Sleep Training Infant Twins
Twins! Twice the fun and double the love. With any baby, sleep training can be hard. As a parent of twins, it can seem downright impossible. But sleep training twins can be successful with a few tips to get you started.
The biggest thing to consider when getting ready to sleep train twins is their adjusted age. Chances are, when your babies were born, they were not full term. This means they have a bit of catching up to do developmentally before they’re ready to form the best sleep habits. If you’re calculating their age based on the day they were born, you may be attempting to sleep train before they are ready.
A big misconception that I hear often is that sleep training requires letting your baby cry it out. This can make a twin parent cringe! How can you let one baby cry it out with the other one trying to sleep nearby? The cry-it-out method is not the only sleep training method you can use. Look into other methods such as the pick up/put down method or the chair method (which could potentially be used for both twins at once!). In addition, if one baby is sleeping better than the other, consider having them sleep in another room temporarily while you train their sibling. Twins tend to be on the same routine once it’s established, but getting there may take some work.
Listening to your baby's cues also helps immensely. As new parents, we often feel the need to document everything and feed on a schedule. During the night time, let your babies sleep and only feed them if they wake! This may seem pretty obvious, but if your baby is gaining weight as they should be, get the sleep while you can and let them tell you when they’re ready to eat again.
Lastly, as a twin parent, celebrate your successes no matter how small! You are working so hard and any steps you make towards better sleep should be recognized. Dropped a night feeding? Hooray! Got both babes to self-soothe? Boom! Give yourself a pat on the back.
I want to know, have you trained infant twins? What tips and tricks worked for you?
As young parents, you get a lot of unsolicited advice from family, friends, and even strangers. One tip that has been passed down through the generations is the idea of putting cereal in baby’s bottle of milk to help them sleep longer or through the night. But is this actually safe?
The most recent recommendations that have come out of the Center for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly urge parents not to put rice cereal in their baby’s bottle. Here is a quote from a study conducted by the AAP.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against the routine use of rice cereal in the bottle (RIB) to improve infant sleep patterns. The AAP also states that the use of RIB is a choking hazard and may lead to excessive weight gain. Additionally, RIB as a milk thickening agent can cause a change in stool consistency and result in constipation.” (Milanaik, Ruth et al.)
In addition to the risk of choking, placing cereal in the bottle can confuse a baby who may be used to drinking a thinner formula or milk and will hinder their ability to tell the difference between a solid food and a liquid. Placing any type of cereal in baby’s bottle has not been backed by any evidence suggesting that it helps baby to sleep. There has also been no evidence suggesting that cereal in the bottle will help with reflux or spit up. The risks far outweigh the potential benefits.
Instead of placing cereal in baby’s bottle, try feeding them some cereal with a spoon at dinner! If baby is old enough for solids and you are concerned that their tummy may not be full enough with just their bottle, it is perfectly acceptable to feed before bed. Other things you can focus on to improve your baby’s sleep habits are keeping a consistent routine each night, making sure their room is dark, and making sure the temperature is comfortable in their room.
Milanaik, Ruth, et al. “Prevalence and Parental Perceived Efficacy of Rice Cereal in Bottles Used as a Natural Sleep Aid for Infants Aged 0-11 Months.” American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Aug. 2019
I was looking at my calendar this week and I can't believe it's almost August. Our summer has been so much fun with plenty of days at the pool, working on projects at home and of course, an upcoming trip to the beach! I love waking up early to get in a quick run on the boardwalk before stopping at a cool little coffee shop to have breakfast.
What trips do you have planned for the remainder of the summer? Anywhere fun?
And while I'm on vacation, I'm looking forward to early bedtimes for my daughter because she is guaranteed to be exhausted from all the beach time and fun. Will she sleep all night...you bet!
Some parents worry that they'll get even less sleep when they're on vacation, but that doesn't have to be the case. In fact, it should be the opposite--you and your child should get MORE sleep while you're on vacation. That's the whole point of vacation, right?
