Controlled Crying (Graduated Extinction) Consider using this strategy at night after six weeks (from the due date) when you expect longer blocks of sleep at night and an earlier bedtime is emerging. When your twin cries, wait for five minutes before going in to soothe him. Unlike checking and consoling, where you respond promptly, the delayed response with controlled crying or “graduated extinction” means that your twin will likely become more upset. Therefore, with this method your soothing can and should take the form of whatever will calm your baby back down to a drowsy but awake state: pick him up, sing to him, breastfeed, or rock him. The goal is to eventually soothe him to a drowsy but awake state, but if your baby falls asleep while you are soothing him, that’s okay. Drowsy or asleep, you then put your baby down to sleep. At that time or later, if there is more crying, you will wait for ten minutes before you return to soothe your twin. Repeat your soothing performance. And again put the baby back down to sleep. At every subsequent time of crying, delay your response by an additional five minutes. There is nothing particularly magical about a five-minute interval, but some delay is necessary and consistency is key; you might want to try three-minute intervals. You might cap the maximum time of your delay to twenty to twenty-five minutes, or you might start out the next night with a ten-minute delay in your response time. Your expectation here is that eventually your baby will fall asleep during one of your delays. This begins the process of allowing your twins to learn how to return to sleep unassisted. It is my experience that, again, this method works faster and better when it is the father who does the soothing. Even though feeding the babies is accepted in this method, if the father is the one to do the soothing, breastfeeding—which many babies prefer—is not an option. Some babies will settle down and get to sleep faster when the breast is not available to them. The entire controlled crying or gradual extinction process may take a few nights or a few weeks. The process works faster when you start early in the evening, when drowsy signs first appear. Sometimes the repeated bouts of crying are overwhelming and you might decide that letting your twins “cry it out” (see below) is the best option for speeding up the process of getting to “no more tears.” “For the first week, they often would cry for up to thirty to forty-five minutes. This would be through one five-, ten-, and fifteen-minute cycle with consoling in between. By week two, they were usually asleep before the first ten-minute cycle had passed. By week three, they were down usually within the first five minutes. Now they go down within a minute or two. Sometimes they talk and play a bit longer, but they don’t cry.
Marc Weissbluth (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep-Training Your Multiples)