Babywise and Twins. Tips from three Babywise twin moms about how to do the Babywise schedule with twins–get Babywise for twins tips!.
Okay, I have no experience with Babywise and twins. I do, however, know some moms who do. I asked them for some advice, and here is what they have to say.
Keeping Twins on Same Schedule
“The biggest complication to doing Babywise with twins, I think, is when one baby wakes up early or gets tired early, because it is pretty important to keep them on the same schedule. For instance, with the ’45 minute intruder’, the book says to try to feed the baby to see if its a hunger issue. But I feed them at the same time and don’t want to wake the other baby early just to see if the first is hungry. So I usually hold off the early waker until either her sister wakes up or has at least had a decent nap.
Similarly with going to sleep. One of my girls gets fussy really quickly when she’s tired; it’s impossible to miss her sleep window. And she falls asleep very fast. Then I get her sister, who seems to be still be wide awake. I often regret having to put her down for a nap because the first one was tired. So in a way, having the two forces me to stick to the schedule a little more. I’ve had friends who said they had trouble doing Babywise because they couldn’t bring themselves to wake a sleeping baby; I’m constantly waking a sleeping baby because if I didn’t, they would be on separate schedules.” drbc
Keeping Twins on Separate Schedules
“We are basically on separate schedules. I have a full time nanny so that helps. With our medical complications there was no way I could keep them on the same schedule. Hannah had to eat every 2 hrs and I was trying to keep Noah at every 3 hours. We started Babywise late, too. (6 months old, 3 months corrected age—before that they just did Babywise naturally as that was the NICU routine but it didn’t involve any CIO b/c all they basically did was eat and sleep). I wish I could have kept them on the same NICU 3 hr schedule from the beginning but that didn’t happen. [Last month], they began to naturally conform their schedules (even their naps!) to about 15 minutes. I put them to bed at the same time but they often wake at different times and need their naps at different times. Noah stays up longer in the morning whereas if I miss Hannah’s window, I’m scr**ed.
They are also on different eating schedules because of size. Hannah only eats 4 (sometimes 5) oz every 3 hrs. Noah eats 6-8 every 4 hrs. But they both only stay awake 2 to 2.5 hrs in between naps. Both are still at 3 naps. I try to keep in mind that they are individuals and have different sleep/activity needs. Noah sleeps more but can stay up longer; Hannah eats more frequently and takes shorter naps. If I have to go anywhere I wait until Hannah wakes up from her nap, regardless of what Noah is doing b/c Noah can eat/sleep in the car whereas Hannah refuses to do either in the car or anywhere but home. So I try to do the Babywise thing with them individually.” Lauren
Keeping a Strict Schedule
“There are definitely some challenges with twins. The thing that helped me the most was actually following more of a clock schedule because otherwise
you end up trying to decide if you should wake one baby to eat just because the other one woke early, etc. Since my girls are big and healthy, at 3.5 months I knew they could go 3 hours between feedings. Since their afternoon naps are short, we end up with wake time before and after the feedings, but this seems to be working all right for us
. They are definitely fussy and higher maintenance than when we fed them whenever they woke up, but then our schedule would spiral into short little cycles.”
I applaud all mothers who have twins. It would not be easy. These are some tips from moms who have twins, although they all gave some different advice. Hopefully you can get something from one or all three and apply to your own situation.
One reason I see twins being hard is because of what Lauren said. Each baby is an individual. You have to figure out two little strangers at the same time.
Something drbc said is so true to me. She said she needs to stick to the schedule in order to care for both babies. I have found that true with my two children. It is more important for me to have Kaitlyn follow her outlined schedule because I have two to care for. There is some flexibility available, and definitely more for me than a mom of twins simply because Brayden is older and can wait for things if he needs to.
Kudos to all moms of twins out there. Don’t forget to refer to the chapter in On Becoming Babywise on twins. Good luck in your endeavors!
And please, if you have good tips for moms with twins, post them in the form of a comment.
