8 month old twin...desperate for sleep
Question: I have 8 month old boy/girl twins, they are fully weaned on 3 meals a day plus 1 pint of milk and in a good bedtime routine but they still wake up each night usually around midnight to 1 am. Because they have always fallen asleep whilst taking their bedtime bottle around 7-7:30 pm they don't know how to settle themselves back to sleep so we end up with them in bed with us because they just don't know what to do in their own cots. We are on our last legs and can't see light at the end of the tunnel, we can't even resort to leaving them to cry it out because they wake at different times and if we left one to cry they would wake the other. Please Help!
Heidi's Answer: Dear Helen,
I am not 100% sure from your message but I assume that you do not give your boy and girl a bottle when waking at night, right? If you do, you can wean from that by gradually diluting the milk with more water to reduce their hunger feeling
But if I'm reading correctly, they wake up and you help them back to sleep by taking the in bed with you.
The main step will be to get them used to settling down without the bottle at 7-7.30pm. Once you can put them down awake then, it will be possible at night too.
And they are actually at a good age to practice self soothing now.
To start weaning from falling asleep at the bottle, you first always make sure they drink the full amount they usually do.
Then, if they actually doze off with the teat still in their mouth, the first step will be to take it out of their mouths a bit earlier each time, until in they end the actual dozing off is without the teat in their mouth.
The natural reflex when not fully asleep yet will be to open their mouths and reach straight for the teat again, which most probably wakes them up. If that is the case, try this technique: at the same moment you release the bottle and gently remove it, use a free finger to tip up their chin to close their mouth.
This is not necessary when fully asleep, but at any earlier moment.
And you exactly want to do it at an earlier moment, i.e. a tiny bit earlier each time. So that after a while they are no longer deeply asleep when removing the teat, but only just asleep. Then later on very drowsy, then just drowsy, then finally awake.
Then you can at first still hold them to let them doze off. And put down to bed only when deeply asleep. That will have been the first step: no longer dozing off at the bottle.
Take the time to get there (easily takes 1 to 2 weeks), and once you've reached that mark, give it at least a couple of days or a week to fully 'set'.
Then it's time for the next step. Or, if they did not really fall asleep with the teat in their mouth but you held or rocked them, this is your first step.
With the same gradual technique, you at first hold them until deeply asleep (can take up to 30 minutes) before putting them down. Then little by little you put them down less and deeply asleep. Take tiny steps at first and go by feel, you will know if you can progress faster or need to slow down.
I know this is a technique that takes effort and patience but it is powerful as it truly helps make the babies the right connections and acquire the physical skill to self soothe.
(You can of course practice this at nap times too).
I suggest to start with this only: work at the 7-7.30pm bedtime. Wait to 'attack' the night awakenings. There is a chance that they disappear automatically as the first bedtime improves. If not, use the gradual putting down method there too.
With best wishes,