When you are expecting twins, you don’t necessarily need two of everything…right? This is a common question among expectant twin mothers and a legit one.
Because the answer is no, you don’t really need two of everything. But when it comes to sleeping arrangements, that question is up for debate.
When thinking about one versus two cribs for twins, remember that when it comes to safe sleep, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends separate sleeping spaces for twins to reduce risks like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, the benefits of co-sleeping twins are worth consideration.
Plenty of caretakers of twins have noticed that co-sleeping twins together in the first weeks or months of their lives can provide comfort, reduce irritability, and offer some health benefits. But as parents, we want to make sure we are being as safe as possible. When it comes to sleep, we’re looking at all things to consider to hopefully help you make the best, safest choice for your family.
Twins Crib Sharing – Benefits and Risks
With twins, it seems almost natural to have them co-sleep right from the get-go. They shared a womb for nine months, after all. And, let’s face it, they look absolutely adorable snuggled up next to each other sleeping!
But, having anything in the crib with the baby – even if it’s a brother or sister – can present risks that should be seriously considered.
Benefits of Twins Sharing a Crib
There just aren’t enough studies to make a solid scientific case for the benefits of twins sleeping together. However, plenty of nurses and parents who oversee care for twins can share the benefits they’ve seen from co-sleeping the twins first-hand.
Soothes & Comforts Babies
Twins co-sleeping together can be very soothing. When twins sleep together, they can see, touch and smell each other at all times, similar to how they felt within the womb. Co-sleeping can make the transition outside much easier for the babies.
Having your twins share a crib or bassinet once they’re home can be very convenient for mom and dad, especially if you have a smaller room. Cribs, bassinets, and pack ‘n plays take up a lot of space. Many parents feel they just don’t have the room for it all. Having the twins share one space can eliminate the problem.
Helps Sync Sleep Cycles
Twins who sleep together have an easier time getting on the same schedule. This is key for mom and dad’s sanity! Syncing up sleep schedules means synced up feedings and – for the most part – diaper changes. Twins who have synced up sleep and wake schedules will also have less irritability and less stress.
May Help Regulate Body Temperatures and Breathing
Twins who co-sleep may have more regulated body temperatures. This is especially beneficial if your twins are born premature, which many are.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses have noted that twins who co-sleep in the NICU have lower oxygen needs, better heart rates, and tend to gain weight better than multiples who are not co-bedded. These benefits can carry over if you continue to co-sleep the twins at home.
Risks of Twins Sharing a Crib
While many benefits of co-sleeping twins have been observed, the risks cannot be ignored. The risk of SIDS is always top of mind for parents of newborns, but there are other complications as well, such as getting a good night’s sleep, among other things!
Increased Risk of SIDS
Just like extra blankets or stuffed animals, an extra baby in the crib could increase the risk of SIDS. The AAP released a statement in 2016 that directly touches on co-sleeping twins in the same space.
The statement was written by the Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and reads, “The safety and benefits of co-bedding for twins and higher-order multiples have not been established. It is prudent to provide separate sleep surfaces and avoid co-bedding for twins and higher-order multiples in the hospital and at home.“
Chance of Overheating
In the first few days and weeks home, babies are working hard on regulating their body temperatures. For this reason, mom and dad should make sure not to overdress the babies and don’t put extra blankets or stuffed animals around them when they sleep.
Having two babies share the same sleep space can also increase the risk of one or both twins overheating.
Babies May Keep Each Other Awake
When twins are directly sharing a sleep space, they’re likely going to wake each other up every now and then. Something as simple as little fussing noises from Twin A could rise Twin B out of slumber and induce irritability.
Once they start moving around a little, they will wake each other up even more. This could also greatly affect mom and dad’s sleep!
It May Be Harder to Separate Them Later
Like co-sleeping with a parent, if twins share a sleep space together, they may become co-dependent and have trouble separating later. Twins will quickly grow too big to share a bassinet or a crib, and they’ll eventually move around too much for it to be safe for them to sleep together.