*Note that the comments have been edited for grammar, punctuation, and spelling if necessary.
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Hi Valerie! I have twin daughters that are 5 weeks old. We are really struggling with the evening nap and getting back to sleep after the middle of the night feeding. If they take the evening nap, then they seem to really struggle with getting back to sleep after the middle of the night feedings. If they cry through the evening nap and never fall asleep, then middle of the night feedings go much better. Is it possible that they are getting too much sleep in the evening and therefore can’t sleep as well at night? Any suggestions? Even more, I’m GREATLY struggling with the lack of time I get with the girls on the Babywise schedule. I feed my first daughter, set her down for wake time, feed the second and then it’s time to put my first baby to sleep. I feel like I can never hold her unless I’m nursing her! I hate it!!! Would I be messing up all my hard work if I held them in my arms during the evening nap or another time of day? I want to enjoy my precious babies and feel like I can’t because I’m working so hard to feed, watch every cue and hurry to get them back down. I know having twins puts me in a different category, but there has to be a happy medium with Babywise or I feel like I won’t ever be able to hold my babies, let alone my husband who is gone all day. I’m really missing them and need some encouragement! Maybe it’s just my mommy guilt and lack of sleep, but I feel like I’m missing the joy of my precious babies while they are so young. I welcome your thoughts as soon as possible! Thanks so much!!
Babywise Mom said…
Tracy, you could try a shorter nap in the evening (45 min or one hour). You could try to keep them up, but 5 weeks seems young for that to me. However, you are the mom! I am not sure about holding them for a nap each day. Some babies might be able to handle that. My daughter might have. My son definitely wouldn’t have. If you do decide to do it, understand it can’t last very long. They won’t sleep very well in your arms.I understand your frustration. All moms have it, so with two you wouldn’t be able to spend as much time with each. See this post for more on that: Spending Time with Baby/Child
Good morning! First of all, thanks for the abundant advice all over this blog. I too reference it a lot for ideas to troubleshoot!I am a first time mom of 10wk (corrected age is 8 weeks) twin boys. My hands are full, and the boys really are sweethearts.We work really hard to keep them on the same schedule (every 3 hours). They are doing really well at sleep training and, unless over-stimulated, can get themselves to settle within 10 minutes most times! Sometimes with no crying at all. (Still working on transitions, but they get it most of the time)My question is regarding night feedings. I’m feeling sad because both of them have slept up to 8 hours a couple times. But in the last week and a bit (as life has gone back to normal since the holidays), both have digressed back to 4 and 5 hours. One of them even woke twice in the night a couple nights ago! I’m trying to think “What have I done differently?!” Is it normal to progress and then digress?Their schedule is:7:30am10:30am1:30pm4:00pm7:00pmDF 9:30-10pmI don’t expect them to make it all the way through to the 7:30 feed yet, because that would be 10 hours. I’ve considered adding another feed into the day (to make it 7 in the day), but trying to get them to go every 2 and 1/2 hours is crazy because they just aren’t hungry enough!I breastfeed and supplement, alternating who gets what at each feed. I get them to nurse 20-30 minutes and their bottles are now up to 6oz each, which they usually can finish.When they wake in the night, they always take a full feed, and they eat a full meal at the first meal too, so is this simply an issue of waiting for them to mature? Thanks for your input. I just don’t want to miss something and ruin our sleep opportunities!
Babywise Mom said…
MomwithaDoubleBlessing,It is normal to go “digress” like that, especially during a growth spurt.My guess it is a growth spurt. They are at the right age for it. Since they are eating well in the night and morning, I definitely wouldn’t stop feeding them in the night yet.
