When we brought the girls home, I spent a lot of time googling schedules for premature twins. And I found….NOTHING. zip. zero. zilch.

At first it didn’t matter. Because the girls were so premature, it was not like dealing with “regular” newborns (the pediatrician even told me to think of the girls almost as still being “fetuses”….they were not ready for many of the developmental milestones of full-term newborns). Instead, they were supposed to spend basically their entire day sleeping. Diaper change, eat, sleep, repeat (with a bath thrown in every couple days).

But just over the last few days they’ve started staying awake for a bit (30ish minutes or so) after eating.  So I’ve been using this time to try to introduce some new things to them. And thus, our “schedule” was born.

A couple notes about the schedule:

  • This is mostly a baby-led schedule. I follow their cues to see what they are capable of and what they’re feeling up-to, though I do sometimes intervene to keep the twins on the same schedule (e.g., if one is awake and hungry but the other is still sleeping – I will wake her up to feed her anyway). However, if they are passed out after eating, I don’t force any activity on them. It’s important to let them sleep if they need it.
  • The schedule is not based on times. It’s based on sleep/wake patterns of the girls. Typically they eat every 4 hours, but sometimes they eat after 3 hours. I don’t have things planned based on the clock – I plan them based on what the girls are doing.
  • This schedule is in-line with recommendations from the pediatrician. It’s totally different than a full-term 7-week old’s schedule. My babies are still considered negative 3 days at this point so although 7-weeks, the schedule is probably more similar to that of a brand new newborn.

With that said, here is my premature 7-week old twins’ schedule:

Generally they eat about 6 times per day, or once every 4-ish hours. This corresponds to 3 feeds during the day and 3 at night. During the night feeds we keep the lights low and the sound-level low (TV off). The goal for the night feeds is to keep the girls relaxed and not to introduce too much stimulation. This helps them sleep faster/better.

During the daytime feeds I’ve developed a little routine.

Morning:  Diaper change, feed, burp, and lay on a big blanket on the floor (me and both girls) for story time. I’ll read a couple books, show the girls the pages, and talk about the pictures (e.g., This is a bumble-bee. It’s yellow and black and has antennae, etc.). During this time the girls may or may not interact with me. They’re still developing the skills to focus on objects and spend a lot of time just looking around.

Afternoon: Diaper change, feed, burp, and play mat/tummy time. In the afternoon I’ll lay the girls on the play mat. They’re just starting to reach out and grab things, so the hanging features are appealing to them. Sometimes they’re into it and sometimes they’re not. If they’re not, I’ll just hold them for some cuddle-time instead. Also while on the play mat I’ll flip them over to their tummy for a brief period of time so they can work on their neck muscles. They’re still so small that we only do this for about 45-60 seconds and I’m carefully monitoring them the entire time.

Evening: Diaper change, feed, burp, and love-fest.  : )  One of the most difficult things of having preemie twins is splitting up time between them. I imagine that when they get a bit bigger and have better neck control that it will be easier to hold both of them at once. Until then, they need to be carefully cradled and it’s the type of thing that really requires both arms so it’s really only possible to hold one girl at a time. Luckily Chris is home in the evenings, so we do the evening feed together and each have a girl to cuddle and love. This is a nice way for them to relax and “unwind” from the day and its great for them to each have some quality, individual cuddle time.

So that’s it! It’s been nice to get into a little routine because the first couple weeks were spent mostly figuring things out. Having a schedule definitely makes me feel a bit more “sane” and helps me distinguish “baby” time versus “everything else” time because – at first – everything blurred together.