4 Month Old Twins Not Sleeping / Eating Well

Updated on September 01, 2010
A.A. asks from El Sobrante, CA
8 answers

OK. This is my situation. I have twins who just turned 4 months yesterday. They were born at 38.5 weeks and were not in NICU (7 lbs 6 oz and 6 lbs and 15 oz.) I am pumping breast milk for them. They were colicky babies and are now teething off and on. My son has some digestive issues, but not enough for the Dr. to be concerned so he gets a couple of drops of gas drops and 3 ml of gripe water with each feeding. My daughter has a recurring rash (seborrheic dermatitis) on her face so she is often itchy. We are beginning to investigate possible allergies for said issues.
They both will only eat 3 - 5 oz per feeding during the day and eat every 2 hours. At night they can go for 1 - 2 stretches of 3 - 4 hours without eating, but overall are nowhere close to sleeping through the night. Their naps vary and are rarely more than 1 hour (sometimes only 15 minutes before they pop back up.) They still seem to need swaddling, especially my daughter (to keep her from scratching her face and driving herself nuts.) I'm reading different books, but feel I am no closer to any real solutions. I'm not willing to do the "Cry It Out" method, but am open to other suggestions.
SO... are there other moms who have dealt with babies who snack? My doula insists we need to get them to eat more during the day, but how do you force a baby to eat more when all it does it upset them and make them spit up? At the end of the day, they are eating more than enough.
I am worried they aren't getting enough good quality sleep, are there moms who have had babies with similar sleep patterns? Will they outgrow it in another month or so?
My husband and I are SOOOOO tired. I'm wondering if this is relatively normal or we need to take charge of the situation. I have 2 older children (14 and almost 13) and I don't remember having this much trouble with either of them. They seemed to fall into a natural rhythm by 3 months and I just followed their lead and kept it consistent. My twins have a little rhythm, but not enough of one to make a routine out of and since they are home most of the time, there's no reason I can think of for them not to develop one.

Edit - I do keep track of their feedings. They are getting plenty of food by the end of the day, the problem is that they eat so little at each feeding that they need to eat again 2 hours later, sometimes 1.5 which doesn't allow them to have much nap time during the day. They generally wake 2 - 4 times a night (of course not at the same time.) For my daughter's rash, we have found some success with UnPetroleum (similar to Aquaphor, but more natural) however she is still very itchy at night. Thanks for the input so far. I will let you know what I find out about allergies on Thursday...

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answers from Boise on

After you feed them, try to keep them awake for about an hour, then put them to sleep (swaddling if needed, there is nothing wrong with it). When they wake up, they should be ready to eat again. By putting them into more of a routine with about 3 hours between meals, they are more likely to take a full meal instead of snacking. (as they get tired, they may root, which will make you think that they are hungry, and of course will sleep, but really they are just tired). I wouldn't let them go more than 3.5 hours between feedings, except at night - let them wake up if they need to. Once they get that routine, pick a wake up time and stick to it. This should help establish a routine and help you get more sleep.

For her face, you may want to ask your ped about hydrocortisone CREAM. I use it on my daughter's face and head (easier through hair than ointment), and it really seems to help her.



answers from Chico on

Although they are twins, their behavior sounds normal to me for how my first child was at 4 months old. If they are gaining weight, etc., then they are eating enough. If not, then you might ask about supplementing their diets with a little rice cereal. I wonder if their rhythms are disturbed by each other because they are twins? Hang in there! If it is just a bad pattern like my son had, they will outgrow it by about 7 mos.



answers from San Francisco on

Sounds similar to my twin girls who are now 2.5 years. They did not drop the middle of the night feeding until just after 4 mos. Here are a list of things that might help you:

*My night nurse had us put them to sleep in their car seats bc the inclined position helped avoid acid reflux / digestive issues. This really helped to prevent them from waking up after eating. Any seat in a reclined position can work.

*Right before 4 mos, I added cereal mixed w/a little apple juice and formula (or breast milk) to get a little extra calories into them. 1 - 2x / day.

