Twins are hard. Most parents can imagine some balance with a newborn because one baby means, at least some of the time, you get a break. But with twins, it can feel like you are tag teamed!
Even with two adults in the house, having two babies is different than having one. Most twin experts will share that two babies mean the ability to be “flexible” with their day-to-day schedule is no longer possible. Because if you imagine 15 minutes of a nap stretched here or 30 minutes of pushing a meal there – all of a sudden, your kids are operating precisely like a tag-team duo! And that isn’t sustainable.
Some good news – most parents of twins agree that getting through the 1st year is the hardest, and it starts to feel less overwhelming through the 2nd. There are fewer wakeups at night, extended spaces between feedings, and real food means fewer bottles to wash! But until then, here are some top tips for parenting twins as you get into your groove.
1.You won’t need to buy two of EVERYTHING, but…
you will need two of the essentials:
- car seats
- swaddles (even more in reality because – spit up)
- diaper bags (so you can take them out separately!)
- high chairs
- babywearing devices
2.When you can have help, accept it!
Be it free help, or help you hire, say yes. Extra hands can always wash up, hold a baby, or feed a baby. And if the support is a professional, you can get a deserved break to sleep, or do any other thing you and your partner want to do. Grandparents are great, trading babysitting with other couples with multiples can be an ongoing way to foster reata friendship, or working with a postpartum doula are all great ways to have help!
3. Autonomy vs. Twin Identity
Your babies may have shared a womb, but they are individuals. Try to allow them time to learn about things both with their sibling and apart. Treating them as an individual and as a part of a duo will help them understand how they fit into their special corner of the world.
4. Feeding support
If you are planning to breastfeed, parents and experts advise working with a lactation consultant early to develop healthy expectations and safe plan. The additional information from an IBCLC can also help you understand the unique situation you and your family are in and not general information shared in twin groups and books.
5. Schedules and organization and staggering, oh my!
Most twin families swear by living on a schedule for order, predictability, and to keep the kids working together – instead of that tag team business we mentioned above.
But that doesn’t mean you have to wake both babies to eat or have two babies on a changing table at a time! Think more like when one baby wakes, feed that baby, then wakeup the other, staggered by about 15-20 minutes. What doesn’t work is feeding one baby, and waiting until the other baby wants to wake up on his or her own – that is when opposite schedules start, and it’s hard to get back in sync.
6. Three words, “Hand me downs.”
We’re not saying you can’t have new items for your babies. But expand your thinking to include hand-me-downs, because in the first years, your babies will be going through a lot of clothing. And sometimes, it’s okay if another baby spits up on that onesie before your baby spits up on it – with laundering in between, of course.