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
We are very similar in our parenting style to you, and I was pretty bumbed when tandem nursing no longer "worked". Now at 14, almost 15 months, it's like WWF wrestling matches. Not pretty, and not useful to get them to sleep, though tonite it did. Will wonders never cease!
Ok, I'll never get through all the questions, but first thing I can think of is to not sweat the future. They will sleep, you will find ways to get them to sleep (stroller walks, car rides, etc) if nursing just doesn't work. It's funny to hear such a wonderful nighttime routine, as ours has fluctuated from day one, and pretty much looks like this:
"oh my gosh, it's nine o'clock!!! Bella (my five year old), put on your jammas and brush/brush! Get a book! Meet me in the bed! Twins, diaper change!!"
that would amount to our "routine". When all else fails, I drive them to sleep. (so not me as I am not a huge fan of cars, and truly would like to preserve the earth... )
Anyways, I think that 10 months is a real time of change, and sleeping can reflect that. We have the same bed set up as you, but also have our five year old in bed w/us. At 10 months, I was jumping between beds to meet their needs. Even the five year old who decided to start wetting the bed.
So.... hang in there, and yes, I would try sleeping one baby next to you in the twin bed and see if they go longer than the one next to your wife. Also, trying to "curb" the delicious scent is a good idea too.
One last quick thought is to maybe wear them down AFTER playing. I wouldn't stimulate them before bed. Also, my girls started needing less sleep, and although I know routines can be great, I really had to start watching their rhythms more closely to see that on about 3 days/week, they only wanted one nap a day.
You are doing a lovely job of parenting. I hope it is filling you with joy. As my first is five, I now look back and know that it really is a tiny amount of time that they are so needy. I'm so glad I parented her with my heart, and "got through" as best I could.
Blessings to you and your family....
Reading through your post I have to say that I think you've already come up with some great ideas on your own. It's all a guessing game and things are constantly changing. I have two older dc's and I know almost everything is a phase but I can still get caught up in trying to "fix" things when I'm going through a rough patch.
So, here are my thoughts:
It was probably my post you read about my babies crying when they saw the pack n' play . And you're right it doesn't work anymore and we've put it away. But it did work for about 2 weeks and well, 2 weeks is 2 weeks and better than 0 weeks . So, maybe give it a try and see what happens.
Keep going to bed early yourself and encourage your wife to do the same and sleep when they sleep. I still have nights where I go to bed around 7pm to try and catch up.
Our no longer being able to tandem nurse did (and still does) coincide a lot with them not being tired enough. We're currently transistioning to one nap/day so sometimes tandemning works and other times it doesn't.
Try sleeping beside one baby. When my two were about 5-6 months old they both got sick with colds and I was exhausted. I passed dd off to dh and he took her downstairs to our guest bed and slept with her there. She slept ALL NIGHT . They did this for about 6-8 weeks until dh travelled for work, she got sick again and we went on vacation. Now she sleeps in the family bed again and wakes up multiple times but it was nice while it lasted.
I deal with nightwakings pretty well. Some nights are better than others. My two are still up many times (5+). But I would not do well having to get out of bed. I can't imagine getting up in the middle of the night to walk a baby to sleep. We have completely baby-proofed the room we sleep in. If I was dealing with nightwaking where they wouldn't nurse back to sleep I would just let them crawl around, play, whatever until they were ready to come back to bed. Lights would stay off and I wouldn't interact with them much except to hush or whatever. I would even put up with some fussing if that happened. If they were truly upset and screaming I would need to find some other way but I think having both dh and I in bed willing to nurse (well not dh ), cuddle, etc... is not unreasonable at 10 months old.
I wouldn't worry about the pacifier. If she likes it I would continue with it.
I agree with mamaeliz and it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job parenting. Take care.
Karen - spouse to dh for 11 years, mama to ds (Nov '02), dd (May '05) and ds and dd (Jun '08)
Also.... the pacifier? I'm so darned happy that one will take it, that I'm forever giving it to her. And like the op said, if anything lasts two weeks, then that's TWO WEEKS!!!! Heck, there are things that I'll do just to get TWO MINUTES!!!!
My "routine" isn't very structured since I have a 2-yo DD and a 11-yo DS and DH works an odd schedule and goes to school full time. I live by the phrase "It won't be like this for long".
We all understand and sypathize. Best of luck!
At bedtime we would often need to swing one of our twins to sleep. We hung a baby swing (like this one) from our ceiling and we would just swing it until ds fell asleep, and then transfer him to bed.