One of the things you shouldn’t have to worry about is how you’ll sleep when you’re staying somewhere other than your home. Because…face it…you’ll need the sleep and so will your children.
Whether you’re only going for a quick weekend trip or staying at a beach condo for the week, your child can continue to sleep as well as they do at home.
Here are a few tips to help ease the craziness of sleeping away from home with your child.
Tip #1 – Make your child’s sleeping area feel like home as much as possible. Bring along your child’s lovey, sleep sack and white noise machine, if you use one. Make the environment as close to home as possible to help ease your child’s anxiety of being in a new place.
Bonus points for you if the room your child is staying in has good room darkening curtains. For a quick solution, throw a blanket over the curtain rod to make the room darker!
Tip #2 -- Separate your sleeping spaces as much as possible. If you’re staying in a hotel room with a separate bedroom, there’s nothing wrong with your child sleeping in the bedroom so you can continue to watch TV and go to bed when you're ready. If you have to share a room with your child, make sure they have their own sleeping space, such as a portable crib or cots for toddlers already sleeping in a big kid bed. If you’re worried about lugging the portable crib along with your luggage and your child’s car seat, ask to borrow one at your destination. Grandparents have friends with grandchildren, maybe your sister who’s driving in can bring her extra portable crib, or check in the area for rental companies that will supply cribs to your hotel.
(I've seen kids sleep in some odd places in an effort to make their space dark so don't think it hasn't been tried.)
Tip #3 – Don’t skip naps. Make sure your child is getting the recommended amount of naps they need. Finding times for naps can be tough when you’re on the go from sun up to sun down and yes, sometimes they may be in the car seat or stroller. Nap times may be a bit off and that's fine, as long as your child is not overtired when it is time for bed.
It’s easy for family and friends to want to pass the baby around and keep playing until baby is screaming from being overtired. If you know it’s time for a nap, it’s ok to put baby down to sleep. And if your cousin wants to keep baby awake to play longer, ask if she wants to play with a happy baby or a screaming, overtired baby…I think you’ll know the answer.
I hope you have a good time on your vacation!
With a few adjustments, you’ll all sleep comfortably no matter where you are…ok...so the fold-out couch at Grandma's might not be your comfy mattress at home, but it’ll do for a short-term stay.
And if your baby or child isn’t sleeping well now, contact me at www.sleepsolutionsbychristine.com and let’s chat about your situation. We can work together to have restful nights now, and learn more ways to make sleep on vacation much for enjoyable for your whole family!
Planning to sleep a little longer this Sunday morning?
It’s time to spring the clocks forward for the annual move to daylight savings time. Have no fear! I’ll tell you exactly what to do to adjust your baby or child’s schedule in 3 simple steps.
1. First, leave your clock alone Saturday night. Wake up Sunday morning at your usual time, have your coffee, then go around your house and change your clocks that didn’t change automatically.
2. Gradually move your child’s bedtime and nap times starting Sunday night.
Children who no longer nap: If your child normally goes to bed at 7:00pm, put him/her to bed at 7:30pm on Sunday night. Do this for 3 nights, then on the 4th night put him to bed at 7:00pm or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
Toddlers (12 months and older)- Start with naps on Sunday and put your child down for their first nap 30 minutes later than normal on the first night of the time change. If your child usually naps at 9:30am, naptime on Sunday is now 10:00am. Do the same with the afternoon nap if there normally is one. For bedtime on Sunday, if your kiddo’s normal bedtime is 7:00pm, you would put him down at 7:30pm. Do this for 3 nights and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00pm. Within a week, you’re back to your child’s regular bedtime.
Infants (6-12 months with a predictable bedtime)- If bedtime is normally 7:00pm, move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach the normal time. On Sunday night, you would put baby down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on. In four nights you should be back to 7:00pm. If their bedtime is not predictable (0-6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night.
