Sleeping Angels

How children's sleep affects their health and well being.

One Twin Sleeps, The Other Doesn't. What To Do?

Sleep training a toddler who can't fall asleep on her own.

A reader, Jennifer, wrote asking for advice:

Hi, can you give us advice on how to sleep train our twin 14 month olds? We have separated them because twin one needs to be totally calm before she sleeps and seeing her twin is too exciting or agitating (depending on her mood). Twin two needs a lot of cuddles and rubbing of her back to get her to sleep. We also separated them because twin two does not sleep through the night and needs water (bottle sucking) or cuddles overnight whereas twin one often sleeps through. We really would like to be able to just put them in their cribs for sleep without cuddles and for twin two to sleep through. And we want to be able to have them in the same room so my husband and I can be back in the same room! (We only have a two bedroom flat.)

Our current routine is bath, bottle, book, one more swig of bottle, brushing teeth and then bed. Please help! Thanks!

Dear Jennifer,

Thanks for your email. You certainly do have your hands full, and it sounds like twin #2 is filling your nights with more excitement than you’d like.

From your email, I understand that twin #1 has learned how to fall asleep on her own, but that twin #2 is unable to do so without your help (having her back rubbed, being given multiple drinks across the night). The good news is that that’s really all it’s about: learning new sleep patterns, and her twin’s success with this is proof that she, too, can do the same.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

If you’ve decided that you’d like to teach her how to fall asleep on her own, I’d suggest the following:

  • Make sure you and your husband are in agreement about what you’re going to do, and be consistent with what you set out to do.
  • Keep the twins on a regular schedule (fixed bed/wake up times), 7 days a week
  • Make sure the twins aren’t being given too much time in bed.  A good estimate is about 12 hours/24 hour day, 9 at night and two 1.5 hour naps during the day
  • Put both twins into their cribs awake, not asleep
  • Do not rub #2’s back as she is falling asleep
  • If she cries, re-enter the bedroom at increasing intervals of time (1, 3 minutes) to reassure her that you haven’t disappeared and to confirm that it’s time to go to sleep, without making physical contact with her
  • If/when she wakes up at night, avoid giving her the bottle, and again, re-enter the bedroom at increasing intervals of time (1, 3 minutes) to reassure her that you haven’t disappeared and to confirm that it’s time to go to sleep, without making physical contact with her

 You should see an improvement within a few days.

Good luck!

Dennis

_____

Dennis Rosen, M.D.

Learn how to help your child get a great night’s sleep with my new book:

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Successful Sleep Strategies for Kids: Helping Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up With a Smile!

 

Dennis Rosen, M.D., is a pediatric sleep specialist who practices at Children's Hospital Boston.

more...

Subscribe to Sleeping Angels

Current Issue

Dreams of Glory

Daydreaming: How the best ideas emerge from the ether.