Best Twin Sleep Gear for 2016

Parents of twins know that they don’t do twice the work of normal parents, they do four times the work!  They also know that buying two of everything, even buying in bulk, doesn’t begin to solve all their logistical problems. Anything that cuts down on time and toil is a Godsend to the parents of multiples. Here is a sample of what I consider to be the best twin sleep gear available. These make great baby shower presents too (hint, hint)

Best Twin Sleep Gear

As soon as they come home, the twins will need somewhere to sleep. As they get older, they’ll need a safe place to play. This first product combines the two.

Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with Twins Bassinet

 

Graco makes great stuff. I’ve always loved their strollers. Now they come out with a terrific combination twin bassinet and play yard that has the same sturdy design as their line of strollers. Early models of the Graco play yards were nearly impossible to  set up. It was like playing Twister in a sleep-deprived state. But they’ve solved these design flaws. The result is a beautiful and functional design. It’s also easy to clean – a major bonus!

Arm’s Reach Ideal Arc Original Co-Sleeper Bedside Bassinet.


The Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper Bassinet began with a mother and father’s need for a safe sleeping environment for their baby. They, like many parents, had rediscovered the benefits of co-sleeping with their infants—increased bonding, ease of feeding and a greater sense of closeness. But they were concerned modern beds weren’t appropriate for a baby’s space. They solved this problem by placing the child at the side of the bed, within arm’s reach. Their result is a wonderful series of bassinets that provide best twin sleep, close to their parents during the important early months of development. Whether you choose to breast feed or bottle feed, the Co-Sleeper Bassinet promotes bonding and enables parents better sleep and provides the best twin sleep possible.

Premium 3 in 1 Travel Bassinet – Diaper Bag & Portable Changing station, Easily Convertible


Have you ever had the experience of seeing a product so cool, so innovative, so overall fantastic that you say “Gee, I wish I had thought of that!!!” This 3-in-1 had that effect on me. Easily convertible from bag into travel bassinet for babies and into a portable changing station. You will love using it on a family beach trip, going to the park, visiting Grandma’s and anywhere.

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Here’s what one happy customer had to say:

This is a really cool product. Some of these baby things seem too good to be true but this one really is what it promises. We have a 2 month old baby and my hands are constantly full with her and all of her stuff. It’s great to have a clean safe place to lay her down anywhere I go and I don’t need any extra hands to carry it. It’s even easier to fold into a diaper bag than I could have imagined; It literally folds in a seconds. And it’s so easy to clean. This would be great for traveling, especially camping. I wish I had this when my older child was a baby as we had to haul a giant pack and play around with us when we could have just brought this smart nursery bag!
It’s perfect for when visiting friends and family members who don’t have baby gear. My little one can and will take a nap anywhere at any time and this best twin sleep napper gives her a secure place to do it.

Baby Jogger City Select with 2nd Seat

If ever there were a “niche” product idea, this was it: a twin jogging stroller. Whether you’re looking for a travel system, a pram, a double stroller, a triple, or just a single, the City Select could be the only stroller you’ll ever need. The most versatile stroller on the market today, the City Select was designed to keep your family rolling as it grows from one child to two. I suspect that you may not be able to achieve actual jogging speed with this thing, but you will certainly get a workout. The wheels are best for paved terrain, and I would be careful going up and down kerbs. The remainder of the design, however, is sturdy and light enough for an average mortal to handle!

Stuff 4 Multiples Twin Carrier, Twingaroo


We’ve saved the best for last. I love all of Stuff 4 Multiples gear, but this is their signature product and they are justifiably proud of it. Its unique design distributes the weight of your babies and diaper bag contents evenly. It’s the only twin carrier on the market that offers you a complete hands-free experience.

I’m not alone in my praise of the Twingaroo. Here’s what another happy customer said:

I absolutely LOVE my Twingaroo ! The weight distribution is AMAZING and you actually feel nothing, even when carrying both babies ! I like that the front panel can be flipped into the belt pocket, so that when you only carry one child, you don’t have to deal with extra fabric coming out of nowhere ! And the backpack is SO big and useful ! I really loved that, unlike other carrier of the same type (that I tried before getting my Twingaroo), it adjust perfectly to everybody ! My men, my grandma, my aunt and me (we all are from very different body type) have all been able to adjust it perfectly!

 

Twins Sleep Schedule: How to Set One Up

The important thing to remember about a twins sleep schedule is that it can change with time, and does change with time. Anyone who has lived with a schedule of any kind knows that schedules change as circumstances change. The exceptions may be schools and prisons, and of the two, the latter is likely to be the more flexible!

