Life with a newborn is no joke. Life with newborn twins? Well, it's not infinitesimally harder, but it's harder... a LOT harder! I now have two months under my belt and feel I'm ready to pass along some of my tips and tricks to those about to embark on the adventure!
You can go with any infant compatible carrier for when one baby is fussy and needs to be held. Personally I love the Moby and Mei Tai. But when BOTH infants need to be held and you need to be mobile and/or hands free? You have way less options. If you're very skilled (or have the patience to sit through a bunch of YouTube tutorials and practice practice practice) you can try wearing both babies in a Moby or other kind of wrap. I tried, and failed. It was quite humbling. So I stuck with the WeeGo Twin Carrier, the only one made specifically for two infants. It's not the most comfortable thing in the world, or perhaps I'm not wearing it right? All the weight is on my shoulders, but still I wear it at least an hour a day. Sometimes you have two overtired and screaming babies and the only way to get them to both calm down and go to sleep at the same time is babywearing and the WeeGo has been a life-saver for me!!
Don't let them get overtired!
Babies cry for many reasons, many of which we are hard wired to check for. They're hungry (look for hunger cues such as hands at mouth, sticking out tongues, smacking lips, etc), they have a dirty diaper (pinch / sniff the diaper or take a peek), they're too hot (check for sweaty neck), or they're too cold (hands and feet are not a good indicator since newborns have poor circulation - instead stick your hand in and feel their belly or back to make sure it's warm). You may also have a colicky baby or sporadic gas (be sure to burp them several times at feeding, and try laying them on your lap with head face up by your knees and feet toward your belly and then rotate their legs in a bicycle motion - this can help work out the gas).
But in my household, if they're fed and changed and still crying, they are simply overtired. They may not look it. They may not have "sleepy eyes" or be yawning, but they need to sleep... desperately... even more than I do! It's amazing how much time flies and how little awake time newborns can handle. In the first month, they are pretty much only awake for feeding. After that, awake time gradually grows but even at 2 months my little ones cannot handle much more than 1 hour of awake time. If we pass 90 minutes they start flipping out and will not go down without a fight (which is when I resort to the WeeGo carrier mentioned above!).
Stay organized but don't stress over schedules!
I went to twin prep classes by Twiniversity and Twin Love Concierge and they both had some really great charts for keeping track of feedings, diapers, medicine, sleep, etc. Using those as guides I created one that was more tailored to what I needed to keep track of, and I filled it out religiously for the first week. I quickly realized the sleep portion of it was a pain in the butt - newborns doze in and out, it was doing my head in! For me, keeping track of feedings (which baby took which boob and at what time) and how many poo/pee diapers they had was most important. After a month, I was only keeping track of feedings. And now at 2 months I've stopped the charting altogether. That said, I will keep track of feedings, diapers, and sleep for 2 days prior to each check up since the nurse always asks for those numbers and you don't want to feel like a big dummy (which I always do - "Ummmm 5? 10? I have no idea!!!")
Most twin parents say getting babies on a schedule is key, and you can try straight from birth but it may not be worth the stress. My babies had a terrible latch and were not gaining weight the first two weeks so I had to give up tandem nursing for a "laid back" position and on top of that I had to pump to supplement. By one month they were both on track for weight and we were back to exclusively breastfeeding. The doc OK'd me to not wake them at night, but when one baby was up I made sure to get the other one up so they were on the same schedule at night. I kept the room fairly dark at night with the sound machine on, which was their cue that it was nighttime, and they never did get their days and nights confused. We were VERY lucky there! During the day though, I still haven't bothered with getting them on the same schedule. I actually kind of prefer when they are opposite since I can enjoy feeding and bonding with one baby while the other is peacefully sleeping. But we will probably be attempting a schedule soon, the flexible 3-hour "eat-play-sleep" BabyWise schedule worked well for my son from about 8 weeks so we may try that soon.
Just found out you're having twins? Don't miss my post on "How to Prepare for Having TWINS!" and "My Positive Twin Birth Story" to give you some encouragement! And have you seen my "Twin Pregnancy Progression Time Lapse Video"? You may wanna try creating one, too!! And here's a glimpse into our life with newborn twins and a toddler...
Do you have tips for surviving life with newborn twins? Questions? Leave a comment below!!
