Twinfant Tuesday: Separation Decisions For Multiples

“Are you going to separate them?”

“When are you going to separate them?”

Those are 2 questions that parents of multiples will have to answer over and over again as their multiples go through the different stages of childhood. The first time that question has to be answered is when you’re going home with twinfants in tow. Should they share a room? Should they share a bed?

For me the answers were fairly straightforward. Should they share a room? Absolutely! No way I’m going to manage night feedings in 2 different locations.

Should they share a bed? As long as it’s safe to do so was the consensus. What’s safe? As long as they do not have the ability to move or roll over each other, twins can share a crib. With this, my twins did share a crib for the first couple of months until they started wiggling to the middle of the crib to share body warmth. imageCute as it was, it wasn’t safe and that signified it was time for them to move into separate cribs. And so the first of many separation decisions was made based on safety and convenience.image

I wish all the other separation decisions would be as easy as the ones in the infant stage but no such luck. My babies are now pre-schoolers and I’ll soon have to face the question of separating them in school. As with the first decision that was made, the  answer will be a combination of what’s best for the family – convenient for the parents and in the best and safest interest of the kids.

If you’re a parent or caretaker of multiples, how do you do it? The separation decisions that is. What are the driving factors for determining when and how to physically separate your multiples?

Yetunde is the proud mom of twin girls, affectionately nicknamed Sugar and Spice and she blogs about the twin parenting life at www.mytwintopia.com

Toddler Thursday: Escaping from Cribs

Last night, my 19 month old son discovered he’s strong enough to climb out of his crib.

I’ve actually known it for a while. He’s been climbing toys and furniture for weeks now. I’ve been finding him precariously bouncing on the arms of chairs, scaling high shelves for the goodies hidden inside, and even standing on the topmost refrigerator part of his sister’s play kitchen to look out the window. It’s really quite an amazing sight, but considering he’s my son and I would prefer not to have his head crack open in a fall, this is not funny.

However, that hasn’t happened. Yet. As he is a very active and fearless boy, I fully expect someday he is going to break something. I just hope it’s not his head, and that it doesn’t happen before he even makes it to age two.

I did not convert Big Sis’s crib to a toddler bed until she was 38 months old. That’s right, past age three. And this is only because she got too heavy for me to lift her in and out multiple times a day. Outside of a couple of weeks when she wanted to be held to sleep around her siblings’ age, when she did somehow manage to climb and fall out of her crib once, she’s never had any issues with staying inside.

Last night, my boy woke crying around 10:30pm. The twins sleep at 6pm, so he’d had a good solid sleep already. I was getting ready to go to bed when I heard him screaming, and since we’ve been passing around a cold lately, I went in to check if he was feverish. He wasn’t, but once I went in, I couldn’t get back out. He latched onto me with his whole body, and gestured that he wanted to lie on my chest while I sat in the chair. While we did that, he was completely calm. But the second I got up to put him back in bed, he would push my shoulders with his hands to indicate he wanted me to sit back down, and then hysterically cry when I put him in the crib. I just walked out because usually he quits crying when I do that, but it didn’t work this time. I saw him lift his leg over the crib rail on the video monitor and ran back in just in time to see him tumbling out to come find me. I picked him up, told him no climbing, and put him back in. More hysterics and immediately climbed back out. This time, he landed on his feet. The next two times he only perfected his technique and speed. In fact, he was so shockingly agile I almost laughed. (Good thing he couldn’t see me smiling in the dark.)

I didn’t want him to become an expert, so I sent in Daddy to keep him from vaulting his crib again. Meanwhile I quickly attempted to buy a crib tent online. Lo and behold, crib tents have all been recalled. I guess I vaguely remembered something about this, but it sure was darned inconvenient for me at the moment. Thankfully a search on google resulted in Plan B: drop his crib mattress.

Daddy sat with this boy, alternating between physically holding him down, patting his back, and leaving him alone, until close to 1am when he finally fell back asleep. It was only one night, but we all suffered, including his twin sister whose crib is right next to his. Immediately after breakfast this morning I went to work on our new solution. And TA DA! No way he is going to be monkeying himself out of this.

My son's new crib. While standing in it, the top of his head barely makes it to the railing. 

My son’s new crib. While standing in it, the top of his head barely makes it to the railing.

lunchldyd is mom to 19mo b/g twins and their 4yo sister. These toddler shenanigans are really keeping her on her toes!

Two Naps to One

A week and a half of summer break under my belt, and I’m ready for a vacation from my vacation.