We were doing SO well on our sleep-training and have had to start over a bit thanks to the holidays. Oh well…I have a question for you and am not sure where to post it. We have our twins on a very good schedule. They are eating every 3 to 3-1/2 hours, activity time, napping very well. They go down at night between 7:30-8pm like champs after a slightly larger bedtime bottle. They have dropped the late night feeding…we found they just didn’t want to wake up to eat. BUT, they are still waking up at 2am and then again at 5am like clockwork. Sometimes we can get them to sleep through their 5am, but never the 2am. I’ve come to accept that our twosome just need to eat after 6 hours (they are measuring in the 97th percentile, so maybe they need the calories!) Would you try to reinstitute the 10pm feeding to get them to sleep until 4am? Or should we just power through and hope that the introduction of solid food naturally solves some of our problems? What are your thoughts? Should I thank my lucky stars that it’s so easy with twins? We are very tired, but I know it could be worse.
Babywise Mom said…
Tracy, Since the 10 PM feeding was dropped, the night feedings will stick around longer than they would otherwise. I would try to get that 10 PM feeding back in and see if they will eat. Solids take a while before they affect sleeping because it takes them time to actually be able to take in enough food to impact calories for the day. See the blog lable “dreamfeed” for more information on that 10 PM feeding.
Muldner Family said…
This post gives me a little hope although I only have one. It has been tough…you name the problem we have it. He is just now getting over severe colic (is on prescribed drops), suffers from silent reflux (on zantac), gets carsick (use mylanta for long carrides) and now suspect teething is coming. He is almost 18 lbs and 26 in long—a big boy. I am exclusively breastfeeding. I have followed BW to the letter up until acid reflux hit at 2 months. It has been a rough last 2 months and I don’t know what to do. He will go to sleep with a little effort–loves his paci—but will wake at 45 minute mark and will go back to sleep in the swing. Some days he is up at 7 (I would rather 8) and is on a 3/3.5 schedule. At night he wakes minutes after laying down and wants more food then will generally wake 1-2 times in the night for food. My issue is: is it okay for him to finish nap in the swing? not sure what else to do have tried all suggestions, why does he wake minutes after laying down then sleep 5-6 hour stretches? Do I continue to feed him 1-2 times in the night?? He was on a 2 1/2 schedule and had the same issues…he just has a longer wake time now (1-1.5 hours).Please help…my husband works out of town and with a toddler and a newborn that has so many issues I am at the end of my rope.
Hope you don’t mind me chiming in. We have 13-month old twins, and are a Babywise household with much success (I think.) I can’t imagine how hard it would have been without our routine. Tracy#1 – When my twins were younger, I did hold them for one nap per day for some cuddle time. Truth be told, I napped during that time, too. I usually put one in a bouncy right next to the couch, and the other one laid on my chest. It was WONDERFUL. I think it’s fine to do that as long as you’re consistent with your other naps and ESPECIALLY nighttime sleep. Ours were in their cribs from the time they came home on. That special time with them is very fondly remembered. Oh, if only they’d cuddle with me now like that!Momwithdoubleblessing and Tracy#2 – My twosome are in the 95th plus percentile, too, and I will tell you, we had a lot of sleep regression over the months. We’d have stretches where they slept very well, and then all of a sudden for a couple weeks they would start waking for extra feedings. We had a hard time getting them to drop some feedings, too. I do attribute it to their state of constant growth. Plus, there are two! You might not notice as much if only one baby had a bad stretch, but those bad stretches seem exponential when there are twice as many of them. Just hang in there, and trust that it will change. Quickly. And for the better. We did keep the dreamfeed for longer than many because it did help us drop that 2am feeding. Ours did NOT wake up for the dreamfeed, but they would suck down a bottle. Awesome. Solids really had little effect on our sleep. Hope you don’t mind me chiming in. I was excited to see this post since so few of the twin moms I know have followed the principles of Babywise.
