8 month old twin...desperate for sleep

by Helen
(Sheffield England)

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.

Good luck,
With best wishes,

Comments for 8 month old twin...desperate for sleep

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Twins and the night-time bottle
by: Anonymous

The theory that you offer is very sound; it is the implementation that has issues.

I have twin (B/G) 22 month olds. The weaning is in progress, but your suggestion of holding until they sleep is ideal with one (1) child. Twins offer a completely different dynamic, that precludes conventional techniques. You can't just hold one - they both will want to be held. When one is awake, more often than not, they both are.

I have employed the milk to water conversion over the last few months, with marginal success. The sister is closer to giving up the "going to sleep with a bottle" than her brother is. She has apparently made the connection of taking a nap with nothing (bottle, cup, etc.) to going to bed with a bottle of water. As their self-soothing skills improve, I suspect their bottle dependence will consequently diminish.

In short; by taking "baby-steps" (pun intended) the weaning will be auto-accomplished without trauma, or parental-heartburn.

Thank you
by: Heidi - BabySleepAdvice

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your helpful comment.

Indeed being twins, it is not feasible to be holding both your children by yourself (I was calculating Helen's husband in to help in my advice above). At moments when one person has to do it alone, a carrier could be of some help but it remains difficult.

I do hope you see further progress soon now, the gradual baby-steps techniques are efficient although they take time. And they have good lasting results in the end.

Thanks again,

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