3. Make sure your child’s room is as dark as possible. Install blackout curtains if you don’t already have them. Your child may wake up too early with the sun rising so early now in the morning and may struggle to fall asleep while it is still light outside. Even with the extra hours of daylight, your child sleep needs the same amount of sleep. It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep or not seem to be as tired as usual, which is normal. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to daylight savings time and some children may take up to 3 weeks to adjust. Be patient and consistent, and your child will be sleeping in no time!
If you have any questions about how the time change will affect your child or about your child’s sleep, please send me an email at email@example.com
Traveling with Kids (Part 1 of 3)
The holidays are fast approaching and many of us are making plans to get on the road to visit family and friends.
And if you've never traveled with your child or your last trip made you feel like you'd rather have stayed home, I have something for you!
For the next 3 weeks, I'll be sharing tips about traveling with kids, how to sleep well and make travel less stressful...
Nightmares vs Night Terrors
Walking through a large store last weekend with my daughter, she asked to go through the Halloween section. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised but also excited that she’s starting to enjoy one of my favorite holidays! We turned down the aisle and she ran right past the candy, the girly costumes, the silly masks… then stopped cold in her tracks in the face of a creepy looking clown thing that you hang up on your front porch to greet trick or treaters. The look on her face said it all… Yikes!
Did you have a lovey as a child? I’ll admit that I still have my pink crocheted blanket. It’s no longer on my bed, but I can’t bear to get rid of something so dear to me that brought me comfort and happy memories.
I always ask families if their child has a lovey. You might call them security blankets, wubbies, snuggle bunnies, blankies, etc but they are all the same thing…they are an object that your child takes to bed with them whenever they sleep for comfort and security.
Loveys can be a comforting way for your child to sleep and become one of your child’s strategies for falling asleep.
I recommend parents introduce a lovey between 4 to 6 months of age.
But how do you choose which one? And what if my child doesn’t like it?
Make sure the lovey is something small, such as a small stuffed animal or small blanket, about the size of a face cloth that the child can easily find in the dark. The benefit of a lovey is that it’s something baby can find in the middle night by themselves and doesn’t require your assistance.
Their lovey shouldn’t make noise, such as a rattle or crinkle sound; it shouldn’t light up and shouldn’t have pieces that can be choking hazards, such as buttons for eyes.
You may notice that your child has a particular attraction to a small stuffed animal during playtime. Once you’ve identified the new lovey, include it in activities during the day such as tummy time and when they’re traveling in their car seat.
One of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to getting babies to sleep through the night is the old “cereal in the bottle” trick. It’s been used and recommended by parents for generations. As adults, we know that sleeping on an empty stomach isn’t easy, so I can understand why it’s so popular.
We also know that staying awake when you’ve just eaten a huge meal is nearly impossible.
The idea that a little cereal in baby’s bottle of breastmilk or formula, will keep them feeling full for longer, and therefore help them sleep through the night, seems like a reasonable suggestion.
Now, any parent who has experienced a baby who isn’t sleeping well is probably anxious to find the reason why, and is likely to try anything they see as safe and potentially effective. Unfortunately, the vast majority of parents who use this trick find that, even if it’s successful at first, the results are only temporary, and here’s the reason why...
Once your baby reaches a certain age and weight, (I’ll just use the 6 month mark here as a happy medium) waking in the night isn’t all about food and being hungry. Sure, baby might have nursed a little every time they were offered the breast or bottle, but that doesn’t mean that they were hungry.
The likely scenario is that baby’s become dependent on nursing as a method to get to sleep.
After all, if they’ve nursed to sleep every time they’ve woken up for the first six months of their lives, it only makes sense that they won’t be able to get to sleep without that familiar routine.
Putting cereal in the bottle works on the idea that babies fall asleep at bedtime and don’t wake up until morning, assuming there’s nothing bothering them, but that’s not how sleep works. Not for babies and not for adults. We all cycle in and out of deep sleep, and at the end of every cycle, we tend to wake up. Maybe not fully, but we do attain a certain level of consciousness.
