By: Elizabeth King, founder of Sleep Baby Consulting
These 4 tips will help bedtime go smoothly with two babies under two!
A mom story from a “two under two” survivor
Just typing out the words “Two Under Two” makes me feel tired and, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you might be feeling pretty tired too. But, as a Two Under Two survivor and a Professional Sleep Consultant, I am here to tell you that this phase of parenthood might be exhausting but doesn’t have to come with sleepless nights!
Good sleep with twins or two babies under two years old is possible (and easier than you might think) with just a few tools.
I’m going to be sharing my baby sleep consulting secrets so that your whole family can get the rest they need! You still might not match your toddler’s energy level, but at least you won’t be falling asleep on the floor while they tear the house down.
Tip 1: Craft a Consistent Schedule and Routine
I’m not sure this can be overstated. Plan for what your days will look like and stick to it. Children and babies thrive with consistency.
Start each day at the same time and start your bedtime routine at the same time each night. Even when you know the day might get off, having a home base to come back to makes all the difference.
Another secret to consistency?
Keep your bedtime early. At the end of the day, you are exhausted and your kids are too. When we push our toddlers or babies to stay up longer their bodies go into overdrive and, instead of being extra tired, they get overtired which makes it difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. This can also lead to early morning wakeups which no one wants!
Nothing like starting your day early with two little ones who need you. Overtiredness can also be caused by too much time awake before bed, even if they had an amazing day of naps!
For twins, consistency is even more important. As a parent of twins, you need as many tools as possible to make your life easier. Keeping each day looking the same helps you and your babies know what to expect and how to adjust if the schedule doesn’t go according to plan.
Tip 2: Keep a Synchronized Schedule
Just the word schedule can be a turn off to a lot of parents but I want you to see it as a tool that is going to save your sanity.
When you have two little ones, having a roadmap for your day is important and it’s the best way to make sure you get them napping and eating at the same time. Plan out your schedule in writing so you can maximize that overlap.
For parents with a toddler and an infant both under 2 there is nothing like a synchronized afternoon nap! Getting a good break for a few hours is important! I recommend focusing on building great, independent sleep habits so that your children can also become strong nappers.
Sleep training can feel intimidating but it doesn’t have to be!
Having support from a sleep expert can help make the process go smoothly and make sure you have a plan that is a good fit for your family.
If your toddler is no longer napping, we recommend having an afternoon quiet time instead. If your children share a room, this can be done in a playroom or another safe space. They can learn to play independently while your baby naps so you can still have a break to reset and come back as a stronger parent.
Tip 3: Make consistent boundaries and expectations around sleep
Even for our littlest babies, you want to have consistency in the way you expect them to sleep. Babies should be in their own safe sleeping space like a crib or bassinet. Toddlers may be in a toddler or twin bed or they may still be in a crib.
Twins should each be in their own crib or bassinet for safety as well. Twins sleeping together is very sweet but is not the safest! Twins co-sleeping or toddlers co-sleeping is also not a safe option for sleep. Plus, everyone sleeps more soundly in their own space!
A toddler bedtime routine should be short.
That’s right, no more than 15 -20 minutes – and include activities that help them wind down for the day. Once you’ve finished their routine, tuck them into bed and let them put themselves to sleep for the night or a nap.
Babies over 12 weeks can also learn these independent, self soothing skills! When you’re trying to get two under two sleeping, you want to make things as easy as possible for everyone and self soothing is a big key to that.
Being able to put your little ones in their bed and walk out of the room gives you much needed mental and physical space in the evening or at naptime which is vital for your own health and well-being.
Tip 4: Don’t protect the Sleeper
Finally, keep this simple rule in mind – don’t protect the sleeper.
Even with two babies or twins sharing a room, you don’t want to rush in there when one starts making some noise. This teaches the loud baby to expect an immediate response to their sounds rather than giving them the space to learn independence.
It also creates a very light sleeper for your other child! Instead, let them learn to sleep through each other’s sounds, whether that is in the same room or just nearby. Everyone will be grateful for it and sleep better!
This doesn’t mean to completely ignore cries or sounds your baby is making – just make sure your response isn’t an attempt to protect the other child.
Having two babies under two is exhausting and it may feel like it will never get easier but, it does!
Being rested while you are parenting two babies at once helps make every bit easier and even the hard days more tolerable.
You can do it!
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and support when you need it, having someone in your corner cheering you on can make all the difference.