Setting Up a Twins Sleep Schedule

Having said all that, it remains true that twins require stricter adherence to a schedule, if for no other reason than to avoid incredible mayhem at home.

How do you start? The best place to start is at the beginning: the hospital. You may have noticed, even if you were lucky enough to be in the hospital only two days, that things run pretty much on schedule there. If you did most of the feeding and cares yourself, you still may have noticed that your nurses looked at the clocks a lot and asked you when was the last time you fed the babies, etc. More likely you had help feeding the twins, and that help came in the form of scheduling.

When it’s time to go home, then, you have the benefit of a starting point for your feeding and sleeping schedule. The two are very much tied together. When the babies are not feeding they will be sleeping, at least for the first few weeks.

Who Goes First?

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It’s schedule man!

If you must wake the babies to feed, and to stay on schedule, sometimes you must, the question becomes ‘which baby do I wake up first?’ I recommend waking the “easier” baby first. By now you may have noticed that one baby feeds, settles and sleeps better than the other. This identity can change, but very often it doesn’t. The easier baby can be fed, changed, and put down again in 20-25 minutes (efficient, experienced parents can do it even faster than this!) You’ll have time now to deal with the fussier or more difficult twin, and you’ll have less time pressure on you to get it done.

Of course you can be flexible about this. If the fussier twin happens to wake up around feeding time, and the other is asleep, the choice is made for you! This is what I mean about flexibility. It doesn’t make sense to let one twin fuss, and eventually cry, so that you can feed in a prescribed order. You never want them to get so hungry that they start crying. This throws an even heavier monkey wrench into your schedule! If it happens, feed the awake twin first.

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Keep Tabs

Pay close attention to the cues the twins are giving you. Are they wanting to stay awake after feeding? Are you putting them down before they’re tired? Are they still hungry after feeding, or are they becoming full before you think they’re done feeding? The answers to all these questions will allow you to adapt the twins sleep schedule to their changing needs.

Write It Down

You may have noticed that I have not written down a schedule for you to follow here. That is because it wouldn’t make any sense for me to dictate to you. These are your babies. It’s your twins sleep schedule. But while I won’t write it down for you, I highly recommend that you write it down! In fact, keep two things written down: your schedule, and a log of what the babies actually do (eating, sleeping, pooping, etc.) The second of these will help you keep track of who has eaten how much and when, and will help you adjust the schedule as the twins’ needs change.

Get Help

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Time doesn’t really fly. Ask the mother of twins

You can do this alone. I’ve seen it done, very successfully, by moms who had no help at all, from fathers or from family. But these women are the exceptions, not the rules. Most of the rest of us do much better if we have someone we can rely on to help with the twins. At the very least, you could benefit from the assistance of someone who can “spell” you: give you a chance to have a cup of tea or even use the bathroom alone! I recommend finding someone who is willing to offer help. It’s a great gift. If you have the resources, it doesn’t have to be a gift: it can be the kind of help you pay for.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

Can’t say it enough. The secret weapon of the twins sleep schedule is consistency. To the greatest extent possible, make the day regular and predictable. Do it not just for the twins’ sake, but for yours. Part of that schedule should include time for you to eat well, sleep well, and even to get exercise. If you are a physical and mental basket case, you can’t care effectively for twins or anybody else! And your good health habits will translate your twins. I guarantee it.

Sleep Training Twins

If you’ve got twins (or higher multiples!) I don’t need to tell you: it’s a lot of work. It’s not twice the work, it’s four times the work (exponential, not additive, for the math whizzes out there). Sleep training twins is not easy, but it’s not very different from sleep training “singletons”.

The books you may find on the subject will tell you basically the same things you’d learn from any general resource about baby sleep. There are only two basic differences in strategy. I’ll tell you what they are up front: 1) Keep a tight schedule. 2) Occasionally break the “never wake a sleeping baby” rule. Now, to the details!

Sleep Training Twins

1) Feed Both at the Same Time

Here’s where the rubber hits the road in sleep training twins. The question is not whether you should feed them together (or one right after the other). The question is when. If you want to avoid going crazy, you’re going to have to feed the twins together. If you’re okay with going crazy, who am I to judge? But if you want to maintain your sanity, here’s what you do:

From the time you come home from the hospital, depending on the gestational age of the twins, you’ll be feeding them every 2-3 hours. Hopefully, this interval is every 3 hours, for so many reasons! Not least among these, you’ll have to plan your day around feeding, and the entire process could last one hour. That leaves you 2 hour intervals to do everything else you need to do, like take them to the pediatrician, bathe yourself, eat, exercise, and most important, sleep!

