Twins can be twice as nice and double trouble at the same time -if you have triplets or more, just keep multiplying the equation! The good news is that there is no reason why multiple-birth children cannot sleep soundly.
There are many reasons why twins, triplets or more can take a while to slip into a good sleeping pattern.
- - They are often born prematurely, which means they require feeding even more often than other newborns.
- - They are more likely to spend time in special-care baby units, which means they get used to being touched and nursed at frequent intervals.
- - They are more likely to have different carers at night - even if they are breastfed, your partner may change their nappies because of the difficulties of dealing with two babies at once - and it can take them a while to get used to the different ways in which they are handled.
- - You may find yourself responding more quickly if one baby cries, from fear that the other(s) will be disturbed.
Encouraging unbroken sleep
Although their sleep may initially be more disturbed than that of other newborns, getting twins (or more) to sleep need not be any more difficult.
The one big difference, of course, is that the babies may disturb one another. Most of the time this won't happen - just as siblings of different ages can usually share bedrooms without waking one another. In fact, many babies are comforted by sharing a room. They may even prefer to share a bed when they are very tiny: check with the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death (FSID) or one of the multiple-birth organizations for the latest advice about co-sleeping and cot death.
However, if your children do disturb one another it may be helpful to separate them, particularly until you have established unbroken nights. If you are pushed for space, move one cot onto the landing as a short-term measure, but make absolutely sure that your child is not able to climb out of the cot and fall downstairs.
Try to get as much help as possible. There are charities that provide help for new parents, particularly those with two or more babies. The multiple-birth organizations may also be able to put you in touch with a parent who has been through a similar experience - just talking through your situation can be a big help.