I thought I’d offer my advice, too. My girls are now 2 years old now. They also hit the 97th %ile by 4 months; funny how many of us have that experience!Traci #1: I remember wanting to hold them, too. I felt bad that I wasn’t interacting with them more but I was reassured that simply feeding them and changing their diapers might be enough contact. Have you tried tandem feeding? Around that age I found we were all good enough at breast-feeding that I could start doing them together (on an Anna pillow). Bottle-feeding at the same time was more difficult (really!) but then you can have them on the same schedule and get that 30-min overlap back.Momwithdoubleblessing: To offer a different perspective: our girls liked to sleep from 7 pm – 3 am. We started waking them for a 10 pm feeding but they still woke at 3 am and then were in the habit of waking at 10 pm, too. They did finally drop the 3 am feeding (one at 4 months old with some crying).
Babywise Mom said…
Muldner Family,Yes, it is okay for him to finish naps in the swing with the reflux issue. I did that with my oldest daughter. Reflux is hard; it requires more patience and more flexibility, which is hard when you have more than one child. Don’t hesitate to use the swing while you need it. See the label “reflux” for more help with that.
Thanks for your thoughts, Tracy!
Thanks to you, too, Dani! Each of my neigbors have twins (one set on each side of me). They both comment that it is hard to have to divide your time between them because you love both of them so much. My friend said they would both be crying wanting to be held and she would look at them and think “I love you and I love you and I can’t make both of you happy right now!”
I’m not sure that this is the place to leave my question, I’m not really blog savvy 🙂 Here’s our situation. Coming home from the hospital with twins, obviously feeling overwhelmed, I plum forgot that I was planning on using the baby wise method. The biggest thing that we had mixed up was we were doing feed, sleep, awake. So we had it backwards, and sure enough both little guys were wanting to eat every 2 hours or less. After Thanksgiving and the craziness of having my parents stay with us, I remembered, “Babywise!” So for the past 5 days we have been in the “Starting late” phase. My babies are 7 almost 8 weeks old. So far both my husband and I LOVE knowing what to expect, and I notice a difference in the disposition of the boys, much happier, and less reaction to the reflux issue my little guy has. My biggest frustration is nap time. I will put the one boy down no sooner than an hour after he has begun nursing. I let the grogginess progress a bit and then put him down barely awake, yet awake. Sometimes both boys are tired at the same time, which is great and that typically goes better. But then many times I have had one boy still crying it out, when it’s time to put the other boy down. Then boy 1 wakes up boy 2 and sometimes crying can ensue for 30-45 mins. Now this is probably no more than 2 times a day, yet can be very frustrating when one or both ends up being robbed of a nap. They are still sleeping in the same crib and in our room. We know this will need to change in the near future, (When they start rolling over). Both my husband and I prefer it this way for now, I can see how this might effect night time sleep, but am pretty sure that this would not effect nap time. The boys go typically between 5 and 6 hours before waking up to be fed sometime in the early morning. I would appreciate any input!
moosetracks: you’ve probably heard this advice before but if you can possibly get them napping at the same time, it will make your life much easier. One of my girls, A, got tired first so I would put her in her crib and put the other one, M, down as well. Usually I thought there was no way M would go to sleep as she didn’t seem tired at all, but she almost always did. I’ve realized that M is the kind of child who never *appears* to be tired and, if I had only had her, I never would have known when to put her down. I know this doesn’t work with some twins, but it is worth a try.We eventually moved from the flexible ‘routine’ to a more clock-based schedule (probably around 6 mos) to keep them synchronized. That way, when one woke early from a nap I didn’t have to agonize about waking the other or feeding the first, etc. I just waited on the clock, and they did pretty well.Also, around 5 months we moved one into a different room for naps (in a pack-n-play in our room). They are over 2 years old now and we still do that; they rarely wake each other up (even when screaming) at night, but they just don’t sleep as deeply during naps.
Dani, Did you breastfeed? And if so Were you able to tandem feed your twins? I am able to do that in the evening and on weekends only, since I’m the only one at home and don’t have consistent help during the day. Unless someone has advice on being able to manuver a tandem feed for 8wk olds without a second pair of hands…if you do!…let me know! haha. Another question…how was awake time accomplished with “M” Unless maybe did you feed M first?
