When Finn & Elliot were admitted to the NICU, Finn had to be in an isolette, and Elliot was in a different contraption for which I do not even know a name. On their daddy’s birthday, much to the excitement of their parents and nurses, Finn graduated from the isolette and the boys were reunited in a big, shared crib.
Without hesitation, Finn snuggled into Elliot and they contentedly cuddled through a few more days in the hospital, through their first “tanning bed,” and through the “rooming in” process that first time parents have to pass before being allowed to take your baby home.
At home, we wanted the boys in our room, so we had to separate them again and they slept in two Rock n’ Plays for the next 6 weeks right beside our bed. They seemed to sleep okay apart, but as soon as they were together again, one or the other would always reach out to touch the other one the whole time they were together.
Every time I tested out putting them in their cribs, they cried a lot, would not settle into sleep, and had an increase of reflux symptoms. After about 6 weeks in our room, we were ready to move them to the nursery, but we decided to keep them in the RNPs because the cribs just weren’t working for us at that point. After a couple weeks in the nursery, the boys were getting bigger and bigger, and I really wanted to transition them out of the RNPs. That’s when I figured out how to angle sleeping and crib “nests.”
There are plenty of opinions on whether twins should share a crib. Some studies, experts, and parents say twins sleep better and do better overall if they share a crib. Others take the position that twins do not really sleep better together and are already at an increased risk of SIDS, so the additional risk of sharing a crib isn’t worth it. At the end of the day, as parents of twins, you just have to decide what is right for your family and what risks you can and cannot live with. After seeing our boys sleep together and apart during several different stages, we felt confident that we wanted our boys to share a crib after they graduated from the RNPs.
The boys sleep started improving a lot when they begin sharing a crib; they went from waking up every 2 1/2 to 3 hours to sleeping one stretch of 5-6 hours and then waking up every three hours after that. I’m sure part of it was they were getting to that magic 10-pound range, but I truly believe part of it is simply that they find intrinsic comfort in being close to each other. It’s odd because I know they shouldn’t really recognize that they have a brother or what “another baby” even means at this stage, but on the other hand, they somehow just know that this “thing” next to them belong with/to them.
Elliot & Finn happily snuggled for the next couple months. Eventually, I began to sense that it was time to separate them even though I don’t think any of the four of us particularly wanted to change it up. The boys were still sleeping gloriously (if you call waking up at 5 a.m. glorious), but we hit a few milestones that increased the level of risk again and pushed us toward separate cribs. First, they were breaking out of their swaddles a lot more, and I knew we would need to swaddle wean soon. With arms out, they have the potential to disturb the other one more, though they tend to sleep through the other’s movements or crying. More importantly, Finn rolled over for the first time, and I knew Elliot wasn’t far behind. When twins become mobile, there is a greater risk of one twin rolling on the other one or trapping the other in a position that prevents them from breathing sufficiently. As much as I love to see them cuddle and as happy as they are together, I knew we needed to make the next step in our sleeping journey. I was having such a hard time actually implementing the plan until one night at about 11:30, I just started worrying and couldn’t stop. I finally went in to the room and took one last mental picture of my cuddly boys and then quietly made a nest, angled the mattress, picked up a sleeping Finn, and set him in his new crib.
They tossed and turned a little bit more, and we had a few rough nights. Unfortunately, everyone got colds, and the boys hit the 4-month sleep regression right after that so that “great sleep” that lasted until 5 a.m. has not returned at this time. They do, however, sleep just fine now in their separate cribs. Recently, they’ve started noticing each other in the other crib and will smile and coo and sometimes reach out to touch the other one through the slats of the cribs.
While I strongly believe that this is the safest and best sleeping arrangement for them right now, I will not be one bit surprised, however, when they one day master crib-climbing and end up snuggled up together again.
If you had twins, would you have them sleep together or separate?