As anyone who has raised twins can tell you, multiple births can mean the learning curve that all new parents experience is also doubled. They seem to act as a tag team, with one sleeping and one testing the limits of their boundaries.
Without the proper preparation, planning and equipment, raising twins can be challenging to even the most seasoned parents, so we have put together a few helpful tips to get you started.
Before they arrive
Getting the basic structure set in place before the babies arrive is crucial. Do your research regarding the optimal equipment for your needs including:
- Twin prams
- Car seats
- Feeding pillows
- Back up bottles
- Stockpile nappies from the moment you find out you are pregnant
- Extra large nappy bag with change mat
Organise to get some help in - initially at least. If a family member has the time to move in for a couple of weeks - perfect, if not consider hiring a professional nanny. Their experience and help can be invaluable in the first few weeks.
Once your routine is established and you can manage basic household chores like washing and cooking, you may be ready to go it alone.
Consider breastfeeding if possible. Not only is it the healthier choice but it saves both time and money - no bottles to heat, clean or sterilise.
Don’t worry that you won’t have enough milk. If you are eating a healthy, nutritious diet, you will almost certainly produce as much milk as the babies need. Milk production is based on how much they suck not on how many babies you have. This means that a mother with triplets and a diet which provides all the nutrients, liquids and calories required, can comfortably supply them with enough breast milk.
There are a range of U-shaped feeding pillows on the market to allow you to comfortably feed both babies at once. Try to rotate the feeding on each side to give the babies eye muscles an even amount of exercise.
Ask any mother of a single baby about the rigours of packing enough to cope with an outing and then double it. Travelling can be a huge production for the parents of twins.
Plan ahead. Have a nappy bag with spare clothing, bottles, baby wipes, nappies and plastic bags always packed and ready to go. This will save the hassle of packing and unpacking every time you go out.
The ideal twin pram is lightweight to allow for easy loading and unloading as well as narrow enough to facilitate easy navigation through restaurants, shops and thoroughfares.
For those times when you need your hands free or the terrain doesn’t suit a pram, consider a twin baby sling. These come in side-by-side options or front and back.
Your babies spent nine months in the womb together, so putting them to sleep in the same cot can calm and soothe them. Generally, you will find one baby is naturally calmer than the other. It is suggested that you put this twin down to sleep first.
It can be tempting to assume that keeping one baby awake until the other falls asleep would be a way to get them into the same sleep pattern. Unfortunately, it can work the opposite, as overtired babies tend to sleep less and be more fractious.
After a bath and feed, try to pop the babies down to sleep within 15 minutes of each other and give them time to self-settle. This is a bit of a balancing act since you don’t want the babies to become distressed but little ones who are unable to fall asleep on their own can become a drain to parents and the battle to get them to sleep can go on for years.
By equipping and preparing yourself from the outset, having a strong support system and setting a routine early, you can avoid many of the pitfalls surrounding raising twins. As many happy parents can attest, having twins will always be a challenge but can also prove doubly rewarding and satisfying.