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By “entire process”, I mean preparing the bottles (less time if you’re breastfeeding them. And if you are, congratulations!) changing diapers, changing clothes, and putting them back down. This truly can occupy one hour. Meanwhile, the clock has been ticking and twin A will need to start feeding again in three hours. So you have to be efficient and have a system down.

2) Waking the sleeper(s)

To do this, you may have to wake one or both of them up! This is a violation of the “never wake a sleeping baby rule”, but I cannot see a way past it. To do otherwise is to risk getting out of sync. Getting out of sync means chaos. And chaos is never good.sleep training twins 2

The good news is that you probably won’t have to wake one or both of them up for very long. If you do this right, they’ll fall into a pattern and “learn” to wake up around feeding time anyway. Which leads me to the next, and perhaps most important tip:

3) Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

There! I’ve said it three times. Their day should be as regular and as predictable as possible. That is to say, things should occur in the same sequence, at roughly the same time, every day. The fewer disruptions you introduce, the better. The disruptions will introduce themselves, believe me! There are a couple of tricks you can do to help you get a routine going.

  • Let night be dark and day be light. Sounds kinda Biblical, doesn’t it? But the one of the best ways to get your multiples on a schedule is to allow their own circadian rhythms to coordinate with the day-night cycle.
  • Get a white noise machine. All your babies’ senses are working and they can’t filter them out! The best way to help them through this problem is to distract them with soothing noise.
  • Keep a log. I know it sounds dumb. But you’re going to be sleep-deprived. Writing stuff down will help you keep track and avoid confusion.
  • Have them sleep together. As long as they are swaddled, placed on a firm surface, and there is no loose bedding, this will save you on precious time, energy, and laundry detergent!
  • Incorporate time for yourself in the schedule. Just because you are sleep training twins doesn’t mean you don’t have to sleep, eat healthy, and exercise. You still need all three. You can’t take care of multiples if you are a physical and mental basket case! Take care of you, too.

Twins Should Sleep in the Same Crib

Is it okay for twins to sleep in the same crib? People worry about bed-sharing: is it safe to have a baby sleep in the same bed as an adult? What about siblings? Well, what about siblings of the same age? I would say that, for at least the first four months, twins should sleep in the same crib. Here’s why:

Why twins should sleep in the same crib

In the first few weeks to months of their lives, the twins will probably sleep in the same room as mom, at least in the US. It’s likely that they will sleep in a “Moses Basket” type of bassinet, or a co-sleeper for twins. You should observe the same safety rules you would use if you had a singleton (these are from the American Academy of Pediatrics):

  • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room-sharing without bed-sharing).
  • Babies should sleep on their backs!
  • Keep soft objects or loose bedding out of the crib. This includes pillows, blankets, and bumper pads.
  • Wedges and positioners should not be used.
  • Don’t smoke! Get help quitting if you can’t do it on your own!
  • Breastfeeding is recommended.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime (until 6 months, max!)
  • Avoid covering the infant’s head or overheating with too many blankets.
  • Do not use home monitors or commercial devices marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS. They don’t work!
twins should sleep in the same crib 5
Start close, stay close

Now that you follow all the safety guidelines, you should know that your twins have some advantages that singletons don’t! It all starts in the womb. These guys have been up close and personal for a long time! For reasons we do not understand well, twins appear to be calmer and they feed better when they stay close.

And there’s another factor that will matter very much to you over time: Laundry. One set of baby sheets instead of two. I’m terrible at math but I can appreciate how much time, energy, and money this will save you in the long term!

Any arguments against why twins should sleep in the same crib?

“But won’t they get so used to being together that we won’t be able to separate them later?”

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No. That’s a myth. Just as an example, I know a pair of identical twins who shared a room throughout primary and secondary school. Then they were roommates in college. Then they were roommates again in medical school! That’s approximately 26 years of sleeping in the same room! They both married (women who are not twins themselves) and live happy, well-adjusted lives in different cities. And no, they don’t feel each other’s pain. This too is a myth.

Won’t I get confused as to which twin is which?

This is a concern, but there are lots of clever ways around it. I once consulted with a family with identical twin 4-month old girls. When I met the father, he was holding one of them on his shoulder. I made eye contact with her and smiled.

 

twins should sleep in the same crib 2
Yup. Still wearing nail polish

“And, who is this?”, I asked him, as I was rewarded with a big open mouth “social smile” from his daughter. Dad shrugged. He honestly didn’t know. When they are identical, sometimes they are identical. Mom could tell them apart, fortunately for Dad.

