Amanda from Groovy Babies shares with us her experience and expertise in regards to separating twins and multiples for sleep…….or not?
Amanda is a recognised and accredited for her work across Advanced Holistic Pregnancy and as a Baby and Child Sleep Specialist, HypnoBirthing® International Childbirth Educator and Certified Infant Massage Instructor.
Where will your babies sleep?
Congrats! You have bought your twins home, and no doubt researched very carefully what sleep space you have designed for your bubbas.
This may be one bassinette or two, one cot or two or all in the bed together (I will talk about bed sharing and risk factors later). 50% of all families do co- bed their babies together once home.
From birth, it is known that identical twins do have similar sleep. Also remember that each baby is an individual and that at times will obviously have different needs regarding sleep no matter what age or sex your child is.
At the hospital
When in hospital, and it does depend on the prematurity of your babies, often your babies will be placed in a “twin” cot. This is often under the watchful eye of medical staff and monitored. The school of thought is because they are “womb mates” on the inside they do help regulate each other’s state by touch and decrease stress, apnoea episodes promoting growth and brain development.
It is easy for us as parent’s to notice just how in tune our babies can be with each other during times of togetherness and separation in these early days. Closeness calms them down.
Co-bedding twins and more
For baby and child sleep practices I always refer parents to Red Nose for the latest in research. They have a multiple birth guideline page where you can read more HERE.
Once home Rednose recommend you place your babies in their own sleep space, in your room for the first 6-12 months. The biggest hurdle I see parent’s face is SPACE for two bassinettes or cots!
The biggest concern for sleeping your babies side by side is the potential that one twin’s body or bedding can accidently cover the other’s face. Research has been shown that although airways are not obstructed, it can be impinged by a loose wrap, arm or even little face. Sucking on your brothers nose might look cute, but not when you need your sleep to grow!
For example, I have included a picture of my own twins here at 2 weeks of age. Touching to sooth but have escaped their wraps and even moved up from under their blankets!
Even here you can see how our little boy has crept up the cot and his blankets are now near his mouth!
So what is your choice? 50% of all families do co-bed their multiples.
Swaddling tips for twins and multiples
Place your babies head to head and use a recommended swaddle that you are confident cannot be loosened. This is UNTIL they are moving around the cot.
If you are not an efficient wrapper (and lets face it at 2am with 2 plus babies wrapping is not always easy) use any one of the amazing newborn swaddles on the market. I love ones like the Miracle Wrap, Ergo and Halo. I tend to leave the Love To Dream (arms up swaddles) until a little older around 3 months corrected as often the moro reflex in prem babies will take longer to resolve.
Separating twins or multiples into their own cot
Ok you have made it past newborn phase and your bubs are now rolling and banging into each other. What now?
Rednose recommends separating them into their own cots. This is often the time that parent’s consider moving their babies into their own rooms. Let me reassure you, that if one twin still needs help in the feed/sleep department it is OK to just move one bub out.
Do what is best to get peaceful sleep for your babies and yourself.
If one baby has a better, calmer personality then move this baby, so they are not interrupted by their sibling. This allows both babies to establish their own sleep patterns, and for you to learn and identify the different sleep needs between your children.
If you decide to move both babies into their own room make sure you have room to place a chair/stool in between both cots, so when you are sitting you can reach both babies through the cot rails for soothing if needed. It saves much
This is also a time to know that during the first 2 years you will need to separate your twins for naps and night sleep at some time. Whether it is during times of illness, (no sharing of bugs), teething or any development phase, it is ok to do so! It will not stuff up their development, their bond or your schedule, BUT it will help you keep your sanity!
Moving twins and multiples into a bed
After the age of 2 your little cherubs will enter into the sport of Olympic Cot Vaulting. Actually this can happen any time between age 2-4 years. Don’t transition your child into a single bed until safety becomes an issue. Trust me, saying good bye to their cot is like leaving a “big womb” space, for outta space. No limits and able to bound around freely.
If one child needs to transition, you don’t need to do the other if he/she is still sleeping ok in his cot.
Don’ts use bunk beds. Until they are closer to 5 years old. Even the recommended age is actually 7 years old as many home injuries are due to children falling and jumping from a bunk bed.
Often even a mattress on the floor is a great, cheap place to start. So don’t rush out and spend a fortune on twin single beds to begin with.
Co-bedding with your twins and multiples
Now I just want to chat a little about co-bedding your twins. This is bed sharing in your own bed.
Why? Because it is a topic I work with on a daily basis with families Australia wide, and often mums are shamed into not telling the truth due to being concerned about judgement.
60% of all families whether they have 1 baby or more will bedshare in the first 4-6 months after birth. It is done as survival and is called accidental co-sleeping.
Please be aware that if your twins were premature they automatically go into the at- risk category.
If you wish to bed share with your twins HERE are the safe
Although being a twin parent definitely can put us on the low sleep list, know that there are MANY tools and resources that you can access to make sure you and your little family stay on TEAM SLEEP.
As one of Australia’s most qualified and well-known pregnancy, birth and child sleep experts, I have helped thousands of parents experience peaceful birthing experiences and solved countless sleep challenges for frustrated and desperately tired parents.