For parents of little ones, a good night's sleep can be hard to come by. Without a doubt, you'll be up around the clock the first few weeks (or months), that is for sure, but after that it seems like the luck of the draw if you'll have a good sleeper on your hands or become a mombie for the next few years. But maybe it's not completely luck...
Die hard sleep training enthusiasts have many a theories that they swear by - it is such a hot topic in the parenting world!! Cry It Out vs. No Cry Sleep Solution vs. blah blah blah blah - OMG, seriously, what to do?? I've done plenty of research and attempted a few different methods myself (you can read about my experience with Babywise, Sleep Sense / CIO, and finally banishing baby to a partitioned off area of the living room!). My takeaway? Keep to a schedule, don't let baby get overtired, make a routine including cues so baby knows sleep time is coming, and eliminate sleep props that baby cannot initiate or recover himself (i.e. nursing to sleep or letting him fall asleep sucking on a pacifier that he cannot find in the middle of the night to plop back in his mouth is a no-no whereas a sound machine and a sleep sack would be OK).
Since we've had such a long drawn out drama with sleep in our house, when I came across the Bitta Kidda Sleeper at a baby expo recently I was really intrigued. What is Bitta Kidda, you ask?
Bitta Kidda is basically pajamas with a built in lovey. Putting a security blanket or lovey in the crib with a baby isn't completely safe (suffocation / SIDS), and you also run the risk of him chucking it out of the crib (as mine did) or not being able to find it in the middle of the night when he wakes up and needs to self sooth - cue screaming baby who needs your help to fall back asleep! The idea of the Bitta Kidda is that the lovey is always within reach so the baby can hold the piece of blanket for comfort and fall back asleep without your help. Sounds amazing right!?
The Bitta Kidda Sleeper is sold in two colors (yellow and green) in sizes 6 months through 3 years, but obviously the younger you can start the more effective it'll be as it becomes part of their sleep and soothing ritual. They recommend you have 2 (so you have a spare during laundry time) and that baby wears it every night and every nap time.
And guess what? They're actually going to be launching the Bitta Kidda Sleep Sack soon! Exciting stuff!!
The Bitta Kidda Sleeper is one of the fabulous prizes in my $1500 value "Mother Of All Giveaways" running through May 26. ENTER TO WIN HERE TODAY!!
**Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation, monetary or otherwise, to do this product review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and completely unbiased.
In case you're new here, here's a recap of my baby's sleeping history:
I read "Babywise" at 7 weeks and my little guy quickly took to the eat-play-sleep schedule. By 2 months he was a great napper and slept through the night 6+ hours, by 3 months 9-11 hours straight. I put him down awake, he sucked his thumb and went to sleep quietly.
At 5 months all went to hell in a hand basket due to any combo of the following:
1) He cut his bottom teeth and promptly stopped sucking his thumb
2) We had a 1 week vacation to my parent's house
3) He developed object permanence
4) We stopped using his swaddle/sleep sack
Around 7 months my sister convinced me to do "Cry It Out" and we gave it a half arsed attempt but had 2 things in our way:
1) It was summer and we don't have AC, so he got way too hot while crying.
2) He gnawed at the crib when we left him in there crying (evidence below)
So, I got crib rail covers and waited for the summer heat to fade away. I found the Sleep Sense Program by Dana Obleman (more on that in another post) and decided to give it a go during my husband's next business trip (I don't want Kenzo's crying throughout the night to keep my hubby up, awwwww am I the best wife or what?? ha! Seriously though, he's such a wimp, always pulling baby into bed with us at the first sign of a whimper). In the meantime we've been co-sleeping for the past few months and he's been waking up about every 1-3 hours and cries until he gets a boobie. I whip it out and we both pass out within a couple of minutes. It's really not that bad, but it's not good (what would happen after I wean him??) and his napping has been getting worse and worse as well. We both need to get better sleep!
Tonight the sleep training finally commenced! Here's a video selfie just after I put Kenzo down in his crib. Whooooo that sucked...
The crying lasted 45 minutes, which funnily enough is the exact time Dana reported as the average time of first night crying on the hundreds of cases she's worked on as a baby sleep consultant. She gives the option of staying in the room with the little one throughout, or just going in to check on him and reassure him. I opted for the second method. I went in at 3 minutes, at 5 minutes, and then 10 minutes a few times. Then I felt like my going in was just working him up even more. So after the 30 minute mark I stopped going in and by the 45 minute mark he was silent. I waited a few minutes then went in to make sure he was ok and in a comfortable position. This is what I found and I almost burst out laughing!!!
