Narrator: Meet Jacquie and Daniel, parents of 7 month old twins Isaac and Lulu. On this typical day everyone seems well rested and content, but as you can imagine, it wasn't always that way…..
Daniel Butler Father of twins: When we got home from the hospital, in the first few weeks we were sleeping down here.Jacquie had the couch, I had a mattress on the floor and I was getting no sleep, half an hour or 45 minutes at a time, maximum.You both look very peaceful, swaddled….
Narrator: But Daniel and Jacquie had a plan, developed as soon as they discovered twins were on the way…(achoo! Bless you!).based on encouraging Issac and Lulu's natural sleep patterns.
Daniel Butler Father of twins: Crying--This is..this is the soundtrack of my life…
Narrator: Unfortunately, newborns don't have much to work with –their bodies have yet to develop the circadian rhythm –the body's way of knowing when it's time to be awake or sleepy.
Jacquie Butler Mother of twins: Really early there is not much you can do besides sort of establishing day from night.So in the morning we would open up all the windows and have them sit in sunny spots and then as the day went on, dim lights, close shades so the day was darker.
Gary L. Montgomery, MD Director, Children's Sleep Center Children's Healthcare of Atlanta: As the baby grows from birth to three months of age, you will start to see a little bit more of the circadian rhythm.Not the way we think a circadian rhythm for the older children and adults. There is a little bit there at birth, but it really kicks in and becomes strong at about three or four months of age.
Narrator: And that's why experts say 4-6 months is the golden age to develop good sleep habits that will stay with your baby the rest of his or her life.
Jacquie Butler Mother of twins: Big girl (please blur the nipple)
Narrator: As the babies grew, Jacquie and Daniel did all the right things….
Jacquie Butler Mother of twins: We tried to be consistent with the bedtime, tried to be consistent with when we had our meals and when they had their meals,
Narrator: Next came a nighttime routine, which included a warm bath, a dimly lit room and a bedtime book….
Jacquie Butler Mother of twins: And everyone would talk in low voices, and that was sort of our wind down… and thenWe would swaddle them, put them in their beds, tell them that it was bed time, and get them pacifiers and sometimes they resisted sleep, but eventually they became sleepy earlier in the routine.So we might be reading a book and then we start yawning and we would look at each other and get excited. We were like, oh they are going to go to sleep.So really it was the consistency and being a team, us deciding together, these are the things we are going to do and sticking to them.
Narrator: They also avoided the trap that many parents fall into….rocking the baby to sleep.
Gary L. Montgomery, MD Director, Children's Sleep Center Children's Healthcare of Atlanta: The reason that's wrong is because the baby gets used to falling asleep in the parent's arms.So the real key is to rock the baby until the baby is very drowsy, not quite asleep, but drowsy, and then put the baby in the crib. Maybe pat on the back a little bit.The baby will maybe stretch a little bit, yawn, and then fall asleep, and the actual act of falling asleep then is alone in the crib.
Narrator: Which as you can see, is exactly what Issac and Lulu do….
Gary L. Montgomery, MD Director, Children's Sleep Center Children's Healthcare of Atlanta: If we can teach that at bedtime, then that's what the baby will do at night when the baby wakes up. In the crib, alone, dark, fall back asleep.
Daniel Butler Father of twins: This is unparalleled…he hasn't slept nine hours in a week total….
Jacquie and Daniel remember the first time the babies slept through the night….
Daniel Butler Father of twins: After a few hours, we kind of looked at each other and we were just -- this is really, are they really going to sleep all night? Is there any way that this could happen?
Jacquie Butler Mother of twins: I remember sitting up in bed like bolting up in bed,and thinking we had missed them crying or them waking up and we went in the room and like checked on them to make sure that they were in there and sleeping and they were….
Narrator:In fact, they were sleeping like babies. For WebMD, I'm Sandee LaMotte.