I did breastfeed. I started doing tandem feeding when there was an extra pair of hands, then started trying to do one tandem feeding a day by myself. I found it easiest at the beginning to sit on the floor, leaning back against the couch. I think I put a long body pillow behind me, as a ‘stopper’ to keep the babies from sliding off backwards. I also propped up the feeding pillow with bed pillows underneath each side, so it wasn’t just balanced on my lap. And a final pillow to the side of it all, as the “holding deck” for one baby. I’d put one baby on the holding deck, arrange myself and the other baby on the pillow, lift the first baby from the holding deck and latch them both on. I used the propping pillows under the feeding pillow to get the whole thing high enough so they could be latched on without me holding them, so I could burp one with the other still attached. Make sense? It was definitely awkward (and required modification as they grew) but I realized pretty quickly it was easier than feeding one while the other screamed.As for wake time, we always did it together. I’m not sure I understand the question. You can email me at dani.colemanatgmail.comif you want.
moosetracks, Hopefully Dani was able to help you out (thanks Dani!). I don’t have twins experience. I have a friend with twins (well, several, but this one in particular) said that with CIO, they just got used to each other. If it were me and they were waking each other up, I would move them to separate rooms for naps but keep them in the same bed for night. Most kids (no matter the age difference) will do fine for night in the same room, but not naps. Good luck! Let me know if you still have problems and I will post your question as a “help a reader out” question.
i am in need of some help as well- i have 4.5 month old twin boys and we have been doing babywise since they were born. they are on a great eating schedule and sleep from 7 pm to 7 am with a dreamfeed at 10 pm [they don’t even wake for this- just drink, although lately it has been decreasing in amount]. they eat at 7 am, 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm and 6:30 pm plus the dreamfeed. they are still taking 4 naps. off and on over the past 2 months we have had some nap problems. first it was baby b who would only sleep 45 min so we separated them and let baby b CIO. it got better for awhile so we put them back together. stayed great for 3 weeks. now they are both back to 45 min naps even if we separate them. we try to let them CIO but for their first 2 naps they both wake and just talk to themselves for up to 30 min. they won’t fall back to sleep. if we get them up, it is too early to eat as they are not really hungry yet but they have problems staying awake for more than 1.5 hours at a time so it is hard to get back on schedule. what can i do? they just started eating cereal 2x a day and are eating between 30 to 35 oz of formula. both are about 15 pounds but very long- 26.5 inches. thanks!
Lauren, Ah. 4 months. See the blog label “4 month sleep problems” as well as “wonder weeks.” I think you should find your answers there 🙂
Jenny Borders said…
I decided to post on this label since I’m a mom of twins, too. Even though my question is really only about 1. My b/g twins are 13 months old (12 months corrected). About 2 months ago, my son had surgery and we spent 5 days in the hospital. He then had to spend 3 weeks in arm restraints to keep his hands out of his mouth to let the surgical site heal. Naturally, this disrupted our wonderful sleep habits that Babywise helped us form! We got through the holidays and a few other disruptions, and are back into our normal routine. All restrictions are off. But my son is waking pretty much every night. I can’t explain why. We’ve tried CIO, but he only upsets himself further. Sometimes a diaper change will calm him down enough to help him to go back to sleep. At this point, because his sleep has been disrupted for so long, it’s almost like it is out of habit. Thankfully, my daughter is a champ sleeper and sleeps through it all. But does anyone have any suggestions for what I can do to break this habit? He has slept through all the way a few times, but it seems like he’ll have a few days on, then a week or two off! Thanks so much!
Jenny, Do you have him fall asleep on his own in the day? If it were me, I would work on daytime naps so he can learn to self-soothe while you are awake anyway :)I would also consider the wake to sleep method described by the baby whisperer in her book “the baby whisperer solves all your problems.”
