How to Get More Sleep With Baby Twins

What's the worst thing about having baby twins? Most bleary-eyed parents would agree that it is a lack of sleep. Any newborn is likely to keep odd hours, but balancing the demands of two newborns means that sleep is an especially scarce commodity for parents of twins. Use these 10 tips to get more sleep when you have baby twins.

Swaddle the Babies

Newborn Twins Sleeping
Jessica Holden Photography/Moment/Getty Images

Newborns are accustomed to the close confines of the womb and sharing that space with their co-twin. Many multiples are comforted by the act of swaddling.

Being wrapped up "burrito style" may give your babies a sense of safety and security that helps them fall asleep and sleep more soundly.

The confines of swaddling also prevent the babies' natural startle reflex from waking them up. Swaddling works best with newborns. After a month or two, your babies will outgrow the comforting effects.

Create a Restful Environment

High angle view of two babies laying on blanket
Ned Frisk/Blend Images/Getty Images

In the womb, there was no distinction between night and day. Now it's up to you to help your twins adjust so that they'll learn that nighttime is for sleeping and daytime is for waking and playing.

Create an sleep-friendly environment in their nursery or sleeping area. Keep things dark and quiet. If you need lights, make them soft and low. A dimmer switch works great for this. Reduce noise, or use background white noise like a fan or quiet music. A fan to avoid the room being too hot may also reduce the risk of SIDS.

Use a soft, soothing voice during nighttime feedings and other interactions to give your babies the message that nighttime is the right time for sleep.

Tag Team

Newborn twins sleeping hand in hand
Westend61/Getty Images

With two babies, both parents will have their hands full. Soon enough, you've got a situation. Either both parents are exhausted and overwhelmed by the lack of sleep, or one parent is sleeping soundly, and the other is simmering with resentment. It's time for a tag-team approach.

With a little bit of communication and planning, you can set up a structured schedule so that each parent gets a restorative shot of sleep.

Maybe one parent is on duty from 9:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. Then the other takes over from 2:00 a.m. until the morning. Take into consideration your family's lifestyle, habits, and preferences, and work out an approach that meets both parents' needs.

Get Help

Caucasian grandmother and mother playing with baby twins
KidStock/Blend Images/Getty Images

Don't underestimate your need for sleep. Trying to be a supermom (or dad) just makes you exhausted, not a better parent. Whether you bring in some reinforcements to get you through the tough times or make regular use of helpers, having help on hand can be a sanity saver.

If you can afford it, hire a night nurse. Most charge by the hour (expect to pay $20 to $50 an hour), but with two babies, you're getting double for your money. If you can't afford it regularly, consider having a weekly or monthly respite.

Or call on grandma, aunts, sisters, or neighbors to pull a night shift. That shot of sleep will do wonders for your well-being and make for a much happier family.

Catnap (Sleep When the Babies Sleep)

Mother and infant twins, France
BSIP/UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Don't try to be productive when the twins are taking a daytime nap. Take a nap at the same time so you will be more rested.

When you have newborn twins, you have permission to let things go.

Let someone else do the dishes, run the errands, or clean the bathrooms. For the first few weeks of your twins' lives, your main priority is to feed and nurture them. Catch a few winks when you can.

Streamline the Process

Twin babies being fed, Sweden.
Kronholm, Susanne/Johner Images/Getty Images

Employ your best strategic planning skills to maximize your sleep time. A little bit of preparation and planning will pay off in extra snatches of sleep.

If bottle-feeding, prepare bottles and formula in advance so that they're ready to go when babies wake to feed in the night. Keep diapers and supplies nearby so that you can change babies and get them back to bed faster. Consider having the babies sleep in a bassinet (or bassinets) in your room so that you don't have to travel far in the middle of the night.

Do whatever it takes to streamline the process and get your babies and yourself back to bed as quickly as possible.

Aim for a Coordinated Schedule

Twin babies sleeping, Sweden.
Kronholm, Susanne/Johner Images/Getty Images

Parents of twins often receive conflicting advice about when to feed their babies. Feeding on demand, that is presenting the breast or bottle when a baby signals that they are hungry, can result in chaos. One's eating, one's sleeping, and then they switch.

It is sometimes more effective to use a more scheduled approach and coordinate your babies' schedules by feeding them both at the same time and putting them to bed together.

This works especially well with monozygotic (identical) twins or babies that are approximately the same weight, who often have similar metabolisms and are more likely to be hungry at the same time.

Of course, keep your babies' individual needs in mind. Talk to your pediatrician to develop an appropriate approach.

Create Bedtime Rituals

Family playing with newborn twins in bed
Jade Brookbank/DigitalVision/Getty Images

As your infants grow and develop, they'll start to sleep and stay awake for longer stretches of time. To help develop healthy sleep habits, you can start to develop bedtime rituals.

A consistent pattern of activity signals the approach of bedtime, giving the babies a clue that it's time to sleep.

These rituals will become a cherished part of the day for both you and the babies and can be an excellent opportunity for sharing some one-on-one time and bonding. Perhaps start the routine with a bath, a soothing activity that physically relaxes your babies.

It's never too early to introduce your babies to books by reading to them. Or spend a few moments cuddling in the rocking chair before settling them into their cribs.

Monitor and Learn the Cues

Video baby monitor
Peter Cade/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Many parents of twins carry over a lot of worry and anxiety about their babies, especially if they were faced with pregnancy complications or recuperating from premature birth.

It's natural to be cautious and concerned over their condition, but many parents lose sleep because they are too in tune with every cry and snuffle as their babies sleep.

Use a baby monitor to keep an eye or ear on your sleeping sweethearts, but don't jump at every noise.

With time, you'll learn to interpret your babies' cries and respond only to those that require your attention. Certainly, you should never ignore or neglect a child who needs you in the night, but you'll get more rest if you learn to transition back to sleep as your baby settles back down.

This "Two" Shall Pass

Parents playing on bed with baby twins
JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images

When the sleeplessness and utter exhaustion seem too much to bear, remember this: It's temporary. Your babies will learn to sleep through the night. You will again sleep through the night. These precious few months of twinfancy are but a moment in time, not a life sentence.

Repeat the multiples mantra, "This TWO shall pass...this two shall pass...this two shall pass."

Take care of yourself during these tough times and give yourself some credit. You've got two babies to care for, and you're managing it quite well. Tomorrow is another day and maybe, just maybe, you'll get some sleep then.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Horne RSC. Autonomic cardiorespiratory physiology and arousal of the fetus and infant. In: Duncan JR, Byard RW, editors. SIDS Sudden Infant and Early Childhood Death: The Past, the Present and the Future. University of Adelaide Press.

  2. Jhun I, Mata DA, Nordio F, Lee M, Schwartz J, Zanobetti A. Ambient temperature and sudden infant death syndrome in the United StatesEpidemiology. 2017;28(5):728-734. doi:10.1097/EDE.0000000000000703

  3. Insana SP, Montgomery-Downs HE. Sleep and sleepiness among first-time postpartum parents: a field- and laboratory-based multimethod assessmentDev Psychobiol. 2013;55(4):361-372. doi:10.1002/dev.21040

  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Feeding twins on a schedule.

  5. Mindell JA, Williamson AA. Benefits of a bedtime routine in young children: Sleep, development, and beyondSleep Med Rev. 2018;40:93-108. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2017.10.007

By Pamela Prindle Fierro
 Pamela Prindle Fierro is the author of several parenting books and the mother of twin girls.