Two (or three, or more!) of everything- how exciting! Until, of course, you start to consider that there will always be multiple babies to feed, bums to change, naps to facilitate, and bedtimes to prepare for.
Almost every book and every expert on twins, triplets, and multiples suggests that having your babies on a schedule is key. Many parents get more rest and feel less overwhelmed by feeding, changing, and putting multiples to sleep on the same schedule. If this kind of routine-based parenting is for you, here are five tips for getting your babies on a schedule:
1. Hospital to Home
If your babies had an extended hospital stay, you’ll get off to the best start by sticking to the schedule they were already on. You can ask the nurses for a written record of their current schedule for feeding, changing, and sleeping.
2. Sleeping Together
Letting your brood sleep together will help them snooze more soundly, while also encouraging them to wake together. On a safe sleep surface (link: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/dca-dea/stages-etapes/childhood-enfance_0-2/sids/ssb_brochure-eng.php#safe-sleep), place your twins, triplets, or multiples side by side. This practice is appropriate until one or more of them have learned to roll over – once that happens, opt for separate sleeping solutions instead.
3. Let Sleeping Babies Wake
Forget that saying about never waking a sleeping baby. If one of your babies is awake and needs to be fed, changed, or otherwise attended to, wake the other ones as well. This prevents you from going through the whole routine again an hour later, when the next one calls.
4. Bedtime Routine
Have a bedtime routine that is calm and familiar each evening. For many families that routine involves bathing, feeding, and, finally, bed.
5. Be Flexible
Take it as it comes - life happens! Your babies’ schedule is meant to make your life simpler, not deprive you of social interaction. It’s okay to deviate from the routine now and then. Also, if your babies have a different schedule in mind some days, just roll with it. Just try to give your babies the same things at the same times - so if one wakes up or feeds early, wake or feed the others, too.
Over time, your twins, triplets, or multiples will have different needs. Your schedule will need to evolve to meet these dynamic requirements. Always pay attention to their cues, even if they go off-schedule - feed babies that seem hungry, put sleepy babies to sleep, etc.
If you follow your intuition, trust yourself, and roll with the punches, you’ll soon find you have the tools to navigate through anything. A solid schedule will help you get there.