19 answers

Getting My 5 1/2 Month Old Twins to Sleep Through the Night

Hi,

My twins are five and a half months old. They were born at nearly 35 weeks so they're considered only 4 1/2 months developmentally. They are both doing great though and have caught up with their full term counterparts in terms of weight and height.
Here's the problem: our pediatrician wants us to start sleep training them. We currently give them a dream feed at 11 at night - and the next bottle is at 6 a.m. He wants us to stop the dream feed and let them go for a 10 hour stretch. Has anyone done this at this age?
My daughter has reflux and a very poor appetite - takes an hour to feed her 4 oz. The doctor says she needs the long stretch to improve her appetite. He believes that they'll cry the first couple of nights but then understand that they need to put on the additional calories during the day.
I'm torn between following his advice (he helped us stop the 3 a.m. feedings) and feeling terrible about not feeding a baby when he or she cries.
Any advice from moms who've been there? Thanks!!

P.S. They share a room but have different cribs.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for the responses. I will go with my gut and continue the late night feeding.
Thanks everyone for the personal stories and advice!

Featured Answers

Congrats on the babies!

I really liked this book on sleep - -The Baby Whisperer solves all problems. Most libraries have it. It is a little lenghly and jumps around a bit, but you can do the same. Use it as a reference.

I really, really like the babywhisperer.com website. It is a huge community of website users who are very supportive. The baby whisperer books are about sleep, eating, baby issues, toddler issues etc.

Hi!
I would give it a try and see if they will sleep through. I let my baby cry for 15 minutes max before I'd get him. He slept through(9pm-6AM) at 9 weeks old and would usually cry around 2 AM. I ignored it and he fell back to sleep after about 5 minutes. It was hard to hear at first, but I made it!! You are teaching them they can make it without getting up! It was worth it to me.
Good Luck!

More Answers

S.,

I can sympathize with your dilemma. Your doctor has one point of view, but what does your heart tell you?

Personally, I think ten hours without food for a 4.5 month old baby is an awfully long stretch, unless they do it naturally by sleeping through the night. How long do YOU go without food? Most of us eat every 3-6 hours, even as adults. Babies are digesting fast and growing fast.

With my own three, I preferred to FEED ON DEMAND -- as in, they eat when they are hungry, and they don't eat when they are not. In a country where we have such a problems with eating disorders, obesity, etc, this makes sense to me. The trick is not assuming that every whine or cry means they are *hungry*. Sometimes they are dirty, wet, cold, bored, lonely, or scared. As they get older, *they* will tell you when they don't need that extra feeding anymore.

Of course, many will disagree with me who have a different way of looking at it. But this approach makes sense to me, to show kids to eat when they are hungry and not on some arbitrary time table. Each body is different, our intake needs differ, our schedules differ, our appetites differ. I honestlyu wouldn't take away more feedings until they are eating solid food.

I know of no research that shows that making a child go hungry will help in the case of acid reflux. I'd check with a specialist.

Peebee

Hi! I am the mom of 19 month twin girls. They did not start sleeping completely through the night until they were about 8 or nine months. I think a feeding at 11pm and then again at 6am is very reasonable! Congrats on doing such a good job already. My girls now sleep from 6:30 pm to 6:30 am. Same room, different cribs. If they wake during the night,I give them about 10 minutes to fall back to sleep before intervening. I did the same starting at about 4 months. The trouble with letting them cry longer than the 10 minutes is you risk the chance of one waking the other up.

Also consider the reflux. My girls had horrible reflux and were on meds until they were one. Children with reflux often tolerate more frequent smaller feedings vs. the big bottle to keep them sleeping through the night. If your children are not on meds, I would speak to the pediatrician about making them more comfortable post feeding.

I would highly recommend the happiest baby on the block CD -- the womb sounds increased our girls sleeping by leaps and bounds!

Good luck!

After you decide on a method, being consistent will help your twins learn much faster.

At 5.5 months, we put our daughter to bed at 7pm and she would nurse around 1-2 am and up for the day at 7am. The feedings went away naturally by 6 months and at 10 months now, she sleeps from 7-7. We were very consistent and approached it like a contiuum: wait a few minutes to see if she could settle herself, go in and make shhhh sounds, tap her lightly and then finally feed fer. Always in the dark with very little interaction. After a feed, right back in the crib.

