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?
There are three key aspects to focus on in helping your child develop healthy and effective sleep habits. When working with clients, here is what I focus on first:
1. A Regular Bedtime Routine
Little ones thrive on consistency. They look to us, the parents/caretakers, to guide them in what they should be doing and how/when/where they should be doing it. This is why it is so important to develop routines. Babies and toddlers need consistent routines to orient themselves to where they are in their day and be able to anticipate what is coming next. Creating a regular bedtime routine that begins at (relatively) the same time each night will cue your baby to the fact that it is almost time to sleep. A simple bath, pajamas, a story/song, then off to bed routine can do wonders as long as you repeat the same actions in the same order each night.. Develop your routine based on what works best for you and your child!
2. Boundaries Around Sleep
If you’ve been around a toddler for more than 5 minutes you’ll know that they love to push boundaries. This is a completely normal developmental milestone, and it’s important for toddlers because they are looking to you to communicate to them what is allowed and what is not. To avoid frustration and confusion, it is important to set clear boundaries for our children, and sleep habits are no exception. Beginning when Baby is young, you can communicate that the expectation at bedtime is for them to sleep in their own bed. Other boundaries you can enforce could be keeping the baby in their room/bed until a certain time each morning (who wants to get up at 5am??) or making sure your toddler is staying in their bed all night. Decide on some healthy boundaries that will serve everyone in your household.
3. Consistency and Holding Boundaries
With both of the above tips, consistency is key. As I mentioned before, babies and toddlers look to us to orient themselves within their day and the world at large. Keeping consistent routines and boundaries allows them to know what to expect as well as how to act. This is crucial for them to be able to develop a sense of security and understand the world around them. You’ll begin to notice your toddler taking initiative when you prompt them to begin their bedtime routine. Keep it consistent and everyone will be on the same page!
What does your bedtime routine look like? What healthy boundaries have allowed your child to develop good sleep habits?
I want to take a minute today to unpack a question I get asked a lot as a sleep consultant; when is the best time to sleep train my baby/toddler?
The answer to this question varies for everyone, but it has to be when you’re ready! If your baby or toddler is sleeping well all night, you and your spouse/partner are sleeping 7-8 hours at night and you love your situation, then rock on!
If you’ve decided that your situation is no longer working for you, you’re not getting enough sleep, your child is up half the night and everyone is sleep deprived, it might be time to change what you’re doing to improve your child’s sleep.
Here are a few guidelines you need to consider before starting any sleep training method.
When your child is healthy
If your baby or toddler is having a hard time sleeping due to a cold or illness, it’s not a good time to start making changes. We want to give our child the best circumstances to succeed at sleep training, so wait until they are physically feeling their best. This applies to teething babies too or babies who have recently received vaccinations.
When you have a plan
A big mistake parents make is jumping into sleep training without having a solid plan of how they’re going to do it. Have you decided what method you’re using? Do you know what to do in different situations? What boundaries have you set surrounding sleep training? Are you and your partner on the same page? Make a plan together to make sure you are on the same page and can support one another through this transition.
Make sure that you and your partner/spouse are clear in your roles and how you’ll handle things such as getting your little one to fall asleep, night wakeups and naps.
When you are ready to commit
Babies and children learn through consistency and routine. Make sure you are ready to make changes to your current sleep routine and you can commit to a sleep training plan for at least a few days. If you’re not ready, no sweat! Wait until a time when both you and your partner can fully commit together.
Have you experienced failed attempts at sleep training? Did you try sleep training on your own and it didn’t work? What aspect of sleep training doesn’t seem to be working for you? Reflecting on past experiences using these guidelines can set you up for success in your sleep training journey.
And if you need any help answering your questions, set up a free call with me to help pinpoint the issue and determine the steps you need to get your kiddo sleeping all night long.
New parents are oftentimes surprised to learn that hitting certain development milestones in their baby’s life will interfere with their sleep habits. One of these first development milestones happens at around four months of age. Commonly referred to as the four month sleep regression, it’s a huge mental and physical growth spurt, and it is no joke! Babies’ sleep patterns shift during this time and you will find that they wake often during the night and have a hard time going back to sleep.
From the moment they are born, babies' brains are constantly evolving and adapting to the new environment. During this time, your baby may be learning new skills such as rolling over or sitting up. This intense time of physical effort and growth can interrupt even the best sleeper’s habits.
If your awesome sleeper of a newborn all of a sudden starts waking at all hours, and it’s left you thinking “what in the world is going on?” then you may have entered the four month sleep regression. Newborns typically sleep around 16-18 hours a day, but by the age of 3 to 4 months, babies begin sleeping a little less at around 15-16 hours per day. This adjustment can be tricky for baby to navigate and can also result in additional night time wakings.
