Caring for multiple babies at once is definitely challenging but you don’t need to feel daunted by the idea of laying the foundations for healthy sleep for more than one baby at a time.
While all babies are unique, their basic sleep needs and the 4 foundations to healthy sleep remain the same:
1. Setting up baby's day and night
2. Creating the ideal sleep environment
3. Responding to tired signs
4. Self-soothing and settling assistance
And it’s absolutely possible to lay these foundations for more than one baby at the same time.
In fact, establishing a rhythm to your babies' days and laying the foundations for healthy sleep patterns can help make your day more predictable and the juggle more manageable. As long as your bubs are healthy, thriving and any underlying medical conditions have already been addressed, you can begin laying these foundations as soon as you’re ready.
Just remember that each bub is an individual, so while their basic needs are the same and mostly determined by their age, the way they respond to different situations and techniques may differ. (Note: for babies who were premature, unless otherwise instructed by your doctors, use their corrected or ‘adjusted’ age when working out their sleep and feeding requirements).
When setting up babies’ day & night and establishing their Sleep-Feed-Uptime Cycles, aim to have them on the same, or very similar timings. Having multiples on very different schedules will become extremely draining on you and your family - physically and mentally. Syncing their routines together, as closely as possible, will give you the greatest chance of finding some time for yourself.
Depending on whether you have an extra set of hands to help you, a partner or another family member, will determine whether each daily activity can happen at the same time for each bub. If someone is helping you, then activities like feeding, bathing, changing nappies and so on, can be done simultaneously. When you’re on your own, attend to one baby, then the other, then the other and so on.
When learning to read your babies’ tired signs, remember each of your little ones is unique so the cues they give you may differ from each other. While you’re learning to recognise their tired signs, monitor how long they’ve been awake so you can get them down before they become overtired.
Always follow the Red Nose recommendations for sleeping twins safely at home and when separate cots are not available. For higher order multiple births (triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets), please refer to your health professional for advice on providing a safe sleep environment for each baby.
While you’re laying the foundations for healthy sleep, and establishing a rhythm to your babies’ day, try to stay consistent with your general routines and the strategies you use for each of your babies as best you can, but remember it’s okay to be flexible.