When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I cried the entire thirty minutes of the doctor’s appointment, and then the entire car ride home.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy, I was ecstatic, but I scared by the thought of caring for two babies at the same time, and unsure how I’d manage meeting both of their needs without neglecting one during that time.
I may have spent a lot of time worrying about how to do things and “what ifs” before my babies arrived, but once they were here, those fears slipped away and my husband and I fell into a routine and pattern of caring for them.
My twins are almost six and while every stage has its bumps, there are many positivities to having two kids at once and watching them grow, push one another, help each other, comfort, play with and be best of friends (most of the time.)
But first, we had to get through the first couple of months and then we gradually worked to create a routine that made naps and bedtime a breeze.
These are the five most important tips that helped me find balance through the first year of caring for twin babies.
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TWINS MUST STAY ON THE SAME SCHEDULE
Essentially this means that what one baby does, the other baby does.
When one baby wakes up to eat, wake the other one up to eat. When one baby goes down for a nap, so does the other.
Until they can get on a more firm schedule (about 8 – 10 weeks), follow cues to recognize signs of being hungry, tired, alert, etc. but synch eating, and sleeping schedules.
- Form an assembly line so your kids get used to waiting their turn but have the expectation that what happens with their sibling will happen to them. Change one baby, and then the other. Feed one baby, and then the other. Burp one baby, and then the other.
- Nap your two babies at the same time.
- Put your two babies to bed at the same time.
When you have a baby, regardless of if you have one or two, you don’t sleep much at first. But if you keep your babies on the same schedule, you won’t be up at all hours feeding and rocking one baby, while the other is asleep. And then repeat the process once the first baby falls back asleep and the second one wakes.
When babies are on the same schedule, you’ll be able to anticipate what’s next and to read cues – are they hungry? dirty? tired? need to get fresh air or take a bath? is it bedtime?
LEARN TO FEED TWO BABIES AT ONCE
I tried to breastfeed both babies at once, but really struggled with this. Once my son was introduced to the bottle, he much preferred this method of feeding and was a happier baby. I was left bottle feeding him and alternating between bottle feeding and breastfeeding my daughter.
When it was time to bottlefeed the twins, I had to find a way to pump and feed them at the same time because pumping afterwards was taking too much time.
Here is my trick to feeding your kids and pumping at the same time:
- Set a boppy on both sides of yourself, sitting on the floor or on the couch. Put each baby down in the boppy to eat. Sit down in-between them, hook up to a hands-free breast pump and feed them their bottles while you pump.
- If you need to burp mid-way through the bottle, gently turn the baby over so they’re on their tummy on the boppy and you can burp them, before turning them back over.
- I did this for every feeding including in the middle of the night so that I wasn’t staying up to pump and loosing out on precious sleep.
CREATE A NIGHTTIME ROUTINE
Because our kids were on the same schedule, they knew what to expect from our daily routine and trust me, when we strayed from it, I knew about it! They always became fussy if they went to bed late and they inevitably woke up in the middle of the night more and even earlier in the morning. My husband and I were in agreement that straying from our schedule didn’t do anyone any favors, especially us.
Our nighttime routine went like this:
- If the weather permitted, we would take a long walk in our neighborhood to get some fresh air and since they liked the motion of the stroller, walking helped us get through “witching hour” which was a real thing in our house.
- Dinner (if they were eating baby foods or solids)
- Bath – they LOVED bath time and if we missed it, they let us know! We didn’t wash them every night but let them splash and play around or just soak when they were younger. If your babies don’t like bath time, try an alternative like a light massage or rocking and singing. It’s all about building expectations and a routine to look forward to while still calming them and preparing them for bedtime.
- Change into pajamas, lights dimmed.
- Sound Machine – once we discovered white noise and the rhythmic sounds of the ocean, it was a game changer for naps and bedtime routines. It’s not for everyone, but it helped out sleep routine tremendously.
- Bottles/breastfeeding in their boppy. Swaddled and into their beds for the night.
Looking for a daily routine? Check out the samples in this post.
EARLY BEDTIMES ARE A SANITY SAVER
Our nighttime routine usually started about 5pm and the kids were in bed and asleep by 6:30pm.
This may sound a little early to some, but by following our children’s cues, they slept best by going to bed at this time. Ironically our third child who is a year old also goes to bed between 6 – 6:30pm and we followed her cues of showing signs of being sleepy and fussy that led us to this time too.
- I will note that just because they go to sleep at 6:30pm, doesn’t mean they wake up super early. Both still got up between 6:30 and 7pm.
- It’s strange how it works – the earlier they go to sleep, the better and longer they sleep. The later they go to sleep, the worse they sleep (because they’re overly tired) and earlier they get up (cranky, I may add.) They’re almost five and we still find this theory holds true.
- My husband’s work schedule is really wonky and so he works a lot of nights but is around into the late mornings so the kids didn’t necessarily need to have a later bedtime to spend more time with him, as if he came home from work at 5 or and just got home and they’d be going straight to bed. If that was the case, their bedtimes would probably be a little later.
A lot of our family doesn’t understand or like the fact that our kids go to sleep early because it impinges on getting together, but we have a routine because we have two kids the same age and if we stray from their schedule, it is my husband and me that have to deal with fussy kids and a tough next day.
I was never too organized or strict to a routine before kids but after a few months of trying to figure things out, the more organized I was and the more I had a process in place, the more I got done and felt like I could juggle without being overwhelmed and exhausted.
- Be Prepared – Once you’re done feeding twins, you have to wash pump supplies, bottles, etc and get ready for the next feeding. Have a wash and drying station in place to do this right afterward and save any breast milk you’ve pumped.
- While you’re washing your supplies, place both babies in a safe place – a pack and play, a play mat on the floor nearby, a bouncy seat – so that you can take five minutes to wash, sanitize and bottle up milk for the next feeding. If you wait to do this, you’ll get backed up with supplies sitting in the sink to be washed later.
- Have supplies on hand – If you feed your babies in the living room and need to change their diapers afterwards, instead of carrying them back to the bedroom where their changing table is, set up a changing station (a pack and play with built in changing table or basket with diapers and wipes set nearby so you can easily do it on the floor) in a common area is a time saver.
You got this, and you can do it!
Being a mom to two babies at once seems overwhelming and hard, but you are a STRONG MOM and the reward of having two at once and having your own relationship with each and their own relationship with each other is an incredible blessing.
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