If I can use one phrase to sum up sleep training it would be “Short term pain, long term gain”. Honestly, sleep training the twins is the best decision my husband and I have ever made. You can call us selfish by sleep training our twins but sleep is such an important part of a baby’s life that we wouldn’t want to mess with. According to the National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep for children can directly impact mental and physical development. From newborn to 3 months, babies can sleep up to 18 hours; for babies that are 3 to 11 months, they can sleep up to 16 hours a day; for toddlers 1 to 3 years old, they can sleep up to 14 hours at night. However, I wouldn’t recommend sleep training your babies too early (before 6 months) because at that time, they wouldn’t have developed a sleeping pattern for you to train them.
I am definitely not an expert in sleep training nor trying to persuade you either or, I am just another mommy here sharing my experience to the world. I have a 3 year old daughter who is not sleep trained and a pair of twin boys that are so I can see the difference in their sleeping habit. I am an advocate for doing whatever works for your family, and sleep training my twins works for us. Also, every baby is different in genes and personalty so something that works for me may not work for you. Lastly, everyone has a different threshold for their baby cries so trust your mommy instincts and do what’s right for your baby.
As I have said before, my daughter isn’t sleep trained, I have always been co-sleeping with her since she is 3 months old. Every night, I basically breastfed her to sleep. It was absolutely sustainable and it worked for our family at the time. Even after I conceived the boys, the co-sleeping never ended, I just didn’t breastfeed her at night (by that time, she was on solid completely) so she is not drinking my milk at night for hunger, it’s more for comfort.
Unfortunately for my daughter, after the boys were born, I wouldn’t be able to co-sleep with her anymore. I was pumping and trying to breastfeed around the clock, especially since my boys can’t latch the first month. My daughter eventually resorted to sleeping with my husband. As for me, instead of co-sleeping with my toddler, I am now co-sleeping with my twins (I know, fun times). It was a big challenge in itself but I have really supportive family to help me, so I can get a block of 2 hours at a time before I need to pump again. By the time it got to the 5th month, I was ready to throw in the towel, I was beyond exhausted and I feel super guilty for not spending enough time with my toddler. I know I have to do something and my friend (you know who you are) suggested to try sleep training. She is a new mom herself and she said “Sleep training changed her life”. Out of desperation, I started to seriously consider sleep training my boys. Honestly, I didn’t have the heart to do it to my first born and kudos to my friend who did it to her first. If I didn’t have twins, I don’t think I would’ve sleep train them because the cries are just too excruciating.
It took me about a week to prepare for this big operation. First thing I did was to order the book that my friend recommended which is Sleepeasy Solution by Jennifer Waldburger. Of course, this one book doesn’t qualify for free shipping so I decided to order another book called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins by Marc Weissbluth and it just added up to just over $25, then we are qualified for free shipping (Yay me). Anyway, it took me about a day to read both books from cover to cover. To be honest, they are very similar in content, just that Healthy Sleep Habits is more focused on how to sleep train twins.
After doing all my necessary research (reading 2 books, googled for hours and reading countless forum posts) and observing my twins’ sleeping patterns for an entire week, I guess we finally were ready to go ahead with the idea. *Side note: I couldn’t believe how much work it involves and how anxious I was leading up to that first day of sleep training.* That day couldn’t come any sooner to be honest.
Sleep Training Day 1
At 7 o’clock I breastfed both of them and then I top them off with some solids. By the time all of these were done, it’s already 7:45pm, so they are ready for bed. I was totally dreading that moment, I know as soon as I dropped them off to the crib, they will cry bloody murder. But at that time I reminded myself, we have to look at the bigger picture, I know it’s better for them to learn to self-soothe to go to sleep and sleep is super important to their developments. All I need to do is to keep myself zen (easier said than done).
Ok, the clock just stroke 8pm, it’s time for bed. I gave them both big kisses and hugs and way they go to bed. My husband was responsible for putting them down in the cribs (they sleep in different rooms FYI) because I couldn’t bare to see them cry. You guessed it, as soon as he put them down, the symphony of crying began. For the first five minutes, I told myself it’s ok, just enjoyed the tv show. I haven’t had a “free” moment since they were born. Then of course, their cries escalated because no one came to “rescue” them. That go on for another hour or so, I was getting weak. I remembered trying to convince my husband that it is ok to check on them and he immediately responded, “that’s what the monitors are for”. At about the 90 minutes mark, Twin B’s cry started to die down, it went from a cry to a whine. I am seeing hope, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. On the other hand, my persistent Twin J was still going strong. I told my husband, I can’t stand this any longer, I have to go see him. But he said you are going to ruin all the efforts that you put in 90 minutes ago. He suggested that I should take a shower to drown out the sound. I took his advice and took a nice long shower which I haven’t had a chance to do since they were born. It could be TMI but my nursing pads were soaked in milk because biologically my body was telling me to feed those crying babies. By the time I finished showering and blow drying my hair, it’s already 2 and half hours into this crying frenzy. When I stepped out of the room, Twin B is already asleep and Twin J’s cry was softening to a point sounded just like the kitty whine.
After 3 hours of this crying battle, Twin J finally gave in and fell asleep. It looked like we won the battle today, they eventually went to sleep probably due to exhaustion from crying too much or some other mysterious reasons, whatever it is, I will take it.
Sleep Training Day 2
Same routine, same hugs and kisses, and same time. It took Twin B 40 minutes to fall asleep, Twin J took 60 minutes.
Sleep Training Day 3:
Twin B took 20 minutes and Twin J took 30 minutes
Sleep Training Day 4:
Twin B took 10 minutes and Twin J took 15 minutes
Sleep Training Day 5:
Twin B took 10 minutes and Twin J 5 minutes
Sleep Training Day 6:
Twin B and Twin J fell asleep in 10 minutes
Sleep Training Day 7:
Twin B and Twin J fell asleep in 5 minutes
From March 2014 to August 2014, I have let them sleep on their own until around midnight to 1am before I brought them into my room for an all you can eat breastfeeding buffet at night. When they were 11 months old, it got too dangerous because one could be latching on me and the other could be crawling to the other side of the bed and fall so we decided they should sleep through the night on their own. We know they were ready because they won’t even wake up when we brought them into my room, they just slept right through diaper change and they were just latching for comfort (hardly any transfer of milk).
There were absolutely no crying involved when we put them down for nap or sleep. They sleep through the night from 8pm to 8am. Occasionally they might wake up but within 5 minutes they self-soothe themselves back to sleep. When they both wake up in the morning, they never really cry, they will stay in their crib and talk to themselves or to each other if they are loud enough. If you ask my friends, you will know Twin B and J are happy, healthy babies with lots of energy. Also, our household has never been happier, I finally have some quality time with my toddler and husband, I have time to clean my house, I have time to write this blog, I just have time in general to take care of myself. I am super grateful for my friend who taught me about sleep training and we never look back.
Thank you very much for reading this epic essay. Next week I will be sharing with you what we learned from this sleep training experience and how to be successful at it. So stay tuned and I shall talk to you all soon!!