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I am part of a group on Baby Center called Babywise Babies. One of the moms on there had a question about her newborn and how to get her to sleep better. Made me go through a couple of posts that I have written and revisit the newborn stage so I thought I would share some of my experience and thoughts on how to help your newborn sleep better.

1. You need to find the right sleep window for your baby. This it a short window of time that allows your baby to fall asleep faster and easier. If you put your baby down to early he or she might be not tired enough. If you put your baby down too late, your baby might have hit a second wind and have some nervous energy and not be able to relax enough to sleep well.

2. The length of wake time is very important. Most newborns can only handle 30-45 minutes of wake time. Wake time includes the time it takes to feed them as well. So if you wake your baby and nurse for 30 minutes, then you only have about 15 minutes left of wake time at the most.

  • My personal experience: My twin girls had a waketime length of about 40 minutes when they were newborns. It consisted of the following: Nurse, Diaper Change, Immediately Swaddle, Put in Swing or Bouncers, Watch for their eyes to get heavy, Pick up and put them in their crib, AHHH Napping! To a list of schedules I kept with my twins click here.

3. Remember that Newborns can become very overstimulate quickly. It does not take much. They just spent the last 9 months in a quiet, dark environment. All the new lights and sounds can be a bit much for newborns. Try to keep the environment quieter, calmer, not as bright.

  • My personal experience: When my twins where born, my son was only 18 months old. He was full of energy and loud. He was a very good boy, but 18 month old toddlers have a hard time understanding what peaceful and quiet are. In order to keep the babies from getting too over stimulated I kept their bouncers and swings in my master bedroom (which was on the first floor). I kept my blinds shut, but there was still natural light in the room, just not overly bright. I sometimes had quiet classical music playing if Cooper was making a little too much noise and other times I just kept no music on. The babies would hang out in their bouncers or swings swaddled up tight in there. That kept Cooper from messing with them and it also allowed me to sneak in and “peek-in” on them. Once I noticed their eyes getting really heavy, I would carefully pick them up and place them in their cribs. The girls were sleeping in my walk-in closet at the time because I did not want to go up and down the stairs for middle of the night feedings. So I did not have long to walk between their swings and bouncers to my walk-in closet where they slept. I also allowed my girls a pacifier, which I think helped them sleep too.

3. Swaddling is so important for newborns. I cannot stress this enough! The startle reflex that newborns make causes them to jolt themselves awake. They just spent 9 months all balled up tight in your womb and now they are no boundaries and it scares them. Learn how to swaddle good and tight and I promise you that your baby will sleep well.

  • My personal experience: I found the best method for swaddling was to use a modified miracle blanket wrap. See my utube video of how to do this here (I need to upload the video still, I will do this later, so check back soon). I also found that if I finished diaper changing and put the twins in their swings or bouncers without a swaddle, when it came time to place them in their crib for their nap, they would get very fussy and wake up totally as I was trying to swaddle them. Then I had to start the whole nap routine all over again. In order to avoid that this was our waketime routine:
    1. Nurse
    2. Diaper Change
    3. Swaddle Tight
    4. Place in swing or bouncer
    5. Watch for heavy eyes or eyes shutting
    6. Pick up once heavy eyed and place in crib for nap
    I could not reverse #3 and 4 or they would fully wake up.

4. White Noise works. I know that a lot of people don’t want their baby or infant to get use to white noise to sleep because they will become dependent on it. But let me say, white noise does help. It gives the baby some background noise to hear. They just spent 9 months hearing fluid, heart beating, and other things going on inside of you. It was not quiet in there. The white noise is actually calming to babies. The other benefit of white noise is that you don’t have to tip toe and whisper around your house. If you have older children, white noise is essential if you ask me. I did not want to keep telling my toddler to be quiet, he is just being a toddler. With the while noise, I did not worry so much about my toddler’s noise level.