Good luck. I know sleep is very important to some people.

Hi there,
I have 10 month old twin girls, so I've definitely been there!

My advice is a bit different from others who have responded...at about 4 months of age, my doctor told me the same thing and it was the BEST advice I ever got. But instead of letting them cry, I'd just give them a pacifier when they woke for that middle of the night feeding. After a few nights of waking and getting the pacifier, they didn't wake up again. And one of them had reflux. Currently, they get their last bottle between 6:30p and 7:00p and they don't wake up 'til 6am and they get their 1st bottle around 6:30am. You've never seen happier babies (or happier parents)!

Don't let others make you feel guilty for not feeding your babies on demand. You'll be much happier when you get more sleep at night, and thus will have more energy for your babies during the day!

Good luck!

Hi!
I would give it a try and see if they will sleep through. I let my baby cry for 15 minutes max before I'd get him. He slept through(9pm-6AM) at 9 weeks old and would usually cry around 2 AM. I ignored it and he fell back to sleep after about 5 minutes. It was hard to hear at first, but I made it!! You are teaching them they can make it without getting up! It was worth it to me.
Good Luck!

If your ped thinks 4 1/2 month old twins can "understand" that they need to eat more during the day, can he get my 2 1/2 year old to "understand" she has to clean her room??

Sorry, had to say it. I'm with everyone else, do what you feel right about. Personally and professionally, I respond to the cries of a child (both my daughter's and the children I care for as a post-partum doula. I am curious as to why he doesn't want them to eat at 11pm, it doesn't make sense to me even if there is "sleep training" (a stupid term if you ask me). The 11pm feeding is part of their routine and routine is the KEY to good sleep patterns. As far as the acid reflux goes, if you can elevate your child's head with a crib wedge that may help, I've seen it work wonders!

As far as making your child go hungry to improve her appitite (which is what it is), I think that's awful. I know plenty of parents who would pray for their children to sleep from 11-6. Nod at your ped and if her continues to pressure you, I'd look for a more considerate ped.

First off, I believe that doctors are trained to handle medical problems and shouldn't be giving parenting advice. All that doctor really knows is what he or she read or used for their own children. They don't really have a background of knowledge.

My opinion of the situation is that your babies are doing well and getting what they need. If not feeding them anymore at night causes them to eat more during the day it's because their real needs (the night feeding) are not being met. Not to sound harsh, but that is the reality. 5 1/2 months is not that old.

Now, if you are exhausted beyond believe and need to do this to be a better mommy, I think it is a valid thing to do. Rather than just letting the baby cry it out, some other methods are to rock the baby or walk with him/her until they go back to sleep without the feed. You could also reduce the amount they have to eat over time until they are used to not having much at that time. It's also good if you usually feed them to have your husband do it or vice versa so they don't expect the bottle/nursing.

GL with deciding what to do. Only you can decided what's right for you family.

I am an occupational thearpist who used to work at a clinic to help children with feeding difficulties. My concern is about your little one taking an hour to eat....that seems like a long time for her age. If her weight is still o.k. than it might not be a problem, but if she also is having weight problems or starts to have weight problems you might want to consider asking your doctor if you can see a feeding specialist (that can either be an occupational therapist or a speech therapist) and make sure they have experience with infants. If nothing else, they may help give you some other ideas. I am wodering if he is telling you to have her go longer at night because she is getting more ounces at night than during the day? If that is not the case, then I agree with other parents. My son had reflux also and he really didn't skip his "dream feed" until maybe even 10 months or so. There were even times up until 10 months when we fed him in the middle of the night because if we tried to let him "cry it out" he would scream for an hour and I decided that was NOT worth it for him or our family. Plus, all i really needed to do was feed him and he would go right back to sleep...I was afraid he would get in the "habit" of eating in the middle of the night, but that just never really happened for us. I finally just discovered that his stomach just couldn't handle that much at a time, and as he has gotten bigger and is eating more quantity of food he sleeps through the night without a problem (he is now 14 months old). At the clinic a worked at, we often just let parents of babies with reflux know that they would do better with smaller meals a little more often, but to be careful not to fall into the trap of feeding them all day long. It sounds like you are doing well with that, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. Like I said, if you can find a specialist now you might just have one appointment where they give you some ideas and help to prevent some potential problems in the future....good luck!

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