In babies, that cycle is usually about 45 minutes, so even on a good night, they’re going to wake up a lot. And if the only way they know how to get to sleep is by nursing, they’re going to cry to get your attention, and wait for you to come in and help them out.
So if it’s got nothing to do with hunger, how can you help them sleep through the night? The solution to the issue, not the “hack” or quick fix, but the actual remedy, is teaching your baby to fall asleep independently.
That might seem like a tall order for a 6 month old, but I assure you, they’re fully capable of learning this invaluable skill. It’s natural, and they typically take to it faster than you would expect. Lots of babies will babble to themselves for a bit, or rub their feet together, or suck on their fingers, or some combination of all three. Let them discover these strategies on their own, and then let them practice them a little.
I’m definitely not saying that you should shut the door and leave a crying baby to figure things out without any comfort or attention. Repeat…I am not saying you have to ignore your baby in order to get them to fall asleep. You should feel free to attend to them, let them know you’re nearby and available, but don’t rock, nurse, or bounce them until they fall asleep. Let them find a way to do it on their own. That way, when they wake in the night, they’ll have the skills they need to settle back down on their own.
Would you like to know the truth about other sleep myths? Let me know what you are interested in learning about next in the comments down below!
So whom would you say is the parent that gets the bulk of nighttime responsibility for getting up with your child? I know what you’re thinking…and yes, in my experience, it’s usually mom.
I don’t want to stereotype, but I usually don’t get calls where both parents share all the nighttime duties and everyone is sleeping like a baby all night. I usually get calls from exhausted parents who are having issues getting their babies to sleep and usually have to have something done to them to get them back to sleep at night, otherwise known as a prop. The most common of which usually is not Dad’s doing…
And the most common prop I see, by far, is nursing, which pretty much leaves Dad out of the equation.
Now, this is a problem for a couple of reasons. Obviously, if baby’s waking up six times a night and demanding Mom come in to nurse her back to sleep, that’s taxing on mother and baby. But there’s another person who tends to suffer in this scenario, and that’s Dad. It might be hard to imagine, some of you may be reading this in the middle of the night while baby is having a party, and you know your husband is in dream land in the next room.
But let’s not wish him to share in our pain just yet.
Dads want to be great dads. They want to have an active role in bringing up their kids, and they love it when they feel like they’re succeeding in that role. But because Mom is the one with the magical breast milk, touch and smell, Dad often feels powerless to help out in the sleep department, which means Mom’s up every time baby cries, and Dad, can’t do much but go back to sleep.
This can lead to some hostility from a sleep deprived Mom, who feels like she’s doing more than her share, and some defensiveness from Dad, who gets to feeling attacked for something he has no control over.
But here’s the good news for both of you…
If you’ve decided to give sleep training a try, I often recommend that Dad takes the lead… at least for the first few nights. That’s right! Go sleep it off, Mom. Dad’s taking point on this one. So when it comes to breaking the association between sucking (bottle, pacifier or breast) and falling asleep, baby tends to learn quicker and respond better when Dad comes into the room during the first few nights of baby learning to fall asleep independently. He can even give baby a bottle if you're still doing night feeds.
Here’s the funny thing. Whenever I drop this little tidbit on couple I’m working with, Mom lets out a big ‘yeeaaah’ and teases Dad about how he’s much fun he’s going to have getting up six times in the night.
But then, night one, as soon as baby starts to cry, Mom shoots out of bed and goes straight into baby’s room. Or even more regularly, Mom stands in the doorway instructing Dad on the right way to settle Baby back down, and corrects him every step of the way.
I have actually sent full-grown women to their rooms during overnight support packages.
If Dad’s going to get involved, he and Baby have to find their own rhythm, and Mom has to be able to let go of a little control. And as much as moms always say they’ll have no problem letting their husbands take the wheel, when it comes down to the moment of truth, many women want to jump back in.
