How to Handle Nighttime Care When Both Twins are Sick

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - February 17, 2020

Your twins won’t always get sick at the same time, but sometimes they do.

Sick Twins and the Middle of the Night

This will put extra strain on your family and household.

Our girls were both recently sick at the same time.

In summary, it felt like we had reverted to newborn twins again. They needed constant care and were up multiple times during the night.

After your twins are old enough and start sleeping through the night, you get spoiled. When an interruption comes along, it will be especially difficult to handle middle-of-the-night awakenings.

During the initial newborn phase, you’ll get used to the pattern of round-the-clock care. Plus you will have hopefully worked out a system with your wife to care for the twins during the night.

(RELATED: Still looking for the right twin gear? See my Twin Baby Gear Essentials.)

Remember those lessons and put them to use when your twins are sick later.

When your twins are sick and before you go to bed at night, have a huddle with your wife and make a plan of what will happen during the overnight hours.

Who is on duty?

Just like when you cared and fed newborns, you have some choices for overnight care with your twins.

My wife and I like to take turns caring for sick kids during the night so we can at least get some uninterrupted sleep.

Split the night shift with your wife. “Honey, if the girls wake up between now and 2 a.m., I’ll take care of them. You go from 2 a.m. until the morning.”

This sets expectations with your wife and puts a little reminder in your subconscious that will alert you to get out of bed when you hear cries instead of just ignoring them.

I know you’ve pretended to be asleep when you have heard baby cries during the night and hoped your spouse would get out of bed first. Don’t worry. You don’t have to play that game if you agree ahead of time who will do what and when.

Preparations Within Reach

Lay out the supplies you’ll need for late night baby care before you go to sleep. Put the thermometer, Tylenol, tissues, water bottle, etc. all where you’ll be able to easily locate them.

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Remember, you’ll wake up groggy and won’t be able to think straight. Make it easy for yourself and get your preparations in place before you go to sleep.

Keep a Log

Just like you need to keep a log with your newborn twins, you need to do the same when they are sick. This is particularly true if they are running a fever. You’ll need those temperatures to let the doctor know in the morning if things are getting better or worse.

(RELATED: Your twins will need a lot of gear. Here's the complete twins baby registry checklist to get ready for your twins' arrival.

Put the log and a pen next to your other supplies so that both you and your spouse know what happened while the other was doing the care-taking.


When your twins are infants, you must be very careful giving them any medications. Often when they are very little, you just have to wait out an illness. This is really hard as a parent because you want them to be comfortable and do something to solve the problem.

4 Critical Mistakes Expectant Twin Parents Make

The medicines your twins can take during the night will vary greatly depending on their age. As always, consult your pediatrician before giving any medicines to your children.

As your kids get older, they reach age milestones which make it easier to medicate them to help fight off the symptoms of a cold or the flu.

After talking with your doctor, you may consider some of the following medicines that worked for us when our kids were sick.

I reference CVS/pharmacy products as they are relatively cheap and available close to where we live. Plus they were kind enough to send me a few samples. For a full list of CVS medicines suitable for children, click here.

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When shopping for your infant twins, check the age range on the medicine, and always read the directions to see if it is appropriate for your kids. Some medicines may say “Infant” but are not recommended until your children are older.

Checking infant medicine

Once your twins are beyond the toddler years, you get more options for helping them with colds and the flu.

We liked to use a chest rub on our kids to help them breathe easier:

Chest rub medication

As with other medications, chest rubs also come in different age requirements so read the directions carefully.

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Once your twins are much older (like above 12), you can call in the heavy-hitting medicine like a multi-symptom nighttime relief:

Nighttime medicine

Whatever medication you use, be sure to track it in your log so both parents know what each child has received. And as always, consult your doctor for specific recommendations and dosing instructions for your children.

Be the Backup

Remember that plan you made with your spouse of who will care for the twins and when? Well, be ready to ditch that plan.

The time will come when both your little ones wake up crying and sick in the middle of the night. It will be impossible for one parent to care for both. So go get your spouse or let her wake you up. Regardless of whose “shift” it is during the night, there may be a time when all hands are needed on deck.

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This Too Shall Pass

Don’t worry, your twins won’t have that cold or virus forever. A couple of sleepless nights and things should be back to normal.

Set up your plan, communicate it clearly with your spouse, make your preparations and you’ll be able to weather double sick twins like a pro.

Picture by Ankur P

Further Reading

Dad's Guide to Raising Twins book
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the definitive guide to raising twins. "Dad's Guide to Raising Twins" was written for fathers of twins to help guide you through the first several years with twins. Click here to learn more about the book and get your copy.

2 thoughts on “How to Handle Nighttime Care When Both Twins are Sick”

    • @Bill – I know it is so tough. The good news is that it doesn’t usually last too many days. As long as one or both parents are healthy, it is manageable (but not easy).


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