He was out, kind of in a twilight sleep, and kept sitting up and falling forward over and over again. Really sad actually, but hilarious at the same time. Luckily he didn't wake up when I laid him down. I'm really not looking forward to him waking up in the middle of the night... I have a feeling it's going to be rough!! I blame myself - just giving him the boob to make him go back to sleep has just made him wake up more frequently and become so dependent on me. This might be a tough habit to break!
Preemptive strike against possible criticism: Sleep training with or without CIO, no sleep training, breast vs. bottle, SAHM vs working mom, whatever... #ISUPPORTYOU and hope you will support me too. We're all doing the best we can and doing what we feel is right for our families. I would love if you comment with your personal experience, advice, tips, etc. But there is no need for judgement or criticism.
Sleeping through the night
Since getting Kenzo on his schedule at around 7 weeks old, he's been sleeping longer and longer at night. Now he's up to 8-9 hours of consecutive sleep, and since I usually put him to bed just 30 minutes or so before I hit the hay myself, I'm ready to start my day when he wakes up to feed. It's soooooo nice to say goodbye to those middle of the night feeds. Let me tell you! Sure, I found ways to make them more bearable - at the beginning I would watch our Friends DVDs, then I switched to reading the "Babywise" sleep training book and "What to Expect the 1st Year" and oh yeah, "50 Shades of Grey" - that really made the time fly by haha! But still, waking up in the middle of the night you really feel like a zombie! And it's not like it's just stick your boob in there and your done. Oh no, it was wake up, pee, un-swaddle the little one, change him, feed him, burp him, swaddle him, bounce him back to sleep - the process took about an hour during the 1st month! As he got older he drank quicker and began holding his business in and didn't need a change, and sometimes didn't need help getting back to sleep. But now, to have that all behind us (hopefully) is really really awesome!!!
As he started sleeping 7+ hours a night, I would wake up to extremely engorged milk monsters (one time they soaked through the nursing pads, bra, shirt, and soaked the sheets! yikes!!). But it seems they've been getting adjusted to the longer nights just as Kenzo has been extending his. This morning I woke up after 8 hours of sleep and he wasn't up yet. So, I waited. I eventually woke him up when he got to 9 and a half hours. This sounds like a dream right? But there are 2 sides to everything... I'm a little nervous as to whether going so long will begin to have a negative impact on my milk supply. The "Babywise" book says not to go longer than 9 hours at this age (3 months) because of the effect on your supply. But what if Kenzo wants to sleep ten, eleven, or TWELVE (please!!!) hours? Perhaps it's time to finally break out the breast pump I got for free from my insurance company. I really didn't want to use it, but, I guess I should just suck it up and give it a whirl. Silver lining, hubby can get a chance to feed Kenzo and experience that special bond that only I've shared with the baby so far!
Before I get to the system we're currently using to schedule our little one's sleep, let me give a quick review of his sleeping patterns from the start.
For the first week of life, little Kenzo was zonked out big time! I got yelled at by the nurse our first and only night in the hospital for letting him go 5 hours without feeding. Whoops! I haven't slept in 50+ hours and just pushed an 8 pound baby out of my hoohah - sorry if I wasn't exactly watching the clock. And it seems he was just as tired as I was! The whole first week I had to wake him up to feed, every 2.5 hours (4 hours at night - had to set my alarm clock!) as advised by the nurses. This was hard to do cuz he was so darn sleepy. Tricks included stripping him down to his diapers and tickling his feet and ears, but he still managed to pass out mid feed almost every time. I was worried maybe he wasn't drinking enough and the doc at his 4 day checkup freaked us out because he had lost 10% of his body weight, which is NORMAL by the way, but had us come back 2 days later for a weigh... by which time he'd already gained back the 10%! He would continue on this dramatic weight gain trajectory for the next couple of months! I'm very thankful I didn't panic and start supplementing with formula, because that could have decreased my milk supply and led us down a slippery slope of losing my milk supply completely.
