How to get your triplets to sleep through the night and get on a schedule. See how this mom had great success with Babywise for her triplets.
Blog reader, Suzy, contributed a success story during success stories week on Babywise and triplets. I thought an article on triplets might be helpful, and Suzy was very willing to contribute. Here is her story:
As you all know BW has a multiples chapter, written by a mother of triplets (I’m sure most of you just skipped over this chapter with relief), but we followed it to the T and are happy to report that it worked wonderfully.
Our kids are sleeping better and are more cheerful than most singletons we know.
Do Not Do It Alone
As it says, first and foremost, do not try and do it alone. It is necessary to have an extra set of hands, at least in the beginning.
At no time in the first 3 months did I do a single feeding alone. My husband had to go back to work after 2 weeks. My mother stayed with us during the week nights and helped during the afternoons also. Various friends also chipped in.
After staying in the hospital as long as we could (five days), we were lucky enough to take all 3 babies home with us.
That first feeding at home was daunting. We did not have anything set up, and professional help was suddenly gone.
In retrospect, we adjusted quickly, but we were both feeling a bit overwhelmed at the time.
Anyway, the nurses put the babies on a 3 hour schedule (6am, 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, midnight, 3am) which we simply continued.
The lactation consultants’ lessons on breastfeeding held pretty well, but we still called them a number of times, and we took advantage of their offers to visit and help us (four times).
In the hospital, we had been using donor breast milk, but at home it was pumped milk (my milk finally came in). I began nursing one baby at a time, while the other two were being fed from a bottle.
I would nurse and then immediately pump for the next feeding. And, amazingly I made much more milk than we needed. Yes, it was tiring and I had my moments, but it was clearly better than having all three kids on different schedules.
It really doesn’t matter if you’re using breast milk or formula, that is just what worked for us.
Tracking the Schedule
We also kept a schedule on a whiteboard (like those in the back of BW). We kept track of who ate from the bottle (B) and who ate from which breast (L or R).
We’d also keep track of their pees and poos, and anything else that seemed important (like questions for the doctors or nurse practitioners).
There is no way we could have just remembered this info and keeping track of it was a HUGE help.
Not until 6 weeks did I begin to nurse two at a time, while the third was being fed breast milk from a bottle.
At this point, I did a few feedings a week on my own, and I would nurse two at a time, while the other played under the play gym or was in the swing, then I would feed the third baby after.
I made sure the babies got full feedings from the get go, but just as BW suggests, I never let them feed for longer than 30 minutes. We would make sure to keep them awake, with cold wash cloths, etc.
Triplets Sleeping Through the Night
Then at 2 months, we dropped the 3am feeding. Only one of the boys woke up around 4am-ish for the next two nights and I think we fed him once but the next night he just cried a bit and fell asleep.
Just two weeks later we dropped the midnight feeding as well.
The 9pm feeding was a dream-feed (the babies had been sleeping since 6 or 7 p.m., and were more or less unconscious for this final feeding).
But we pushed it forward to around 11pm, and then, little by little, we took it back to 9pm.
So at 2.5-3 months, the babies were sleeping from 9 p.m. to 5-6 a.m. (my husband goes to work early, so in order for him to help on the first feeding, we set it at 6:00 a.m., which is where it remains today.)
Then around 4 months we dropped the 9pm, although I think we could have done it much earlier.
We were a little nervous, but mainly we just loved the dream-feed because they were so sleepy and cute and the schedule just worked for us.
At this point I also began feeding all 3 from me. I would just rotate.
Keeping Supply Up
Oh, and though the babies were not feeding as consistently, I still would wake up around 3am-ish and pump to keep up the supply, and to keep it coming (not fun).
I did that until the end of the 5th or 6th month. Nevertheless, at around 5 months, I wasn’t making enough milk and so we began to supplement with a couple of ounces of formula in one bottle per feeding.
Weaning From Breastfeeding
Then around 6 months I decided (–I had had enough of breastfeeding–rotating three babies never felt especially intimate) to begin weaning the babies.
Two of the boys drank from the bottle easily and it did not matter for them if it was breast milk or formula.
I kept going with the girl for another couple of months, but by 8 months I went cold turkey, which took her until the last feeding of the first day to totally accept.
I just couldn’t breast feed anymore. I was exhausted. She was totally fine and took to the bottle and formula well thereafter.
4 Hour Schedule for Triplets
I think around 8 months we also went to a 4 hour schedule. We probably could have done this earlier also, but the 3 hour schedule was working well for us.
The new schedule was 6am, 10am, 2pm, and 5:30pm.
They had been sleeping 6pm-6am since 4 months and, honestly, we got up in the middle of the night only once for one of the boys who was teething, not including the first and second nights of shots, which were sad nights).
For the most part they stayed on schedule but every once in awhile we had to feed a baby a little earlier than planned.
Sleep Tips for Triplets
We also used the pacifier earlier on if they woke up early just to try and get them a bit closer to the 2.5-3 hour mark, but never as a sleep prop, of course. Now, one of the boys sucks his thumb a bit, but I can’t remember the last time we even saw a pacifier.
They all slept in the same crib until they were about 4 months old. Then they got too big and we brought in another crib.
Just a few weeks later we brought in 3 cribs. They do not wake each other up with their cries. I plan to keep them in the same room for a few years at least.
We adhered to the feed, wake, sleep cycle and still do. We put them down awake in their cribs and never rocked them to sleep (except, again, on the first night of the shots).
We consulted our BW bible multiple times a day and stuck with it. The Chronicles has also proved very helpful, especially for schedule shifts.
What to Expect in the first year was also a great reference for us for specific ailments and the like.
There were some trying times but I truly think by following BW the whole family is well-rested and happy.
Thank you Suzy! I had to laugh at “I’m sure most of you just skipped over this chapter with relief”–I know I skipped it the first few times I read Babywise :).