I’ve known for a while that the twins’ naps weren’t working, but I hoped that I had more time to enjoy the status quo before upending it all for the dreaded transition. However, it became glaringly obvious that they were NOT going to take their 9am naps anymore, no matter how hard I tried to tire them out. Thing is, I’ve been looking forward to taking them to the Mommy-n-Me class that Big Sis and I attended almost two years ago, which is at 11am. But with my teaching schedule getting out the door by 6:45am, all the kids are used to waking up super early. That means, if they take no morning nap, they will almost definitely be sleeping through that class.

I can’t remember when Big Sis transitioned to one nap, but I am the one who did it, because my mom tells me that after some sort of break from school (winter/spring/summer), I brought her back already switched over to her new nap schedule. I do not remember it because it must have been a pretty natural and easy process. We settled on 11am-1pm for over a year. It wasn’t until her siblings landed on a 12:30-2:30 afternoon nap that I changed her nap to synchronize with theirs. But that wasn’t traumatic either, because she was ready to be awake longer in the mornings and have a later bedtime. There were a couple days of brief crankiness around her prior naptime, but I distracted her with something and she transitioned just fine.

No such luck with these two. There’s been lots of whining and general crankiness, even some food throwing and all-out meltdowns. Part of the difficulty has to result from the fact that there are two of them whose sleep/wake times need to be synchronized, but I think it’s mostly because they’re just not as agreeable as their sister. They’re much more active, and will fight to stay awake. Plus, as they share a bedroom and have their cribs next to each other, they will sometimes keep each other awake or wake each other up.

I’ve been writing down their naptimes for this last 1.5 weeks, and it looks like we’re starting to stabilize. And I’ve kept them more or less on the same schedule:

M 12:30-2 (garbage truck woke them)

Tu 12:45-2:45 (woke naturally)

W 11:30-1 (Big Sis woke them)

Th  9:30-9:45 (in car); 1-3:30 (woke naturally)

F  9:45-10:05 (in car); 1:30-4 (I woke them)

What I’ve learned this past week is that they haven’t been getting enough sleep. They’ve been fussy and unhappy, particularly in the late mornings.  Their nighttime sleep hasn’t been impacted too much by all of this (thank goodness!), other than falling asleep slightly earlier on the one-nap days. On Friday it felt like they were trying to catch up on sleep after being deprived for almost a week. Also the little catnaps in the car indicate they are indeed really tired.

I’ve been trying to force them to nap after lunch (more convenient time for me), but 6am to noon is proving to be too long a span for wakefulness, and too abrupt a change to make. They still need about 2-3 hours of naps during the day, but spaced right in between when they wake and their bedtime, so probably 10:30-1:30, keeping a wake time of 6am and bedtime of 6pm, which is what I hoped for on Saturday. Their actual naptime turned out to be 10:30-12:45. Close enough.

They woke up earlier the last couple of days though. We’re not even getting a full two hours in that nap anymore. And bedtime crept up to 6ish. Not the ideal I had in mind, but there’s also been less crying and screaming, so I guess we are making progress?

Sadly, I had to sacrifice Big Sis’s nap in this transition too. She was sleeping 1-2:30, but with her siblings unable to make it to nap at that time with her, I decided it was time for her to drop her nap entirely and move back her bedtime by 1.5 hrs. Other than her taking little catnaps in the car if I happen to drive over 15 mins in the afternoons, she’s taken to this just fine. And it’s kind of nice they’re all going down earlier for the night.

lunchldyd‘s b/g twins are 18mo, and their big sis just turned 4yo. She is welcoming any good suggestions for making this transition easier.

Traveling with Toddlers and a Preschooler

Having twin babies was overwhelming, having twin toddlers is exhausting, and having a preschooler and full time job on top of that is mentally draining. This is on a daily basis, in a confined predictable environment. So when Hubby suggested a trip away during my spring break last week, I was trepidatious, to say the least.

TravellingOur twins have never taken a trip of over a few hours at a time, we’ve never been out on vacation together as a family, and our preschooler hasn’t spent a night away since she was with Grandma when her siblings were first born almost 1.5 years ago. Suffice it to say, it’s been a long time. I also really wanted to go.

So, fully willing to accept getting no sleep, dealing with cranky children, and having no fun at all, we went… And it was GREAT! Completely exceeded all my expectations. For those contemplating travel with young multiples, it is possible. Here is what we did that I believe, contributed to a wonderful mini-vacation for us:

Location, Location, Location

We decided not to go too far, but far enough to stay overnight. Hubby’s suggestion of Legoland was perfect! Less than 2 hours away, nice hotel on site. We figured we’d give ourselves time to really explore, and we’d probably want to be taking it easy with so many young children, so I booked a two-night stay, and bought us 2-day hopper tickets.  We planned all our driving to coincide with the kids’ naps so that we’d have a nice quiet ride both ways.

