As a twin mom, I am constantly asked, “How do you do it?” My answer? “I live and die by the schedule!” A feeding and sleeping schedule is a must with twins!
Setting a feeding and sleeping schedule for twins is really non-negotiable. YOU need breaks! The only way to get those breaks is to make them happen. Make a plan, gather your tools for success, and with time and (a LOT) of patience you will get those breaks and start to feel like a normal person again.
Believe me, I’ve been there! When your twins are so little you want nothing more in the world but to let them just live by their own internal clock and instincts. But the reality is rough. You are caring for two babies at once. You do not have the luxuries that singleton parents do. It is really hard to cope with that idea!
Learn from my feeding and sleeping schedule experience
You want to be able to let your kid keep sleeping even if they didn’t wake to eat. You want them to be able to feed on-demand when they are hungry like all other babies get to do!
Sorry, friend. Having twins is an incredible experience… and this is one of the drawbacks. But I survived it and so will you! And to those of you who raised your twins without a schedule, I bow down to you. Seriously, I am nowhere near as patient as you and I truly “don’t know how you did it”!
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Best feeding and sleeping schedule tips
But if you are as exhausted and impatient as I am, here are my expert tips for getting your twins on a feeding and sleeping schedule:
Write it down
Buy a thick spiral notebook (I’m talking 3-subject!) When a baby wakes change their diaper, feed them, and then write it down. Record their name, the time the feeding started, the amount eaten, and if they pooped and/or peed (check out the Twins Daily Log to get you started!)
After a day or so you will see a pattern emerge in the journal. This will help you establish how often they are eating and what kind of pattern you can set.
It’s also easier to remember everything that’s going on when you are in a sleep-deprived haze. Especially if you have others coming in to help and they shoo you away to take a nap or shower – they can look at the journal and know exactly where you are in the schedule without having to bother you.
Ask your pediatrician how much and how often they should be eating. Your pediatrician will LOVE this “poop journal” too – bring it to doctor visits so they can look it over and see how well your babies are eating.
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Keep them on the same feeding and sleeping schedule
If Baby #2 isn’t up by now, go wake them and repeat the same steps. I know, wake up a sleeping child? Isn’t that against the laws of nature? Do it. Keep them on the same feeding and sleeping schedule. You will thank me later!
It doesn’t do you any good to have one kid on a feeding and sleeping schedule if you don’t get the other one on the same schedule. The key to maintaining your sanity is to do everything at the same time.
Wake them up
If both babies are still sleeping and it’s time to eat, wake them both up. This was our rule for daytime feedings. At night we let them keep sleeping so we could get some sleep too. Then we would start the schedule over again at 7 am.
Again, we know it may sound crazy given the old saying “never wake a sleeping baby” but when you have twins, keeping them on a feeding and sleeping schedule is more important than any old school advice your great-aunt might give you at the next holiday party. Trust us.
Use your props
Professionals need their tools to do their job. Your job is to get these babies to eat and sleep in the same routine and you need to use your own tools to do this! My favorite props were swaddling sleep sacks (with extra-snug Velcro), noise machines, blackout curtains, pacifiers, and humidifiers.
These items will make the room nice and dark, create a soothing environment for sleep, and help keep you on that schedule. Set the stage for success and use your props to get you through!
When the babies are very little they will probably have an easier time napping in the same room (or even the same crib.) But as they get older this might change and you’ll need to adjust the sleeping arrangements.
When my twins turned 8 months old they started waking each other up from naps and it caused them to not get the quality sleep they needed. We were forced to separate them for naps.
Our house only has two bedrooms so we kept the lighter sleeper in his own crib and the deeper sleeper was moved to a pack n’ play in our master bedroom. It worked! They napped really well like that (twice a day) for months. They eventually transitioned back into their own room together for naps about 6 months later.
As your twins grow the schedule will change. What worked one week might not work the next. Try to be patient and realize there will be many setbacks even after your schedule is set.
Expect to have to readjust your schedule as your kids go through different phases and as they grow. Similarly, once your twins are sleeping through the night expect that nighttime sleep will regress now and then, due to illness, teething, growth spurts, or sometimes for no reason at all!
Of course, there are so many more nuances to getting a schedule down – nuances that will be unique to your children and your situation. Be consistent with whatever is working in the moment and follow your instinct – always! You will get a routine down and when you do it will all be worth it.
Julie Burt Nichols is Twiniversity’s “Wizard Behind the Curtain”, serving as Editor-in-Chief of Twiniversity.com, Account Manager, and Instructor for Chicago Twiniversity classes. Julie is a full-time working mother to twin boys, born on Halloween. She loves serving as a resource and support for new parents, soon-to-be parents, and we-want-desperately-to-be parents. Julie is proud to be a certified child passenger safety technician, and the Twiniversity Resident Songstress/Jingle Writer.