So remember, Dad might just be the magical solution to your baby’s sleep issues, but give him a chance, he might just surprise you. Most of my clients see dramatic improvements in their baby’s sleep in just a couple of nights, so you won’t have to worry.
After that, you and your partner will have the evenings back to yourselves, and your whole family can get back to sleeping through the night.
Tired of being tired? Schedule a free call with me today and learn how to get started.
Christine Stevens has been recognized as one of the top sleep consultants in the U.S.
Christine Stevens is a Sleep Consultant for exhausted parents who want a solution that works for their parenting style. The want to reclaim their beds, their spouse and their sanity but they don’t know how to begin.
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Is my child getting enough naps?
I often meet parents who say their child doesn't nap and it's one of the major reasons that nighttime sleep doesn't go well either. Ensuring your child is getting enough age-appropriate daytime sleep is a key component of good nighttime sleep... so how do you know?
First, newborns up to 3 months of age should be taking 4-5 naps per day, babies 3-6 months 3-4 naps, babies 6-11 months 2-3 naps and babies 12 months and older usually take 1 nap per day. Naps should be around an hour in length.
The clocks changed Sunday morning…now what
First, don’t panic! The end of Daylight Savings time can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because they start waking up way too early! Adjustment takes about 1-2 weeks on average because children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning.
However, there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother. My recommendation is to leave your clocks alone Saturday night. Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, then go around your house and change your clocks. Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.
My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time. How does that work?
For babies less than 6 months old, if their bedtime and naptimes are not predictable, simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone and use their wake time window (awake time between sleep periods) as your guide.
Infants (ages 0-12 mos): If bedtime is normally 7:00 p.m. move bedtime 15 minutes later each night until you reach the normal time again. So the first night you would put him down at 6:15 p.m., the second night 6:30 p.m., and so on. On the fourth night you should be back to 7:00 p.m. Do the same thing for naps. Start 45 minutes earlier than normal and move them 15 minutes later each day. So if morning nap is at 9:00 a.m. normally, start with 8:15 a.m. on Sunday, 8:30 a.m. on Monday, 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday and then 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Do the same for the afternoon nap.
For toddlers/school aged children (ages 12 mos and up) On Sunday, the first day of the time change, put your child down for his first nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. If baby usually naps at 9:30 a.m., put him down at 9:00 a.m. do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap. For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00 p.m., you would put him down at 6:30 p.m. Do this for 3 nights after the time change and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00 p.m. and on 5th day move naptimes back to normal time. So if your child naps at 9:30 a.m, put him down at 9:30 a.m. and so on with the rest of the day.
A great thing about this time change is that there are more hours of darkness which helps make this transition a little easier. If your child wakes up too early, walk them back to their room and tell them it’s not time to get up yet. If your child wakes up too early and is in a crib, be sure to help his body understand it isn’t morning time by keeping him in his crib in the dark room until normal wake time.
Note for Toddlers/School-aged children: If you have a toddler or an older child who relies on a clock to know when their “morning time” has arrived, set the clock one half hour ahead of the new time so that it reads 7:00 a.m. at the new time of 6:30 a.m. Allow your child to wake a bit earlier than normal (they will think it is 7:00 according to the clock but it will be 6:30 a.m., new time). This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00 a.m. time after about one or two weeks.
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal, since the time is different initially they might seem tired earlier. It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, some children it can take up to a month. Be patient and stay very consistent, it will happen.
Creating a Safe Sleep Environment
When you’re considering where your baby should sleep, the obvious answer is ‘a crib’. What you put in that crib important…and I’m not just talking about the baby.
Baby stores, social media and online decorating boards show beautiful huge cribs with lots of bedding, stuffed animals and fluffy-ness all over. While it’s really cute, are those beautifully decorated cribs the safest place to put baby? When my husband and I were shopping for our daughter’s crib, there was a crib in the store decked out in all white with cushy bumpers, a sparkly mobile and soft sheets. My first thought was…what if she spits up? Who wants to try and clean spit up out of white sheets? Not only that, but the crib bumpers were nearly 6 inches thick!
