Imagine this…both babies are peacefully napping.
You have a few minutes to sit down and enjoy a hot cup of coffee before you get up to frantically get a few things accomplished before they wake.
No big deal, right?
Or do you suffer from nap struggles.….Maybe this sounds more familiar?
Lay a baby down, try to brush your teeth.
Get the other baby up, throw them in the carrier, proceed to brushing your teeth.
Lay that baby down just in time for the other one to get up.
Did we nail it?
Getting your twins to nap at the same time can sometimes feel like an impossible task. The truth is, napping for babies isn’t always as blissful as one would expect and can more often than not be all over the map.
Trust us, we’ve been there! We wanted to pull our hair out.
We’ve broken down crying in desperation for a few baby-free minutes. We have resorted to shushing one baby to sleep and rocking the other only to repeat again and again, until they needed to be fed.
Finally around 6 months we were a little more successful in getting our twins’ napping schedule to sync up, allowing us larger chunks of baby free time. Hip hip hooray!
But first, what you need know about babies and their napping:
Newborn – 3 Months:
- Babies don’t develop consistency in their sleep rhythms before about 4 months. So short naps are normal as well as an erratic napping schedule.
- Don’t try to create a clock-based schedule for naps, but follow more of an eat, play, sleep routine. Keeping your babies on a good feeding routine will help with this.
- Begin to establish nap/bedtime routines to help your babies learn when it’s time to sleep.
- Naps are still unpredictable but expect them to be moving towards 3-4 naps a day around 5 months.
- Daytime sleep (naps) beings to consolidate and become predictable around 6 months.
- Most babies can be held to a clock based schedule.
- Expect your babies to be taking 2-3 naps per day.
- A minimum of 2 naps per day and hold off on transitioning to 1 nap until 15-18 months if possible.
13 Months On:
- Hold onto an afternoon nap until 3-4 years old.
And now you have a better idea of what your babies’ daytime sleep may look like, we give you a little insight into managing naps with two…..so you get a little time for you!
5 Tips that WORK to Help You Avoid Nap Struggles:
Location is Everything!
Keep the babies separated in two different rooms. Consider moving one of your kiddos into a guest room in a pack n play. If you don’t have an extra bedroom, try another room in the house, far away from your other baby.
Get creative. Closets, offices and even bathrooms can be options for a second sleeping space.
Daytime and nighttime sleep are two totally different things, controlled by two different parts of the brain. We have found that our babes do fine together at night, not waking each other by making noise or crying, but during the day…forget it! If they are together, as soon as one makes a peep, they are both up!
At first we were alternating who napped in each space, that way they each spent some time napping in their own cribs, but we both quickly found that one babe was a more challenging sleeper than the other. So now we advocate for consistency, by putting your more challenging sleeper in their crib and the other can go in the pack n’ play.
Create the same environment in their napping area.
Now that you have decided where each of your babies are going to nap, you need to recreate the same sleeping environment that they have in their nursery at night. Whatever helps to signal sleep at bedtime will do the same for nap time.
A dark, cool space (68-72 degrees Fahrenheit) with white noise usually does the trick!
With that being said, invest in some good blackout shades for your nursery and alternative sleeping location. Also, a word to the wise, purchase two of the same white noise machines….we LOVE the Marpac Dohm (click to purchase……we appreciate your support in keeping our lights on)!
Don’t cut corners here by using your phone apps or traveling noise machine…trust us, we made that mistake and found that baby was always taking shorter naps. Continuity in their sleeping environments will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE in their naps!
Time it Perfectly!
When you are putting your babies down could be the reason for your nap struggles. Is your baby awake for too long and getting overtired? Are you putting your babies down too soon and they aren’t tired enough? Try charting your babies’ awake times and nap times. The pattern that arises will help you know when to put your babies down for a nap and develop a predictable nap schedule. Our FREE RESOURCE library has a great printable tracker to help you out with this…grab it for free here!
When babies are awake for the appropriate length of time, they fall asleep easier and take longer naps. If their wake time length is optimal for their age, they won’t wake from naps early, have a hard time falling asleep and wake up happy! Obviously, newborns are the exception here.
Learning your children’s sleep cues will also help you determine when your twins are ready for a nap. We talk more in depth about sleep cues in our post about infant sleep facts.
Routine and consistency.
The power of routine cannot be underestimated. Your bedtime routine helps signal to your twins that it is time for sleep, getting them calm and ready for bed.
So why not abbreviate the nighttime routine for naps?
If your babies know what is coming next in their day, it gives them one less reason to fight the nap!
Structure your day around the eat, play, sleep routine and then find a way to shorten your bedtime routine, making sure that it is quite and relaxing, to prepare them for nap time.
We encourage you not to incorporate feedings into the routine so they don’t associating eating with sleep, but rather learn to fall asleep on their own during the day…we promise it will pay off in the long run!
Sometimes it’s helpful to deal with the least challenging sleeper first. If you have one child that seems to roll with the punches, start naps with that baby. That way you can lay them down and let them fall asleep while you go in to work with the second baby.
Having some independent time to quietly play and relax is beneficial for your kiddos. While you are getting the first little love settled for nap, let the other twin play in the crib or pack n’ play with the lights dimmed and some calming music. You are one step closer to a napping child if they’ve already had a few quiet minutes to themselves when you are ready to go through your nap routine with them.
And mama…if they cry (because they might), don’t sweat it. You will be there shortly to settle them, give them some mama cuddles and lay them down calmly to sleep. You have two babies and only one of you. Sometimes they just have to wait!
Napping is a beast that frustrates most of us. You may have a stellar night sleep only to find out that your little one isn’t such a great napper. While you might not make them into a world class napper, you can definitely make naps with your twins more manageable. Stay tuned for more posts to come in our nap series to help you get some baby free time to yourself!