The first step to establishing a schedule with your twins is to find out if they are old enough. Typically speaking, twins will be ready to follow a routine around 4 months old. This is 4 months adjusted if your twins have an adjusted age for sleep. If you aren’t sure if your twins have an adjusted age, you can find out more on that topic here.
Are your twins ready to be on a schedule?
Once your twins are 4 months old, you’ll notice dedicated awake times throughout the day where they are awake and alert and enjoying short periods of play time after their feeding. These wake periods will be around 90 min to 2 hours long. If your twins aren’t staying awake this long, don’t worry. Make this a goal to hit by the time they are turning 5 months old. If you are experiencing wakeful periods after eating of 60-90 minutes, then you know it’s possible to follow a routine with your twins.
Are schedules the same as routines?
Schedules and routines can be used interchangeably when your babies are young. When twins are young and taking many naps per day, it’s hard to expect a concrete schedule to happen. Meaning their days will not be specific to the clock, and instead a sequence of events throughout the day.
Eat Wake Sleep routine with twins
This daytime pattern can 100% work with twins!
Eat/Wake/Sleep represents the order in which your twins eat and sleep throughout the day.
They wake up/eat/have awake time/sleep again/repeat. Following this sequence of events will help your twins to eat better because they won’t be getting drowsy, and it will allow them to sleep better as they won’t have fallen asleep while eating as a way to get to sleep and stay asleep.
The eat/wake/sleep pattern for twins can be used all the way through the weaning process. Your twins WILL need a feed before bedtime, which breaks the cycle, but just be sure to allow them about 30-45 minutes between feed time and when they are placed in their cribs.
Feeding at the same time is an important part to keeping your twins on the same schedule. Whether bottle or breast fed, you can get into a routine that incorporates feeding them at the same time to keep things simple. Using a feeding pillow like the Twin Z pillow or two boppy pillows can assist you in doing so efficiently. If one twin wakes early from a nap, try and keep them occupied so they can hold off and eat with their sibling. This helps keep their digestive systems on or about the same, to again, keep things as simple as possible.
Twin specific sleep tips to help start a schedule with twins.
The thing to remember here is to lower your expectations and understand that you may have to wake a sleeping baby in the beginning. In my experience as a mom to twins and twin sleep consultant, waking a sleeping twin is the better option to choose instead of having them on opposite schedules/routines. As a twin mom, I realize just how important those breaks are for you.
To keep your twins on the same schedule, I recommend you do these three things each day.
1. Wake them at the same time each day or within 20 minutes of each other.
2. Start your day at the same time each day; this is called a desired wake time.
3. Practice the 20-minute rule when one twin is sleeping longer than the other for naps. Wake the sleeping twin at maximum 20 minutes after their sibling has woken. Then, for the next wake window you will split the difference. Place babies down for their next nap 10 minutes before one twin woke and 10 minutes after the other woke.
How to start a schedule with twins
Wake them at the same time each day and follow their wake window for their age/stage. Feed them upon waking, enjoy some play time, then transition into a nap time routine. Once they have completed their nap, the routine starts again, keeping in mind when they eat and sleep won’t be by the clock but instead in relationship to how their day is going. Between 4-5 months old, babies are eating every 3-3.5 hours and taking 3-4 naps.
Pretty soon you will notice that their sleep is happening around the same time each day just by following the sequence of events. It’s a really exciting time when you notice this happening!
Example sleep schedule for twins
Based on a 7am wakeup your twins may be napping around these times when they are 5 months old:
4:00 PM catnap
Bedtime for your twins will also fluctuate during this time. They likely won’t go to bed at the same time each night but instead they will lay down once their wake window is closed. This could mean their bedtime is 6:45, for example or as late as 7:15. Keep in mind these are just examples. Your babies bedtime should have a direct relationship to when they got out of bed for the day and how long their naps were.
If your twins are struggling to take naps in their cribs or sleep long stretches at night, reach out to us by taking a look at our twin sleep plan offerings and booking a free sleep evaluation call. We are a set of twin moms who love coaching twin parents through schedule implementation and safe/independent sleep where your twins can sleep through the night and take great naps! We've personally coached over 150 twin families!
Be sure to grab our free twin sleep guide available for download right now!
When starting a schedule with your twins, remember that each day may be different from the last, but your days can have some predictability by following the tips described in this article. Many twin parents find comfort in a schedule because it is somewhat of a necessity to survival. Read up on other twin specific sleep tips on our blog to help navigate life and sleep with twins at home!
Tweet Dreamzz founder, Lindsay Loring, is the author of this blog post. Lindsay is passionate about helping twin families get the rest they want. Lindsay is a mom to twins and lives in the metro St. Louis, MO area. Learn more about her sleep consulting services at www.tweetdreamzz.com