Sleep Training Twins
A short while ago I had a twin mom friend ask about sleep training, and what we did. Below is my response to her.
We sleep trained at 4 months. My girls were actually doing pretty well and sleeping in approx 6 hour stretches on their own around three months. Our pediatrician told us to wait to 4 months to sleep train. I know of people who’ve done it earlier, but the doctor wanted them to gain a little more weight than at 3 months. I’ve heard from people that 12 lbs is also the magic age where they can handle sleeping through the night. We had a terrible sleep regression at about 3 months, which is why we sleep trained at 4 months – I just couldn’t handle their ridiculous waking schedule.
I dreaded doing this, but in hindsight, I’m so glad that I did. One of the things that really helped, was I read somewhere that a person posted the question “but won’t they be hungry?” and the answer was yes, of course they will. But they’ll be fine, and they need to learn that they will. Its the same idea of you or I waking at 3 am and being hungry, and just telling ourselves to go back to sleep. So we did what I believe would be a gentle Ferber method. Here’s a link to a baby center article about the Ferber method and what it actually is, as opposed to what people think it is.
Here were the rules we were given. (I think this is standard instructions for our pediatrician).
We were supposed to prep by establishing a bedtime routine (ours included a bath, and then feeding) We swaddled until they could roll over and that helped a lot also, and we only swaddled at night to cue them it was a different scenario than naps. The sequence was for three nights, with each night varying only the amount of time between interactions with the babies.
1st night: when babies cry you can go in and rub their tummies, but not pick them up. tell them it’s okay, then leave. wait 5 minutes, go back and repeat until they fall asleep. do this every time they cry during the night. our girls cried for 2 1/2 hours during one spell. at the set morning time, cheerfully pick them up and tell them it’s morning time.
2nd night: pretty much the same steps, but wait 10 minutes between interactions with them.
3rd night: same steps, wait 15 minutes.
To handle this and not be a zombie at work the next day, Zach slept in the living room with earplugs while I did the crying baby routine. I feel like this actually helped, because together I think I would have tried to convince him I should pick them up and comfort them. Instead, because I knew this was on me, I stuck to the rules. I set a timer on my phone so I wasn’t watching the clock and read while they were crying. (or tried to read.)
It was amazing though, by about the third night, I don’t think they hardly cried at all, and if they did, we just would lay really still and they’d go back to sleep within 15 minutes or so. These days, I can occasionally hear them wake at night, and settle themselves back down. I think this is why they’re now able to nap in cribs too. I now can put them down fully awake, and they’ll settle down and nap on their own. (We used swings or walks for naps for a long time.)
If you’re interested in sleep training, I’d ask your pediatrician at your next visit, when they’d be comfortable with you sleep training. I’d definitely recommend it, I’m so glad that we did it. I talked to a friend with a singleton when my girls were 6 months, and her son was still getting up 1-2 times a night. She felt that the ferber method was unkind, so it’s definitely a personal choice. For us, the choice was clear, and I’m so glad we made the decision to sleep train.