Don’t Stress

Being very Type A, I knew beforehand I had to let go of some control. I had to force myself to relax my Nazi sleep schedule for the trip. I made a decision to prioritize nighttime sleep for the entire family and allow naps to be skipped/shortened for a couple of days. This was not easy for me, as I believe sleep is the foundation of everything for young children, but it was a necessity to balance the needs of everyone the trip. Obviously we knew what times the kids would all be sleepy, and sort of worked around those times (allowing twins to lay down in their stroller, taking it easy after lunch and returning to the hotel for a siesta), but for the most part I just loosely let naps be how they would.

Similarly, I only roughly planned the activities on this trip: What times we’d be driving, check-in/out times, the buffet hours, hotel entertainment events. I didn’t even know the layout of the park until we got there and explored it together. Besides a little mixup with our luggage being delivered to our room the first night (which of course was out of my control anyway), everything worked out great with my unplanned planning.

Eat at Buffets 

Our hotel stay included a breakfast buffet, and our kids ate free during the dinner buffet. Though we could have gotten dinner probably for less in the park or elsewhere, the convenience of food being an elevator ride away from our room, and the abundance of highchairs and kid food available at a place catering to children (an entire buffet section was at kid height) can’t be beat. We ate there for dinner both nights. Since breakfast was included for everyone staying at the hotel, it got to be very busy around 8:30am every morning. Not a problem for us: our kids are up and hungry by 6:30am. We ate breakfast there both mornings too.

Lunches we had in the park. As with all amusement park food, it was expensive and not the greatest. Factor in waiting for the food while your children are hungry, and you’d come to the decision to eat at a buffet whenever possible too.

Sleeping Arrangements 

When booking our reservation, I asked for a room on the top floor, away from the elevators. I knew that with so many kids staying in the hotel it would be loud, so I wanted to eliminate the noise as much as I could. I also brought a loud fan from home to use as a cover for any small noises we would make moving around the room. Again, this hotel is pretty spectacular that all their rooms are like mini-suites with a section for children that includes a bunk bed. My preschooler has never slept in a bunk before, so it was very exciting for her to look forward to being up high.

The hotel offered pack-n-plays, so I requested two of them. I was a little worried that there would be no space for them both, but going without them was not an option so we just had to wait and see. Thankfully, both cribs fit with plenty of space. We kept them at the foot of the adult bed. Knowing from traveling with their big sis at a younger age that being in an unfamiliar place might mean they would have trouble sleeping, I made sure to pack the bedding that they’re used to from home. The sheets and blankets took up almost half of the larger luggage we brought (the kids’), but it was worth it. They made not one peep either night. The fact that we all got a full night’s sleep really was the best part of this trip.

Ultimately, as with most things, I was much more worried about doing this than I should have been. I think now that I have 3 children instead of just one, I am learning to go more with the flow. Though damn expensive, this trip has taught me that some planning and the right attitude go a long way. I can’t wait for our next family vacation!

(As an aside, Legoland is such a wonderful place for young children. I would say it is perfect for kids aged 4 to 10. It is much smaller than Disneyland, easily walkable for young children without getting too tired. It was also less crowded, and if you don’t go during peak times there are no lines. Going almost anywhere with a double stroller often means a lot of maneuvering and blocking traffic, but Legoland was full of doubles, and we never had a problem getting around. Even “stroller parking” seemed plentiful. The Legoland hotel was the highlight of this trip though. Catered specifically to this age group, it had so many conveniences and amenities that made the trip super easy for us. Highly recommended.)

lunchldyd is mom to an almost-4yo and her 17mo b/g twin siblings. She is a high school teacher in a suburb of Los Angeles.

Twinfant Tuesday: Ever-Changing Schedules (Birth-4 Months)

Ever-Changing Schedules (1)

Schedules. Some moms love it. Some moms hate it. Some grandmothers think that their daughters/daughters-in-law are sickos for thinking about putting their sweet grandchildren on a dreaded schedule.

If you were a student in my classroom or one of my students’ parents, you will know that I love schedules and routines. By reading some of my extensive lists on my blog Doyle Dispatch, you could probably also tell that I like to know what to expect.

Let’s face it, though. Babies like routines also.

Think about it. They spent 9 months in this cozy, safe environment before getting expelled into this crazy, loud, unexpected world. What in the world is going on? As soon as they get comfortable with the way things work, they go through a developmental change and then POOF they have to re-figure out the world again. Scary! That’s why we swaddle our babies. That’s why we live with white-noise machines constantly humming all night long. That’s why we do schedules and routines. We do whatever we can to help guide our babies through the craziness of life, especially during their infancy.