*I wrote down the # of oz / feeding and the times of each feeding every day 24 hrs /day so I knew exactly how much they were eating ... this helped me as we dropped the night feeding bc I *knew* they were not undernourished if they fussed / cried.

*So how did we lose the night feeding? One night my fussy one woke first just 1.5 hours after a 6 oz dream feeding session; she woke the 2nd one who also began to fuss. I moved the louder one into a separate room while I went to get their bottles. When I came back, the 2nd one had dozed back to sleep and the fussy one was just lying on the bed, not crying, staring at the light in the ceiling. This is when I realized she was waking both of them by habit (and the less fussy one had not been finishing this feeding for a while ... often just drinking an oz or 2). That night, I put the fussy one in a pack n play in a separate room, did not feed them at that time but waited ... figuring I would need to feed them within an hour. Well, the fussy one fussed 2 - 3 times for 5 - 20 minutes at a stretch over the next 4 hours. Just as I was ready to go and get her, she'd stop. Finally, at 5:30 or so, I gave them both a normal feeding. After that night, we never went back to the middle of the night feeding and life improved dramatically. We'd feed btwn 10 - 11 and they'd mostly sleep til btwn 5 - 6. I'd say it took 2 more nights max of a few fussy bouts of about 15 minutes before she'd go back to sleep.

*As my friend who had older twins said "Once you go down a path, *never* go backward." ... Pacifiers, blankets, feedings, bottles, etc.
*It generally does take about 3 days (or nights) to help them learn the new procedure or schedule -- but they do get it!
*Tracking how much they eat will help you feel better if they do cry at night because you will *know* they can't really be hungry.
*When I decided to allow my fussy one to cry for up to 20 minutes, I did it after talking w/my husband and he reminded me that when we are in the car and driving to my parents house which is an hour away, one of the girls will often cry at least 20 mins but we can't stop bc we are going over a bridge. I figure that if I am ok with it in the car, then I can implement that at night without feeling like a horrible mother.

Good luck! The first year with twins is so hard, but clearly rewarding. The 2nd year and beyond is just great! Adorable children with built-in playmates!

Feel free to message me if you think I can help you answer any questions. Happy to share experiences.



answers from Chicago on

For your daughter there are many good lotions from a company called Four Elements or Weleda. You might also want to try an elimination diet for you to help with digestion. ( you do not eat any dairy for 3 or 4 days then not any gluten but pick up the dairy an so on) Are the babies eating every 2 hours during the day too? IF not do that to help be fuller and sleep better. Do they sleep together or apart. My friends twins slept better in the same bed until they were about 1 then she separated them. Good Luck!



answers from Chicago on

This is totally normal. Sleeping through the night means getting up a couple of times at night for a feeding. It doesn't mean sleeping from lets say 8-6. That doesn't happen until about 9-10 months if you are lucky.We cried it out at 13 months. Hang in there:)
I would have your daughter checked for allergies. My son has a severe peanut allergy and seasonal allergies too. He had bad excema as a baby.His twin sister thankfully has no allergies but she had a touch of it too. Try using California Baby bodywash and unscented detergent/fabric softener. Also, Aquaphor helps too. Hope this helps!


answers from San Francisco on

Sorry, but this is allllllllll normal!!!! Both my kids napped 30-45 minutes each when they were that age, and I remember being so frustrated that I couldn't even take a shower before they woke up again. My son didn't sleep more than 4 hours at a time until he was almost 18mo, and I thought I was going to go insane! My 9mo daughter is going through SOMEthing right now because she slept well for a long time, then about 2 weeks ago started waking every 3-4 hours again.

Sleeping through the night for a baby of this age is typically 5-6 hours. With them sleeping 3-4 hours, I'd say you're doing well. Babies have tiny bellies, and breastmilk gets digested quickly because the proteins are easy for baby to break down.

