Twins and higher order multiples
Dealing with twins or higher multiples brings further complications to the same challenges for parents.
Fran suggests attempting to synchronise their routines for sleeping and feeding.
“Of course if you have one unsettled twin you are going to have to manage the unsettled twin, but parents of twins report that the settled twin is usually able to get used to the unsettled twin and often doesn’t wake,” Fran says.
“If you have two unsettled twins it can be so difficult for parents, but hopefully you have someone who can help you. The first 12 months are quite tricky.”
Fran says siblings present another sleep challenge for which parents need to prepare.
Toddlers need to be emotionally prepared for the arrival of a new baby.
“When you bring a new baby home it will be fairly exciting for a little bit, but after a while they’ll be ready to send the baby back. And fair enough, they didn’t ask for the baby to be there.
“They might feel left out and rejected, so it’s important to make them feel included and also be able to begin to think as a mother about ‘the three of us’. It’s quite a skill to begin to keep two children in your mind at one time.
“If you’ve got room it’s probably good to transition the older one to their own bed and room. This is best done during the pregnancy - the celebration of their own room and own big bed.
“Those recognitions and celebrations of ‘big girl’ and ‘big boy’ things are important activities that need to occur so the baby can be in the parents’ room in their cot if possible.
“The latest Red Nose SUDI guidelines say the baby should sleep in the parent’s room for the first six to 12 months.”
Colic and reflux
Fran says many parents are troubled in the early weeks of their baby’s life by colic and reflux.
“Colic and reflux occur and start about the three week mark. It just so happens that that is the same week that baby’s start to cry,” Fran says.
“At about three to four weeks we have what is called the normal development crying curve. Baby’s start to cry and it increases gradually until about eight weeks when it reaches a peak and tapers off at three to four months.
“Coincidentally we get a lot of colic and reflux during this time. That crying is when everybody gets diagnosed with colic and gets colic or reflux remedies.
“So there’s a lot of debate around how effective these remedies are. The remedies appear to work because they seem to be effective just as the crying tapers off anyway.
“In the book I talk about the normal developmental crying and ways to soothe a baby that’s crying and what is and isn’t effective.”