When your twins come home, they will be on the schedule set for them at the hospital—most likely a three-hour schedule. You should stick with that schedule until your twins are ready to drop one of the night feedings. In time, you will move to a four-hour schedule with only one and eventually no night feedings.
Structured changes in the schedule will feel like a tremendous accomplishment for you as well as your twins. With each change, you will gain more and more nighttime sleep yourself, thereby gaining more sanity and strength.
Your pediatrician will be able to assist you and advise with this process. There are also many published books on the topic. (We ♥ "Twelve Hours' Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old".)
But here are a few nuggets of knowledge we have learned as twin mothers during this process:
- When the twins are about 6 weeks old, after confirming with your doctor that they are ready, you might want to begin trying to stretch one of the babies’ night feedings. For example, after giving them the 9:00 p.m. feeding, let them wake when they are hungry instead of waking them at midnight. Never feed them before midnight if they wake early (that is like taking a step backward). But if they wake up at 1:00 a.m., feed them then.
- It’s important to keep the twins on the same schedule as each other even as you try to stretch one of the night feedings. If one twin wakes up, feed him or her first, then wake the other so that their feeding times stay the same. You don’t want to try to “feed on demand” at this point—it would be too difficult on you. Even if the twin that you have to wake is very sleepy, at least try to feed him or her.
- When the twins start sleeping harder and longer, they might not eat as much at night as they did in the past. Remember that they will need to get those missed calories back into their diet the next day, so you will need to make the day feedings larger to balance things out. This is key to successfully changing their schedule. They will sleep longer at night as long as they are getting the calories they need at the other feedings.
- Your baby log is essential during this process so you can keep track of each twin’s nightly intakes and figure out how much to add to the daytime feedings. These amounts will vary from day to day and night to night.
- Your gut will help you determine which night feeding to try to stretch. You might choose the midnight one, or you might choose the 3:00 a.m. one. Either option will work. Your goal is simply to get the twins to combine one feeding.
- Moving to the four-hour schedule could happen around 8 to 9 weeks and will most likely correlate with the babies’ weights increasing to 10 pounds or more. Again, consult with your doctor. But concentrate on getting down to just one middle-of-the-night feeding before moving to the four-hour schedule.