Babies move, even the little ones just a few weeks old. They squirm and wiggle all over the crib so you want to create the safest place for them to sleep. Yes, they need to sleep in a crib or bassinette…not in your bed on the soft mattress, not on the couch or a comfy chair. Don’t use positioners either. If your crib height is adjustable, start it at the highest position, but as soon as baby starts to push him/herself up on her hands, lower the crib mattress height.
Bare is best when it comes to decorating cribs. Cribs should have a firm mattress, with a waterproof cover and a single sheet. Bumpers can become suffocation hazards. Also, don’t put mobiles, toys, stuffed animals, projectors or mirrors in their cribs. Not only can the toys become hazards, but we want baby’s crib to be a place for sleep…not playtime.
Dress baby in one piece pajamas to sleep and make sure nothing covers baby’s head. If you feel like they need to stay warmer, use a wearable blanket, such as a sleep sack. Do not use loose blankets.
Lastly, baby should be put to sleep on his/her back. It may not be the way that you were put to sleep or what you hear from your mom but since the Safe to Sleep campaign (formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign) was implemented, SIDS deaths are down 50%. Once baby is old enough to roll, it’s ok to let them.
Making sure that your baby has a safe sleep environment is important, not only for parents, but also for all caregivers. Make sure you communicate to anyone who cares for baby about these safe sleeping practices.
We as parents know that frequent hand washing and cleaning heavily used surfaces like doorknobs and light switches can go a long way to preventing the spread of germs, but what do you do when your little one wakes up with a stuffy nose and a cough?
Usually your baby is a great sleeper, but now she has what looks like a cold and consequently isn’t sleeping well. Have no fear! I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that your baby doesn’t pick up bad habits that will persist long after the germs have gone. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Expect that your sick child is going to have some nighttime wakeups. Anyone who is ill does not sleep as well as they normally do. They may have one, two, five or even more nighttime wake-ups…it’s how you handle those wake-ups will make a big difference.
One of the big mistakes people make is that they start to intervene in their child’s sleep skills. Meaning they go in, they try to rock or they start to feed again. They try to lull baby to sleep in their arms or go back to all their old sleep props. I understand why people do that because you want to comfort your baby when they’re sick. I’m not saying don’t comfort baby…you can absolutely go in. Have a short cuddle, wipe her nose, give her a drink of water, whatever you need to do to offer some comfort, but don’t interfere with her sleep skills.
You’re not going to rock her back to sleep. You’re not going to feed her to sleep. You’re not going to do any of the things that you normally wouldn’t let her do. The only time you would ever go back to a nighttime feed, obviously, is if your doctor or pediatrician suggests it. If she’s had a high fever for several days, she might need some extra fluids through the night.
You want to make sure that those only happen for a few nights. Three is kind of my rule of thumb. If anything happens for more than three nights, then there is the danger that the baby is going to now expect this and start waking up looking for feeds, rocking, etc even once the sickness is gone.
Another big mistake people make is that they bring their baby into bed with them. Again, I understand it. My daughter seemed to come home from daycare with a new sickness every other week. I’d get sick, then she’d bring home something new. It was a vicious cycle. I understand where that desire comes from. Again, you want to comfort your sick child. If you’re really concerned about your child in the night, it is much better for you to go to them than to bring them to you.
If you’re really concerned, throw down an air mattress on the floor of baby’s room. Spend a night or two in his room to keep an eye on him. Again, remembering my rule of threes, try not to do it for any longer than three nights or you might find yourself six months later still sleeping beside his bed. If everything falls apart, cut yourself a bit of slack. Sometimes it happens. Know that as soon as your baby is well again, just get right back on track with good sleep skills. Go back to your normal routine and baby will remember those great skills that she used before the sniffles came.
Baby Sleep Coach Near Me
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If you're looking for solutions to help your baby or child fall asleep and sleep at night. then you've come to the right place.
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Have you ever asked yourself these questions?