Tips for Soothing Crying Twin Babies

Having twins is double the joy of having just one baby, but it’s also double the work. It's tricky enough dealing with frequent crying from one baby, but with two newborns, you can expect double the crying and double the sleep deprivation. With multiples in the house, the crying may seem endless. You either hear fussing from one or the other, or they’re crying at the same time—which can be stressful and overwhelming for anyone.

Are you finding yourself up all night with your twins, taking care of one, only to be woken up by the other? For your sanity, we’ve compiled some tips for soothing crying twin babies and coping with twins. We’ll help you learn how to calm crying twins like a pro!

Why babies cry

It’s a fact that babies cry. . . a lot! It is perfectly natural for your twins to cry because that is the only way they have to communicate with you. They cry to express their needs, their wants, and even their dislikes. The most common reasons for crying include hunger, a dirty diaper, sleepiness, boredom, overstimulation, or sleep regression. Pain and illness can cause tears as well. And don’t forget colic — a condition in which an otherwise healthy infant cries for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks.

The challenge with twins is that you have two newborns in the same house. They will both be fighting for your attention and for their individual needs to be met. So even if they both cry a normal amount for newborns, it feels like a lot more crying when they’re taking turns—one right after the other.

Do twins cry at the same time?

So, what do you do when both of your twin babies are crying at the same time?

You may be tempted to rush to soothe your babies, and that’s a great instinct to have, however, trying to immediately soothe your twins every time they cry will wear you out and make you go crazy. It is natural for babies to cry, so don’t expect complete silence in your house—especially with twins.

There are going to be days when both babies cry, and in most cases it’s okay if you’re not responding to both immediately. Take a moment and wait. Listen to their cry and assess the problem before rushing to soothe. Twins can actually learn to be more resilient early on, since their needs aren’t always immediately met. In time, they’ll also learn to soothe themselves, which will be greatly beneficial for sleep training.

Even as infants, your twins are two completely different people. They have different personalities. Just as they will make different choices when they’re older, their sleep training might look different too. There will be instances when one baby is in tears and the other follows suit; But there will also be occasions where one baby is screaming, and the other is sleeping soundly without a care in the world. Don’t be afraid to care for the one that is in need while leaving the other alone. Take advantage of those opportunities to work with one baby at a time, and don’t feel guilty for making one baby wait while their sibling gets attention.

Baby crying in sleep: What are the common reasons

When either or both of your babies cry during sleep, you should assess why they are crying. This is not always an easy task since each baby is unique and may have a different need at that moment. Keeping their individual needs and differences in mind, try to run down the check list and see if you can figure out what they are trying to tell you. Over time you will learn to recognize the different types of cries.

The most common cries during sleep are the “I’m hungry” cry, the “I’m sleepy” cry, or the “wet or messy diaper” cry. Before you can properly soothe your crying twins, find out and fix why they are crying. Is it time to eat? Are they tired? Do they need a diaper change? Are they hot or old? Once you identify and fix the problem and they are still crying, you can move to the soothing stage.

How to calm crying twins

Prioritize need

When you have twin babies crying at the same time, it can be hard to know which one to soothe first and what to do to get them to calm down. The methods for soothing two babies is pretty much the same as when you’re dealing with one baby—but the question becomes who gets soothed first. If one twin seems to be hurt or sick, you'll obviously want to help that baby first. If one baby is crying louder and seems more upset, you might want to try soothing him first and then tending to the other baby who isn’t quite as upset.

Use the 5 S’s: Suck, Swaddle, Side, Shush, Sway

Newborns are accustomed to the close confines of the womb and sharing that space with their twin. The 5 S’s are a list of soothing techniques that can help activate your baby's calming reflex during the first three to four months of life by mimicking experiences in the uterus.

Sucking is a natural self soothing technique that babies already know how to use. Try using a pacifier, bottle or breast in those moments when comfort is needed. Most often your babies will fall asleep when nursing or taking a bottle, but you should wake them up a tiny bit when laying them down to sleep. This will encourage self soothing and avoid dependency on the breast or bottle for sleep.

Tightly swaddling crying twins can help to mimic the tight space they shared together in the womb. Swaddling also prevents the babies' natural startle reflex from waking them up. Swaddling works best with newborns. After a month or two, once they show signs they’re starting to roll, you should transition to a sleep sack for safe comfort while sleeping.

Holding your babies on their side and gently jiggling them while supporting the head and neck has an immediate calming effect.

Shushing sounds or white noise are highly recommended for soothing, and should be as loud as your infants’ crying. In the womb, babies hear a loud whooshing sound — louder than a vacuum cleaner. After birth, there can be so much silence that the under-stimulation can be more of a problem than overstimulation.

Rocking or swaying your babies, or even using mechanical swings or bassinets can be super helpful in keeping your little ones calm. All throughout pregnancy, they were riding along inside of you through every step, bump, and turn. They’re used to being moved and jolted. Lying flat and still is way more unfamiliar.