Routines start simply: The Feeding Routine

  • unswaddle
  • change diaper
  • allow to nurse for about 10-20 minutes
  • supplement with milk that was pre-pumped
  • re-dress
  • swaddle
  • sleep
  • repeat

We do that every 2-3 hours. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. It’s exhausting, but we can make it work.

Then a growth spurt happens, and we think we are losing our minds.

My breasts hurt. My nipples are falling off. My back is killing me. I’m deliriously tired. Can’t we put them back in?

Around 6 weeks, we re-evaluate and realize that, after this growth spurt is over, our perfect little schedule isn’t good anymore. Our babies aren’t sleeping every other minute of every day. They are getting overstimulated when they are held by us, their grandparents, their aunts, uncles, and visiting friends.

Twin Schedules

We come up with a new schedule: The Ideal Feeding Schedule

  • 11 PM
  • 3 AM
  • 7 AM
  • 10 AM
  • 12:30 PM
  • 3 PM
  • 5:30 PM
  • 8 PM

Ha. Like you have enough brain power to stick to that schedule! Think again, Batman!

Playtime within Schedules

You re-evaluate after a week and come up with the Get-Daddy-Back-to-Work Schedule

  • 8 AM: First Feeding
  • In-between: Daddy to work, Mommy and babies 1-1 cuddle or activity
  • 11 AM: Feeding
  • In-between: Babies nap
  • 2 PM: Feeding
  • In-between: Mommy 1-1 cuddle time or activity
  • 5 PM: Feeding
  • In between: Cuddle time
  • 8 PM: Feeding
  • Babies sleep (expect fussiness)
  • 11 PM: Feeding
  • Babies sleep
  • 2 AM: Feeding
  • Babies sleep
  • 5 AM: Feeding
  • Babies sleep

You discover that this one really doesn’t work either. Maybe it’s the fact that your babies are constantly going through a growth spurt or sleep regression. When one stops, the other starts. You give up. You just forget the advice from The Sleep Book (insert whichever theory you are going with now). You give in. You go with the flow. You feed ever hour if you need to. You feel like you aren’t producing enough milk. You are worried that you are starving your babies, but you plug along.

Twin Schedules

Suddenly, you realize that you can predict the type of mood that your baby is in at about 2.5 months. They still hate this thing called “napping,” but you just need a few minutes during the day for your shower/coffee/to clean the spit-up off your 3rd shirt of the day. A natural schedule takes place. It’s marvelous!

The Natural Schedule (Times are adjustable)

  • 6:00 AM Babies wake up and Daddy soothes them/turns on their mobiles
  • 7:00 AM Babies are too hungry and it’s time to eat (Mommy begrudgingly gets out of bed)
  • During the feeding, Daddy gets coffee for himself, tea and breakfast for Mommy, and showers
  • 7:30 AM Daddy takes both babies, changes diapers and enjoys Happy Morning Time
  • 8:15 AM Babies get tired and cranky. Time for naps!
  • 9:15 AM Babies are awake (although this can happen much earlier). Time for play gym, tummy time, singing, stories, talking, and other play activities.
  • 10:30 AM Mid-morning feeding
  • 11:00 AM Happy mid-morning time with activities
  • 11:45 AM 2nd nap
  • When wake-up: Playroom activity time
  • 2:00 PM Afternoon feeding
  • 2:30 PM Happy afternoon time with activities
  • 2:50 PM Nap
  • 4:30 PM Wake-up and playtime
  • 5:00 PM Feeding
  • 5:30 PM Cuddling with Daddy and Mommy after work (“Couch Cuddle Time”)
  • 7:15 PM Baths and Bedtime routines
  • 7:45 PM Final Feeding and Goodnights
  • Possible feedings around 12:30 AM and 3:30 AM (and sometimes at 5:30 as well)

Now, I’m not saying that this is perfect or that this is the schedule that we always stick to, but overall it does what we want it to do MOST of the time. Feed-play-sleep-play is really  a workable routine. There’s a reason that so many moms swear by it.

One other thing that has helped us is this: Whenever David or Audrey shows signs of being tired, we put them down for a nap or let them sleep where they are. If it is in the evening, we will let them fall asleep for a short time wherever they are (in our arms or in their bouncers if it is dinnertime). At this age, we figure that if they sleep, it’s because they need to sleep. Their nighttime sleeping is all over the place anyway, that we just go with it. Napping so close to bedtime hasn’t shown that we’ve had a negative impact on their overnight sleeping. I know that this goes against what the sleep-training advice tells us to do, but it has worked for us, so we stick with it.

