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

twins sleep schedule 2
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 Deprivation With a Baby

Sleep deprivation after the baby comes home is no joke. You may think the all-nighters you pulled in college were a piece of cake. Maybe you thought the “tiny bladder syndrome” you had when you were pregnant would prepare you for loss of sleep after the baby came home. I’m here to tell you that nothing can prepare you for this kind of sleep deprivation. Real postpartum sleep deprivation can harm your health and your relationships, not just with your significant other, but also with your baby.

The Toll Sleep Deprivation Takes

Just because you’ve brought a baby home doesn’t mean you need less sleep! To the contrary, you need all the sleep you can get. Yet one study showed that mothers get an average of 1.5 fewer hours of sleep per day in the first week after giving birth. And the quality of that sleep wasn’t very good, meaning it was fragmented into smaller parts. This happens with newborns, who sleep short intervals.

Most of the research we have was done on generally young, healthy volunteers who knew that they could drop out of the study if the stress became too much for them. So research probably does not tell us the full story of what happens to parents when they come home from the hospital. Real mothers and fathers do not have that luxury. In addition to being sleep-deprived, they know that they cannot drop out of the study at any time.

sleep deprivation 4
Weight of the World?

The good news is that we do not see any increase in child abuse that occurs because of sleep deprivation. Although we have read warnings about it on the internet. However, it does appear that new moms with sleep problems may be more susceptible to postpartum depression.

Postpartum Brain

It’s clear that lack of sleep makes it harder to think. Working memory, flexibility, even reaction time are diminished when you haven’t slept. The risks can be substantial if you get in a car and try to drive, with or without the baby! Between 15-33% of fatal car accidents are caused by driver drowsiness.

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And many studies have shown that your satisfaction with your partner can be damaged in the first year of a baby’s life, possibly related to other stresses in addition to lack of sleep. But lack of sleep certainly does not help. It’s clear that sleep-deprived people are grumpier, less patient and more argumentative.

So What’s a Sleep-Deprived Parent to Do?

 

twins sleep deprivation 2
Don’t be that guy

There are many things you can do. Here’s a list of some of the better ideas I’ve come across.

  • Sleep When You Can: This means sleep when the baby is sleeping. Sure there are other things to do: bathe and wash clothes, etc. But some of these things you can do while baby is awake. Baby sleep time is the best time for you to sleep as well. This goes for night-time bedtime as well!
  • Exercise: This is one of the three legs on which all of health stands. It’s best to get some vigorous exercise in the morning or the afternoon. Night time would not be ideal, as it may wire you up too much and make it difficult for you to sleep.
  • Eat Well: Meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, rare grains, no sugar. Diet matters. You’ll feel better and you’ll sleep better.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine: Especially after lunch time. These substances are not the friend of sleep.
  • Avoid screen time at night: The blue light from screens inhibits melatonin, the “sleepy hormone”. We tell teenagers this all the time. It goes double for sleep-deprived parents!
  • Get help: Yes, you can do this alone. But if you can get someone to help you do things around the house, including taking care of the baby, by all means do it. And take a nap when you are being helped, for the love of Pete!
  • Remember perfection is unattainable: Stop trying to do it all and cut yourself some slack. Learn to prioritize. Sometimes you have to wear the same pair of panties two days in a row and eat leftovers.  The world will keep turning.

 

 

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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