Establish Bedtime Rituals

Bedtime routines can help to signal it’s time for sleep. Nightly rituals can help your babies feel comfortable and stress-free. Studies show children who have a predictable bedtime routine go to sleep faster and sleep better than those who don’t. It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. Perhaps you start with a bath, dress in a Woolino swaddle or sleep bag, and then turn on the sound machine. Or spend a few moments cuddling in the rocking chair before settling them into their cribs. A little pattern in your newborn twins’ schedule will go a long way in calming them down.

Use your nursing pillow

If you have a nursing pillow for your twins, it can be used for more than just nursing. It’s often hard to hold two new babies as securely as you want when holding them at the same time. The nursing pillow will allow you to make sure each baby is safe. Your twins are against you, which gives them a sense of safety as well.  Your hands are free to cuddle, stroke, and give them the reassurance they need.

Utilize gear to assist you

One of the best tips for twin babies is to use baby gear such as swings and bouncers to soothe without having to hold the babies the whole time. Each baby can be safe and secure while relaxing to the motion. Babywearing is also worth trying out. You get to hold one or both babies, but still can be hands-free.  You can get a few things done and take care of your other children if you have them.

Put them together

Putting your swaddled infants foot-to-foot or side-by-side in the same crib can sometimes help to calm them down. They are used to being together in the womb, so being together outside of the womb can be familiar and comforting. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that multiples should never sleep together in the same crib as that may increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). So you’ll want to keep a close watch and move them to separate cribs as soon as they settle down. You may also try placing their cribs or bassinets next to each other so the babies can still see and touch each other. 

Let them cry

Yes, it's hard to hear twin babies crying and not react, but if you have tried everything and your babies are still protesting, you may just have to let them cry for a little while. It's not going to hurt them and in fact, they may end up crying themselves to sleep. If it's too hard for you to be in the room while they cry, make sure they're safe and go into another part of the house. Just be sure to check on them every 10 to 15 minutes.

Is it OK to leave one twin crying while you care for the other?

The answer is YES! It is perfectly fine to let one of your twins cry while you tend to the other. It’s called taking turns, and they will have to get the hang of that eventually. If they’re both crying, they’re both needing something. It’s not the end of the world if you have to take care of one baby and then take care of the next. Learn to prioritize which of your babies needs help the most. It could be the one that’s crying the loudest, or the one that is closest to you. You may have a twin that is soothed very quickly so you take care of that baby first. With twins it is almost a necessity to do things one at a time. Don’t feel guilty about making a crying baby wait for his or her sibling.

Coping with crying

Feeling overwhelmed or frustrated is completely NORMAL!! If you can’t seem to stop the crying and are beginning to feel helpless, take a minute to breath and cut yourself some slack...

No guilt allowed

When it seems like your babies are always crying, it's hard not to feel that you're doing something wrong. Shake off those thoughts. Remember, all babies cry. They aren't doing it because you're a bad parent, and it's not your fault. Even feelings of anger are normal, as long as you don't act on them. Take a deep breath and remember that this will pass.

Call for assistance

Don’t forget to call on your friends and family. Caring for multiples is frequently not a one-person job. It helps to have a spouse, friend, or relative to assist you in juggling more than one baby. Having others help can lower your stress, which will help you cope with your crying twins. Push your pride aside and give them a call.

If you have a spouse, communicate your need for assistance and plan a course of action for tackling the twins’ care. Use a tag-team approach and designate who has what duty. Maybe you last from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m., and then your husband takes over from 2 a.m. until the morning. Maybe you prefer to have him tend to one infant while you care for the other simultaneously. Take into consideration your family's lifestyle, and work out an approach that suits both your needs.

Find other moms with multiples

Reach out to other moms of twins or multiples who can relate to the fears, frustrations and joys that come with raising more than one baby. Try looking for a local group through your hospital or Multiples of America. There are also online support groups and forums you can go to for a vent session or advice.

Take a timeout

Remember, it's okay to let infants cry sometimes. If you're alone and the continuous wailing is getting to you, step away for a short break. Put your babies in their cribs, leave the room and take a little time to cool down. Don't forget to check on them every 10 to 15 minutes though.

Also, try popping in some ear plugs! The shrieking that two babies make can not only drive your sleep deprived mind insane, but it can also be damaging to your ears. Try using ear plugs to block out the noise while still being able to hold and soothe your two little ones. There’s no harm in blocking out their screams as long as you’re keeping an eye on them.

In conclusion

While managing the needs of two babies may seem impossible at times, you CAN and WILL get through it. Try to keep in mind that raising twins is hard work and that this stage will pass as they grow. It is okay if your babies are crying. There will be times when you have done everything you can for them and they will still cry. Just do what it takes to soothe and comfort them when they cry. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from your partner, family, and friends. Take care of yourself. Try to enjoy this time you have with those two beautiful babies of yours. You’ll be able to look back on what you conquered with a sense of pride.