  • My Personal Experience: All 3 of my children sleep with white noise. We have a portable white noise machine in their rooms. It is easy to travel with too. I wrote a review on the two white noise machines I have used here. You can also use a stand up fan or a humidifier to give off white noise. Music can also be used to help drown out the sound by placing some soft quiet music.

5. Room Dimming helps too. You don’t have to go out and by dark out blinds, but make sure the room that you baby sleeps in is dim and not overly bright. I have found with all of my kids that they sleep better in dimmer rooms. Babies go though sleep cycles every 45-50 minutes. At the 45-50 mark, if the baby is semi-aroused and sees light in his or her room, she might wake up and not want to continue sleeping. More on sleep cycles read this post.

  • My Personal Experience: My son Cooper is a very sensitive sleeper. The smallest sound or crack of light could wake him. As a new mom, I did not realize the power of making the room dimmer until one day I tough I would give it a try. He took such better naps from that point on. Cooper was the chronic 45 minute napper and the room dimming really helped. My twins defendant benefited from room dimming too. But now Cooper is 2.5 and my twins are 1 and I find they don’t need it quiet as dark anymore to sleep so I have started to make their rooms a little brighter.

6. Sometimes Babies will fuss in their sleep around 45-50 minutes into their nap. This does not necessarily mean they are hungry and are ready to wake up. Like I mentioned before, babies go through a sleep cycles every 45-50 minutes. At the end of the sleep cycle they are in light sleep and might wake up. Most newborns do not know how to self-sooth at this point and they start to fuss, fidget, and cry. My advice is to leave them alone for a few minutes to see if they can work it out on their own and return to sleep. If you see their fussing, crying, fidgeting getting worse, then you might want to go in your child’s room and help. I offered some advice on my post about the 45 Minute Intruder that you might find helpful.

  • My Personal Experience: With my son I wrote a lot about it on the 45 minute intruder post. With my twins, I learned to go in and put their pacifiers back in their mouths. That seemed to do the trick most of the time. If that did not work, I often would then pat their bellies and rub their heads and that helped to calm them back to sleep. I would do a very slow rhythmic pat. If after several pacifier attempts and patting and they were still not going back to sleep, I would get them up and feed them because I assumed it was a growth spurt.
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CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF SCHEDULES KEPT EVERY MONTH WITH MY TWINS:
https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/infant-schedules-by-month-updated/

My twin are a few days shy of 8 months old. I have been doing a lot of reflecting back on their schedules that I have maintained and kept with them since they were born. I know for many twin moms that having your two babies on the same schedule is kind of a necessity so that you can have some down time to get things done around the house and even to grab a shower and eat yourself.

I think what I have learned with twins is that you CANNOT have a perfect schedule. You are trying to raise two different individuals and they will need different things and different times. This is especially true of fraternal twins. Identical twins tend to fall into a more similar sleeping/ eating schedule than fraternal twins do. I think it is best to have an “ideal” schedule for your day, but allow room for variation. YOU CANNOT HYPER SCHEDULE twins. Please remember that they are individuals and you need to feed them if they are hungry. If you want to keep them on the same schedule, just wake the sleeping twin up and then feed them together. The same goes for sleep, please watch for their sleepy cues. Don’t try to keep one of your twins up longer if they are tired in hopes they will nap at the same time. Babies nap better when they go to sleep when they start to first show signs of tiredness. Please read my post called, “Sleep Windows” which explains this concept in more detail. https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/

I thought I would share my reflections on my experience with trying to keep my twins on a similar schedule:

1 Month old:
The girls basically slept a ton and it was easy to keep them on the same sleeping and eating schedule. I was tandem nursing so I really wanted them to eat at the same time. I felt like it was breeze during those first 4 months- with such sleepy heads.

2/3 Months old:
They hit two growth spurt during the time and make it very challenging to keep them on the same schedule. They started to wake early from naps. In order to still keep them on the same eating schedule, if one twin woke up hungry from a nap, I just woke the other twin up to nurse them together. They were able to stay awake about the same amount of time, give or take 5 or so minutes, so it was pretty easy to put them down for their naps around the same time.