We did not have that many issues with night-wakings until after the first year (I think before then it was not usually more than 4 wakings each per night), at which point my twins did wake at least once an hour to nurse all night long, and that continued until I night-weaned them at 18 months. It's possible that the frequent night-waking could be due to teething (the dreaded t-word!). I always, always, always sleep with a shirt on (more to protect my nipples from fingers than mouths), and that could help.
Ways I have gotten my twins to sleep for nap/bed over the years:
- strollers (for a long time they would only nap in the stroller)
- driving in the car
I was never successful with the "pantley pop-off" method, but I didn't follow it especially strictly either. Shortly after their second birthday, we started being able to lie next to our twins to get them to sleep (without nursing). I didn't try it earlier, but I remember that it seemed like it would be impossible.
I'm sorry I'm not more help! But what you're doing is definitely possible, and you WILL find a way to continue to make things work. Everything changes so quickly. Our twins still sleep with us for part of the night (along with their two younger brothers who are still in our bed full-time); it is very sweet.
Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
Don't have much time to post...have all 3 kids right now. We try to AP too. My girls are also 10 months. I'm always looking for ways to make it easier. One of my girls would go down for naps easily, just put her in the pack and play. But now she will only be rocked to sleep. Twin 2 also wants to be rocked. And DS, age 2 1/2 also wants to be rocked. I basically rock kids to sleep ALL day. Night I nurse them many times or few times depending on if they are sick, teething, etc. Could they be waking up and staying awake due to teething. My DS used to do that.
It won't last forever
spread a lot of love
I am really curious about the "one mama putting two babies to sleep" issue, as my 8 1/2 month old twins are also not always nursing to sleep anymore. When my husband is home, he can pat the back of one to get him to sleep, but there are many nights when he is not home at bedtime. What is a mama to do? THe night wakings are a problem here too. I don't mind nursing a lot at night if I don't have to wake up all the way, but sometimes they don't want to nurse (one BITES to let me know- ow) and if they are up long enough, one wakes up the other. My husband is home at night, luckily, so he can help, but I sympathize with your needing more sleep.
Has anyone got an idea about one mama putting two babies down? Help!
Wow this thread is necro'd, but it seems the topic is still relevant.
My boys are 11 mos today, and I can tandem them lying down. One side-lying, and the other face down on top of me (tummy to tummy). One falls asleep, then the other, and I gingerly detach. I roll the top guy down to be on my side, so I am between two babies. I then either sneak away, or read or sleep in bed.
Now, if one is wakey, I will stick him in our side-carred crib that contains a few toys, and he chews on them, rolls around, practices crawling, whatever. SOMEtimes he'll roll around for a while and then just fall asleep on his own. Miracle! Otherwise, I'll let him play like that while the first falls asleep, gently detach, then nurse the playful one down.
On a rare occasion, the playful one is really frisky. Ugh. If this happens, then I just roll with it. Take him downstairs while I have a snack. If he's upset, then I'll try walking him or rocking in the glider until he calms down enough to nurse to sleep.
I remember those days (not so) fondly. Now at almost 4 years old (where did the time go) if I hadn't journaled I wouldn't remember a thing!!
We did not co-sleep, but the boys were in the same crib until they began waking each other up rolling onto each other at about ten months. From a very early age (a few months old) we established a bed time routine. They would play (as they got older have supper), have a bath, pajamas, nurse, bed. They knew what was coming next and if we started the routine late (we tried to do it at the same time every day) they would still know what to expect. Both of ours started off taking a paci and then at three months when they started teething D chucked it and nursed instead, it was much more difficult to get him to go down. He had to be completely asleep before I could put him down. DH would bath them and I would dress one while he dressed the other and the three of us would sit in the e-z boy and I would nurse while DH sang softly. Then DH would take the sleepy one and put him in his crib and leave the room and then I'd put the other one down when he was finished. There were nights when DH wasn't home, so the one who took the paci got nursed first while the other played (or cried - sigh) and then I would nurse the other one. This worked until they weaned themselves off sleep feedings at around 18 months.
For naps, I would nurse them both then put them over my shoulders and rock. Then I would sometimes not so gently tip them into their cribs. I had one who would not sleep unless rocked, so I put R down first with his pacy and then in another room rock D as long as 45 minutes to get him to sleep. Good times. With this I also found that routine was helpful. We used the same sleep songs (and still do) and I can see sometimes when I am singing to our little one, I can see the older ones start to relax too.
Sounds like you guys are doing everything right. Follow your rythms, the babies rythms and your gut. You'll do fine and don't forget that what worked today may not work tomorrow but it all balances itself out in the end. :-)
: wife to James, MoM to R and D (Aug 2007) and E (Nov 2009) and Y (April 2012)