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!

I find that Pediatricians are good for advice on a baby's health. Other than that, they do not know your child like you do. I never sleep trained my son like that. I nursed him and I got up and fed him every time he cried. And yes, I was waking up in the middle of the night until he was almost 12 months, but he grew out of it slowly on his own time table. My thinking is, if a baby is hungry, you should feed them. Crying it out is very hard and I don't think worth it, plus there are some recent studies out that say it is very important how to respond to young babies when they are upset. My son now is very confident and independent because he knows if he really needs me, I will be there. But otherwise, he is very happy to be on his own. They are only babies once, and soon the night feedings will only be a memory.

11-6 is fantastic for 5 1/2 months. I was yearning for more that 4 hours at that point, I believe.

I have 19 month old twins. I was told by a lot of folks that I couldn't practice attachment parenting with twins, that it just "wasn't practical." While my doctor never told me I had to sleep train them, I got plenty of other advice from folks who suggested I was crazy for responding to their cries, continuing to nurse them, keeping them in my room until 6 months, etc. The bottom line is that you need to do what feels right for you. I will say that I've never been able to get them to sleep consistently in the same room, so we've got one of our twins' crib in a den. Someday, I'll have to deal with this and get them into the same bedroom, but not today. It seemed to take longer for my twins to figure out how to sleep through the night than it did for my older singleton, but I couldn't guess why. Even in separate rooms, they do somehow seem to respond to each other and often did wake at the same time, just not as badly as when together.

All of that said, if you're completely exhausted and simply can't bear the waking anymore, you can modify the sleep training advice and give your twins a chance to get themselves back to sleep instead of responding instantly. Figure out how much time works for you and let them fuss for 5 or 10 minutes and see if they start to settle back down. For me, I'd go to the bathroom and get a drink of water and see if the crying guy was winding up or winding down. If he was winding up, I'd get there quick to prevent waking the other baby. If he seemed like he might settle down, I'd wait a minute. More often than not, he'd settle back down and go back to sleep without a feeding. It is good for them to figure out how to calm themselves back down and get themselves back to sleep without your help, but it's entirely up to you, not your doctor, in-laws or nosey neighbors, to decide exactly when and how that should happen.

Good luck and enjoy your twins. It's a great ride!!! Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

S.:

you need to follow your heart and do what you feel is right for your children.

there are many supporters on both sides... sleep training and attachment parenting... do what you are most comfortable with.. they are your children.. not his.

P., RLC, IBCLC
Pres. Lactation Support Group, Inc
800 LACTATE

If your babies are sleeping from 11 - 6, they are doing great!

If my 11 month old wakes up crying, I always go to him. I could ignore his cries or rock him but for me, sitting and nursing him is far more pleasant & I can shut my eyes and doze for a while. I was getting really frustrated with nighttime feeding until I realised, he won't do this forever and that it is actually quite nice having that special time with him when the rest of the worls is sleeping peacefully. It sounds like you are doing a great job. Trust your instincts. I like to ask my pediatrician's advice about things but I don't always follow it to the letter. 10 hours sounds like a very long time for such young babies to go without being fed if the feel they need it. Remember, you know your twins better than anyone and you need to do what is best for them and you.

Good Luck!

R.

Hi S.,
I don't have twins, but I do understand your situation as my 10mo son only recently started sleeping through the night.
I did not sleep train him, I followed his lead and fed him on demand (bf). At 5.5m, he was waking up 2-3 times a night - now it is quite rare..he's out from 10pm - 7am.

My belief in parenting is if you follow their course in the early months, as they get older, they'll figure it out and train themselves.

A baby may be crying at night for several reasons - how would you know whether it is out of hunger, for need of comfort, whether it is too cold/too hot or maybe just for the need of being held? We only do what we *think* has taken care of all their needs, but what if it is something we don't know? For these reasons, I am dead against any form of Cry it out or sleep training. Especially, I think 5.5m is way too young.

Is the 11pm feeding hindering you or them in any way?

If not, and if I were you, I would just nod at the ped's advice and then do what feels right to me. If I don't have the heart to let them cry it out even for a night, then I won't even try.

That, and I would find a more AP friendly ped. If you want references, let me know.

Thats my 2c.

I did not sleep train my two kids - I always responded to their cries. Do what feels right to you - and if your pediatrician cannot respect your view, find another pediatrician that is a better fit with your parenting style. Good luck to you and your family!

I really like the poster that said that these are your children not your doctor. When my daugher was born, I was dreading the time when I would have to sleep train her. I had heard so much about it that I actually thought as soon as she hit about 4 months old it was expected of me as a parent to let my baby cry it out in the middle of the night, less I end up with a child that wakes up all night into their teenage years! Luckily I quickly realized that there are other ways to get your baby to sleep through the night - first and foremost giving their brains time to mature. You'll be amazed at how much more soundly a baby sleeps as they approach their first birthday. The best advice I can give is to put your babies down drowsy, but still awake for each nap & at bedtime (to the extent possible, of course) so that they can learn to fall back asleep on their own. It's okay to rock them to sleep at times, but this should probably not be the only way they know to fall asleep. Finally, just do what feels right for you. Don't let anyone tell you that their way is the right way.

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.

Hello,

Looks like you've hit upon a hot topic!
I have a 6 wk old and am slowly learning there is no normal way a baby should behave or the schedule it keeps. I am learning to just listen to my child and to try to understand what she really needs. I believe we should never refrain from giving our children the basic things they need to be healthy; love, comfort, food, ouselves, etc. I couldn't imagine not eating for 10 hours! I can't even do that and I'm a 37 yr old woman, let alone trying to get a 5.5 mth baby to. And why should you even try? The only thing they will learn is that when they are hungry they cannot rely on their parents for food. Maybe your ped should try and help with the reflux. Seems to me it could be the cause of her poor appetite. If my stomach hurt every time I ate I wouldn't want to eat either. As for the 7 hour sleep they get every night, I know adults that can't even sleep that long (and they don't have kids). If it takes an hour for your daughter to eat 4oz then that is just who she is for right now. When she starts to feel better, then maybe her eating will get better. Sleep training babies just sounds so nazi. Our society is so quick to put everyone in the same mold. We all do things to our own rythyms. Sounds to me like you are doing a wonderful job with your babies and you just need to trust your own instincts more. Remember, just because someone has a degree doesn't automatically mean they know what they are talking about. I'll get off of my soapbox now.

I would trust my instinct if I were you and get a second opinion. Kids don't _learn_ to have more appetite... If they are waking up, it's because they are hungry, and that's a good thing. We never "sleep trained" our daughter. Rather, we got her to sleep through the night by getting her to eat more during the day (when she started eating solids). I don't buy this logic about them "understanding" that they need to eat more during the day. All they will "understand" is that when they are hungry, helpless, crying, and upset, no one will comem to help them.

Good luck!
R.

Find a new ped! Ok, just joking well sort of. I think it's very important to listen to your baby's cues and respond accordingly. Showing you're baby you're there when they need you is the only way to build a secure attachment. And they're still so young! If this means they're up to eat once or five times a night so be it. It should be you that makes these choices not some doctor that spends a few minutes with them every few months.
I hope I didn't sound harsh... just very firm on my beliefs in "training" babies!
-A.

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