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One of the most common questions that expectant twin parents get is about a schedule. “How will you manage two babies with completely different schedules?!”
It of course makes sense that most people think that figuring out a schedule for two babies is impossible and that there’s no way that two individual infants can share the same schedule. It’s hard for some people to accept that even one baby can have a relatively consistent schedule. However, I’m here to tell you that it IS possible to create a schedule that not only toddler multiples but also infant multiples, can naturally take to – and that it can have a very positive impact on their development (the research is out there!).
Of course, developing this schedule doesn’t just happen over time on its own – it takes work, effort, and probably some tears if I’m being honest! Historically speaking, the topic of schedules when it comes to babies is a relatively new concept.
Modern parents are embracing baby schedules more and more, realizing that babies are fully capable of syncing with a schedule you put in place.
For parents of multiples especially, this can be very reassuring. I do want to mention here that, as your twins’ parent, YOU have the instinct to know what’s best for them and your family.
There are sacrifices that can come with following a schedule, such as losing the flexibility to play your day by ear. Some people may not like feeling more housebound or having to work their family’s life around their infants’ schedule, and some simply might not be able to due to their work schedule or their other children’s activities, which is completely understandable.
Of course, your mental health and happiness are of the utmost importance, and you should do what works best not only for your babies but for you, as well.
From my experience in talking specifically with twin moms, they feel that following a schedule has made their lives easier and is worth the sacrifices they made in their own lives. However, many will also say that, if they had a singleton baby instead, perhaps they would have enjoyed being more flexible with their days.
From my personal experience, my children as babies were ultimately happiest when on a consistent routine, and it helped me to stay organized and less overwhelmed as a working mom of Irish twins, so I decided to prioritize the schedule.
Infant Twin Schedules
Have you ever heard the phrase, “never wake a sleeping baby?” Well, I’m about to shake that up a bit. The same goes for feeding your twin infants. By following a schedule, you’re still feeding your babies when they are hungry – you’re just helping to influence when their hunger times generally take place throughout the day. Babies are sponges and, with that, they can very organically adhere to a schedule you put into practice (note: scheduling at this age is entirely based around meeting your baby’s basic needs, so using a schedule won’t be a detriment to them).
I think taking a month to settle in with your new twin babies before worrying about a schedule is pretty sound advice. However, I also think it’s reasonable for parents of multiples to explore scheduling as soon as they are comfortable – just make sure to give yourself some grace and wait until you’re ready).
Again, I want to reiterate that it can be stressful to impose a schedule with newborns, so only make this choice if you feel it’s right for your family. And remember, your babies are not clocks, so being flexible is important; if your twins’ cues aren’t meshing with the schedule, then move away from it and try again in the future. Here is a guideline for a twin infant schedule using the tried and true, expert-tested “eat, play, sleep” method (in between feeding and nap times is considered “play” time):
*Please note, I am not an expert or professional so please always consider doing additional research or consulting with your pediatrician on this schedule (and the toddler schedule further down). There may be other factors that need to be taken into account, like illness, appropriate weight gain, etc. For infants, it is my understanding that typically you should offer feedings every 2-3 hours while paying attention to hunger and sleep cues, and the below is based on this.
Infant Schedule Guide
7:30 am – Wake up, feed
8:30 am– Nap
10:30 am – Wake up, feed
11:15 am – Nap
1:00 pm – Wake up, feed
2:00 pm – Nap
3:45 pm – Wake up, feed
4:45 pm – Nap
6:45 pm – Wake up, feed
7:45/8 pm – Bed
Some additional tips:
– The above schedule is a rough guide. As twin parents, different phases of the schedule (e.g., feedings) can take longer than with a single baby, so it is very likely that times will get pushed later – and that’s ok! You’ll be able to gradually work to the schedule that you desire over time, and until then still, be consistent, follow a routine, and do the best you can!
– As I talk about here, establish a bedtime routine that you use day-to-day, which will help to signal your twins’ sleepy cues.
– I also really recommend using a tracking app that will help you keep track of your twins’ schedules every day. You input when you feed them when they go down for a nap when they wake up, and more. Amid the chaos, it can be very difficult to remember when your twins woke up, for example. Having all the data stored will also allow you to look back and identify changes to their patterns (like waking up earlier), which can then help you identify developmental leaps, or determine that it’s time to make a permanent change to the schedule.
– Many parents swear by “dream feeding,” so you could add that to the above schedule at about 10:00 pm. I think it’s a great way to extend how long they sleep at night and further ensure your twins will take well to the same schedule during the night.
– There are of course good reasons to not wake up the other twin when one of them wakes up in the middle of the night, like if it’s glaringly obvious that one is going through a developmental leap while the other isn’t. But generally speaking, many twin parents decide to wake up the other twin if they are feeding one twin as a way to further promote matching schedules. This is where you can tune into your parental instincts and make the decision you think is best.
As your twins get older you’ll start to extend play/awake times and drop naps. This can be pretty customizable depending on how much sleep your babies need, but the same rules of thumb around allotting “eat, play, sleep” times remain.
Toddlers Twin Schedules
Even as your twins cross over the 12 month – aka the toddler – threshold, they will still thrive on routines. But don’t worry, you can be more flexible now. In fact, toddlers with consistent schedules actually respond and adapt better to disruptions and changes to their routines – for example, you might sign them up for swim class on Tuesday mornings, and therefore need to wake them up a half-hour earlier that day. One of the biggest changes at this age is going from two naps to one 2-3 hour-long nap (note: all babies are different and this switch could happen before or after 12 months of age – but for twins, make sure you make the change at the same time!).
Here is a sample schedule I pulled from a past post about the importance of routines for children. In the post, I also explore activities and rituals that you can incorporate into your twins’ routines as they become more aware and interested, such as helping you feed your pet.
Toddlerhood is the age where you might start to get more creative with their schedule and write in specific things to do during the time that they are awake (vs. just “eat, play, sleep”) such as “independent play,” outdoor time, etc.
Toddler Schedule Guide
7:00am – Wake up
7:45am – Eat breakfast
8:30am – Brush teeth, get dressed
8:45am – Independent play
9:30am – Go outdoors (walk, yard, playground)
10:15am – Morning snack
10:30am – Crafts
11:30am – Read
12:00pm – Lunch
12:30pm – Quiet time
2:00pm – Playtime, crafts, music, go outdoors
5:00pm – Quiet time
5:30pm – Dinner
6:30pm – Bathtime
6:50pm – Brush teeth, get dressed, read
7:00pm – Lights out
If you haven’t already (because, well, being a twin mom is hectic, and who has time for self-care?!), consider reflecting on your own schedule and routine as your twins enter toddlerhood. What rituals can you incorporate into your schedule that allows you to feel more productive and more like yourself? You can wake up a half-hour before them to sip on coffee and get dressed and ready for the day, you can start meal prepping now that your twins are eating more solids, you can set some *realistic* household duties to complete during their nap, or you can work out, read, watch TV – or do *absolutely nothing*. As a mom of Irish twins, I understand how hectic life can be, and I wanted to end this post with a reminder to take yourself into account when determining your twins’ schedule. Being a mom of multiples should be dubbed a superpower and it’s simply impossible for every day to be perfectly scheduled and obstacle-free. So, please, use this as a guide more than anything and mold it into something that works for you and your family.