So, they will have to be separated eventually. If your twins have grown to love sleeping together, this could be a difficult twin transition.
Safest Placement for Twins in the Same Crib
If you do decide to have your twins sleep together in the first few weeks or months at home, you should follow similar safe sleep guidelines to that of a single baby.
Babies should always be placed on their backs on a hard surface. There should be no loose clothing, blankets, or stuffed animals in the crib or bassinet.
For twins, be sure to place them side by side as far apart as possible. They should be head to head and never feet to head.
When to Transition to Separate Cribs
Once your babies start to move around even the smallest bit, you should separate them into separate bassinets or cribs. Babies start to move around in the night a lot quicker than you would think, and you might end up finding your twins in interesting positions if you keep them together too long!
Timing for this can vary from baby to baby, especially since twins are often born early. So, it will be up to your observations of movement and instincts to decide when they need to be separated.
Twin Crib Sharing Alternatives
If you’re unsure about co-sleeping your twins, there are plenty of safe sleep options available that don’t necessarily require two cribs.
Twin Sleeper Bassinet
Purchasing a twin sleeper bassinet is a great alternative to sharing a crib or having two separate bassinets. Twin sleeper bassinets like this one by HALO have dividers built right in, so each twin technically has his or her own sleeping space.
With a twin sleeper bassinet, you can have all the benefits of a bassinet beside your bed, coupled with knowing your twins are sleeping safely.
Side-by-Side Pack N’ Plays or Cribs
Pack ‘n Plays like this one by Baby Trend are an excellent, inexpensive option for safe sleep in the first few months home if you will be sleeping the babies in your room.
Many pack ‘n play options come with a “bassinet” insert that lifts the mattress up higher within the pack ‘n play. This is very convenient in the first few months when the babies are small and if the pack ‘n plays are next to your bed. It makes picking up the babies or finding late-night pacifiers much easier!
With two pack ‘n plays (more on that here), you could even put one on each side of the bed and divide and conquer with your partner.
The great thing about pack ‘n plays is they are useful for years. So, once the babies are old enough to be in their own cribs in their own rooms, your pack ‘n plays will still be put to good use for things like travel, naps, diaper changes and safe, contained play!
Separate Baby Loungers
A baby lounger, or baby nest, like this one by Mamibaby is a great solution if you plan to put your twins in the same crib or bassinet, but need to create a barrier between babies.
These loungers essentially create separate spaces for the babies to lay and prevent them from rolling onto each other or interrupting the other’s sleep. As an added bonus, they are portable and can be moved to other surfaces, too.
Co-Sleeping With a Parent
There are pros and cons to co-sleeping parents with babies, but there are a lot of parents that swear by it. Co-sleeping can be an excellent bonding experience, and it can really help both the babies and parents sleep better and reduce irritability. Especially in those early days with frequent feedings.
If you find that this is the best option for your family, there are plenty of resources available to help you out. The bottom line is you will need to make sure you are being as safe as possible.
This means no blankets, no pillows, and nothing else in the bed that could pose a suffocation risk to the babies.
Is SIDS More Common in Twins?
There are no current studies that look at the occurrence of SIDS in twins versus singletons, however, a study conducted from 1995-1998 did find that SIDS is more prevalent in twins. This could be because twins are often born premature and at a lower birth weight – two factors that can contribute to SIDS.
So…One Crib or Two?
Co-sleeping your twins provides many benefits, many of which can make for a happy, restful household. But the risks associated must be taken into careful consideration.
Speaking as a twin mom myself, I have found two cribs to be necessary in the long run. Even if you do co-sleep the twins in a bassinet or pack ‘n play when they first come home (which I did do, as safe as I could), they’ll quickly outgrow the space and need their own.
I found when the twins were moved into their own separate spaces in their own room, everyone slept better! This, of course, will vary family by family.
With a wealth of insight available on both sides of the debate, you can decide what will be right for you and your twins!