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How to Stop Co-Sleeping with Twins

Hi Mama, I see you… your baby or toddler has woken up in the middle of the night again and you don’t know what to do. You’re so exhausted and desperate for some sleep that you bring one or both twins into bed with you just so you can get a little shut eye under your belt and be able to function the next morning.

You’re not alone and it’s not uncommon for parents to get into the habit of co-sleeping, especially if it helps everyone get some amount of consolidated sleep every night. Not to mention the fact that those baby cuddles in the middle of the night are something truly special.

But now you find yourself in a position where co-sleeping just isn’t working for you anymore and you don’t remember the last time you had your bed to yourself. Everyone has their own journey when it comes to parenting and there is no one size fits all when it comes to baby and toddler sleep. However, if you’re starting to feel like your co-sleeping journey is coming to an end but don’t know where to begin, keep reading.

What is Co-Sleeping?

Co-sleeping is when children sleep on the same surface as another person such as their parents or siblings. Co-sleeping and bed-sharing are the same thing. Room-sharing is NOT the same as co-sleeping. Room-sharing is when children share the same room as another person(s) but have their own sleep space such as a crib, bassinet, or another bed. It is definitely possible to teach children independent sleep skills while they are room-sharing with parents. This is a common setup in the early days.

When is the Best Time to Stop Co-Sleeping

The best time is whenever YOU are ready and can commit to a plan. However, I do like to mention that the AAP clearly states that they discourage co-sleeping or bed-sharing as it can have some serious safety risks. Infants especially do best when sleeping on their own flat and bare sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet. Keep in mind that twins should be sleeping separately as well and not in the same bedspace. Room-sharing with your twins or single baby is just fine though! In fact, many twins often do room-share.

How to Stop Co-Sleeping with your Twins

Be consistent – It’s not fair to your baby or twins if you let them co-sleep with you sometimes but not all the time. Little children do not yet understand why they would be able to sleep with you on some nights but not on others. Most children do best with clear boundaries and expectations. If you revert to old habits even once throughout the process of establishing new sleep skills, you are reinforcing the very behavior that you are trying to terminate. Consistency is KEY!

Spend Lots of Time in Your Child’s New Sleep Space

It’s only natural for a child to be apprehensive about sleeping in a new place. This is why we recommend spending lots of time in your child’s new room/sleep space prior to saying farewell to co-sleeping. For a young child, this could involve playing with some toys or games in their room during the day or letting them explore around while you sort the laundry. For a toddler or preschool aged child, this could look like picking out some new sheets or stuffed toys for his or her bedroom in advance and having them help you set up the new items. Utilizing a bedtime chart such as this one can prove to be really helpful in the transition.

Bedtime Checklist & Rule Chart for Toddlers
Toddler Bedtime Chart

Introduce a Transitional Object

If your child is 12 months or older, we find that introducing a transitional object such as a new lovey or stuffed toy can work wonders. Be sure to involve your child in this process. Talk to them about their new buddy for sleep. Remember to keep the lovey or stuffed toy STRICTLY for sleep. This will ensure that this item is special. Give the new friend a name and keep it close during all sleep routines. It will also be a cue for sleep!

How to Create a New Bedtime Routine for your Twins

If you’ve been following us for a while, you already know that we firmly believe in a regular and consistent bedtime routine. The same sequence of events every night before bed cues your baby or twins that sleep is on the way. Kids do best when they know what to expect. Check out this article we wrote on easy bedtime routine ideas for babies, twins and toddlers. The article shares our thoughts on how to make the last hour or so before bed a relaxing time for you and your children to bond and get ready for a period of separation.

Start the Process at Night

You’ll want to start this process at night time vs. nap time. The drive to sleep is much higher at nighttime because your baby or twins’ bodies are creating melatonin (the sleepy hormone). This helps their body accept sleep more easily. You can then proceed with the new changes during the daytime the next day.

Have a Plan a Sleep Training Plan to Help you Discontinue Co-Sleeping

This transition can be challenging for your child AND you. That’s why having a plan is important, so you know the exact steps needed for success. At Tweet Dreamzz we’ve worked with plenty of previously co-sleeping parents with great success! There are a few different approaches we can take as we know every family is different. Depending on age, we typically see great progress with the following two methods:

1) Stay in the Room/Chair/Sleep Lady Shuffle: Also known as “camping out”. This method works by gradually weaning parental presence from the baby or twin’s bedroom. This sleep training method allows you to soothe your child or twins while in the room. Eventually your presence is weaned by you moving further and further away until you are eventually out of the room. Soothing can look like rubbing back/tummy, loud shushing and hand holding to name a few. The important thing to remember here is success is marked by when. your child puts themselves to sleep. They will practice this every night and continue to get better at their own strategy.

2) Timed Intervals/Leave & Check: With this method, parents go through their bedtime routine and then leave their child or twins in the room after ensuring that everything is OK. They re-enter based on strategically timed check-ins. We recommend waiting at least 10 minutes before doing a check-in. It's also recommended to refer to a crying scale to be sure you can recognize self-settling.

Both methods listed above always have your child’s safety and well-being at the top of our list!

If you’re ready to stop co-sleeping but need some individualized support to get you to your end goal, we are here to help. Book a free discovery call today & view our sleep training offerings. We can be that resource for your family to ensure that everyone in your family is getting the sleep they need and in their own beds!

Stellina Ferri is the author of this article. Stellina is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and mom of three (including twins!)

She supports families through the journey of better sleep as a consultant with Tweet Dreamzz Sleep Consulting. She lives in the Boston, MA area with her family.

Find out what solutions she has for you by Booking a free call!

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