Twin Schedules

Lately, I’ve been having some more appointments, whether is it physical therapy for my shoulder (totally different story… you try having shoulder blade issues when you have two babies that want to be held all the time), a class at the gym (free childcare and a hot shower afterwards!), or just sanity visits from other adults. We have tried one more schedule, based off of The Natural Schedule. We don’t have to stick to it everyday, but it does seem to work:

The 4-Month-Old Schedule

  • 7 AM Feeding, Diapers, Play
  • 8 AM Nap
  • 9:15 AM Feeding, Diapers
  • 10 AM Leave for Gym
  • 10:30 AM Class at Gym
  • 11:30 AM Shower and Locker Room Time
  • 12:15 PM Pick Up Babies from Nursery and Go Home
  • 12:30 PM Feeding, Diapers, Play
  • 1:45 PM Nap
  • 3 PM Feeding, Diapers
  • 3:30 PM Out and About (or Home) Activities
  • 5:30 PM Feeding
  • Evening Activities (Walk or Errands)
  • 8 PM Baths, Diapers, PJs
  • 8:30 PM Final Feeding
  • 9 PM Lights Out
  • + 1 or 2 feedings during the night

So, mommies and daddies, do you have a schedule that works? I’d love to hear it! How do you make it work with two babies? Do you hold your breath during “nap time” as well, knowing that one of them will wake up any minute?

The Time I Had to Clean the Poop Off the Wall

When twin 2-year-olds start changing each other's diapers during nap time, it doesn't make for a pretty picture.Once, when J and M went down for their nap at age 2, I decided to take a nice long shower. I’d been having a hard time sleeping, so I thought a shower might help me take my own nap. As it turns out, I should have done more to confirm that M and J were asleep.

When I came out of the shower, I heard voices in the girls’ room, so I went to investigate.

M: Mama, I can’t clean the poop on the wall.
Me: The what on the what?
M: The poop on the wall.
Me: How did poop get on the wall?
M: I put it there.

This face delivered the news of poop on the wall. Because twins will try to change one another's diapers if they can.

This face delivered the news of poop on the wall.

M had gone number two in her diaper. She had then used half a package of wipes to clean herself, and in the process smeared the wall above her bed with fæces. Can I get an “Eeeeeewwwww” from the peanut gallery?

I never got a clear answer from J on her level of participation.

Just to be safe, both young ladies were bathed, and all the bedding and soft toys in the room and clothes on the girls made their way through the washing machine with copious quantities of bleach. I was glad I had an economy-size container of disinfectant wipes because the walls, as well as the dresser where the used diaper wipes were piled, needed it. For the record, satin sheen Behr paint cleans wonderfully!

At some point, J’s (clean and dry) diaper was changed. J reported that M changed it for her, and I must admit that she did a great job. One tab was attached a little crookedly, but I wouldn’t have known that I hadn’t put the diaper on J except that she’d been in a different brand when she went down for her nap.

This was one of the grossest experiences of my life.

I started out angry and grossed out. Once the wall and children were clean, though, I was able to get a little perspective. M was genuinely trying to clean up after herself. She was embarrassed by the mess she made. J tried to communicate to me what happened, although I struggled to understand the sequence of events.

Our babies grow up. They won’t learn without falling down a few times and making a few messes.

What’s been your grossest parenting moment?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Twinfant Tuesday: What Exactly Is “Sleeping Through the Night”?

Sleeping through the night. A fallacy?

Sleeping Through the Night: A Common Question

“Is your baby sleeping through the night?”

It’s such a common question. We ask it of new parents all the time. It’s a question I hear myself asking constantly. Here’s the bigger question. What do we mean when we ask it?

“Is your baby sleeping through the night?”

It’s a comfortable alternative to the question I really want to ask: “What’s your baby like? Who is he or she?” I find that first-time parents of singletons don’t know how to answer that question, since they lack a personality comparison to describe their child against. It was easy for me to see that J was an independent baby, in comparison to M. It was obvious that M was a chatterbox, in contrast to J.

But I digress.

I kept hearing myself ask new parents whether their baby is sleeping through the night. When I’d get an affirmative answer, I’d congratulate the new parent on his or her achievement. When a parent said, “No,” I’d try to comfort them by telling them that my girls didn’t sleep through the night until they were a year old, but we survived and besides, their baby would sleep though the night much sooner than mine because everyone’s baby is bigger for their age than mine.

Sleeping Through the Night: Do We Mean the Same Thing?

Then it occurred to me. I have no idea if we mean the same thing when we say, “sleep through the night.” Are we talking 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep on the part of the baby? 8? 6? Does a nursing session without actually waking baby count as an interruption? How about a diaper change? What about night terrors?

