Your pregnancy and baby guideTwins and sleep

Getting twins or multiple babies into a sleeping routine will help make sure everyone gets the rest they need.

Open all pages about Your pregnancy and baby guide

Getting twins or multiple babies into a sleeping routine will help make sure everyone gets the rest they need.

A lack of sleep can be a problem for any new parent.

But for parents of multiples trying to get 2 or more babies into a sleeping routine, it can be even harder.

Problems getting twins to sleep

There are several reasons why 2 or more babies may be more difficult to get into a good sleeping routine.

Twins and triplets are more likely to be born prematurely and spend time in neonatal care, where they're used to being touched and nursed frequently.

They may miss this contact and find it hard to settle when they come home.

If you're still visiting 1 baby in hospital, it can be hard to establish a good routine with the other baby at home.

Other things to note:

  • Newborn babies, in particular premature babies, have tiny stomachs and need to feed frequently.
  • It may take longer to get into a routine with 2 babies to care for.
  • More than 1 person may be caring for your babies, and they'll take a while to get used to being handled in different ways by different people.
  • You may want to comfort a restless twin faster than you would a single baby, as you're worried they may wake up their twin.

But there are plenty of ways to encourage a good sleeping routine so everyone gets enough rest.

Encouraging twins to sleep

  • Put your babies down in a safe sleeping position, on their backs with their feet touching the bottom of the cot or Moses basket.
  • Make sure they do not get too hot, particularly if they're sharing a cot. Keep blankets securely tucked in.
  • Have a bedtime routine and stick to it. This will help the babies get into a good settling routine.
  • If your babies have been sleeping together, you can try to put them in separate cots if 1 is waking the other. You need to be flexible, as 1 may prefer a cot while the other is more comfortable in a Moses basket. You can place cots next to each other so the babies can still see and touch each other.
  • In the early days, try to co-ordinate night feeds so if 1 wakes up, you can feed the other at the same time. Be prepared for 1 twin to sleep through before the other.
  • There's no need to rush to cuddle 1 baby if they cry. Normally, the other twin will sleep through their twin's crying.

For more advice on creating a soothing night-time environment, read our page on getting your baby to sleep.

The Multiple Births Foundation has a book called "How do you get twins (or more) to sleep?" that can be bought for £3 from their website.

You can also read our advice on sleep and tiredness after having a baby.

Can my twins sleep in 1 cot?

You can put your twins to sleep in a single cot while they're small enough. This is called co-bedding and is perfectly safe.

In fact, putting twins in the same cot can help them regulate their body temperatures and sleep cycles, and can soothe them and their twin.

If you put your twins in the same cot, follow the same safe sleeping advice as for a single baby.

They should be placed on their backs with the tops of their heads facing one another and their feet at opposite ends of the cot, or side by side on their backs, with their feet at the foot of the cot.

Use a single cot for co-bedding, but not a Moses basket, as it'll be too small for 2 babies.

Co-bedding means you can keep your babies with you in your room for longer.

With triplets, you can place them next to each other across a cot while they're still small enough to fit.

They should be laid on their backs with their feet touching the side of the cot.

When your twins are older, you may choose to put them in separate cots placed close together so they can continue to comfort each other.

If older twins are disturbing one another, you may think about giving them separate rooms if you have enough space.

It's recommended that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for the first 6 months, as this is known to reduce the risk of cot death.

Page last reviewed: 19/04/2016
Next review due: 19/04/2019