Like most things regarding parenting, the answer to that has several parts and many dependencies. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that babies should sleep in their own cribs or bassinets to reduce instances of sudden death syndrome (SIDs). It’s important to note however that AAP has only addressed the issue of babies co-sleeping with their parents or other children and has not in any way touched on twins’ sleep arrangements.
In fact, many pediatricians seem to agree there are benefits to putting twin babies in the same cot, which is what they do in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This comes from the fact that twins have spent 8 or 9 months of their lives doing everything together in the womb. Separating them after birth can cause some form of anxiety which will cause them to cry, lose their appetite and become sad.
Letting newborn twins sleep together in the same cot helps to regulate their body temperature and sleep cycles and it’s also soothing for the twins. Multiples who sleep together also seem to sleep better, gain weight faster and have fewer episodes of bradycardia and apnea.
Safety Tips to Note
As far as safety is concerned, newborn babies when tightly swaddled hardly move around, especially for the first one or two months. This means there is no chance of them turning and suffocating each other.
That said, if you put twin babies in one cot, you must practice safe sleep habits as set by the American Academy of Pediatrics;
- Place the twins on their back across the cot with their heads and feet facing the sides of the cot. This ensures there is enough space between them to avoid overheating.
- Use a baby cot for co-bedding and not a Moses basket because it will be too small for two babies.
- Choose a cot with a flat, firm surface and a tight, well-fitted sheet. Skip the soft bedding, bumpers, pillows, and teddy bears because they increase the risk of SIDs by up to 21 times.
- Have the twins sleep in your room for at least the first six months. Room sharing with the parents can reduce the risk of SIDs by as much as 50 percent.
- Keep the twins cool. Avoid wooly blankets and heavy clothing, and keep the thermostat between 68- and 72-degrees Fahrenheit. You can also run a fan to keep the room cool and airy. Once they start wiggling and moving, those plans can change.
Risks of Twins Sleeping Together
There is a reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics is so adamant that babies should sleep in their own cribs from the get-go. Many twin babies are born premature and the risk of SIDs is way higher for premature babies than for those born at full term, whether they are moving or not.
Towards month 2 or 3, you will notice that babies start moving in their sleep. The movement can be as simple as kicking the blankets off their bodies to turning on their side. At this age, everybody agrees that they should start sleeping in different cribs.
When twins sleep together, they tend to turn on their side and face each other and even try to get closer to each other. Besides the fact that the side sleeping position is not recommended for babies, twins who sleep facing each other get less oxygen because they are re-breathing each other’s exhaled air.
Twins also pose a smothering risk to each other when they sleep together. When our twins were five or six months, they would make a 360 turn and sleep on the other side of the bed. This means that one can turn and sleep on their sibling or put a limb over their face and suffocate them.
Last but not least, there is a risk of overheating when two babies are sleeping too close to each other. While warming one another is an advantage at first, overheating during sleep is among the risk factors of SIDs.
Can Twins Nap Together Outside their Cots?
For the same reasons twins have to sleep in different cribs, they must also nap separately. While naps are relatively shorter than night sleep, the babies are still in a deep sleep and they turn and toss as usual.
Day naps pose even more risk because it can get hotter during the day, causing the babies to overheat or suffocate each other.
Speaking of naps, it’s important to keep in mind that naps should also take place on a safe sleeping surface. Placing the babies on couches, pillows or even your guest bed downstairs increases their risk of SIDs significantly.
No matter when the little ones are taking a snooze, you should place them on a flat and firm surface, preferably a baby crib or bassinet.
Having the Graco Pack ‘n Play with Twin Bassinet in the living room area worked best for us because the twins could take naps downstairs during the day where we can keep an eye on them.
The bassinet separates the twins but they still feel like they are sleeping together. Once they outgrew it as a bassinet, we started using it as a pack ‘n play.
Can You Co-sleep with Twins?
If co-sleeping means sleeping with the twins in your bed, the AAP is very clear on that subject. Adults or older siblings should not share a bed with infants, much less twins because it increases the risk of SIDs by up to 50%.
It’s extremely tempting to pull the twins in bed with you, especially when you are breastfeeding at night and don’t want to get up from the bed. Unfortunately, adult beds put the children at risk of suffocation, entrapment, or strangulation.
The good news, however, AAP does recommend sharing a room with the twins for up to a year, as long as each of them is in their own crib or bassinet. Among the reasons why sharing a room with them is recommended is because it’s easier for the parents to feed the babies at night when they are nearby without losing sleep completely. Having them close by also means you can hear if anything is going on with them and react fast, which can save their lives.
If fitting two full-size cribs in your room is a problem, you can buy a double bassinet to conserve space. What worked for us was the HALO BassiNest for twins, which is designed to sit right next to the master bed for convenient access. To make things even easier for you, the bassinet rotates 360 degrees, which means you can access both babies without leaving the comfort of your bed.
The HALO BassiNest for twins has a mesh divider in the center which allows the babies to see, smell, and feel each other, while still sleeping safely on their side. The two sections are roomy enough and it doesn’t take too much space in our bedroom.
Helpful Tips to Make Twins Sleep Together
As you can imagine, taking care of twins is no easy task. The parents need every ounce of sleep they can get to ensure they have enough energy to keep up with two babies. If you thought putting one baby to sleep was hard, twins take this challenge to a whole new level.
Fortunately, many parents including us have been there before and done it successfully. These tips not only help the twins sleep together, but also ensure you get enough sleep as well.
Synchronize their schedules
As you will notice pretty fast after birth, twins are completely different people. If we didn’t know any better, we wouldn’t tell that our sons are twins because of how different they are.
Unfortunately, this means that their sleep and eating habits are different. Don’t be surprised that one is a night owl while the other one likes to sleep all night.
The only way out of this is to synchronize their schedules by force. Despite their nature, babies can be trained to behave a certain way. For example, if one twin wakes up at midnight to eat, wake the other one up too and feed them as well and then allow them to go back to sleep together.
Everything they do from the feeding times to nap times must be synchronized to ensure they do everything at the same time so you won’t have one baby awake and the other one asleep.
Bring Some Noise
As we said, every second of sleep you can grab will go a long way towards keeping you sane. A noise machine helps to soothe the babies back to sleep during those sleep cycles when they awake. It will also help to muffle outside noises that can likely wake the babies up and ruin your night.
As a precaution though, place the noise machine on the other side of the room, away from the kids because that white noise can be harmful to their delicate ears.
Again, you don’t want to get up every time the children wake up because this can mean you don’t get to sleep at all. While your first impulse when you hear one baby making a fuss is to go and pick them up, resist the urge and allow them to self-soothe back to sleep.
As long as the babies are well fed and changed, they should learn to sleep through the night. The noise machine will do its work and eventually they learn to sleep through the wake cycles.
The Bottom Line on Co-bedding Newborn Twins
Although there are many benefits to putting twins in a cot together, the risks tend to outweigh them. If you choose to let them co-sleep, it should only be the first and second month when they are too small to move or turn. Even then, you must put your twins on their back, keep the crib in your bedroom and avoid all forms of plush blankets and warm clothes. Your perfectly optimized content goes here!