The Australian Multiple Births Association are a community of parents with twins, triplets or more, sharing their lived experience and striving for better health outcomes, awareness and support, for multiple birth families across Australia. To help raise awareness for the issues those with multiple births face they have created Multiple Birth Awareness Week.
This week is a national campaign to raise awareness around, and draw attention to, the unique realities for multiple birth families in Australia - and how advocacy, positive education and engaged communities can contribute to enabling positive health outcomes for families with multiples.
Current evidence shows that the safest way to sleep twins at home is to place them in their own cot and follow the Red Nose safe sleep recommendations.
Red Nose recommends six key steps to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death and sleeping accidents:
1. Always place baby on their back to sleep, not on the tummy or side
2. Keep baby’s face and head uncovered
3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after
4. Safe sleeping environment night and day
5. Sleep baby in their own safe cot in the same room as an adult care-giver for the first six to twelve months
6. Breastfeed baby
But what does a safe sleeping environment look like when you have twins?
Current evidence shows that the safest way to sleep twins at home is to place them in their own cot and follow the Red Nose safe sleep recommendations. These recommendations aim to reduce the risk of SUDI, including SIDS and fatal sleep accidents. The American Academy of Pediatrics also advises separate sleep surfaces and to avoid co-bedding for twins (and higher order multiples) in both hospital and at home. The reason for separate sleep spaces is to prevent one twin (or their bedding) from covering the head and face of the other, interfering with breathing.
While sleeping twins in individual sleep spaces is ideal, we know that sometimes parents will need to use one cot for both twins, whether during travel, or to allow the babies to sleep in the parents’ room for the first few months.
If you do need to sleep bubs in the same cot, remember:
- Place the babies head to head, at opposite ends of the cot (see diagrams below)
- Never place the babies in the cot with any other children
- Do not use bedding. Safe alternatives to bedding include:
- Wrap the babies separately according to Red Nose guidelines (from birth until showing signs of being able to roll over)
- Sleep the babies in separate safe infant sleeping bags (for babies weighing 3.2kg and over)
IMPORTANT: When the babies are able to move freely around the cot, place them to sleep in separate cots.