Twin Adventures

Twin girls now rule the house.

Toddler Beds

Just over a week ago we took the side rails off of the girls’ cribs. No real reason behind the change, it seemed like it was time for another “big step” and it was either this or potty training (not looking forward to that one). We didn’t experience either of the girls’ ever climbing out of their cribs or causing injury to themselves while they were sleeping. They have both been sleeping through the night since they were five months old and rarely cause any trouble when going down to sleep. Converting the cribs seemed like a good next step.

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We decided to go with the same technique we used when we originally did sleep training: Controlled Crying. Now, our girls are 18 months old so “crying” isn’t usually the right term to use but it was the same concept. We’d put the girls down after our bedtime routine, tuck them in and leave them be. We’d set a 10 minute timer and until it went off we didn’t go into the bedroom (with the exception of loud bangs or hurt crying). When the timer went off we’d head in and redistribute babies, blankets, soothers, and stuffed animals. Not a lot of attention was given; just a quick kiss and a firm “goodnight”. Even if they just hopped out of their beds before we reached the doorway, this was all that we did. No trying to get them to stay in their cribs, no talking to them. We wanted to make sure they knew that we meant business! Once or twice we tried sitting in the room with them and keeping them in their cribs but, as they do with most everything, they really enjoyed the attention!

Toddler Beds

Last night was our ninth night of no crib sides, and since we started the amount of trips we’ve had to make into Shula and Maretta’s bedroom has decreased every night. Shula seems to stay awake a little longer than Maretta does; each night the last one or two trips have been to put just Shula to bed. The amount of trips listed are any trips we made into the bedroom to restore order. They don’t include the original “tuck in” or when we poked our heads in to see if they were actually sleeping or just being quiet.

1st night: 7 trips

2nd night: 5 trips

3rd & 4th night: 4 trips each

 6th & 7th night: 3 trips each

8th & 9th night: 1 trip each

We definitely had to make some changes to their bedroom in order for this “being loose” to work! Any loose anything needed to be moved out of their room. Extra stuffed animals, loose clothing, shoes, etc. etc. In our house, the girls have the master bedroom so they also have access to an ensuite bathroom. Our creative solution for the time being is to prop their old crib side rails against the closet-style door so they can’t open it. A bit mickey-mouse but it works for now!

I’m really impressed with how Maretta and Shula are doing. I read about a lot of horror stories about parents having to go in upwards of thirty times to put their kids back down, and I thought “How’s it going to be with two of them?!”. And it wasn’t that bad. As with any other thing we’ve “taught” or “trained” them at… it just takes a slightly thought out plan and consistency! Always with consistency!

Extra Tidbit: I would highly recommend getting your little one(s) to sleep through the night before you convert their cribs or move them into toddler beds. Need help? See Sleeping with Twins.

 

Next Big Step? Potty Training…

 

ps. Don’t get excited.. not even thinking about potty training yet.

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Sleeping with Twins Part 2

Following on my original post, Sleeping with Twins, I’ll start out by recapping on my “Mommy’s Tips for a Better Bedtime”. These tips apply for anyone under the age of one that you’re trying to sleep train. I wrote them when our girls were eight months old. A lot of the tips still apply afterwards but with slight changes (ex. running/walking/crawling instead of tummytime).

Mommy’s Tips for a Better Bedtime

  • Small Things during the Day.

No naps after 5pm. Lots of exercise (tummytime) during the day.

  • Small Things at Bedtime.

Baby Einstein Lullaby Classics on repeat (all night). heater up to 19°c during the night. soothers (and stand-by soothers). lowered voices and dimmed/minimal lighting.

  • Bedtime Routine.

Ours is: Short walk (five minutes for the dog to pee), bath time (one baby at a time. daddy with one, mommy with the other), quiet play time-NO LOUD PLAY (rolling around the floor while mommy and daddy finish making bottles and get a couple of glasses of water; no more than five minutes), bottles, cuddle time (5-10min. minimal interaction), down in their cribs (we do separate cribs)

It’s not “Crying It Out”. I would highly recommend it. We do fifteen minute intervals. Because we implemented this type of sleep training, we didn’t need to go in and soothe our babies at all tonight. Or the night before. Make sure your support system is going to help you. It’s hard to go at it alone. It helps to be able to tag out and take a breather.

  • MOST IMPORTANT TIP!

It can be a painful ride, but your little ones need to learn to self-soothe. Try your best to put them down while they’re drowsy; not after they’ve fallen asleep. We cheat sometimes. If they fall asleep in our arms, we don’t wake them up just to put them down. But we do try to put them down before they fall asleep.

