Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Let's talk Sleep Training {Twin Infants}

12 weeks young twins - Daniel and Charlotte

Hello all! Yes I am back from our first family vacation. 20 days in Singapore. It's been tough getting back into the 'real world' and based on past experiences, it will all kick back into gear once I am  in the office next week - no doubt, it will be as if I never left. Oh dear.
Instead of sharing with you how we went on our holiday, I thought I ought to share with you about Sleep Training because I received several emails through my Facebook account as we were resetting our children's body clocks (earlier this week) after the holidays .
Before I share my experiences, I would like to first put out a DISCLAIMER. I am no expert in this area. In fact, I chose to follow a book titled "Contented Home with Twins" by Gina Ford. To be exact, I memorised this book before the twins were even born and also convinced my husband to be onboard because it really needs both parents to stick together to support each other and also to be consistent in this area. Again, this method is not going to suit everyone. This is not for the FAINT HEARTED.
When my twins were infants
In the beginning
We are very lucky and bless to have been able to carry our twins to full-term. From the moment we got home from hospital, the twins shared a cot in their own room. We did not co-sleep with them or have their cots in our room.
We would feed them every 3 hours, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even when they were asleep. Yes, I know - why wake a sleeping baby, right? Well, it is all part of the big picture.
With small tummies, they need to feed often to keep up with their nutritional requirements and to support their rapid growth. Needless to say, we were exhausted and sleep deprived.
At 6 weeks young
We took them to the pediatrician for their routine check up and it was then that the pediatrician imparted a very valuable advice to me - an advice that I have since shared with many who bottle feed their children with formula and / or breast milk. {Yes, I was breastfeeding + topping up with formula and would prefer giving it to them in their bottles so that I knew exactly how much they were drinking at each feed}
NEVER LET THE BABY DRAIN THE BOTTLE DRY. If the bottle is empty, that means baby is still hungry. Top it up straight away with another 10 - 20ml. The golden rule is  to always ensure there is still a little milk left behind in the bottle.
Silly me was following the recommendation on the side of the formula milk tin! Pediatrician then told me that my goal in the next 4 weeks (by the time, the twins turn 10 weeks young is for them to double their birth weights). So I went home and implemented the Pediatrician's advice (of not following the recommendation on the milk tin and to never let the bottles drain dry) right away - the children went from drinking 140ml to 200ml per feed!
At 10 weeks young
I passed the test! The twins had more than doubled their birth weights! Pediatrician then told us that it's time for the twins to drop their overnight feeds! WOW! But first, we need to teach them to sleep. Oh dear. He gave us guidance (very similar to Gina Ford) and told us that if we couldn't do it in 5 days, we need to ring a baby whisperer - he gave us the business card of this such person and wished us good luck.
Teaching them to sleep at 10 weeks
After their last evening feed at 10pm, we would swaddle them - put them in their cots - dim the light in their room -  put our hands on their chest (no cuddling, no rocking) for 3 minutes - turn off their light - walk out.
Holy Mackeral! The crying - screaming - desperation from those little babies tore every single fibre of my being and shredded my heart into infinite pieces. Jared and I would  walk to the other side of the house, attempting to make a cup of tea while the entire time shaking...because we are not allowed to go into their room for the next...10 MINUTES!
Then we would go into their room, place our hand on their chest for 3 minutes and then..yes, walk out and stay out for another 10 MINUTES!
This went on for 3 FULL DAYS. Definitely not for the faint-hearted. Pediatrician's assuring words kept coming back, "They are not malnourished and should be able to drop their night feeds. You can do it!"
Naturally, they drank heaps at their morning feed at 6am and in so doing, created a new routine for us. Instead of drinking every 3 hours, they went 5 hours between feeds. WOW. We felt energized as parents!
Sleeping through the night at 11 weeks
We did it without a baby whisperer. Our babies slept from 11pm - 6am. It was wonderous reclaiming our sleep as we were surviving on an average of 2 -3 hours per day!
Weaning at 16 weeks
We weaned them at 16 weeks with pureed fruit and vegetables (once a day at lunch time) and continued to give them as much milk as they would take. They slept through the night for 10 hours!
Before we knew it, it was 11 hours and then 12 hours!
Another important element to note
Do not dress your infants too warmly! In fact, infants sleep best when it is dark and cold (22C). Do not wrap them up like dumplings. Look at what you are wearing and just add an extra thin layer on them. That's it. Really.
This method of sleep training is certainly not for the faint-hearted. We found that the "cold turkey" method works best for our twins. Yes, some will say this is downright heartless to let infants my view, short-term pain for long-term gain. Crucially, we really needed our sleep.
In fact, all that crying will make them exhausted so they will eventually go to sleep and they will wake up for their next feed with a ravenous appetite. Win-Win, in my view.
We have certainly never looked back and always call on this method of sleep training to get the twins back on track for their sakes and ours. 

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