Hello All, this is our first post. My wife Mary and I are the proud parents of 10 month old twin girls: Johanna and Caroline. They are doing great and we are Attachment Parenting them. We are having some sleep issues and have lurked a bit on these messageboards to help find solutions, but figured that maybe it was time to make a post to see if our peers could help us out.
My wife would be typing all of this, but she's currently upstairs with them in bed, as we share our bed with them and usually, we both try to sleep when they sleep. I do apologize that this post is so long, but we don't have a ton of free time (you all probably know this already though, right?!?!) and figured we'd just be very specific in one thread.
Nursing to Sleep for the Night:
Currently, we think have a pretty solid bedtime routine. We stop the day around 5:30, wear the babies for a half hour walk around the block, and then bring them back home at 6 to get changed for bed. around 6:15, we do some light, non-stimulating play for 15 minutes and then take them upstairs in their room (it's just filled with toys and a rocking chair, since they sleep with us) for some more light play with the lights low. 6:45 I start reading to them, and I read the same books each night so they hopefully associate them with sleepy time. My wife is preparing the bed at this point (setting up pillows for nursing, etc.), and then at 6:55 or so, I walk them around upstairs saying goodnight to their room, toys, etc.
Mary then starts to tandem nurse them as we play the same soft lullaby music each night, and the idea is that in 20 minutes, they'll both pass out on her and de-latch. This worked for 9 months or so, but the last few weeks have been much different, as they just don't settle on her while nursing and I have to take one and walk her while my wife walks the other to calm them. Typically, this takes 10-15 minutes of walking them, holding them very close, singing twinkle twinkle and hush little baby, and then they finally fall asleep in my arms and I can transfer them to my wife to nurse them both together, as during this time, she was walking the other one while nursing her to get her settled.
We read that around this age, other parents said their children stopped tandem nursing, but I'm not sure if that is our case. In trying to help with night waking (which I'll mention below), we read in the Dr. Sears Baby Book about "parenting" your child to sleep, so they just don't fall asleep while nursing. Mary used to always nurse them to sleep, but if they woke the first time or two at night, I'd come in and take the awake baby and walk her to sleep. Now, it seems that they like daddy walking them to sleep and can't settle unless I'm there to help them.
We also read that they might not be settling to sleep for the 1st time at night because of the milestones they are achieving. They are both crawling and standing and soon will be walking. Caroline likes to nurse and climb on Mary, kicking her legs about, etc. while Johanna latches on for a second, pops off to talk to her sister, gets back on, etc.
* Our first questions is, how can we get the bedtime routine back to just tandem nursing to sleep without them fussing and being so awake that we have to walk them to sleep first? Or, is this just a normal stage and we should just continue to settle them by walking, and then have them tandem nurse? *
Ok, so, once they get walked and then nurse to sleep, we put a pacifier in Johanna's mouth, as she likes to sleep with one (is this an ok thing to do? The author of the No Cry Sleep Solution said it was ok, as you can just break that later on), put her down to sleep and then put Caroline down (she shows no interest in the pacifier). We have a king sized bed and Mary sleeps in the middle, with each baby on either side. We have a twin bed next to the king bed and that's where I sleep right now, as the babies tend to roll around a bunch at night and we thought I'd eventually make it back into the bed once they settle down in a few more months.
So they are both asleep by 7:30-7:45 or so, on their bellies (they had a bit of reflux at an early age so the doctor said belly was best and now they like sleeping that way) and then Mary passes out in between them. On a good night, things will stay this way until 9:30 or so, but usually, one can be up after 25 minutes, and this starts the pattern of night waking. We should mention that are do not plan on weaning them at night yet, as we feel they are too little, but they wake sometimes 6 to 7 times each a night (and sometimes way more than that). We are trying to get them to sleep for longer stretches. We've read the No Cry Sleep Solution and The Sleep Book by Dr. Sears and are not sure what to do.
As I mentioned before, Dr. Sears talks about "parenting" them to sleep, and that's how the walking came into play. But now I'm walking babies to sleep for a total of 3+ hours, as even after nursing they are not settled. The No Cry Sleep Solution book talks about nursing them during the night but to do the pull off technique, but often my wife is passed out in between the babies, one will find her nipple, latch on without her knowing, and then they'll stay there for a half hour or 45 minutes because she's passed out from exhaustion of being up all the time. Again, we do believe in nursing them during the night, but when they wake, they do it often, and at times, they are fully awake, ready to play, talking, etc.
* So, our second question is, how can we get them to sleep for longer periods of time while still keeping them in our bed and nursing them when they need to at night (2-3 times a night each instead of 6-7 times each)? *
Should I sleep in between them instead of Mary? Should she wear a shirt to bed so they can't sense her? What do we do when they are totally awake, walk them? Should we really try to do our best with the advice in the No Cry Sleep Solution with the pull off technique and eventually the babies will learn to fall asleep without sucking and then wake less? When they do wake, we'd love to have them nurse, they latch off before being totally asleep, roll over, and then we'd just pat their butt and say, "Shh, sleepy time," and they'd pass out, but maybe this is all just wishful thinking, as they are too small still. Is this all normal for parents who Attachment Parent twins? We just feel they are waking too much at night!
As mentioned before, we used to have my wife just tandem nurse them both to sleep at night, and this worked for naps too. Currently, I am off for the summer as I am a school teacher, and she is off until the babies are much older, so she is home with them all the time. The plan during the school year was to nurse them both at the same time, then transfer them onto the pillows that are holding up her arms, as that's how she supports her arms while tandem nursing. They would sleep on their backs on the pillows, but she'd have to have her arms on them pretty much the whole time.
When I got off for the summer, we really started to work on putting them down on their bellies after they fell asleep, and this is currently how it is. However, I go back to school in a month or so, and we are not sure what Mary will do for naps come September. We already wrote about the whole walking to sleep to settle them and then the tandem nurse thing. That's how we do it now, once in the morning (2 hours after they 1st get up) and then once in the afternoon around 1. We are pretty good with the schedule, but Mary can't walk both to sleep for the naps. They just don't settle on her, so she was thinking about using a pack and play (the babies have never been in one before) and having one play for 15 minutes in the room while she walks and then nurses the other sleep.
* Our third question is, what should we do for naps? Will they outgrow this stage and once again tandem nurse to sleep? Or are we going to have to do the pack and play method? *
We did read that the pack and play method was done by others, but then after a while both babies just cried when they saw the pack and play. We just don't know how Mary will get them down for naps on her own when I go back to work.
Again, we are really sorry that this post is so long, but we could really use some support. It's tough for us, as our pediatrician just tells us to let them cry it out in their own room and we get this advice from our parents and siblings a well. We know there are people who have successfully Attachment Parented twins, and we just want to continue doing what we are doing, but have the babies sleep for longer periods of time, wake less, not need to be walked so much, and settle easier for naps and the 1st part of the night.
If you've made it this far in the post, thanks from the bottom of our hearts for reading. Hopefully the next time we post it won't be this long.
Hope you all are getting some sleep!
Mary and Jeff