This stuff works!! I am pretty happy to say that in the 10 months since I wrote the original post, our girls slept through the night 95% of the time. The 5% they didn’t was usually related to teething (molars suck!). Since our girls sleep through the night most of time, we decided it was time for the next step: removing crib rails.

Reading Instructions

Our cribs are of the convertible variety so there’s no switching to toddler beds, just removing one of the side rails off of the cribs. The girls and I started by reading our instructions, then grabbed our Allan Keys (thanks IKEA!) and got straight to work. They were extremely helpful and no one swallowed any of the small pieces (although I did have a good scare for about ten minutes when I couldn’t find a piece).

We are still within the first 24 hours of having the side rails off and I think we could be doing a lot                IKEA’s so easy, toddlers can do it!        worse! I took the rails off before Shula and Maretta’s afternoon nap. It was as one would expect: horrible. Thanks to the bit of reading I’d done, I was prepared with one of the baby gates at their bedroom door so they couldn’t get but they were all over their room, out of their beds after about 30 seconds. At the end of the designated two-hour nap period the only thing that had been accomplished was the t-shirt bin being spread around their room. Bedtime went a little better, and easier since Anton was home with me. It took an hour and five “replacement” trips to the bedroom before Maretta fell asleep. Shula fell asleep one poop and two trips later. I was expecting A LOT worse; some of the horror stories I’d read online about 20-40 trips back to the bedroom to put them back in their bed.

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This mornings’ nap was.. okay. Shula fell asleep after an hour and four “replacement” trips. I think Maretta was close, but the phone rang and Jimmie went bounding around the house (including the girls’ room) which disturbed Maretta. Shula seemed to be sleeping pretty lightly so I thought “one’s better than neither!” and brought Maretta into the living room with me. We are in the midst of the afternoon nap and it’s mostly quiet except for the occasional peep. I learned pretty long ago that if they’re awake and quiet, you leave them alone!                                    What happens when toddlers don’t nap!

We’ll see how things go. Just like most of the other “training” we’ve done, it takes consistency and time. If things don’t go back to an easy bedtime in a week or two we’ll probably put the rails back on and hold off for a couple of months. There’s no rush, right?

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New Skills

First, I must apologize for not posting in what seems like forever. I don’t find much down time in between dealing with the girls. And, what little down time there is, there’s housework to catch up on and cuddles to be had with my man. I love posting, but when it’s between hanging out with Anton and writing a blog post… well, I think it’s obvious which one wins! To make up for my lack of writing, I’ll make sure to post today and tomorrow! Well.. I’ll try!!

Life is good the last while. The girls are learning new things every day. They’ll be ten months pretty soon… It’s crazy to think that there is only a couple more months before they turn one! They haven’t hit many big milestones lately but they are learning amazing skills. Small, but amazing nonetheless. The first one that comes to mind is their expanding knowledge of words. They don’t say much, but it’s fairly clear that they understand a lot of what Anton and I are saying to them. Here’s a few of the words they know…

  • Clap. You say clap and they clap. A new word and a new action.
  • Shake. I think this is one of the first “action” words they learnt. While holding one of their musical instruments, they’ll shake whatever they’re holding up and down. They looove that it produces a noise.
  • Hungry. When we are ready to feed them, all we have to do is sit down and say “Who’s hungry?!” and both girls come crawling over.

Just over the last few days, we’ve noticed that Maretta can stand all on her own; no support needed. Every once in a while she’ll let go of whatever piece of furniture she’s holding onto and stand unassisted for countable seconds (we’re talking about five or six whole seconds!) before she leans forward to grab on again. This morning we were forcing her to stand on her own and she did pretty well! Both girls show a lot of balance. Even though they are holding onto things while standing, it’s usually just with one hand or even just a finger. No big milestones such as walking or talking but the small things are just as amazing, especially since a lot of what’s been happening lately is brain work. You can really see that they are learning about their environment.

Bedtimes have become WAY easier. There was a period of time where it seemed like we were going backwards and losing control when bedtime came around. But, for about a week now the girls don’t make a peep once we put them down for bed. Most days, we put them down wide awake and we don’t need to go back into their bedroom. It’s great to know that all the work we’ve put into our bedtime routine and doing the same thing over and over and over and over has finally paid off!

