by Kylie (Midwife, Child and Maternal Health Nurse, and owner of Beyond the Bump)
Babies, like us, sleep in cycles. At certain times in this cycle your baby may stir and even open his eyes. At this point “Wait, Watch and Wonder”. If left undisturbed he may resettle (if feeling secure) and go back to sleep. It is good to get to know these small things as they can make a huge difference to your understanding of your babyʼs needs and in predicting his behaviour.
• All babies need to sleep, however it is a very individual and everchanging process. Sleep is essential for normal growth and development as well as being critical for brain development.
• The key to settling your baby is to prepare him for sleep at the first signs of being tired.
• At around 4 months wrapping should loosen in preparation for your baby rolling and moving around.
• Babies have sleep associations (cues or prompts that babies use to go to sleep) just as adults do, for example, dummy, rocking and music. It is important to be aware of creating associations that might become difficult for you to replace, as the baby gets older or for the baby to do himself.
• It takes around 4months for babies to have a predictable pattern of sleep and wake time.
• There is no one right way to settle your baby. Choose what methods of settling suit you and experiment. Treating your baby as an individual and following your gut instinct will create a calm and secure environment for your baby to sleep.
• It is important for parents to stay calm and relaxed around sleep time. Babies need to feel secure and safe in order to go to sleep.
• Learning to understand your babyʼs communication cues will enhance the bond you create with your baby as well as making your parenting experience that bit easier.
It is important to be aware of the SIDS and Kids recommendations for sleeping multiples safely at home. The strategies to reduce the risk of SIDS are to sleep all babies in their own safe sleeping space e.g. cot and bassinette. However, they also recognize that at times babies might need to share bedding such as on holidays in the one port-a-cot. In this case place their heads in the middle and feet touching each end of the cot, use sleeping bags not blankets and place them on their back. Once rolling though the advice is not to share beds at all. All other SIDS and Kids safe sleeping guidelines should be followed.
So how do all the above sleep tips work when relating to multiples? Often not easily…..
Many nights 1 of our twins would sleep in the lounge room, hallway or walk in robe as trying to settle one baby and keep the other one asleep was a real juggling act at times. When we talk about sleep in relation to multiples it is a whole set of different challenges than with a singleton baby. Our big boy was 8 when our boy/girl twins were born, however I could still recall the relative ease of only one baby at a time. Another thing to consider is whether you will feed your bubs at the same time or just as they wake? By developing the same pattern with each baby for their feeding and sleeping means you have a greater chance of some sleep and rest. This can be a little tricky if there is a considerable discrepancy in their weights.
If possible having another adult to “tag” team with and share the load. My husband and I worked like a well-oiled machine in those first few months and when he was at work my mum and mother in law stepped straight in.
Remember it is a sign of strength not weakness to ask for help. There are many benefits in creating the help before you hit crisis point. Planning ahead can ensure your multiple parenting journey can be enjoyed and not just tolerated. Raising a single child has challenges however raising multiples adds a whole new level of complexity.
Kylie is a Registered Nurse, Midwife and Child & Family Health Nurse with 20 years experience. Being a mum of 3 gorgeous children including twins, Kylie understands the needs of parents with babies and young children. Kylie prides herself on her dedication to helping people become the best parents they can be and achieving their individual goals. Beyond the Bump aims to provide high quality parenting support to families with children from newborn through to preschool in your own home. Achieving health and wellbeing for each family member is of upmost importance so families can grow together. To see all of Kylie’s articles, click here.