If you’ve had twins or multiples, you may wonder if it’s safe to let your twins sleep together at home. Maybe your twins sleep better when they’re lying next to each other, or you remember from their NICU days that there are specific benefits to cobedding multiples. Although there may be benefits to letting twins sleep together, it’s best to follow safe sleep practices.
Risks and Benefits of Twins Sleeping Together
Studies show several possible benefits to letting twins sleep together in the NICU. Multiples who are cobedded seem to sleep better, gain weight better, have fewer episodes of apnea and bradycardia, and (as long as they’re about the same size), keep each other warm. No studies have looked at cobedding twins at home, but it's possible that these benefits continue after hospital discharge.
The American Academy of Pediatrics policy on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) recommends that babies sleep in a baby bed in their parents’ bedroom. The policy says that it is unsafe for babies to sleep in bed with a parent, but doesn’t address the risk of SIDS when infants sleep with twins or other siblings. Other studies show that the risk of SIDS may be higher when babies sleep with other children, but no study has been done to show whether it is safe to let twins sleep together.
Many twins and multiples are born premature, and the risk of SIDS is higher for premature babies than for term infants. Also, when twins sleep together, they often turn to face each other. The side-sleeping position is no longer recommended for babies. Twins who sleep facing each other may also get less oxygen because they re-breathe each others’ air.
The Bottom Line on Cobedding Twins
Although there may be benefits to letting twins sleep together in the NICU, you probably shouldn’t continue the practice at home. If you choose to let your twins sleep together, then make sure to reduce the risk of SIDS in other ways: put your babies on their backs to sleep, put them to bed with a pacifier, and keep them in a crib in your bedroom that’s free from toys and plush blankets.
American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. "Policy Statement: The Changing Concept of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Diagnostic Coding Shifts, Controversies Regarding the Sleeping Environment, and New Variables to Consider in Reducing Risk." November 2005. Accessed August 23, 2010 from http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;116/5/1245#SEC5
Tomashek, K., Wallman, C. and the Committee on Fetus and Newborn, American Academy of Pediatrics. "Cobedding Twins and Higher Order Multiples in a Hospital Setting." Pediatrics Nov. 30, 2007; 120, 1359-1366.