As far as the rest of the night goes… /sigh. It’s hit and miss. We have figured out a system for our nights though. When they do wake up in the middle of the night first we’ll go in and do a soother check. Pop a soother back in and see if they settle down. We’ll give that five or so minutes before we head back in and do a diaper/teething check. We’ll change diapers and drug the babies up with Orajel and Tylenol. This doesn’t happen every night so we aren’t worried that they get it too often. Then we’ll head back to our room and see if they settle. If they don’t, after another five minutes, then it’s feeding time. Just small bottles, to tide them over until morning. Once we accepted that sometimes they needed a little more to eat things smoothed out. I think it was a bit hard for us to go back to doing a middle of the night feeding, since we really haven’t had to do that for six or seven months. We also have started keeping track of how our nights go (only for just over a week now). So far, it’s even. Just as many good nights as bad ones. Which make us feel a bit better that it’s not as bad as it seems sometimes!

The girls are still eating mostly formula and breastmilk, with three out of their five meals also including a solid of some kind. We don’t do much “table food”, we mostly stick to purees of varying textures. I’m heavily on the side of jarred food. Mostly for the convenience and if you manage to catch them on special, you can get a jar for 30-60 cents. One jar is one meal for both girls. So, at an average of .50 cents a meal.. can you argue with the cost?! We have started making our own baby food on occasion though. We bought an Oster hand blender and it is working really well for us. With most of the foods we’ve done, we boil or steam the veggies and then blend it up, add some water and maybe a bit of seasoning and it lasts us for a few days. So far we’ve done Carrots, Green Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Bananas, and Butternut Squash. Nothing too exciting, and I think a lot of people would say these are Beginner Stage foods but we aren’t in any rush to get them eating anything other than purees.

That’s a pretty decent update on the girls development. Our routine hasn’t changed much and it probably won’t until their first birthday. Stick around and tomorrow I’ll post another update on the things we’ve been up to.

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Sleeping with Twins

Sleep.

We all need it. It’s the fuel that drives us forward. Sleeping gives our bodies and minds a chance to recharge and reset. You’re screwed if you don’t get enough sleep.

Enter Twins.

We’re all screwed.

Nah, it’s not that bad.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The first two nights of having twins in our lives were horrible. Anton and I did not sleep, at all, for the first night. The second night we both got scattered sleep. It was crazy. After those first couple of nights we managed. Our angels were up throughout the night as you would expect most newborns to be up. Every couple or few hours to have a change and a feed. We knew this was how it was going to be and had already accepted that we were going to new-parent zombies for a while. Keeping these expectations in mind we were pleasantly surprised.

By the time the girls were three months old they were sleeping through the night. Any time that they happened to wake up all it took was a quick pat on the back and replacing a soother and they were good to go. It didn’t take long for Anton and I to get back into the habit of having a full nights sleep (meaning between five and eight hours). It was nice. We quickly learned that a small dose of Orajel and/or Infant Tylenol was a lifesaver for what may or may not have been teething.

It was like this for a good three or four months and then… something changed…

We decided to try the girls on a somewhat different schedule (Broken Schedule). And they started waking up in the night. And couldn’t seem to be calmed or soothed unless they wound up back in our arms which usually ended up back in our big bed. It wasn’t working for us. I love my babies, but co-sleeping is not for me.

So I bought some books:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins In my opinion… garbage. There wasn’t much that focused on twins. It seemed to be the original version of the book but with a paragraph about twins every once in a while. I found a lot of what was said to be common sense, or something I’d already figured out. Possibly would have been a better read if I had read it while pregnant, before the girls were around.

Bed Timing Meh. Not worth the money I paid for it. Not a horrible read; will probably come in handy as their sleep patterns change throughout growth spurts and different developmental states.

Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems Haven’t gotten all the way through this one yet, but it seems alright. From my previous bit of research I did while pregnant, I had a feeling I was going to agree with what Dr. Ferber had to say. We use the controlled crying method, which Dr. Ferber stands behind, and it has worked out really well for us.

I was rash. I shouldn’t have bought any books. That’s what a library is for! But, I was fed up with things not working the way I wanted them to (I know, I know…) and I was bound and determined to make things work. And in the process, try to figure out how “baby sleep” works. The great kicker is.. after I bought my books and started reading them, the girls went back to sleeping through the night. I feel a bit like I never even gave the girls a chance to work it out. I dismissed the idea that Anton and I could do it on our own.

Which is ridiculous; because we can. And considering how little I got out of the books, we did. It turns out; the girls weren’t sleeping through the night because we had

A) messed with their schedule. DON’T MESS WITH THE SCHEDULE!

and B) they were both cutting a new tooth.

Why aren’t these things obvious in the heat of the moment? Why is hindsight 20/20?

Mommy’s Tips for a Better Bedtime

  • Small Additions during the Day.