Twin Sleep Trouble
Hi Val, this is the first time I’ve posted, but I’ve used your blog as a research tool since my boys were born. I have twin boys who are almost 11 months old. They have never been great nappers and I feel like it is because I am not good at reading their cues and understanding what changes are going on. That being said, they are GREAT nighttime sleepers and always have been. I think I have let that fact allow me to just say “oh well” to the daytime nap routine. People are always telling me that they are just ready to drop a nap or drop a bottle or something, but I know that is not true. I have two questions for you.
1. Do you always nurse or give milk before solids or meals? I’m confused as I feel like I have read some things about saving the milk for afterwards.
2. Neither of my boys ever sleep a consistent (2)1.5-2 hour naps two days in a row. They either won’t sleep one of the naps or will only sleep 45 minutes. Then, the other one will either be really, really long or just an hour. I am so confused and just don’t know what to do.
Here is there ideal schedule:
7:00 – wake, bottle, breakfast
8:45 – nap
11:00 – bottle, lunch*
1:45 – nap
3:30-4 – bottle, dinner
5:30 – sometimes a small snack and water
6:45-7 – bottle, bath, pj’s
7:15 – bed
*Morning is a tough time, because one or both of them is almost always awake when it should be nap time and I feel like it is throwing everything off. They are great with independent play, sibling play, meals, and nights. I do love babywise, your blog, and really want this to work.
Babywise Mom said…
1-If they don’t drink milk during the meal, I give them a sippy of water to have with them so they can have something ot drink.
2-Do your boys nap together in the same room? If so, that could be part of the overall problem. I think most kids sleep best in the day alone. But, I do have a neighbor wtih twins who has her twins still napping together at 18 months old. She puts a fan in there for white noise.
You might try a bit longer of waketime in the morning. Most kids that age can handle 2 hours waketime. If yours can’t and you know it, ignore me 🙂 Go with what you know, but most can do 2 hours. Then your afternoon is long…so waketime length might be the problem here.
I think I will post your sleeping question as a help a reader out question. Is that okay? There are lots of moms with twins specifically who might be able to offer some help.
Thanks for the response Val and yes, please use my sleep question as a help a reader out question.
Since posting this a couple of weeks ago, I started having trouble with the boys taking a really long time (over an hour) to fall asleep in the afternoon and resorted to the yahoo groups page for any thoughts. I took some of the responses and have tried to extend waketime and shorten the morning nap. I borrowed a pack-n-play from my mom and have them nap in separate rooms (which seems to help). I also made the afternoon just a bottle and snack and moved dinner later to eat with us. It seems like the naps are starting to get better (2 good days in a row, at least), but both boys started waking early in the morning (5:15-6:!5 instead of 7:00). I’ve stuck to the new plan though and it seems like they are starting to do better (6:40 this morning). Below is closer to what we have been doing.
7:00 – bottle, breakfast
9:00 – nap (wake after 1:15 if needed)
11:30 – bottle, lunch
1:30/2 – nap
bottle/snack when wake
5:30 – dinner (I’m kind of moving this back closer to 5:00 to try and help with the bedtime bottle and early morning waking)
6:30 – bath, pjs, bottle
7:00 – bedtime*
*The things that are happening now are taking a long time to fall asleep at night and waking early in the morning. I am also a little unsure on the exact nap times as I sometimes have to adjust based on what time they wake in the morning. I would love for the boys to go back to sleeping 11.5-12 predictable hours at night.
As a comment on twins sleeping in the same room. I have twin boys and at almost 5 they still sleep in the same room. It was actually worse problems for them to be separated, especially at that age.It looks like a lot of the suggestions I was going to say she’s already doing. I was going to suggest moving dinner back and shortening the morning nap. Maybe moving lunch to later, I don’t know.
