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We have a fascinating question from Carissa, who is the proud new mom of 14-month-old boy/girl twins, whom she and her husband adopted from South Korea. First, Carissa, huge congratulations to your new family! Now, onto your questions:
Between the time change adjustments and the attachment we have had very little sleep. There are so many things that we are going to have to do though – neither of the twins had been given anything other than formula, the switch to whole milk (our dr wanted them switched) was VERY easy and our son will eat ANYTHING but our daughter refuses to eat unless it come out of a bottle…any suggestions? And do any of you have any experience getting 14 month olds on the same schedule – right now there is usually one awake while the other sleeps, there may be a little overlap but not enough to sleep while they sleep or even get much done (one thing though for attachment purposes we CANNOT at this point let either of them cry anything out).
Becoming a twin mom has definitely brought out my more hard-ass practical side, maybe because I don’t feel like I have time for as much touchy-feely. But there are (plenty of, I’m sure) times when my blunt, sometimes stubborn tactic is not the way to go. This is most assuredly one of those times.
First, on food with your pickier eater. Start as you would with a six-month-old new eater, ignoring for the moment that she’s older than that. Start with thin purees, treat it more like an activity than a meal. Then, experiment with flavors and textures, always keeping it low-pressure. For instance, mash up a banana and thin or puree it with milk or formula. When she gets the hang of that, dial back the milk and make it a coarser, thicker mash. Then try banana as finger food. Try other easy first finger foods like rice krispies and cheerios, or Baby Mum-Mums and graham crackers. Just remember that, like dogs and horses, babies can smell fear and frustration. Relax and keep trying, she’ll get the hang of it.
Also, don’t stress about the bottle thing right now. Introduce sippy cups in the same no-pressure way. Offer them with water or maybe a little diluted fruit juice. When they have learned the technical bits on how they work, then you can start thinking about moving the milk away from bottles.
As for sleep schedules, there’s plenty of ways to try to coordinate them without doing cry-it-out. Yes, it may mean that you don’t get much of a break at first, but hopefully that will improve. Set a routine and stick to it. Keep bedtime at the same time for both kids, and make it a nice, calming routine that they enjoy (bath, stories, bottle, etc.). If you currently have to rock them to sleep, try taking baby steps to back off of that. Hold them while you sit in the chair, but don’t rock so much. Or put them in the crib and rub their backs until they fall asleep. That can transition to rubbing backs until they’re calm and just holding your hand there until they’re asleep, which can become a still hand on the back until they’re calm and sitting next to the crib until they’re asleep. You get the picture. But do it for both of them at the same time. They will quickly come to understand what bedtime is all about, and will sleep better for it.
If they wake up overnight, try to keep things quiet and intervention at a minimum. While you obviously want them to know that you will be there when they need you, you don’t want to reinforce that waking up in the middle of the night is time for fun. With my daughter, who is currently going through a screaming-at-night thing, we made a rule that we do not actually pick her up out of the crib. We reach over and sort of hug her over the crib, and we do some back rubbing and sitting next to the crib while she falls back asleep. She knows we’re there if she needs us, but we try not to make 3AM prime snuggle time.
Bedtime is one thing, daytime sleep is another. If you have one that starts the day significantly before the other, I might suggest waking the second baby (maybe not immediately, but soon after the first gets up) in the name of getting them into the same pattern. Then put them down for a nap at the same time, even one seems more ready than the other. Again, you can slowly back off from whatever interventions they need to fall asleep. At 14 months, most babies will probably still do two naps: one around 9AM and one around 1PM, give or take. Keep an eye on their habits and when they seem tired, and then set your schedule appropriately. Then keep it the same for both. One may wake up before the other, and that’s fine, but don’t then make big changes to the next nap or bedtime. Maybe the earlier riser needs to be pushed just a little to make it to bedtime, or maybe the later sleeper can go to bed before he’s exhausted.
The other complicating factor (as if you needed more!) is that they may be nearing the age of really only needing one nap, anyways. But try to at least instill the routine that there’s quiet time at the same time every day. Even if one doesn’t sleep, keep up the routine for at least a week or two to see if it’s working or if it needs adjustment.
In the end, you certainly don’t need any of us to tell you that your kids are going through a major adjustment. So take it easy, one thing at a time. Let them get used to their new home, new sights and sounds and smells. Don’t stress out about where other kids of the same age are. Give them a couple of months to adjust, and if you’re still concerned about where they “should” be, definitely give a call to the nice folks at Early Intervention. If your kids end up qualifying for services, they’ll get you hooked up with all of the right resources to work on whatever areas need a boost.
And again, congratulations and welcome to the wild world of twin mama-hood!