No naps after 5pm. Lots of exercise (tummytime) during the day.

  • Small Additions at Bedtime.

Baby Einstein Lullaby Classics on repeat (all night). heater up to 19°c during the night. soothers (and stand-by soothers). lowered voices and dimmed/minimal lighting.

  • Bedtime Routine.

Ours is: Short walk (five minutes for the dog to pee), bath time (one baby at a time. daddy with one, mommy with the other), quiet play time-NO LOUD PLAY (rolling around the floor while mommy and daddy finish making bottles and get a couple of glasses of water; no more than five minutes), bottles, cuddle time (5-10min. minimal interaction), down in their cribs (we do separate cribs)

It’s not “Crying It Out”. I would highly recommend it. We do fifteen minute intervals. Because we implemented this type of sleep training, we didn’t need to go in and soothe our babies at all tonight. Or the night before. Make sure your support system is going to help you. It’s hard to go at it alone. It helps to be able to tag out and take a breather.

  • MOST IMPORTANT TIP!

It can be a painful ride, but your little ones need to learn to self-soothe. Try your best to put them down while they’re drowsy; not after they’ve fallen asleep. We cheat sometimes. If they fall asleep in our arms, we don’t wake them up just to put them down. But we do try to put them down before they fall asleep.

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A Day in the Life; Four-month twins.

As follows is a typical day. Sometimes Anton and I are home together, sometimes I’m at work, sometimes he’s at work. There are days where we go see Grandparents or the whole day loses its’ routine for some unknown reason. But, we try to stay on the same flexible schedule every day.

Another smiley baby in the morning!

Smiley baby first thing in the morning!

630am Adults wake up and do the morning thing. I pull out the breast pump, Anton drinks coffee.

7am Babies wake up and get changed and fed.

730/8am Learning time. We go through one category of our spectacular flash cards; letters, numbers, family faces, food, or animals

830am Up Time. Our own term… we put the girls into their Snuglis and do chores. Gets us working and gives the girls some time to be stretched out.

9am Walkees. The girls are loaded up into their stroller and we take Jimmie out for his morning pee. This also results the girls falling asleep in the stroller for their morning nap. After the girls go down, it’s also pump time for me.

Jimmie!

10am Girls wake up and we restart the cycle. Change and feed.

1030/11am Learning time. This time, we use a different category of flashcards.

1130am More up time. Each “up time” usually means a different chore type. Kitchen chores first time around; laundry chores for the second round.

12pm Nap time once more! Pump time once again as well!

1pm Time to wake the babies up! Another round of diapers and bottles.

130/2pm Afternoon walkees. Jimmie goes for another pee and the girls get some fresh air. If Anton went to work, we meet him outside the apartment building.

230pm Another round of chores to go through and some cuddle and/or Learning time.

3pm Girls go back into their cribs for their afternoon nap. I pump. And then we usually play a computer game/watch some tv while the girls sleep.

4pm Change, feed.

430/5pm This is usually our “flex” time. We cuddle, do flashcards, watch Tv, I usually grab my breast pump again. Depends on how much motivation we’ve got going on.

530pm Wii Time! Anton and I each put on a baby and we play Wii games. Table tennis, basketball, frisbee, swords play, etc.

6pm Well, usually this is nap time again, but that seems to becoming less so. The girls do not seem very interested in nap time in the evening. So.. until further notice, this is… Quiet time? We’ve been having the girls join us in the living room but not being too interactive with them. We’ll see what happens with this time frame over the next couple of weeks.

7pm  This is when the evening begins! Between 7 and 715 we rouse the girls and change their diapers. We strap them on in the Snuglis and go for our last walk of the day. It works really well for us. Jimmie gets his last bathroom break and the chilly weather wakes the little ones up and works up a bit of an appetite.

Bath Time!

730/745pm Dinner time! The last pair of bottles before bed!

8pm Bath Time! Anton gets our bath ready while I undress the girls. Each girl gets a turn and while Anton bathes the second one, I dry and dress the first one. Then while I dry and dress the second one, Anton dumps and rinses the bath.

815pm Massage and cuddle time. The girls looove to get a massage after their bath. Head to their toes, nice and gentle.

830pm Finally… Bed time! Our girls aren’t too bad about going down for bed. Some nights are worse than others but all in all, not too many complaints.

For the most part, we don’t get up during the night. Maybe once every few days, but mostly just to give one of the girls a soother or a quick back rub. Each day follows the same schedule, but can change. We may start a cycle a half hour later or take a nap right after a meal instead of doing Up Time first. But, it seems that the babies have learnt the routine, and love the routine!

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