In another family met when the twin girls were much younger, even the mother had a tough time telling them apart. She was worried that at night in the dark she’d get confused and forget who got fed on which breast and when. This mom came up with a neat solution. She painted the toenails of one of the daughters. Then they made up a rhyme to help themselves remember which twin had the painted nails! (I kept in touch with this family for quite some time. When both girls were older, they both insisted on nail polish. By this time the parents could easily tell them apart).

The safety pin has also been a big help to the mother of twins. You can use safety pins with little colored ribbons on them to mark the swaddling blanket of each twin. A lot of mothers I know also use the same color-coded safety pins on their nursing bras to keep track of which twin ate on which side.

At what age is it not a good idea any more that twins should sleep in the same crib?

twins should sleep in the same crib 4
They still dig one another

The answer, like so many answers in parenting, is “it depends”. If they’ve got enough room, and there’s an absolute minimum of loose blankets and clothing for them to get tangled in, you can keep it going for a very long time indeed.

According to pediatric nurse Jennifer Walker, “[i]f they sleep better when they know the other is close by, crib-sharing can last up until they move into their childhood beds.”

The bottom line is, as long as they are safe, the twins can sleep together. I believe they should.

 

 

Everything You Know About Sleeping with Twins is Wrong!

 

FULL DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: I’m a twin. I have always been a twin.  Please don’t ask me what it’s like to be a twin – I have never been anything else.

That’s the second most common (non-sleep-related) question that I get about being a twin. The first most common is “identical or fraternal?” Even when I have already told people that I have a twin sister, they ask me this question.  It’s okay.  I’m used to it.

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Before I dive into sleep issues with twins, I want to tell a twin sleep story about me and my sister.  I trust it is true because my mother tells me it’s true.

We shared a nursery for what must have been about two years.  My mother placed both cribs in the room that would eventually become my room until I graduated from high school (then she converted the room into an office.  That still stings, Mom)

My sister and I must have enjoyed each others company, because every night, we would “scootch” (for want of a better word) the cribs next to each other and one of us would climb into the other’s crib.  Mom would find us that way, sleeping in the same crib in the morning.  We must have been at least 18 months old, because I can’t see how we’d have the coordination or body strength to accomplish this maneuver.

Another quick story about my mom, then I promise I’ll get to the meat of the subject here.  My mother once came to visit me while I was finishing a consult with a mother of twins.  I put my mother on the spot and asked her “Mom, tell Mrs. X how you managed raising twins”.

Mom didn’t skip a beat “I loved every minute of it”.

After my client left I said “MA! You’re kidding?! Either that or you don’t remember!!!”

The truth is that I can only imagine that raising my sister and me was tough. Raising twins is always tough. We weren’t the first children either: we had older two sisters, aged 8 and 6 when we were born. Just barely too young to be of any help to my mother.

And no help from Dad either.  This was the early 60’s. Dad’s didn’t change diapers.  It just wasn’t a thing yet.

Okay, enough story-telling.  On to the subject at hand.

With twins, you have to toss a lot of rules out the window.  In fact, a lot of the advice that I give to parents of twins is substantially different from my standard advice.

Families with multiples rarely follow the rules of sleeping that you may read on line or in parenting books. These families end up feeding and resting their babies more in line with the strict by-the-clock method of Luther Emmet Holt than with the baby-driven attachment theories of William Sears. The reason for this is simple: Parents of multiples have no choice. They must either feed the babies when it’s time to feed them, put them down for a nap when it’s time for a nap, or go insane trying to feed multiples on demand.

For parents of multiples, I even encourage them to keep lists of who ate when and how much, which I almost never recommend doing for parents of a single baby. Keeping good records, particularly for those brave moms who attempt to breast-feed twins, is essential. Sometimes a twin or triplet will wake up and start crying when it isn’t time for her to feed. I don’t recommend ignoring this baby, but it’s also not a particularly good idea to feed her and throw the feeding plan out of sync. Imagine how screwed up your schedule would become if you fed a baby out of sequence! It is best to get a system in place for multiples as soon as possible. In practice, most parents of multiples try several iterations of a sleeping and feeding schedule before they settle on something that works. As the babies mature and their sleeping patterns change, the plan and the schedules change with them.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to care for multiples alone. It’s really important for these mothers to get help. If a mother can’t get the support and help from dad (or from older sibs) she can appeal to family members or even friends.

Except my mom didn’t have help. No doula. No baby nurse.  Not sure how she managed.  Gotta give her credit though.

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Thanks, Mom

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