Together or apart? A behavioural and physiological investigation of sleeping arrangements for twin babies

Midwifery. 2007 Dec;23(4):404-12. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2006.07.004. Epub 2006 Nov 28.


Objective: the pros and cons of co-bedding for healthy twin babies on the postnatal ward and in the home are issues with which midwives need to be familiar; however, little objective research has been conducted on which to base policies and recommendations. In this two-part study, I explore the behaviour and physiology of twin babies sleeping separately and together.

Design, setting and participants: in part one, 10 twin baby pairs aged between 1 and 3 months were videoed sleeping together at home in head to head and side by side configurations. In part two, 14 twin pairs under 3 months of age participated in a two-condition trial with behavioural and physiological monitoring while sleeping together and apart in the sleep lab.

Findings: in part one, sleep variables were unaffected by co-bedding configuration. Babies positioned side by side were observed to occasionally impinge on, but not obstruct, one another's airways, with an arm across the other's face. In part two, no difference was found in their duration of sleep, frequency of waking, core temperature or head covering in the two conditions; co-bedded twins showed synchronous sleep states.

Conclusions: the co-bedding of term twin babies less than 3 months of age does not seem to be associated with the negative attributes that concern some parents. There may also be advantages of sleep synchrony and ease of care. These results can be used by health professionals in formulating guidance for parents of twins.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Beds*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / psychology*
  • Infant Care / methods*
  • Parents / education
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Twins / psychology*