July 8, 2010

Learning to Sleep

Yesterday I got in the mail, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins, which is a book about sleep-training multiples. I'm not sure I like the term "sleep training" but I thought I would read through the book to see if I could find any tips and tricks to helping the boys sleep longer at night. 

So far, I've noticed a daytime pattern, but I've really been letting each boy dictate his own schedule until it comes time to eating; I feed them at the same time. I'm still lost as far as night goes, as they are very inconsistent with wake up times. And it's not like they wake up starving. They usually sleepily suck down only half a bottle and fall back to sleep. However, letting them dictate their own schedule may work for one baby but I'm starting to realize with two, to have any free time at all during the day and for pure survival and for my sanity, they really need to be in sync. (or as close to that as we can get)

I'm not a believer in letting a baby cry-it-out. I believe they cry because they need something, whether it is a physical or emotional need. However, I think they're old enough to fall asleep on their own, or at the very least I want to give them the tools and best environment to learn how to eventually. 

I decided to give some of the tips from this book a try today. I woke Julian from their morning nap when Isaiah woke up. They both got tired after eating and playing at the same time so I started our nap time routine, which starts with some milk. They get extra drowsy with a fully tummy and sure enough they both started to fall asleep. So I took Julian to the crib and Isaiah was in the playpen in the spare room. I was anticipating a lot of crying so kept them separate for now. 

They were both wide awake after I put them in their beds but were content sucking on their fingers and talking to their surroundings. Then the cries started. Ugh! Gut wrenching! But, I stayed firm and let each boy cry for 5 minutes before I'd go soothe him back to his sleepy state. There was a lot of walking back and forth and I almost gave in toward the end but I'm glad I didn't. They eventually fell asleep after about an hour. I know with each time I do this, even consistently during naps, they'll begin to be able to fall asleep without being on someone or being rocked. I know it is something that many mamas feel strongly about, that babies need, but when you have twins, these rules change. I can't rock two babies to sleep at a time. I want them to eventually peacefully go to sleep on their own, maybe with some babbling and talking before drifting. Isaiah has done it before...but in the swing. 

So, even though it was a tough hour, it really was a step in the right direction. The boys are 4 months old now. They are ready to sleep longer periods at night. I know they can, and I think it's just my fault that they aren't. Hopefully by next week I'll be looking back on this post wondering how I did it so long with such little sleep!

I know I've probably asked this before but:
  • When did your child start falling asleep on his/her own?
  • What kinds of things did you do to help facilitate this habit?
  • Tell me how great you felt when your kids started sleeping better...I need some encouragement!

5 comments:

  1. I could have pretty much written your post a while ago. I agree with everything you said. With some things, it is just different with twins and you have to change your idea of how it is going to work. You are off to a great start- keep at it and although it will be rough at first, you'll reap the rewards fast.

    Here's what it looks like on the other side: FANTASTIC. Our work at helping our twins learn how to sleep has paid off so well, that Anna actually now fusses more if we try to HELP her get drowsy. She's learned how to soothe herself to sleep and prefers it. So I swaddle her after some sleepy signs, plop her in her crib with a "it's time to nap- sweet dreams." and walk away. By the time I get her brother swaddled and drowsy she's out with less than a minute of fussing. This came about after I started doing the pick up/put down method to improve our perpetually short naps (our night sleep hasn't ever been a problem). I'd wait 5 min of crying, then go in, pick them up and soothe/hold until they were drowsy or asleep again, then put down. If the crying started again, I'd wait another 5 min and repeat. It was a little tricky with 2 (if the 5 min overlapped) but it was only a timing problem a few times. Within a week we went from 30-45 min naps to 1 1/2 - 2 hour naps. We did start putting them down drowsy but awake around 7 weeks though (after reading the same book), and that was a good starting point.

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  2. Ahhh that makes me feel so much better! I know we could have started earlier but I really just needed to get to that breaking point, you know?
    THANK YOU! I needed that :)

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  3. i am seriously so impressed with you! you are so strong! i suck when it comes to my son and sleep. i've let him rule me and it sucks quite frankly. he sleeps in my bed and i nurse him a million times at night. i've been really thinking about trying to get him to sleep in his own bed for longer periods of time. but i don't know. seriously, let me know how things go for you. if you can do it with twins, than anybody can do it!

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  4. We started the Ferber method with Drake at 6 months, and had GREAT luck with that. He started sleeping better then but at 8 months is when we saw a huge change and could pretty much count on a full nights sleep!

    Now he sleeps 7 pm-7 am everynight and it is AWESOME!!

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  5. If it were one baby, I'd probably be a total push over. But with two, you really have to figure crap out otherwise you have no time or no life. It really hasn't bothered me during the day but the not sleeping much at night is really starting to wear on me. I figure if we start little by little now, in a month or two they should be good sleepers. I don't expect them to sleep all night right away but if we can slowly make improvements it would do wonders on my energy. I really haven't had any energy to work out or do anything else besides take care of them and the house. I'm ready for a little bit of me time!

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