The term “sleep training” often brings up images of a baby crying it out for long stretches in the middle of the night, especially in the US.  Sleep training twins?!  Double the trouble, double the fun!

Solving this issue was near and dear to my heart as I was never the type of person that could pull an “all-nighter” even back in college. 

When I first found out I was having twins, I dreaded the long, sleepless nights.

Tips for gentle sleep training twins that effective for teaching newborns and helping them to sleep through the night (11-12 hours straight) before they turn 4-months-old!

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My husband worked long, unpredictable hours in banking.  I worked a demanding IT job.  

Not only did I work during the regular hours of 9 to 5, but at night, I was often on Skype having meetings with my software development team on the opposite side of the globe.

How was I going to pull off working the day and night shifts without getting much sleep?  And for how long?

Babies “Doing Their Nights” 

Did you know that there is a whole nation of babies sleeping through the night, or what they call “doing their nights”, by the time they turn 3-months-old?  

I first heard about this French phenomenon in this book by Pamela Druckerman.  She is an American mother (one + twins) living in Paris that has distilled her discovery of French parenting wisdom into an observant, humorous, and well-researched memoir.

Personally, I was drawn to reading about French parenting partly because my husband is French, and partly because I wanted an alternative to Tiger Mom parenting.

In any case, reading this book easily turned out to be the best decision I made for my family. 

My twins slept 11 to 12 hours straight by 3 ½ months old, without crying it out.

Before we get into my key takeaways from the French “sleep training” method and my implementation strategies, let’s touch on some questions you may have about managing twin sleep.

Can you sleep train twins in the same room? 

Yes.  My twins share a room and it was practically easier and faster to feed them together if they are physically in one room.

I was concerned about them waking each other up, but it turned out to be a none issue.  

Your babies have enough melatonin built up in their systems overnight that it is easier for them to sleep undisturbed by the cries of their siblings.

When should you start sleep training twins?  

I actually read the book before my twins were born, and I started “sleep training” them as soon as they were born.  Now, the French don’t actually “sleep train” their babies in the same sense as many of the other sleep training methods we come across in America.  

Rather, the French parents view it as their responsibility to educate their babies on sleep.

Tips for Sleep Training Twins Without Crying It Out

1. Keep them on the same schedule 

One key advice I got from a fellow twin parent was to keep the twins on the same schedule.  This means they eat, nap, and go to bed together at the same time.  

I couldn’t agree more.

I actually did try to cater to their separate schedules for one day but was so thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day that it was just not sustainable for the long term. 

Unfortunately, this does mean that you will be occasionally waking one twin from their sleep but I found they welcome the bottle even when sleepy.

This is also temporary as their feeding frequency decreases over time, and once they get in sync with their rhythm by month 3, I hardly need to wake the sleeping baby anymore.    

2. Teach them day vs night

Sleep training twins - teach day vs night x433

Start teaching them the differences between daytime vs nighttime on day one.

During the day, the twins and I stay in the living room mostly with natural light coming in through the windows.  

When it’s time for a nap, I put them down in a play yard with bassinet together in the living room, and I pull my shade which only partially filters out daylight.   

Having them nap together in one cot is perfectly safe, as it is soothing to them and their twin.  It can also help them regulate their body temperatures and sleep cycles (source). 

Just be sure to follow the same safe sleeping advice as for a single baby.

At night, they sleep in their individual cribs in their bedroom with the window shades down.  Make sure your shades are thick enough to filter out all natural light.

If you live in an area where the daylight is long and may interfere with your baby’s 11-12 hour per night sleep needs, you’ll want to get this blackout window cover to keep the bedroom dark.

No tool is required and you can easily install it in minutes.  It provides total blackout and allows you to keep your existing window treatments.

It’s important to keep stimulations to a minimum at night to allow them to wind down at the end of the day for sleep.

I only attach their mobile to their napping bassinet.  I keep their beds clear of stimulations at night so they are not distracted learning how to soothe themselves to sleep.   

3. Bedtime routine

We are creatures of habit.  Establishing a daytime and nighttime routine helps everyone in the family to get into a familiar rhythm and reduces stress.  Babies are no exception.

In fact, a study found children who have a consistent bedtime routine fall asleep faster and sleep better than those that don’t (source).