Medically speaking, sleeping through the night, for an infant, is defined as 5-6 hours of sleep without a meal.

New parents want to know when this magical through-the-night sleep will come. By failing to define my terms, am I setting my friends up for an impossible goal by even asking the question?

Sleeping Through the Night: What I Thought

I defined sleeping through the night as being able to skip one of both babies’ 3-hourly feedings, enabling me to sleep for a solid 5-6 hours without needing to feed, soothe, or change a baby.

My daughters, probably because of their extremely small size, weren’t able to do this until they were well over a year old. Our pediatrician told us that part of the issue was that their stomachs would simply not be large enough to contain enough nutrition to sustain them for 6 hours, the reserves in the body fat inadequate. The recognition that there was a physiological reason for my sleeplessness was a great comfort.

Although I was still married when my daughters were tiny, their dad was in Iraq, so I was responsible for every. single. middle-of-the-night feeding… before leaving for work at 6:15 am. I was a zombie.

Mercedes is in the same boat. At 17 months, her little ones are asleep by 7:15 pm, awake at 10, midnight, and sometime again between 12-5. They’re up for the day around 8. RebeccaD wrote, “For the first year, if we got 4 hours we felt like we won the lottery. On the other side of age one, they are sleeping 11.5-12 hours nightly with only occasional interruptions. It will happen!”

We’re in the minority. Most moms are getting more than 3-hour spurts of sleep within the first half of their children’s first year.

Sleeping Through the Night: Variation in Definitions

I took my question of defining this through-the-night thing to the MoMs of HDYDI.

MandyE and DoryDoyle, like me, defined sleeping through the night as dropping the middle of the night feeding or feedings. Mytwintopia wrote that she, “felt better about [her] life when [she] found out that for [her] pediatrician STTN was 6 hours.” Maritherrien had heard the same thing.

LDSKatelyn was also told that 6 hours was the magic number, but for her, it’s 8 hours. Her twins slept 12 hours through the night around 7 months old. Her singleton son wakes up once a night, every night from about 6 months old. It’s half-way through his long stretch of sleep. She suspects it’s a habit rather than a need to eat.

RebeccaD‘s pediatrician defined it as the first 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and considered the next 4 hours the first nap of the day. However, it didn’t feel like “sleeping through the night” to her until it her kids were sleeping a full 12 hours, without any intervening feedings or diaper changes.

Liggy, our most experienced mom with 3 older singletons preceding her twins, has always considered sleeping through the night to be 6 to 8 hours. Her twins were sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night at 6 months, eating every 2 hours or so during the day.

For , sleeping through the night will be a 12-hour block of sleep.

Mercedes‘ definition was my favourite: “The mythical capabilities of twin unicorns on a bed of cotton-candy clouds while the mother basks in the sticky sweet nectar of peace and quiet.” And Jen Wood, with her 5-year-olds, said, “I’ll know it when I see it.”

MandyE’s definition changed over time. Her first definition of “sleeping through the night” was about 7 hours, her daughters sleeping 10:30 pm – 5:30 am.  Eventually, she dropped the 10:30 feeding and delayed out the morning feeding. 11 hours of sleep became the norm when her girls were about 6 months old.

Despite the claim in an article on the La Leche League site that 5 hours is the “medical definition” of sleeping through the night, I was unable to find anything definitive using the American Academy of Pediatrics website search. The La Leche League piece doesn’t cite references, so I’ll have to stick with what we MoMs came up with. 6-12 hours without needing a feeding seems to be our consensus. That’s a 100% variation.

As with most matters of parenting, listen to your kids and don’t worry about the averages. Whose kid is average, anyway?

How have you defined “sleeping through the night.” When did your kids do it?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child – A Book Review

A mother of 3yo twins reviews Weissbluth's sleep classicThere are arguably seven popular schools of thought regarding sleep training. Those schools of thought are all led by different experts who do not always play nicely together in the sandbox. On the one end is Richard Ferber; popularly associated with the “Cry it out” method. On the other end of the spectrum are Drs. Sears who favor attachment parenting style. Marc Weissbluth, the author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child falls somewhere in between those two extremes.
HealthySleep
I decided to follow the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book in sleep training my twins and 3 years later, it’s a decision I do not regret. I chose this book because it focuses more on building good sleep habits very early in life to forestall problems later. Some of the concepts I found most useful are:

Differentiating between night and day straight from the hospital: Daytime was for cuddles and games with baby but night times were made as boring as possible so the babies knew the nights were for sleeping and nothing else.