Anyway, back from that tangent - After the first week, he got adjusted to my 2.5 hour schedule and I no longer was the one waking him up but vice versa. Every 2.5 hours around the clock. And this is including feeding, burping, and bouncing (not rocking - we only have a birth/exercise ball, not a rocking chair) him back to sleep. So, by the time he's back in bed we only slept about 1-1.5 hours. This went on until about the 5th week. EXHAUSTING!!!
After we were done hosting both sets of grandparents, yes in our tiny one bedroom apartment!, he was almost 7 weeks old and I decided it was time to figure out a better schedule that we could both thrive on. At that time, I was just letting him pass out whenever, but it was usually in your arms or on your lap, and the second you tried to transfer him to the crib he would wake up crying. He was also quite fussy - looking back on it he was just overly tired, poor guy!! My sister had given me a book/theory that had worked well for her: "On Becoming Babywise" by Gary Ezzo and Robert Buckman. From what I've seen on the baby blogs and forums, this theory is a bit controversial, some say leading to dehydration and other issues, but I think those issues only arise when you are too strict with the schedule, whereas they repeatedly remind you that you need to be flexible as growth spurts and other times will require changes in the schedule.
The basic theory of Babywise is that the baby should be on a "eat, play, sleep" schedule, with that exact order being key. They recommend it from birth, so I wasn't sure how it would work starting from 7 weeks but they explain in the book how to adjust the schedule as the baby gets older so I just started with the suggested schedule for a 2 month old. It seemed counter intuitive to me since Kenzo is usually in a milk coma after feeding and seems the perfect time to put him down, but I decided to give it a go anyway. They do say you should put the baby down drowsy but not asleep, so they can learn how to self sooth and put themselves to sleep. I can't bare to start this part of the plan yet, I think he's too young for that. Maybe around 4 months we'll give the whole "cry it out" thing a go.
With this Babywise schedule, we basically give him a 12-hour day period and 12-hour night period. During the day time, we stick to a 3 hour cycle: 1.5 hours for eating and then playing, and 1.5 hour nap, and repeat. During the 12 hour night period, there is no "play" time. If he wakes up and seems hungry, I feed him. But quite often it's something else, like he needs a burp, needs spit-up wiped off his face, or just can't go back to sleep by himself, so I bounce him and put him back to bed.
He adjusted to the day time schedule pretty much immediately. I couldn't believe how his fussiness disappeared and he was just so much happier, as was I! I know he had been getting enough food all along, but definitely had been sleep deprived. His night time sleeping got better progressively from this point as well, though that could be a coincidence as he's getting older and more mature, but who knows. Right away he started having longer and longer periods of night time sleep. Now at 10 weeks he sleeps between 6-8 hours straight (technically "sleeping through the night", though for me 9-10 hours would be more like it!!), wakes up for a feed, and then from there doesn't do as well - only 1-3 hours at a time, with lots of grunts and groans, until the "day" period starts.
Here's our typical day:
10 AM - wake and feed
10:30 - 11:30 AM - awake time
11:30 AM - 1 PM - nap time
1 PM - wake and feed
1:30 - 3 PM - awake time
3 - 4:30 PM - nap time
4:30 PM - wake and feed
4:30 - 6 PM - awake time
6 - 7:30 PM - nap time
7:30 PM - wake and feed
7:30 - 9:45 PM - awake time (daddy time!)
9:45 PM - final feed
10 PM - bed time
5 AM - feed
7 AM - feed
8:30 AM - feed
All in all Kenzo gets about 8 feeds and 14-15 hours of sleep. His awake time is spent on the play mat, in the bouncy chair, tummy time, playing with mommy or daddy, listening to music or his Japanese books on CD, taking a bath, etc. When I need to run an errand or take a walk, I do that during his
So, Babywise really changed our lives! I get about 8-9 cumulative hours of sleep during his nighttime period, and no longer feel exhausted or have to nap during the day. Kenzo rarely fusses anymore, but I'm much more capable of realizing and solving the problem when there is one, whereas before the schedule I would have just shoved my boob at him guessing that he was hungry. #Momfail haha! Just so you know, I am not affiliated with the book or the authors, just found that it worked for me and it may be worth a try for some of you out there struggling with your little ones. I know there are TONS of books and different theories out there, and some will work better for you than others. So keep on reading and giving them a try til you find the right one for you and your family!! If you do want to give this one a try, it's super cheap on Amazon:
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!