As far as eating, that sounds normal for a 4mo as well. 3-5oz every 2 hours during the day is A LOT! I don't know your doula's credentials or experience, but I think she's giving you misinformation when she tells you they aren't eating enough. However, how are the twins gaining? THAT is the ultimate measuring tool for getting enough to eat!!!

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/milkcalc.html is a cool website for calculating how much milk a breastfed baby typically eats, etc. Unfortunately, we live in a world that needs to measure EVERYthing, including how much our babies are eating. We measure their ounces, the clock, everything, instead of listening to our babies cues and understanding that they have appetites much like adults do. They eat different amounts at different times during the day, and this can vary from hour to hour, day to day, and week to week depending on what's going on around us, etc. Parents get frustrated when a baby who "normally" eats 4 oz will only eat 3 at a particular feeding, or wonder if we're overfeeding when the same baby still seems hungry after those 4oz and gulps down another 2.

Hope all this helps at least ease your mind about their behavior, even if I wasn't able to give you advice on how to get them to sleep longer. Do you have a routine of sorts for them? Even a small routine of eat, diaper, play, eat, sleep, repeat can help set a rhythm. Then again at night: bath, book, eat, sleep. That REALLY helps with my kids!!!



answers from San Francisco on

You must be ridiculously tired. My son was a snacker. It was totally awful. He would nurse and fall asleep right away, then wake up hungry and alert. It sounds like your will take a bottle, so at least you have that going for you. My theory is that babies have their own ideas about things, and we as parents dont have as much to say about it as we think we do. A lot of people will blame you for having done something 'wrong', when you really haven't. It;s just that they have small appetites at meal time, or are light sleepers, or are just super alert/alive people. My son still doesn't at all like the feeling of a full stomach, and he's as healthy as anything and smart and active. I think that they end up growing out of it. But we don't know how long tat will take!

Here is my practical advice. You both need sleep. I would suggest alternating nights or even alternating 5 hour stretches so that someone gets some sleep sometimes. I don't know what it's like to have twins. I really can't imagine. Maybe you're both needed all through the night. If that's the case, I would seriously consider hiring a night nurse to help. You can let her know your whole philosophy and have her stick to it. Maybe one of you and the nurse team up one night, and the other one of you sleeps, and then the next night, you switch. I know it sounds crazy, but it's a practical idea and you should think about it. You can't go on forever w/o sleep. Maybe you have a friend that you could use in this way or relative? If not, then I would really think about hiring someone for 1 week and seeing how it goes. I would borrow the money from family to do it.

Don't let people tell you about how everything would be great if you let the babies cry. These are YOURS, not theirs, and it's a false idea to begin with.

Best of luck - you will be repaid someday for all of this!



answers from San Francisco on

This sounds just like my 1 year old daughter. The bad news (and I hope this doesn't happen to you) is she just started sleeping through the night. I think we are on a total of ten nights that she has slept through 9-6. If I put her to bed earlier, she wakes earlier.

My daughter has terrible excema and eating issues. We don't have an outbreak now but when she does you can tell it itches her terribly. For your daughter, I think any itchness needs to be taken care of if you ever want to have her sleep.

My daughter is my third child and it too caught me off guard her sleeplessness.

I think some babies take longer than others to learn to sleep longer. I am against cry it out too but we did end up using it for her for just a week until she realized that we were serious about her sleeping. Now, we don't need to use it because if I go into her room when she starts to cry I can pat her back and she will go back down. Before cry it out, she would not let herself be comforted. She just wanted out of her crib. Co-sleeping does not work for her (I co slept with my other two) because she is not a peaceful sleeper. She is all over the place or awake.

I don't think that you can force a baby to do anything. If your babies are satified with the amount of milk their drinking and refuses more than all the forcing in the world won't work.

I wish the books would not make it sound like something is wrong with your parenting when their strategies fail to work. You have done this before, yes, it is harder, but what you are doing is not wrong. You have two babies working in tadem with each other to keep you very busy. I think you will find the rhythm with these two but it will take longer than you would like.

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