Hattie and Joe are currently in their bouncy seats, being jiggled around by my right and left feet respectively, as we all wait for 20 minutes to pass – they’re due a feed at 11am, and I’ve discovered that being gently bounced is one of their favourite distractions. I thought that this was a good opportunity to write a blog post.
The babies are ten weeks old tomorrow, and this week I’m making a concerted effort to follow a decent routine once again. For the first six weeks we were very routine-driven – initially because of the demands of supplementing all of their feeds in order to pack some weight on them, and afterwards because we received such helpful routine-related advice from Sharlene Poole during our session with her. But in recent weeks the routine has fallen by the wayside a bit, primarily because it’s been increasingly difficult to settle the babies down to naps in the afternoon.
I know that mothers have different views on the wisdom or suitability of routines, but for me they really work. Without a routine I’ve found that the babies – Joe, in particular – have slept less and less during the day, which has certainly not helped with the unsettled evening behaviour: as most people know, sleep begets sleep with babies, so if they’re well rested during the day, they’re far more likely to sleep well at night. Joe is still so interested in the world around him, and it means that he becomes over-stimulated very easily. If he was a singleton I suppose I’d have a bit more time to catch his tired signs and act on them, but with his sister to cater to as well, it’s a bit more difficult. The inevitable result has been that Joe is really wired in the evening, making him so hard to settle.
Anti-routine mothers tend to favour a more baby-led, intuitive approach to handling their babies. I can definitely see the attraction of that kind of approach, and it must help with things like bonding, in particular. I even know some twin mothers (albeit online) who use a baby-led, anti-routine approach with their babies. They argue that routines tend to be there primarily to serve the needs of the mother. I’m not sure that I agree with that, though: if I follow a routine, it means that Hattie and Joe are encouraged to sleep at very regular intervals during the day, which is absolutely for their own good and helps them to be far happier. Of course, routines don’t always work: you can intend for a baby to sleep between the hours of 12pm and 1.30pm, but you can’t actually make the baby do it! But, in my experience, Hattie and Joe will catch a nap during the ‘sleep’ time, at the very least, and some sleep is definitely better than nothing when they’re this age.
So yesterday was the first day back on the routine – I’m using Sharlene’s ‘stage two’ routine, which the babies will stick to until they’re around five months old. It means that they’re fed every three and a half/four hours (hence filling in time until 11am now), and their ‘awake’ time gradually increases as they become older. One thing we’ve accepted is that good sleep doesn’t necessarily need to occur in the cot, at least during the day: yesterday Hattie had her first sleep in the cot, her second sleep in the pram, and her third sleep in a donut-shaped ‘bopster’ pillow on the sofa. Joe didn’t really do much sleeping during that first nap, but his second sleep was in the front pack, and his third sleep was also in a bopster pillow on the sofa.
One thing I did try last night was separate feeding. The previous night, I’d managed the middle-of-the-night feed unaided for the first time (Tristan’s in Australia for work this week, and my mother is visiting and helping me with the babies, which is awesome), but last night I was reluctant to wake up Joe when Hattie needed her night feed: he’d taken longer to settle and I didn’t feel like he’d been awake for very long, and I figured that I’d manage to catch another hour of sleep between finishing Hattie’s feed and catering for Joe. I was dead wrong, however, and I won’t be doing separate night-time feeds again – he woke up just as she was nodding off, so I had to settle her while feeding him, and ended up being awake for ages. Bugger that for a game of soliders: I’m reverting back to the standard ‘wake up the second twin when the first twin needs a feed’ plan of action (which sounds like sacrilige to singleton parents, I’m sure – the whole ‘never wake a sleeping baby!’ philosophy is there for a reason!)
Anyway, I’ve successfully filled the time until the 11am feed, so I’d better get the milk bar open before the shorties start kicking off. Hattie has been spirited off to the change table by her grandmother, and this little boy is definitely ready for morning tea…