4 Months old:
They were on a solid schedule during this time. I would say that in terms of schedule, this was a sweet time for us. They were on a very consistent 3 hour schedule. They would eat, play, and sleep about the same time with about 5-10 minute difference, but I always feed them at the same time.

5 Months Old:
The girls pretty much napped starting at the same time, they may wake a little early from one another, but at this age, they were able to wait until the other woke up to be breastfeed. This was nice and gave me a little more flexibility with allowing them to sleep longer if they needed it. However, at this age the girls had different bedtimes. My daughter Molly just needed to go to sleep sooner than his sister Anna. I was okay with this, because it made bedtime more manageable for me. I would nurse and put Molly down while Daddy got Anna ready for bedtime. By the time I was done feeding Molly, I feed Anna and put her down. I liked the one-on-one time I got with Anna this way.

6 Months Old:
I really hit a hard spell with the girls are 6 months. They were trying to get rid of the 3rd catnap at this age. This effected their schedule a ton. Some nights they would take a catnap and other nights they did not need it. Molly end up needing it more than Anna. When Molly would catnap, I would try to keep Anna in the kitchen and give her some small toys to play with while I got dinner ready. But depending on if they took a catnap or not, it would effect bedtime, causing them to go to bed at different times. Late on the nights they took a catnap and earlier on the nights they did not take a catnap. So again the girls had different bedtimes from one another most evenings, but my husband and I juggled the two like we did when they were 5 months old and it worked out. I had to learn to be flexible during this time. It was not easy, especially with my 25 month old needing my attention too, but we got through it. Thankfully, they still went down for their morning and afternoon nap around the same time. They would wake up from their naps around the same time, but again they could wait until the other one woke up to nurse together.

7 & 8 Months Old
They both finally got rid of the catnap so I did not have that issue anymore, it was just that Anna and Molly required different amounts of sleep. Anna being the one who slept less. So I learned to put them down for their nap at the same time, and just get Anna up early and have her wait to nurse until Molly woke up. That worked and we are still doing that now at almost 8 months old. They also cut their first teeth while they were 7 months old. This did effect their naps and nighttime sleep. They would wake up and cry for a little and then go back to sleep. I tired not to intervein because I knew if I went in there, they would not go back to sleep easily. On days when the teething was the worst, I did get them some infant tylenol. The tylenol really helped them sleep a lot better.

9- 11 Months Old
I feel like the girls are starting to stabilize with their sleep. It is nice to have them fall into a very regular pattern of naps times and similar bedtimes. Molly, my sleepy head, still required a little more sleep, but I just put her down a little earlier and let her sleep a little longer. Anna does not seem to mind waiting to nurse a few extra minutes as long as I entertain her. We hit a growth spurt during 9 months, which required me to feed them a little more. I really wanted to stay on the same schedule and not mess up the nap times, so what I chose to do is nurse before their afternoon nap to fit in the extra feeding. I did that for about a week and then they seemed to get over the growth spurt.

 

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My twin girls are now 3 months old and I have been pretty successful at exclusively breastfeeding them and not having to supplement with formula yet. I recently have had some issues trying to keep up my milk supply while feeding them both. I have not been getting enough sleep and eating well and thus my milk supply has suffered. I also believe that the girls hit a growth spurt which meant I needed to nurse more frequently to increase my milk supply.

I thought I would share some pointers to successful breastfeeding twins and maintaining your milk supply that I have recently learned and implemented (and they are working!!!):
1. You must feed at least 7-8 times a day. More frequent nursing helps to drain your breast and stimulate milk production.  My girls are sleeping though the night so this was hard to achieve so what I do is I feed every 3 hours during the day, then cluster feed in the late afternoons and evening, as well as pump right before bed. So here it the feeding schedule: 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 5:45pm, 7pm, 10pm (pump). This way I can squeeze in 7 nursing/ pumping session in during the day.