Putting baby to bed awake – as opposed to rocking baby to sleep and then putting them in their bed. The author gives some signs of tiredness to look out for with babies. Once you see those signs, put baby in bed and let them self-soothe to sleep. This advice was hard for me because I really wanted to snuggle my 8lbs of sweetness to sleep all the time. THEN I reminded myself that 8lbs of sweetness quickly grows to become 25lbs of defiance.I’m glad I went with the authors’ recommendation to teach kids to self-soothe.

Sleep transitions – As a light sleeper, I got up every time my babies made a sound. Understanding the concept of sleep transitions helped me manage our nights better.

This book and the concepts it teaches may not necessarily be the best for your family but it’s what worked for me. I consider it an essential part of my twin parenting library and even now, whenever my twins start having disruptions in their sleep schedule, I consult the Healthy Sleep habits book for solutions as it contains tips starting from infanthood all the way to adolescence. As a bonus, there’s also a chapter devoted to special family events and concerns – dual career parents, mother returning to work, vacation, twins, adoption, daylight savings time and health issues.

True-Life Testimonial – When my twins turned 3 in November, I thought it was a good idea to move their bedtime to 9 pm as it seemed they could handle staying up for longer and we got to spend more time together. One month later, I was the mom walking on eggshells around her 3 year old because any wrong move could result in a meltdown of epic proportions. In one month, my daughter Sugar had more meltdowns than both girls combined had when they were 2 year olds. I confess that I started to wonder if my kid has previously undetected behavioral issues.

One day, in the midst of yet another meltdown, the director of their daycare pulled me aside and asked if Sugar was having trouble sleeping as her tantrums had become much more frequent. The next day we went for dance class and this same child was kicked out for being disruptive THREE TIMES in a 30 minute class. I decided to blow the dust off my sleep training book and see if there was a chapter for older kids. There was! I read it and made changes to the girls’ bedtime routine and sleep habits – moved bedtime back to 8 pm at the latest, included 3 minutes of quiet time in a yoga pose for them to physically unwind and totally ignored all unnecessary requests for water, a fallen toy and other night time shenanigans once the lights went out. It worked!

meditation

By the third day, the girls were staying in bed quietly even when they did not immediately fall asleep and there was noticeable improvement in their daytime temperament. A week into our renewed sleep training, I had reason to say a prayer of thanks for Dr Marc Weissbluth. When I arrived to pick up the girls from daycare, Sugar (the same meltdown mistress of the prior week), went round the class hugging all 8 of her classmates and telling them she’d see them later. She did the same for her teachers. I was close to tears. I recognized that beautiful, bubbly child. I had missed that beautiful, bubbly child. I’d almost forgot what her personality was like before lack of good sleep habits turned her into the equivalent of a PMSing 3 year old with a bad hangover. This book gave me my happy child back

Of course its not all rainbows and unicorns… they are after-all still 3 year olds! 

Advice for other parents of multiples

Explore all possible options available to you for sleep training and choose the one that works best for your personalities. To get the gist of any other book out there, just do a search of the book’s title on any parenting forum. (I used the babycenter.com forums). You’ll find a legion of passionate parents for and against the ideas of whichever book you’re researching. By the time you read through a few threads, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the author is advocating and how it can be applied to your family situation.

Most importantly is to have a sleep plan (hopefully) before your multiples are born. When it comes to sleep and two or more babies, having a sleep strategy can be life and sanity saving.

Yetunde is the proud mom of twin girls, affectionately nicknamed Sugar and Spice. She blogs about the twinmom hustle at mytwintopia and is almost sleeping through the night now.

Twinfant Tuesday: The Secret to Synchronizing Twin Naps – Wake Em Up!

Synchronized sleep: the holy grail of twin parenting. Veteran parents, experts, and other advice-givers agree that the key to synchronizing twin naps is to put them down to sleep at the same time.

It makes sense. Logic would dictate that if you start nap at the same time, the babies will eventually get on the same rhythm.

However, we all know twinfants are the ultimate defy-ers of logic, and sleep-deprived parents are hard pressed to puzzle out why their carefully laid plans are not working. Our fraternal twin boys were determined to sleep in shifts. They just had different internal clocks and different ways of being soothed to sleep. If I put them down for nap at the same time, one would sleep and one would cry, babble, roll around, or poop – anything but fall asleep. I had one early riser and one night owl. For 6 months, I basically did nothing but put babies to sleep, yet I almost always had a baby awake. A special kind of torture for the exhausted mama!

Here’s what we finally figured out: you can’t make them fall asleep. But you can wake them up.

I know, I know – it goes against every instinct. But once we established firm wake-up times, our boys were finally able to synchronize our twins’ naps and nighttime sleep, which made EVERYTHING in our lives better. The parents got much-needed breaks throughout the day, the babies gained better quality time when awake, and the entire family got the predictability of a good routine.