So what can you do?
First, it’s important to watch Baby to understand what is going on. Is this a sleep regression caused by developmental milestones, or might there be something else at play such as an illness?
Second, since this is an intense period of learning new skills, it’s a good idea to allow your baby uninterrupted time to practice these new skills during the day. It can be easy to want to step in when they are struggling with things like rolling over or grasping an object, but allowing them space to attempt a new skill, will also help them to exert effort and become more tired when it comes time to nap or sleep.
Third, make sure Baby is taking in full feeds during the day and right before bedtime. Any period of brain development and growth requires more caloric intake for babies. Ensuring they are full and satisfied will keep hungry tummies from waking baby when they should be resting. It’s ok to offer a quick snack feed about 20-30 minutes before you get Baby ready for a nap to top him/her off.
Lastly, as I always recommend, stick to your routine and keep Baby’s room dark. Having a consistent and predictable bedtime routine will cue Baby to the fact that it’s time to sleep. When wakings do inevitably happen, keeping the room as dark as you can will aid in helping Baby to fall back asleep.
You can’t avoid sleep regressions altogether, but you can control how you handle them. Remember that babies can’t tell us what’s going on, so we want to respond with love and comfort. From a few days to a week or two, the regression will end. Remind yourself that this is a short term hiccup and baby will go back to sleeping at night soon.
Let's hear from you! Have you made it through the four month sleep regression? What worked for you?
If you’re not sure if it’s the 4 month, or any other sleep regression, book a free 15-minute call with me and we can talk specifically about your situation to determine what’s going on.
Staying on Track with a New Baby
Bringing a new baby into the house is very likely to impact your older child’s sleep habits in one way or another, and there are two big reasons why;
1. Your toddler will likely hear the newborn’s cries and think they should help.
2. Your toddler’s wondering why he or she is no longer the center of your world and may be a bit jealous to share your attention.
The confusion of the upheaval of a once only kid household and jealousy will likely cause sort of a regression, prompting your toddler to want the ‘only kid’ attention they enjoyed previously, such as…
● Lots of requests for snuggles
● They may want to ‘act like a baby’ again
● Requesting to sleep in your bed or in your room
● Additional stalling, antics and tantrums during the bedtime routine
The biggest reason this can affect sleep is that parents start feeling guilty about the fact that they don’t have enough hands or time to be in two places at once, so they try to compensate by giving in to all those requests, and those requests frequently show up right at bedtime. You’ll likely hear everything from requests for extra stories, staying up later, laying with them, holding hands, etc.
Parents… I totally understand. Guilt sucks. And when we feel guilty about spending so much extra effort on a new baby, we start to do anything to make sure our kiddos know they haven’t been forgotten, get extra time with us and feel all the love.
So what’s the harm in a few more books and laying in bed with our kid to give some extra love and attention?
“Children are as independent as you expect them to be.” ~Maria Montessori
It’s likely this situation will happen at some point, so here’s what you do:
Keep everything around bedtime exactly as it was before the new sibling arrived; the same bedtime routine with the same limits you had before (ex: reading 2 books), sleeping in their own bed and sleeping there all night.
Comfort and support, but don’t change the how, where and when.
If you start changing what’s allowed around bedtime, such as adding a dance party and saying goodnight to every stuffed animal in your child’s room, it’s only going to tell your toddler that boundaries mean nothing and trust me, they’ll take 10 miles if you give an inch.
Second, try to focus 15-20 minutes during the day where it’s just you and your toddler, one-on-one to do something together. Your kiddo will love the extra time and snuggles.
Never apologize to yourself or your kid for setting boundaries. If the feeling of “oh no, I have to give everything” guilt starts to set in, remember that your toddler is simply working through some big emotions, which toddlers don’t know how to navigate. You are doing the best you can and holding to your boundaries to have a happy, attached and supported kiddo. You’re an awesome parent…don’t forget that.
Within a few weeks, your whole family will have had time to adjust to the newest member of the family and you’ll find that new groove. You’ve got this!
Newborn Sleep Help in Washington
Time to Fall Back and Say Goodbye to Daylight Savings Time
According to the calendar, this weekend we’re supposed to get an extra hour of sleep as daylight savings time ends…tell that to our kids!
Is it teething?
Have you ever heard the story of Catherine O'Leary's Cow?
Back in 1871, the Chicago Tribune reported that the cause of the great Chicago Fire was a cow, Catherine O’Leary’s cow to be precise, kicking over a lantern in the barn while it was being milked.
Unfortunately, the Tribune admitted later on that it had completely fabricated the story, but that didn’t stop people from blaming Catherine and her cow from being widely blamed for one of the greatest disasters in US history.
What’s this got to do with teething, you ask?