2. You must eat well, at least 3.000 calories a day and at least 110g of protein a day. If you are nursing two, you need to stop and take time to feed yourself properly. I know this is easier said then done because you are busy running around the house trying to take care of house hold chores, your twins, and perhaps other children that are still at home. It is important to fuel your body well so have enough nutrition to produce adequate milk for two infants. I have been making a protein shake to have in the later afternoon that has 60g of protein. I also went out and bought some healthy snacks that are high in protein to have on hand to much on throughout the day. Nuts are a really great source of protein and they are quick and easy! I also made sure to have some chicken cooked ahead of time to make sandwiches from lunch. Remember, you are feeding 3 so you need to take in more. If you find it hard to prepare a meal, try to do some precooking ahead of time so all you have to do is grab the meal and go!

3. Drink plenty of water! I make sure to fill up a very large water bottle and carry it around with me at all times. I found that if I did not carry around the water bottle, I did not drink nearly enough. I strive to drink at least 10oz of water after each nursing session and then sip on water in between.

4. Rest, Rest, Rest!!! If you can, makes sure you take some time in the afternoons to rest, even if it is only for 30 minutes. You body does not produce as much milk in the afternoons because of fatigue. If you take time to rest or nap in the afternoons, it will significantly help to boost your milk supply in the later afternoons and evenings. Try to get 8 hours of sleep a night. I know this is hard, but everything I read says that getting proper nighttime sleep is very important to creating a good milk supply.

5. Tandem Nurse. When you tandem nurse, nurse both babies at the same time, you are simulating both breasts. When you stimulate both breasts you actually produce more milk than breastfeeding one breast at time. I am using the Breastfriends Twin Plus nursing pillow to tandem nurse my girls and it is working out great. I love the pillow and highly recommend that you look into buying one if you want to successfully tandem breastfeed. To read more about My Bestfriend’s Twin Plus Nursing Pillow read this: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/my-best-friend-twins-plus-nursing-pillow/

6. Take a supplement with Fenugreek. The supplement that seems to be working really well for me is More Milk Plus by Mother Love. It contains fenugreek and it has been proven to help boost milk supply.

7. Make sure that your twins are taking full feedings. You want to make sure you twins take full feedings and drain your breast adequately after nursing. You will know they took a full feeding if your breast feel softer at the end of the nursing schedule. Make sure to burp your baby and re-latch her after her burping to see if she will nurse some more. The longer your twin nurses at the breast, the more stimulation your breast will receive to make more milk.

8. Feed more frequently during growth spurts. I know that a lot of twin moms feed on a schedule to keep things simple. I feed on a schedule, but if you do this during a growth spurt your babies will be fussy and also not get enough to eat. You also will not be stimulating your supply to increase if you keep to a strict feeding schedule. Growth spurts usually only last a few days or a week at most so it is best to just feed on demand during a growth spurt. Usually once the growth spurt is over, your babies will return to schedule feeding and naps again.

For more information on breastfeeding twins and multiples, read the book: Oh Yes You Can Breastfeed Twins and The Nursing Mothers Companion
If you are having supply issues, please read the following posts:
How To Increase Low Milk Supply
Milk Supply & Breastfeeding During Menstruation

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Here is what I did to give myself some sanity:

As far as nursing goes- I tired to makes sure that Cooper was occupied while I was nursing, especially because I am tandem nursing and it is really hard to watch him and nurse at the same time. The hardest time for me to nurse was the 4pm nursing because he was around. I made sure to have a snack, milk, and his favorite things on his blanket. Even if he was watching a DVD, I made sure he stayed on his mat/ blanket.
7am nursing, Cooper still in bed
10am nursing, Cooper in Independent Play Time
1pm nursing, Cooper was just put down for his nap
4pm nursing, Cooper has blanket time or DVD
6pm nursing, Cooper is with Daddy
8pm nursing, Cooper is getting his bath or getting ready for bed

