Heidi and Eden –Beautiful 11.5 month old twins.
Mum and Dads goal:
to get a reasonable amount of sleep for everyone at night, get both girls self-settling and on the same nap schedule.
Mum was cuddling Eden and Heidi to sleep then transferring them to their cots, where they would wake frequently overnight and having 2 bottles each. Sometimes they would return to sleep; otherwise mum would lie in the spare bed with them where they would go back to sleep.
This was exhausting for mum and dad and after 11 months, they were ready for some more sleep, the sleep deprivation was starting to take its toll.
Naps times were not consistent and mum had to lie with them again and cuddle them to get to sleep, which could take around 20 minutes then transfer to the cot, where they more often than not would only sleep 45 minutes.
This can’t of been easy for Mum at all, with no down time for herself and two babies to clean up after, rep meals for and generally look after! Everyone needs some Dr Phil time too!
Because there were no set nap times, their afternoon nap could end up being around 4pm and sleeping over dinner time, meaning bedtime was then a little late for their age, this late bed time was promoting these night wake ups for these bottles.
Though these wee girls did seem like very happy children, I was sure their lack of consolidated night sleep, and inconsistent day sleeps were taking their toll and it showed in their eating habits.
Solid intake was minimal and predominantly store bought, therefore my concern was that they were not getting enough protein/carbohydrates to sustain them overnight so genuinely may have needed those night feeds. We came up with a plan to drop to one feed, whilst increasing their solids and get some home made goodness into them, then were going to work on dropping the second feed.
Eden and Heidi had also been sleeping in separate rooms, and recently moved to the same room-where their sleep deteriorated, and mum considered moving them to separate rooms again, but after a chat with mum prior to my visit, we decided to keep them together as they would learn to sleep in the same room and get used to each others noises, and most importantly, because mum wanted a gentle in the room approach-this would have been near impossible to do both in separate rooms if Dad was still at work when Mum was trying to settle them.
I was there on a 5-8pm consult which gave me time to see how both girls ate dinner, and what bedtime routine was like. Mum wanted some guidance around this and how to make it a nice relaxing period for them and get some positive sleep cues in place.
We gave them dinner, a bath, assessed their sleep environment-ended up removing all their excess blankets they had, as these two have the most beautiful Merino kids winter weight sleeping bags which are the warmest bags on the market, and as I explained to Mum, its perfectly normal for them to explore their cots and move around; and then we began their wind down period-always a little different when there’s a stranger in the house.
I wasn’t entirely sure how they were going to settle for the evening because they had only woken from their nap at 5pm just prior to my arrival, but we watched them closely and they were clearly tired from their short naps and broken night sleep, so we began settling them, and since Mum chose and in the room approach, we stayed with them and I coached Mum through the process; which in speaking to Mum on our final chat, admitted she would not of got where she is now, without me being there to guide and support her.
I love this part of my job, helping mums through the trickiest part which then gives them the confidence to carry on and do this once I have left. The point at which babies settle with gentle sleep training is often the point at which lots of mums tell us they would have given up if we weren’t there.
Even with an in the room approach, and especially with older babies, there is always some crying, mostly out of tiredness and frustration. This is always so hard for Mums, and even me too- I always end up feeling the emotion from Mum, but I was so impressed with Mum and how she handled it.
However, I could clearly see both girls kept moving down their cots to get to Mum, whom they knew was on the couch at the end of their cots and this was hindering them from going to sleep. We picked them up and cuddled them as necessary, but Mum was no longer ‘putting’ them to sleep. They were tired, and kept rolling over, lying down, sitting up, flopping down and trying so very hard to settle on their own the clever wee poppets.
Also, both girls have dummies, which Mum chose to keep. They did keep falling out and we replaced them for them at this time and Mum is working on teaching them to find and replace themselves as they have the ability to do so. Over this week, they have successfully done this. Eden has found her thumb a lot more, which she sometimes sucked already and was less reliant on the dummy than Heidi.
At the 50-minute mark-yes they were still fighting sleep at 50minutes, which is fairly normal on the first night- it was time for me to leave. We popped out the room to debrief quickly and as I predicted, both girls settled in a matter of minutes and went to sleep. Mum was shocked!
That night they both woke around 12.30 am, Eden at 3.30 am and resettled herself to sleep in 5 minutes, Heidi then woke at 4.15 am and had a quick feed as she’s the littler one of the 2, and then Mum woke them for the day at 7.15a m.
On day 1- nap 1 took less than 20 minutes for them to settle, this is amazing for gentle sleep training, and I was so proud of mum!
Nap 2 was 16 minutes with very little assistance and this was a nice 2hour nap with one of them stirring but resettled herself in a few minutes.
In bed for the night at 6.20 pm and settled in 20 minutes again.
Fast forward to day 6- we have 2 little girls who settled to bed at 6.42pm and this is what mum said:
Not much crying, I left after 10 mins when the glow bugs went off after putting Eden down a final time. They had already settled. Heard brief crying a few minutes after but settled themselves.
And guess what…. she did not hear a peep until 6.35am when Eden started to wake up, then she woke fully at 6.58am when they also had to wake Heidi!
Moral of the story, multiples can sleep through the night in the same room, and gentle sleep training doesn’t have to be weeks and weeks!
Happy Sleeping everyone!
Christchurch Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant