6 In Baby/ Lifestyle

How We Got Three Babies Under One To Sleep 12 Hours A Night In The Same Room

I vividly remember the day we found out I was having twins. Mateo was only three months old when we had the appointment and I was still in shock/on cloud nine from my positive pregnancy test a few weeks ago. The possibility of twins had entered my mind many many times. To be honest, the day I found out I was pregnant, I had this weird feeling that it was going to be twins- but I never thought it was actually going to happen. Little did we know, we were about to have a baby explosion.

One of the things I worried about most as I was processing what the addition of twins meant for our family, was where we were going to put them all! We live in a tiny two bedroom apartment and space is at a premium. We had no choice but to put them all in the same room. Three cribs. Three babies. But let me back up. All of the babies didn’t START in the same room.

What We Used To Sleep Train

From the get go, we took sleep training seriously. When Mateo was only four weeks old we found out I was pregnant and knew that there would be another baby (or two!) coming soon. We wanted to do everything we could to get him to sleep through the night well before their arrival to make nights more manageable. We used THIS BOOK to help us get him dialed in. By the time he was three months old he was consistently sleeping though the night. He still had the occasional wake up while he was teething, but this was a rare exception. By the time the twins arrived, we felt confident in his sleep behavior.

We wanted to share our approach to help anyone in a similar situation. For us, having our kids sleep through the night was a total game changer. Sleeping children, meant sleeping parents which meant we were happier and more functional during the day- something we feel is a huge ticket to parenting success. That being said, we know that all babies and situations are different. It’s definitely not easy and it does take some work, but staying consistent is paramount. We also want to acknowledge that we are not experts, this is just what worked for us. Ok, now let’s get started.

Sleep Training Basics

I highly recommend purchasing the book as it details the specifics you need, but here are some basics we learned and used.

When To Start

Most infants aren’t ready to start sleep training until around two months.  If they were born prematurely, it will be even later. In these first couple weeks you aren’t even thinking about sleep training. Just feed on demand and soak up all those precious moments! Once your baby can take down a larger volume of milk or can breastfeed efficiently, it’s time to start! This is around two months for most.

Getting A Daily Feeding Schedule Down

When your baby gets all the calories they need during the day, they are less likely to wake up at night and need milk. This is why it’s pointless to even start the sleep training process until your baby can consume at least 4 oz. at a time. The book suggest putting your baby on a schedule so they, (and you!) know when to expect food. This schedule also helps ensure they get enough calories during the day and also gives them some predictability. A typical schedule may look like this:

8:00 AM

Feed

10:00 AM

Nap/ Play

12:00 PM

Feed

3:00 PM

Nap/ Play

4:00 PM

Feed

8:00 PM

Feed and Bed

HOW To Get Your Baby On A Schedule

Initially, this will take some adjustment, but the goal is getting your baby’s feeds spaced out to every four hours. If when you start, your little one only makes it to three hours. Try to distract, play and/or entertain them to push them to 3 hours and 15 mins. Any progress forward-even five minutes, is progress! If they make it, then you know they can wait 3 hours and 15 minutes and that is your new baseline. Next feeding time, try and at least make it to 3 hours and 16 minutes (or more hopefully!). You gradually extend them to longer periods in between until they can make it to 4 hours. The volume they consume may vary, but since they are waiting 4 hours in between feeds, you want to make sure its enough to fuel them. Again, the book goes into details how much this should be.

Starting Sleep Training

Once your baby is  eating four times a day, four hours apart during the day, its time to start sleep training! Theoretically, if your little one is consuming enough calories during the day, they should not need more calories during the night. They might want more milk, but they shouldn’t need it. We feed our babies pumped breastmilk in a bottle for their last feed of the day. Feeding with a bottle gave the non breastfeeding partner an opportunity to feed the baby, but also really helped tank them up with milk for the night. They drank their milk faster out of a bottle and it transitioning into bed was easier when we weren’t having to take the breast away from them.

Regardless of what how you decide to do your nighttime feeds, do not feed your baby until they fall asleep in your arms!

Ideally, you want them to be full and drowsy, but not yet asleep.  This piece is critical. If you put your baby down asleep, they will come to expect that every time. So when they wake up in the middle of the night, they will cry for YOU to put them down again. You want to put them down after your nighttime feed drowsy, so they can learn to put themselves to sleep and not rely on you.

In the beginning your baby will probably wake up a few times during the night- that’s ok! Give them a few minutes to work it out on their own before going in to help soothe them. It’s hard to listen to them cry, but they know how to put themselves to sleep, so give them a chance to practice that. If you have to go into to help soothe them here are some things to keep in mind:

Do

Do  Not

Rub their back while they stay in the crib

Pick your child up

Make a “shhhh shhhh” sound to help comfort them

Look them in the eye (I hated this one)

Pat their butt

Speak to them or comfort them with sweet voices

Essentially, you want to make it clear that this is nighttime. It’s not a time to play, feed or interact- it’s time to rest. These tactics help create those boundaries. It always seemed harsh to not look them in the eye to me, so I went against better judgment and did it a few times. I got away with it a few times, but one night Mateo and I locked eyes and he lost it. Needless to say, I understood the reasoning behind this!

The same lengthening technique used during the day to get them to 4 hours
between feeds is used for the night. Except, the goal is to get them to sleep 12
hours. So if they need to eat after 6 hours when you start the sleep training, keep trying to lengthen the time out. Always start with the soothing techniques to try and lengthen the time, and feed if needed. But every night, you must ensure to that if you made it to 7 hours, you don’t take steps backwards- you know they can make the 7 hours, and that’s the expectation. So soothe them until they make that time and beyond- and again, feed if needed after that. By continuing this pattern, they will start sleeping longer and once Mateo was 3 months old, he was sleeping 12 hours through the night, just as the book promised. 12 hours by 12 weeks.

Things to Keep in Mind

If you have to go in and soothe, you want to keep it brief. You aren’t in there to put them to sleep, more to help them put themselves to sleep. You may have to go in a couple times during the night, avoid feeding when able.

Don’t break their daytime or nighttime routine more than two days in a row. Things come up in life and you may not be able to stick to their routine due to travel, a late night at work or whatever! Just don’t break the routine for more than two days in a row. If you do, the baby now thinks this is their new routine and you may have to retrain them to get them back to their original routine, but don’t worry, it doesn’t take as long.

Sleep Training Twins

When the twins arrived, the real fun began. They were born at 34 weeks and two days. Since they were premature, things weren’t as straight forward like it was with Mateo. In fact it, it was borderline chaos. They couldn’t drink enough milk to sleep through the night until they were around five months, so we didn’t start sleep training them until then.

During these first six months, they slept in the same crib in our LIVING ROOM.

A little after five months, Luca started sleeping through the night. It was at this point we separated the twins. We moved Luca into our bedroom and kept Lola in the living room. (For those of you keeping track, we now had a baby in every room of the house except the kitchen and bathrooms!) This allowed us to focus on sleep training Luca. We didn’t have to worry about putting in all the work to get him back down only to have Lola wake him up again. We used the same tactics of sleep training from the book as we did with Mateo. When he finally slept through the night seven nights in a row, we moved him into the nursery with Mateo.

Transitioning the Second Baby

The first couple nights with both boys in the nursery were a little rough. They woke each other up a few times during the first night, but we let them work it out and eventually they fell back to sleep- we never went in to soothe them. We knew that they were capable of sleeping though the night so we trusted that this was just an adjustment period. The same thing happened the second and third night, but by the fourth night they figured it out. We moved Lola’s crib into our room (yay for having our living room back!) and when she intermittently started sleeping though the night around eight months we began the process with her.

However things were a little different this time around.

She would sleep through the night four nights in a row and wake up on the fifth night. So she never quite made it to the seven nights in a row rule we set for Luca. We decided to risk it, and put her in the nursery anyway. BIG MISTAKE. That girl had everyone up and screaming bloody murder. That first night was so bad we didn’t even give it a second chance and moved her crib out of the nursery and back into our bedroom. She just wasn’t ready. She was sleeping though the night, just not consistently. Finally around nine months something clicked and she was ready. We were super hesitant to move her back into the room because of what happened last time, but we knew it had to happen eventually, so one day we just did it.

Transitioning The Third Baby

As expected the transition was a rough. It probably took seven days for them to all adjust to sleeping in the same room. But we didn’t give into moving Lola back out and eventually they got use to it. If any one of them cried, we would check the camera (we used this one) to make sure they were ok, and let them put themselves to sleep.

Using Technology

We relied heavily on two pieces of technology to helps us get all our children sleeping together in the same room. The first being THIS CAMERA. Although not traditionally a baby camera, we liked this better than any monitor on the market because of the image quality as well as the ability to see the babies from our phones.

Even if you are out of the house, the Nest allows you to watch a live feed from the app on your phone. It’s awesome!

The second thing we used was THIS MACHINE. Initially we simply used it as a white noise machine. Now, we also use it as an “okay to wake” light. The light turns orange (or whatever color you choose) when its time to go to sleep and turns green (or whatever color you choose) when its time to get up. You can control the light colors and associated sounds from an app on your phone. Since they can’t yet tell time, this light helps them know when it is and isn’t time to get up. We haven’t transitioned them into toddler beds yet, but we hope training them with this light clock now will be helpful when they are all sleeping in big kid beds! TBD on how that goes!

Final Thoughts

Sleep training is hard. It’s a lot work and sometimes you just want to give in, pick them up and feed them because you know it will get BOTH of you back to bed faster. While that may help in the short term, it only makes your life harder in the long run. I learned this with Lola! Now, all our babies have this sleep thing figured out. Now, even if one wakes up, the other two will sleep through it. On the rare occasion they do wake up, they quickly roll over and put themselves back to sleep. Honestly, I think having them learn to sleep together in the same room has made they more resilient sleepers and things like travel way easier! It’s great knowing we can have 11-12 hours of recharge time!

Getting one baby to sleep through the night is hard enough, let alone three, for 11-12 hours and in the same room at that! But don’t give up and know that it can be done. We aren’t sleep gurus, we just followed some simple rules and used a few tools. If you have any questions about any part of this process, please reach out. I am happy to help in any way I can. Sleep is EVERYTHING!

Hope this helped!

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Liz Thorson
    October 23, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    Raff, I loved reading both of your posts! They were sooo informative and spot on! I have read a number of bloggers posts on sleep training and yours provides a clear and specific guide! Terrific!
    Having endured 2 IVFs and 9 rounds of IUIs, I am always interested in how these procedures have changed/improved in the 3 DECADES since I experienced them!
    You are one very dear and special person, one of my very favorites in the Class of 2003!❤️

    • Reply
      Raff
      October 24, 2018 at 2:49 pm

      Oh Liz! Thank you so much! That means the world to me! You are so amazing in every way. Next time I’m in Seattle, we have to meet for coffee!

  • Reply
    Jenny
    November 6, 2018 at 12:46 am

    Dear Raff,

    I love your blog and your instagram account. I am a mother of two under three years old, me and my wife have both given birth. I read this blog post and it made me hurt. Children don’t necessarily wake up during the night because they are hungry but because they need comfort, they need a human connection. Not comforting your children when they need you can lead them to think that there is no point in crying/showing their needs because their experience tells them that there is no no comfort to be found.

    I understand that this varies culturally and in Sweden, where we reside, sleep training is very common. Recent studies show that approximately 70% of Swedes have unsettled attachment (not sure that I translated this correctly).

    I hope that you will read my comment in a kind and caring tone, beacause that is how I write it down for you. Your family and your kids are amazing and I thank you for the inspiration and representation that you stand for.

    With love from Sweden/ Jenny <3

  • Reply
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