As far as getting them down for naps- This was hard for me. It still continues to be a challenge, but it is getting better. The girls wake time at that time was about 40 minutes. After I was done nursing them, I would swaddle them and place them in their swings/ bouncers. I would watch them until their eyes got heavy and start to shut. I would them pick them up and place them in their cribs. I found that if I swaddled them after they started to get sleepy at that age, that they would wake up and fight going to sleep. Plus, I had Cooper running around begging for my attention. It was hard to bring them into to their rooms and spend time shush/ patting them when Cooper was following me or whining and waking them up. So the swing and bounce were my friend for a few weeks. I did not have to turn the vibrate on or the swing on all the time. It was just being swaddled and cradled in their swings/ bouncers that helped. I did buy a great bouncer seat that I swear by. It really helps my girls to relax and get ready to sleep. www.target.com/Bright-Starts-InGenu… Luckily Cooper was somewhat occupied while I was putting the girls down for their naps due to their short awake time. Here is what I did with Cooper while trying to get the girls down for their naps:
7:40 Cooper Still in Crib (he stays in crib from 7-8am)
10:40 Cooper still in Independent Play Time
1:40 Cooper still napping
4:40 I put Cooper in our game room that has a gate so that he cannot leave the room and follow me. I made sure he had on a DVD for the 5-10 minutes that I was gone. (Cooper’s TV hours was between 4-5 which is when I had to nurse and put my girls down for their nap while Cooper was awake, not occupied, and with me).
6:40 The girls napped in bouncers/ swings if they slept at all. So I did not worry about Cooper at that given nap time
8:40 Cooper was in bed for the night and it was the girls bedtime. My husband helped me put them to bed at this time.

Now that the girls are 9 weeks old, I don’t put them in their swings and bouncers that often anymore before their naps to get them drowsy. It seems that they have just figured out how to go to sleep on their own. I watch for their sleepy cues. As soon as I see them, I swaddle them, and lay them in their cribs. But from the time they got home from the hospital until they were 7/8 weeks old, they always were allowed to get drowsy in their swings/ bouncers (whether they were on or off). But just remember, I swaddled them first, then put them in their swings/ bouncers. If I swaddled them after they got drowsy, they would fully wake up and then I would have a hard time getting them down for their naps.


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UPDATE: I am still using this pillow and my twin girls are 12 months old. We are still going strong on nursing and I am still tandem nursing them. Without this pillow I would have given up nursing a long time ago. I LOVE THIS PILLOW. I can nurse both girls in under 15 minutes now. They both still fit on the pillow just fine and I could not be happier!
I have been nursing my twins for 10 weeks now. I am tandem nursing them, which means I am nursing them at the same time. I bought my first twin nursing pillow which was the EZ-2-Nurse Twin Nursing Pillow from Double Blessings. It worked pretty well. I was able to tandem feed, but I found it difficult. There is not a very good back rest. The pillow is not very wide, not giving the twins a lot of room to lay on the pillow as they get bigger. My twin girls also seemed to roll inward on the pillow and I was also having to reposition them so they did not totally fall off the pillow. I got frustrated with the pillow so I decided to break down and buy the Best Friend Twin Plus Nursing Pillow. I am so glad that I did!

Here are all the benefits of the Best Friend Twin Nursing Pillow:
1. It is wider, giving my girls more room to lay comfortably.
2. It has a better back support, making it more comfortable for mommy to breastfeed.
3. The pillow is ticker, raising the twins up higher to my breast which means I don’t have to lean over (and that keep my back from aching).
4. The velcro closure is a lot easier to secure the pillow around our body with. It also has a clasp that is easy to release and secure the pillow with.
5. The pillow is firmer. This keeps my twins from rolling inward.  This allows me to keep my hands free because I do not have to hold onto the girls to keep them from rolling off the pillow.

This is a must buy if you want to tandem nurse!

http://www.mybrestfriend.com/twins

For more information about breastfeeding twins and multiples read my post:
Breastfeeding Twins: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/nursing-twins/

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