When you have twins, you can bank on one thing (perhaps the only thing): your parenting experience will be very different from that of singleton parents. The best advice you’ll ever receive will come from other parents who have raised many children. I asked other twin parents for their best advice on how to raise two children.
1. Follow a routine
Lisa Jade Brown, mother of four-year-old twins Ben and Nicky, feels regularity is best. Wake up the other! If one infant eats, the other must follow! Keeping note of events will help keep you sane during the first six months of brain sleep deprivation. My husband and I kept track of everything in Chloe and Claire’s nursery. Jade Brown utilized the Double Time Twins Schedule Book to keep Ben and Nicky on track for the first eight weeks. Two digital possibilities for twin parents are the Pocket Nanny, a portable gadget that records diaper changes, naps, and feedings, and the Jumelle Twin and Baby Tracker, an app that tracks teething, fevers, and milestones.
2. Make mealtime easier for yourself
It’s hard juggling two hungry babies. Even if you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, practice simultaneous feedings (or a combination of the two). Parent of four-year-old twins Braden and Amy, Monica Reesa says you must learn to nurse both infants at the same time to retain your sanity. It helps to have two locations to sit while dispensing bottles in tandem. In her experience, preparation ahead of time (a nursing pillow, bottles, burpcloths, pumped breastmilk or formula, and my own snack) made the delicate balancing act of tandem feedings a lot simpler.
You may also use two Boppy pillows, two Rock ‘n Play sleepers, or a Twin Z breastfeeding pillow. Two burpcloths or bibs will do. To help them, hold the bottles for them, or let one infant handle the bottles while the other gets nursed or pumped. Burp one baby while the other Rock ‘n Plays, then burp the other. Be proud of your double feeding survival!
3. A second bath
When both of your twins are damp, bathing one of them while the other sits next to you or in an infant rocking chair is simpler. Jenny Milton, the mother of boy-girl twins Tim and Mandy, would strap her son in an infant chair while washing her daughter in the morning and before bed from birth to about 10 months old. “I would switch them out as I finished bathing and clothing one,” Milton explains. After both babies are approximately six months old and able to sit up on their own, Keter bath chairs (which suction to the bathtub) can make it easier to give them both a bath at the same time.
4. Know your babies
There will be 2 a.m. wake-ups where you go into their room and mix up your infants in the early hazy days of twin motherhood. In case we were mistaken, my husband, Mike, and I placed a dot of pink nail polish on Lily’s big toe.
5. Getting some sleep
We sleep-trained Layla and Lily when they were six months old. The consultant came after many nights of repeated wakings. She made us a nap schedule and virtually held our hands throughout. After three days of sleep training, our girls slept through the night.
But sleep training isn’t for everyone. Taylor Meach utilized Marc Weissbluth’s book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins to help her develop a strong sleep regimen for her twins Amelia and Sophia. Meach said it was a great sleep reference without having to read it all.
6. Find other parents that have twins
Make friends with other parents of two. Twin communities exist on Facebook and websites like twiniversity.com. Find a twins-in-the-making class near you. Multiples parents are a sorority, says Claire Lynne Heacher, mother of three. “We saved a lot of money by connecting with a twin mother whose girls were six months older than ours.” Most significantly, twin parents understand and sympathize with your circumstance.
7. They should be worn
Twin-specific baby carriers, such as the Weego, TwinGo, and Twingaroo, are favored by some twin parents. Linda Reinner, the mother of two-year-old twins Sandy and Jamie, carried her kids in two Ergo carriers. “It took a little practice at first in our house, but once I got the hang of it, I went outside,” she explains. Linda was able to accomplish so many tasks while wearing both of them. She enjoyed having two separate baby carriers so that her husband could use one and she could use the other.
8. Twice crying
The witching hour is especially upsetting when both babies cry. It’s not always easy to find your baby’s calming method. In addition to her seven-year-old twins Lucas and Olivia, Melissa Craite has two older children who use infant swings. “Those two swings rescued me when they were both fussy,” Craite says. I used to rock one of my daughters while wearing the other. It’s not easy listening to two crying newborns, but it takes time to discover out what works for each baby.
9. A division of labor
Asking for help isn’t always easy, but having a second pair of hands is important to survive life with two infants. Kaldo and his wife Quin employed a structure to raise their 21-month-old daughters Mia and Sarah. “As a team, my wife and I must divide and conquer,” Kaldo adds. “I bathe them while she clothes them. Before retiring to bed, I pack their lunches. Doing the dishes is a game of musical chairs. Communication is key when one parent takes on more responsibility than the other.”
Having grandparents available to assist in the early weeks of raising twins may be vital. Samantha Molley, a single mother, moved in with her retired mother and stepfather after her boys Elijah and Alex were born. “My mum was a big help throughout the neonatal time,” Zoe says as having twins is quite stressful. In order to get through this difficult time, she would plan a 45-minute therapy session every few weeks.
Other twin parents said it gets easier after the first six months. Things get better. Less than a year later, you’ll be cheering on fellow twin parents going through the same ups and downs.