At 6 months, our twins’ bedtime was the most consistent part of the day. So we determined firm wake-up times that would ensure a 7pm bedtime: 7am, 11am, and 4pm.

Yes, we sometimes have to wake them up at 7am. This is the hardest part. My babies could sleep til 8am some mornings. But it would throw the whole day off, which would throw the whole night off, which usually resulted in a 5am wake up the next day. Not worth it!

I put them down for nap at roughly the same times, but it is flexible within a half hour, based on their sleepy cues (9am and 2pm). This gives them about 4 hours of possible nap time in the day. R takes a good half hour or more to settle down, and M needs more sleep than R. They usually get 2.5-3.5 hours of sleep per day. As they more toward only one nap, this is changing, but our schedule is not. Sometimes R hangs out for an hour in his crib without falling asleep, just talking and playing. If he cries, I go get him and enjoy some one-on-one time. Then he has to wait for the next scheduled nap time (unless it’s Meltdown City, in which case he goes down earlier, but the wake-up time is still strictly observed). M is nowhere near ready for one nap. Once they are BOTH skipping a nap everyday for 1-2 weeks, we will make a schedule change.

They both quickly adjusted to the wake-up times, and usually wake on their own. But we still don’t let them sleep past our set times, no matter what: even if they just fell asleep, even if they had a shorter nap earlier in the day, etc. For illness, we just put the sick baby down earlier.

Here is the crazy part: not only did set wake-ups sync up our polar-opposite sleepers, the kids love it! Very rarely do they wake up grumpy. They are happy, refreshed, and ready for action (basically the opposite of when they wake ME up :o).

Do you have any tips for synchronizing twin naps - especially if you have very different sleepers?

 

In Which My Daughter Does a 180 on Having Her Own Room

My daughters are at a turning point. Being together 24/7 at age 7 as they more deeply explore their distinct interests is grating on each other. M loves to sing and J sometimes just wants her to stop humming. J likes to see the bright side or educational opportunity in every challenge, while M just wants to have the freedom to feel and express her frustrations.

I’d sent the girls off to get ready for bed Sunday when J flounced out of the bathroom and threw herself into my lap.

J: M’s annoying me.
Sadia: Have you talked to her about it?
J: Yes! And she won’t stop!
Sadia: Just find somewhere else to be.
J: silence
Sadia: There are moments when I get frustrated. Sometimes the thing I do is go to a different room and do something distracting.
J: I can’t do that. We’re sisters. We’re in the same place. You don’t get it. Being an adult is so easy.
Sadia: hiding a smile Adulthood has its own challenges. You know, we do have an extra room. Do you want your own room?
J: How would you fix the bed back together?
Sadia: I was thinking you could sleep in the bed that’s already in the guest room.
J: Yeah! I’ll do that tonight.
Sadia: Oh! You need to let your sister know what’s going on so she’s not surprised.

I hadn’t anticipated J’s response. I thought that the idea of sleeping alone would horrify her, as it has done every time Daddy has brought up getting separate rooms. He and his sister were 13 months apart and in the same grade. He cherished the sanctity of his own space.

Five minutes later…

M: getting louder and louder But I don’t like sleeping by myself!
J: M! It’s just for a month.
M: Mommy, J says I’m annoying and she won’t sleep with me.
Sadia: I know, honey. It’s like when you told her last night that she couldn’t sleep in your bed because she was annoying you.
M: It’s not the same. I don’t like sleeping by myself. I only sent her to a bed in the same room. Who’ll sleep with me?
Sadia: What if I sleep in your room?
M: I guess. My bed. I need snuggles because I’m without my sister.
J: It’s for a month, M. In one month I’ll try sleeping in your room if you’re not annoying. If you are annoying I’ll go back to my room for one more month.

With little fanfare, J went to bed in the guest room. We read a chapter of Little House on the Prairie together in J’s new bed. The girls said their prayers.

J: … Thank you, God, for giving me a mom who understands my needs…

The new arrangement lasted one night. In the car yesterday evening, J brought up having come to snuggle with us around 2:00 am when she was suffering a snuggle deficit. She reports our having had a conversation. I didn’t remember it at all. I didn’t think of my lack of memory as a big deal, but J interpreted it as “sleep talking”. She has an inexplicable terror of sleep walking. After many tears and endless attempts on her part to get me to remember the discussion and on my part to show that there was nothing wrong, she elected to sleep in M’s bed for comfort.

I wonder where she’ll decide to sleep tonight. At least she’s convinced that I understand her needs. From my perspective, it’s all a big fat mystery.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.