Hi, I have two year old twins. They still sleep in the same room (and still in cribs for as looooooong as I can keep them in there!) They didn’t drop the morning nap until 18 months. For taking a long time to fall asleep, what about trying to put them down earlier and wake from second nap earlier? This was our schedule at around 11/12 months600 wake/bottle7 breakfast830ish/845 sleep10 wake1130 lunch1230 sleep3 wake5 dinner6 bath, bottle, book bedI have always had a fan in their room and have used sleep sacks to make sure they have a cover (even right now!) Yes, they slept a lot.
by 11 months we were down to two bottles of only 4 ounces each. One when they woke up and one before bed. The rest of their fluids they got via water. I supplemented their dairy intake with cheese and yogurt. IMO I think your twins are getting too full on their bottles. If they are anything like mine were, they may be hungry and need some food to last in their bellies. Just a thought.
My twins are 16 months old, and I will say that the 11 – 14 month stretch was a tough one. There were a lot of transitions, including sleep changes, walking, talking, and eating habits. We started weaning from bottles around the point you are at, and we gave milk with meals in sippies. I dropped bottles by replacing them with sippies for one feeding for a few days, then another feeding, and so on, until we were giving only a bedtime bottle. We dropped that one shortly thereafter. As far as the naps, I know you’ve heard this before, but it really does sound like they are ready to transition to one nap. At that age, my two were able to handle a waketime of 3-4 hours with no problem if they were getting good naps and nighttime sleep. I read somewhere that the early morning waketime can start occuring because they’ll compensate for that loss of sleep with a morning nap. When I got them to just one nap per day, they started sleeping through until 7am again (we are on a very similar schedule to you, but with one nap.) What I did was try to hold them off of that morning nap until a little bit later every day until they were able to stay up until almost noon. Now they nap consistently from noon until 2-3pm every day, go down easily for naps and bedtime sleep, and sleep very well at night. This was a looooong transition, like I said, it took us several months. Sorry this is so long. And this is just what worked for us. Every situation is different, it seems.
Oh, I wanted to add, while we transitioned to one nap, we put them to bed earlier. It seems counterintuitive, like if they go down too early they will wake up earlier, but we’ve actually found the opposite to be true. Also, my two have slept in the same room since the day they came home and they can sleep straight through the other one screaming bloody murder, but if that hasn’t always been the case, you may need to get more creative. I have a friend with twins that are the same age as yours, and she has one sleep in a PNP in their room while the other is in the crib.
the Gardners said…
I don’t have twins, but I have 2 kids 20 months apart and had a lot of the same issues. When my oldest was that age he went through a phase were he would NOT take an afternoon nap at all during the day and of course the next day he could hardly stay awake. He would just sit in his crib and cry for the entire hour. I finally decided that if he wasn’t going to nap he was at least going to have an hour of quiet time and put a few books and soft toys in his bed with him. Most of the time he would talk and sing to himself and just before I was ready to go in and get him he would pass out. He always seems to have nap time issues about 2 or 3 times a year and they last for a few weeks each. I too, put a fan in the room with my 2 kids and it works really well. They never wake up when the other is crying. It took a little getting used to for them, but they like it now. Oh, and we recently moved and tried putting the kids in separate rooms. It lasted a couple of months before I put them back in the same room. They seem to sleep better knowing where the other is.
I haven’t read thru the other comments so if I’m repeating things I’m sorry. I have 16 month old triplets. First, I would try to stretch out your morning to 9am nap and work that up to a 9:30 nap and so on. We are still on a 10am-10:30 am nap and I put them back down at 3:30pm for a quick nap. I did have to separate one baby for naps and It helped them sleep so much longer for naps also nighttime. We do have a white noise machine, because I have older children that I don’t want to have to constantly be telling to be quiet. I don’t mind if one child is up before the others, it’s our one on one time, but I do want at least and hour or more of time to get what I need done. I don’t go pick them up unless it’s time or they are unreasonably upset during nap times. I hope that helps some. I recently tried going to one nap a day and after 2 wks decided to go back to 2 a day. They weren’t quite ready for my new New Year’s schedule. So be flexible and do what works for your family!