How do I get my twin toddlers to sleep? If you’re struggling with this in your home, take heart because there are a few tricks you can use to get your toddler twins to nap.
Here’s how to get twin toddlers to nap (even when it seems like that is an impossible feat).
How Much Sleep Do Twin Toddlers Need?
One of the reasons your toddler twins may be struggling with nap time is that they may be getting too much or too little sleep throughout the day.
Yes, how your twins nap during the day impacts overnight sleep and vice versa.
I once thought that if my twins skipped their naps they would be “extra” tired and thus sleep better at night. Unfortunately, that wasn’t necessarily the case.
A wholistic sleep schedule includes all naps and nighttime sleep.
According to an American Academy of Sleep Medicine report, your twins need an adequate number of hours of sleep per day to stay healthy:
- Infants (4 months to 12 months) should sleep 12 – 16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 – 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 – 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
You’ll notice that toddlers cross all these recommendations’ boundaries as they go from one to two to three-year-olds. That is why your twin toddlers may be struggling with nap time – because their sleep needs are changing right before your eyes.
What worked last month might not work today. This disruption to a schedule can be jarring for parents like you who were getting used to a certain schedule.
(RELATED: Check out the Dad's Guide to Twins Youtube channel for additional helpful twin tips and tricks videos.)
A good daytime nap schedule will also prevent your twins from not sleeping at night.
As always, you should consult your twins’ pediatrician for specific sleep recommendations for your twins.
Twin Toddler Nap Times
Your infant twins likely are taking two naps a day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Your children will naturally stop needing the morning nap by 18 months. Don’t let this catch you off guard. If your twins are a year to 18 months old and you just struggle every day to get them down for a morning nap, it may be a sign that they can drop the morning nap and just stick to afternoon napping.
As they grow, they will drop the morning nap and most toddlers just have a single afternoon nap of 1-3 hours in length.
The key here is consistency so your twins know when nap time is and it is always in the same place. Sure there will be days when you’re out of the house or traveling but try to be as predictable as possible so your twins more easily slide right into nap time.
Set the Mood for Nap Time
Getting your twins to nap does require some consistency on your part. Bedtime rituals at night are so powerful because they help your children calm down and both mentally and physically prepare for sleep.
Likewise, you need a pre-nap routine that helps set the mood for nap time.
(RELATED: Love podcasts? Check out the entire Dad's Guide to Twins Podcast archive for additional twin tips and interviews with twin dads.)
You can’t force your twins to sleep but you can help set up the environment and routine to strongly encourage them to fall asleep themselves.
If your twins are struggling with nap time, review what you’re doing right before naps. Just like at nighttime, your twins will need a winding down routine to help get them ready for sleep.
Make sure they are in a dark room without distractions. Since daytime equals playtime, you want to mimic the boring night so they fall asleep fast.
Well before naptime, you want to wear your kids out. Make sure they have plenty of physical activity so their bodies are tired when it is time for naps.
Set expectations with your kids. Even young children can understand and follow instructions. For example, reiterate that they need to keep their head on their bed and their eyes closed.
Separating Twins for Nap Time
As our girls passed the one year mark, we noticed that nap times were getting more difficult. You may find that your twins are not falling asleep like they used to.
If your twins sleep in the same room, getting them to sleep can be a challenge.
Our trouble started when we noticed that our girls would babble and squawk at each other and neither seem to fall asleep quickly or at all.
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To help solve this problem, we turned to The Sleep Lady, who suggested we start separating the girls for nap time.
Since we opted not to buy a bigger house when we found out we were having twins, we didn’t have a spare bedroom to put a sleeping girl in. So one girl stayed in her crib and the other went into a pack-and-play in our master bedroom.
This separation was great. Both girls started falling asleep quicker and took better naps. When one girl woke up, the other could continue sleeping uninterrupted if needed.
At bedtime, the girls still both went down in their cribs in the same room. They would talk and chirp for a while but we didn’t see the same problems that we did with nap time. After all, it’s easier to fall asleep when it’s dark and there aren’t as many fun things to do just outside their door like during the day when the sun is out and their brothers were running around.
Once we started with separate nap time locations, we made sure that the same girl slept in the same place each day. This helped with the routine and expectations so they went to sleep more easily.
We had our girls taking naps in separate rooms for several months. After that, we started them sleeping back in their shared room again and they did fine.
So if you’re having trouble with your toddler twins sleeping during naps, you may consider separating twins for sleep. You may then have a return to a quiet house where you can get all those “to-do” items done. Or just take a nap, too.
Sleep Training Toddler Twins
My wife and I are big fans of sleep training twins. The principles of sleep training work great for twins less than one-year-old AND for toddler twins.
Yes, you can pull off sleep training toddler twins in the same room.
I spent many nights in my toddler twin girls’ room helping them fall asleep through sleep training techniques. Often this involved tucking them in and saying good night and then just sitting on the floor quietly so they would stay laying down in their cribs and quiet as well.
Night by night, I’d progressively sit closer and closer to the door until one night I could just say “good night” and leave the room and they would fall asleep by themselves.
If you’ve already used sleep training techniques with your infants, pull those out again and try them with your toddler twins. The principles work even if you need to adapt to a slightly different age.
Your Twins Will Sleep
Don’t be so quick to move your twins out of cribs and into beds. While that transition is inevitable, keeping them in cribs help contain the chaos and gives your twins physical separation that reduces the countless ways they can keep each other awake.
Be patient with your twins as they grow out of naps and your schedule gets turned upside down. You’ll need to adapt quickly but they will still fall asleep and take their naps … eventually.