It is not easy to get your twins or young siblings to sleep at the same time but there are ways to encourage them, but what can you do when your children wake each other up? If you have a few minutes, please watch my mini-video from my September live Q&A session where a parent asks me this very same question.
My own children are pretty close in age and in rooms right next to each other. If daddy is working late, I often do bedtime by myself and so have developed our own 'natural flow' that works well for us as a family. Hopefully, with my tips, you'll soon find your sleep routine is flowing more smoothly for your young family too!
The main obstacle with twins or young siblings is working on a sleep routine with one whilst the other needs your attention, or if one disturbs the other. As you'll know, sleep training one child is hard enough! One of the golden rules is that if you have an older and a younger child, and the younger child wakes the older one up, make sure you soothe the oldest child first. Reassure him everything's ok and he should go back to sleep, then go and tend to your little one. The best time to start a bedtime routine is from 4-6 weeks old, but ideally you would do some sleep training with your little one before moving them in to the same bedroom as the older child.
Another of my top tips would be not to rush into their bedroom to try and avoid waking the other child up, as this is just going to reinforce the waking child's habits. Panicking about waking the other child up means it's easy to fall into bad habits with the awake child for the sake of trying to get them back to sleep quickly and quietly.
As I've mentioned, I often do both bedtimes myself when daddy is out, but the best scenario when sleep training with two young children is with two parents to two children ratio but that is not always possible, so what can you do?
Here are some quick tips to coping with siblings and sleep routines with just one pair of hands...
Are they of a similar age? If so, try to do the bedtime routine with them at the same time.
If one child is older, ask them to read a book or do a gentle activity (such as a jigsaw or drawing) in his room whilst you put little one to bed. Or, if the older child is very tired and you know the younger one will need a bit more of your time to settle, take the little one with you while you put the older one to bed and then settle the younger one afterwards. (This works in multiples if you have more than two children but you get the principle).
Likewise, if one child can be more difficult to settle, settle the easier child first and praise his good behaviour. You can then take your time with the more challenging child. If old enough, you can always promise the sibling an extra goodnight kiss if they stay quietly in bed until the challenging child has settled.
Read a bedtime story to both children at the same time, then put the younger one to bed whilst telling the older one you'll be back to tuck him in shortly.
Make sure your sleep routine is achievable, especially if you're on your own at bedtimes. A warm bath, bedtime story, a baby massage and a few minutes of cuddling and quiet talking is a great place to start. This also allows you to tend to the siblings at the same time.
As I've mentioned above- don't rush to rescue an awake child for fear he'll disturb the other sibling. You'll be amazed what children can sleep through, particularly at the start of the night when they go into a deep sleep.
On that note, don't feel that you have to rush in at every little noise. Your little one may well fall back to sleep by himself without waking his sibling.
If your children consistently wake each other up, consider separating them temporarily until they are better at settling. This may mean relinquishing your bedroom for a little while...
Remember to stick to the same routine that indicates to your little one that it's getting towards bedtime and this will ensure that they are both ready to go to bed at their set times. Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry so above all, focus on the fact that you're doing the best you can and if you feel you need a little extra support, don't hesitate to get in touch.