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How to manage twins sleep and feeding schedule

As parents, we often have questions about all kinds of health issues relating to our kids – from illness to prevention to child development. Come ask the experts what you want to know about pediatric health! A selection of answers to your questions will be posted on the site each week.

The question:
I am expecting twins soon. After they’re born, should they sleep together or separately? Also,how likely are they to be on the same sleep/eating schedule? Thanks for any suggestions! – Angela in Santa Cruz, CA

The physician answers:
Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your twins. How completely exciting (and overwhelming!) First let me say that it sounds wonderful, and fortunately, there are a lot of tricks to try and tons of advice out there.

My number one suggestion is to be prepared before the babies arrive — have lots of things at home: diapers, baby clothing, linens, medicines, feeding supplies and toilet items. Have the room (or rooms) completely arranged. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend this with a single birth, but with two infants, time is at a premium once they arrive — so it’s best to complete these tasks in advance. Regarding sleeping arrangements, it is most often thought that sleeping in the same room works best. This is because it increases the odds to get them on the same schedule without much effort. When one wakes up, he or she will tend to wake the sleeping baby — and, believe it or not, this is what you want. In fact, it is recommended that if one baby wakes up during the night, you should wake up the sleeping twin and nurse him too — this will continue to foster the same eating/sleeping schedule. It is also a good idea to nurse the twins simultaneously, even during the day. They sell twin nursing pillows to ease this task. I like this technique because it saves time and then they may be on the same nap schedule.

One other issue worthy of mention is the bathing schedule. Number one rule: don’t become compulsive about a little dirt. If bathing on the same night is difficult, simply break it up over two nights and just keep a schedule of whose turn is next. It’s also possible to sponge bath the least messy infant, while bathing the messier. This technique seems to lighten the load.

Lastly, many people mention that they would love to help you with the twins — this is the time to take family and friends up on their offer. Let them do what each is capable of doing, they’ll feel honored and you’ll get some relief. Most importantly, remember to enjoy this unique experience of twins, seldom does someone get the opportunity that you are getting.

Dr Jane Forester
Family Physician
Glencoe, IL

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