(This is a guest posting from Erica Aday.)
As I drive to my overnight sleep client’s home, I find myself thinking about the next few nights with the family and wondering exactly how things will evolve. This will be my first night with these 5-month-old twins, and I will be transitioning them from sleeping swaddled and upright in swings to sleeping in their cribs without swaddles.
The twins have been waking almost hourly each night, requiring pacifiers or to be rocked back to sleep again. At this stage of the game, they are not getting the deep, restorative sleep they need sleeping in swings, and their parents are exhausted and frustrated. The babies wake for the day cranky and overtired, which only leads to more poor daytime sleep. They’ve been taking 30-minute catnaps at best.
I remind myself, as I’ve often explained to concerned parents, that babies are creatures of habit and they respond well to consistency and routine. It will be my mission to begin the process of helping these twins recognize and adjust to a new routine.
I’ve been communicating with the parents for more than a week, making small adjustments to the existing feeding and sleep schedule to gradually prepare for this change. I’ve consulted with Pam Diamond, a doula and expert sleep consultant, and together we’ve designed a plan to help this family discard their sleep crutches and replace them with healthy sleep habits to finally achieve the nights of peaceful, uninterrupted slumber for which they are longing.
The first night always requires consistency, patience, gentle care and crossed fingers, and it goes as well as I could’ve hoped. Then, within two nights, the twins are waking only once or twice and are going back to sleep on their own. Two two-hour long naps have replaced the 30 minute catnaps.
In less than two weeks, the twins are consistently getting 12 hours of peaceful sleep at night and are napping well by day, and the family, needless to say, is much happier and well rested. Once again, mission accomplished!
Erica Aday has logged hundreds of hours caring for babies – singletons, twins and triplets – across the Triangle since becoming a postpartum doula. She especially enjoys assisting families with early sleep shaping, sleep training and creating healthy routines. She lives in Cary with her husband and two children.