and don’t keep them awake so long so they get overtired. The secret is to eat and sleep well by giving them encouragement and importantly consistency and healthy sleep habit.
How to synchronise the babies’ routines
I always advise parents of multiples to synchronise. Keeping them in sync is the only way you’ll manage to properly look after both and function.
If one baby wakes up and can’t be settled down again, wake the other. If one goes to bed, put the other down too. Start early and be consistent.
5 sleep tips for parents with multiples
1. Learn to read your babies’ tired signs. Watch for their ‘sleep window’ — if you put your babies to sleep before they get overtired they will fall asleep easier.
2. Swaddle your babies for the first few months, as this keeps them feeling secure and cosy.
3. White noise is a good aid to blocking out all noise as well as the other babies cry.
4. Go for a walk, everybody needs fresh air and natural light. Natural light will eliminate night/day confusion. To prevent turning day into night.
5. Make the room nice and dark with block out curtains. If possible feed the babies with a dim night light in order to prevent over stimulation by the light.
If you get overwhelmed, here are some tips to help you feel less stressed
- Find or accept help to make things easier in the first few months, it can be daunting being alone for 8 – 10 hours with two crying babies. To calm frustrated crying babies you usually need to pick them up and cuddle them which can be challenging for one tired person to manage on their own.
- Help is available in many different ways. Find the best option for you, to eliminate stress.
- The cheapest help is family and friends.
- Nannies trained especially for multiples are extremely helpful for teaching and help.
- Multiples Support Groups are a great source of support as they have all been through the same experience.
Coping with sleep deprivation
- Always try to rest or sleep when your babies sleep. Don’t be tempted to do washing and house work or watch your favourite TV shows.
- Don’t forget to share your feelings of sleep deprivation with your partner. Explain that you are not coping or that you are very tired and need help. Remember unless you speak up your partner won’t know how you feel..
- Go easy on the coffee, even if you think it will give you a little up lift. Coffee can play havoc with your system try keep it to a few cups a day.
- Accept help. Ask for help or if someone is kind enough to offer accept and catch up on sleep at every opportunity. SLEEP is your priority!!
- Be kind to yourself don’t be too hard on yourself this stage will pass.