How we got the girls to happily self soothe in their own cots… and stay there for the whole night!
I am so proud to say that I have two babies who happily sleep in their own cots for 11+ straight at night. But it was not easy to get here. For anyone who has multiples you may know how hard it is to get them to sleep at the same time. Whether it’s nap time or bed time, a routine can be hard to come by when there is two to tango with! We tried a few ways to get them to settle down, including co-sleeping, sleeping separately in the same room and even, in harder times, sleeping in totally separate rooms altogether. If you are also struggling on finding how to get some sleep here are any methods we have tried and tested. Who knows, they may help you out! Update: I know sleep training (or controlled crying some may call it) isn’t for everyone and I will agree that it sounds pretty horrendous but it is honestly the best thing that we did for the girls, so please give it a good research and if you did want to try it then persevere. I have heard off of so many mums saying that they tried it for an hour and gave up and are still at their wits end as to what to do. Please keep trying!
When we found out that we were having twins we carried on with the idea of trying to sleep them in a NextToMe bedside crib. With them being born earlier and slightly smaller they both fit comfortably in the bedside crib together when they arrived home. Unfortunately they hated that bedside crib regardless but they hated being in it together even more. Bebe was a major fidget and hated the idea of sleep, behaviour that she still shows now. She would not let her sister sleep peacefully. The only place that they would begrudgingly share any kind of sleeping space was when they both fitted on my lap or chest. I had heard so many lovely stories about twins calming each other back to sleep or stopping each other from crying just by being in each other’s presence. This was not at all true for us. So co-sleeping was officially out!
We heard great things from babies sleeping in pods of some kind for naps. I had an ad for Poddle Pods pop up on social media and had a look. They sounded great, especially for mums that have more babies than hands. Bebe took to hers almost immediately, falling asleep in it after being rocked in it on someone’s legs. Beau did not. She wriggled and struggled and could not seem to get comfortable. Bebe loved hers so much she used hers to death and we ordered her the next size up when she outgrew her baby one. Beau’s was donated to Bebe as a spare. So far we had one baby who wouldn’t sleep with her sister and one who would only sleep peacefully on or next to another human.
After a while, too long a while, we established a proper routine for the girls. We bought a second cot as the girls were too large for co-sleeping now even if they wanted to and we set about keeping to a steady rhythm every night. To be fair to ourselves we did try and introduce a routine early on but a mixture of dealing with Beau’s allergy suffering and us being totally new naive parents we struggled and soon fell out of it again. I googled lots of stories about twins sleeping and routines etc to see what worked for other people. I didn’t find much that was useful and some of the stories I heard were totally inapplicable to me. Some were saying how they had hired help for the bedtime routine. That wasn’t helpful to me. Some were saying how they had an extra bedroom and slept the babies apart. Again not very helpful. Whether or not we had a spare room, having tow different bedtimes would not be practical if I was doing the bedtime on my own. Where do they leave the second baby while they put the first one down? In the end we did what we thought was best and established our own routine that we thought would work for us. Always the best policy I think in the end.
The Self Soothing Method
Sometimes also known as the ‘cry it out’ method. I really did not want to get on board with this method at first. I was always very sensitive to their crying anyway, to leave them to cry on purpose just seemed cruel. But even after their bedtime routine and rocking them and singing and reading to them for ages they would still cry whenever they were left in the cot to sleep. So if they were going to cry either way, then why not give it a shot. We followed our routine and then took one baby up a time, rocked them and sung to them and then when they were drowsy we popped them into their cot. If it looked like it was going to be a quick settle then we would leave it a few minutes before introducing the next baby. Now we just put them both in at the same time. This is much better for nights when I have to do bedtime alone, as I do not have to leave a baby anywhere while putting the other one down. We would check on them at measured intervals, if they were still crying or unsettled. We used increments of five minutes as our checkpoints. Check at 5. Next time leave it for 10, etc etc.
I’ll be honest, for the first few weeks of the babies sleep training I had to leave it up to Daddy and use my earphones while I tidied up from the day downstairs. The babies took to the sleep training quite well compared to other stories I had heard. Within a few weeks the babies were settling themselves and were managing naps better during the day too. Now, a couple of months after starting, the babies both go down together and majority of the nights are both happily asleep within ten minutes. There are obviously exceptions when one is unwell, teething or just not having a settled night. But the biggest chunk of nights is spent sleeping away in cots.
Our Day’s Routine
The girls now have a regular wake up time of around 5am. The girls have two morning naps and one in the afternoon. The wind down routine starts from about 5 with dinner, bath and reading books until it is time to go up around 6pm. We started a later routine but the girls struggled to stay awake and became overtired. Their wake up time did not change regardless of bedtime timings so we moved it to 6pm for everyone’s sanity! At 6 we take the babies up together, lay them down and sing Twinkle Twinkle to soothe them. If they’re still unsettled after Twinkling then we start a timer so we can check them using the timed increments if need be.
So that is how we get to have dinner together and sleep in the same bed without a baby or two in tow and how we have babies that actually sleep through the night. I’m sure if the girls hadn’t been our first babies then we would have had more knowledge and confidence in a routine or what to do with them etc. But we just managed to struggle through with what we had and what we thought was right. I honestly thought that we would never get to this point and I know people who have two year olds who still don’t sleep through the night or still spend every night in their parent’s bed. Who knows what will come when they get older but for right now I am so proud and grateful that they girls (and Daddy and I) get to have a good night’s sleep!
For more information you can also read this article on sleep training twins!