Getting Multiples on a Schedule



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.

 

 

How To Feed A Sleepy Baby

 

It seems counter-intuitive to wake a sleeping baby. You were warned about how little sleep you'd be getting but now that you're settled in with your newborn you find yourself concerned by how much your baby sleeps. A sleepy baby can interfere with breastfeeding success or make it difficult for your infant to get enough formula to gain weight.

Your baby may be extra sleepy as a result of:

·       Not getting enough breastmilk or infant formula

·       A difficult birth

·       Medications you were given during labor or while you are breastfeeding

·       Overstimulation due to bright lights, noise, or interaction

·       Jaundice or other medical conditions

If your baby isn’t waking up to feed every 2-4 hours around the clock or has trouble staying awake to feed, you may want to try to keep your baby awake by using one of these tricks.

·       Unwrapping or undressing your baby

·       Talking to baby

·       Stroking or massaging baby’s body

·       Rubbing baby’s face (babies have a reflex that opens the mouth when the chin is touched), stroking the cheeks, circling the lips, kissing

·       Expressing breastmilk or dripping a bit of formula onto baby’s lips

·       Changing your baby’s diaper

·       Switching breasts or arm that you hold baby in to bottle feed

For babies that fall asleep too quickly at the breast, you can try compressing your breast to increase the milk flow which may stimulate your baby. Stroke your baby’s face, or nudge your baby underneath the chin. Keep your baby undressed and skin to skin. These techniques can be used throughout the feed to keep your baby eating.

Be sure to seek the support of your doctor or midwife if your baby is too sleepy to eat effectively. An infant that is not getting enough to eat can get sick very quickly.

Family Doulas of Ottawa is happy to offer suggestions and provide support for your feeding journey. Contact us today for information on infant feeding.