My twin bedtime routine starts with a warm and relaxing bath in the evening followed by story reading with them on the baby bouncer, final feed, and diaper change.

During the final feed of the day, try to keep the environment quiet and just silently enjoy the bonding experience.    

I put each of them down in their separate cribs and set the music player to a sleep melody or white noise.  

4. La Pause

The French “sleep training” technique is actually rooted in a sound scientific basis.

Newborn babies are naturally loud and fidgety at times in their sleep.  During these periods, they are in between their sleep cycles

On a typical night, the average person goes through four to six sleep cycles

Newborn babies need to learn the skill of how to connect their sleep cycles on their own.

The critical key to better sleep is to give your baby time to learn to self-soothe in between cycles by doing what the author aptly named “La Pause”.

Don’t automatically respond to the baby as soon as you hear a cry, even from birth.

Take time to pause to observe the baby first to check if the baby is actually awake

The theory is that if you automatically respond to every whimper by picking up your babies to feed, you may be unwittingly waking them and even training them to feed every few hours.

This is especially important at night.  Once, I found my daughter crying loudly at night that it seemed impossible that she was still sleeping, but I set a timer for 3 minutes and resisted the urge to pick her up, and she somehow settled herself back to sleep before my timer even went off!

One of the key reasons that French parents are able to commit to La Pause is the fundamental belief that it’s their job to teach their babies how to sleep well, similar to how they teach them to eat a balanced meal or ride a bike later on.    

They also fundamentally believe that their babies are little humans capable of learning and understanding.

My daughter slept through the night by the time she turned 3 months.  My son had a slight regression and started to wake up at around 2 am every night.  

After a few nights, I realized that I had somehow inadvertently “trained” him to continue to wake up at night as he started to greet me with a big smile ready to play. 

I decided to try having a heart-to-heart talk with him.

I discussed my concerns about going back to work and not being able to function if I don’t get enough sleep.  I also pointed out that he can potentially wake up his sister and our neighbors (we live in an apartment building).

I prepared him for the fact that I was going to take a longer time to respond to his 2 am cries as it was no time to play.   

The night after the talk, I waited 8 minutes to respond.  The next day, I reminded him of our talk during the day and waited 15 minutes to respond at night.

He stopped waking up at 2 am and slept through the night after that.

5. Providing Comfort and Regression Prevention

Providing safe and comfortable sleepwear is key to better sleep for not just the babies, but also for the parents’ peace of mind.

These stylish and breathable swaddle blankets are highly versatile as they can serve as stroller shades, burp clothes, daycare nap blankets in addition to being swaddle blankets. 

Once the babies are able to wiggle their way out of a swaddle, which my twins quickly started to by month 2, I upgraded them to this incredible swaddle transition solution.

I actually stumbled upon this solution on Shark Tank, where parents Stephanie and Brett Parker solved their 4-month-old daughter’s sleep regression.

They realized that the root cause of the post-swaddle sleep regression was the “Moro”, or startle reflex that causes babies to suddenly jolt awake and fidget, preventing them from settling their limbs to continue their restful sleep. 

Stephanie created a sleepsuit to soothe her daughter’s startle reflex and provide her a cozy womb-like environment.

She also made sure that her daughter can safely roll over and wiggle around in her crib. 

I witnessed the startle reflex in my twins during their daytime naps and quickly jumped on board to prevent any sleep regression. And it worked like a charm!.   

Another thing new parents learn quickly is that babies don’t keep their blanket covers on.  This all-season wool sleep sack is a great long-term investment that can last from age 2 months to 2-years-old!

Last but not least, ensure a comfortable room environment for the babies with a whisper-quiet humidifier.  Babies have delicate skins and lips that are sensitive to dry air.   

Overall, I believe that sleep training twins take consistent, proactive actions and an unwavering belief that your babies are capable of achieving this feat of sleeping through the night at an early age.

I took comfort in knowing that a whole nation of babies has achieved this milestone by the time they turned 3-months-old.

I highly recommend getting a copy of Pamela Druckerman’s book as  I referenced it multiple times throughout my La Pause sleep training.  Learning the theory is one thing, actually putting it into practice is a whole other level!

It is one of the best parenting books I’ve read and there are so many other gems of wisdom on French parenting not to be missed as well!