As twin parents, you want your babies to fall asleep by themselves without your constant intervention. Unfortunately, they sometimes get in the bad habit of needing to eat to fall asleep.
So how do you get your twins to sleep without having to feed them? Here are several things to try with your twins:
Keep Them Awake While Feeding
If you’ve ever feed a drowsy baby, you’ll know that milk is the magic elixir that quickly rushes them off to dreamland. However, you can keep them from falling asleep with a little effort. When a baby falls asleep while breastfeeding, you need to take action.
Try gently blowing on their faces, moving their arms or legs around, or opening up the swaddle so they aren’t quite as warm and toasty. When we did this, our babies usually snapped out of their sleepy stupor and would eat.
Here are some other ways to break the pattern of having to suck something (breast, bottle, pacifier) to fall asleep.
Separate Feeding from Bedtime Routine
Your twins should be in a typical pattern throughout the day. They eat, have some activity and alert time, then sleep. This cycle repeats over and over during the day. Notice that there is some activity time between eating and sleeping. If you aren’t having this, make sure you start introducing it to your twins.
This activity time could be tummy time, interacting with you, or playing with some toys.
The key is to make clear distinctions between feeding and sleeping times. There should be a gap so the twins know they aren’t connected.
Create the Environment
There are other ways to help your babies know it is time to sleep. Bedtime should be boring, quiet, and dark (lights out). All these signal the opposite of a bright and activity-filled day.
If your crazy day leads to a crazy bedtime, your twins won’t be falling asleep anytime soon.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Having a predictable bedtime routine is essential to getting your twins to sleep without having to feed them. You’ll need to help the twins transition from activity time to calm down for bed. You can’t go from “on” to “off” like a light switch.
Watch for Signs
Your twins will start to give you signals of what they need. Study their expressions and look for indications that they are hungry. Perhaps you need to feed them earlier than your current schedule.
Soothe In Other Ways
Your twins may want to feed to fall asleep because it is calming and soothing to them. Try soothing your twins with other methods instead of food.
Don’t forget to use baby gear to your advantage. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Put those pacifiers, rockers, swings, white noise machines, and more to good use!
This way your twins get the comfort they seek but you don’t have the bad habit of feeding in order to be soothed.
Solid Foods May Help
Talk to your pediatrician to see if your babies are ready for solid foods (if you haven’t started already). Solid foods help your children go for longer periods of time without eating. That can also help break the pre-bedtime feeding routine.
If your twins are having a hard time falling asleep, it may be time to sleep train them. A systematic approach like sleep training can help them form good sleep habits.
If one or both of your babies fall asleep nursing, you’ll need to actively work to change that habit. Remember that consistency is the key to success when training your twins. If you are breaking some bad habits, it will take some time to retrain your twins. Be patient and stick to it and you’ll have your babies going to sleep by themselves in no time.
(RELATED: Expecting twins? Avoid these 4 critical mistakes expectant twin parents make.)
Original photo by Nate Davis
Need more help sleep training your twins? Check out this step-by-step guide to sleep training twins from fellow parent of twins, Nina Garcia: