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Well hello there! I’m guessing you’ve arrived here as you are preparing for twins? If you have recently found out the wonderful news that you are having twins then congratulations!
You may still be coming to terms with the news, and that’s ok – it’s a big deal right?
What I can tell you from my own experience with having twins, is it’s THE most incredible gift you will ever be given. And you will be okay mama (honestly!).
What I’m hoping you will take away from reading through these tips and tricks is a sense of comfort in knowing a bit more about how to plan for your twins’ arrival. And that I’m here to support you as you get ready to welcome your beautiful twins into your family.
I’m so excited to join you on your journey.
FINDING OUT IT’S TWINS!
It can be a bit daunting when you first see those two little dots on the ultrasound screen. I imagine that once you picked yourself up off the floor and started breathing again. Your very first thought was – argh we are going to have to buy TWO of EVERYTHING! You start seeing the dollar signs multiplying rapidly when you even think about your two teeny babies.
Fortunately, while you will need to purchase two of some things. With a little bit of forward-planning you won’t need to run off to the bank manager for an extension on your mortgage just yet.
This Preparing for Twins guide will help get you thinking about what you might need to plan for before your beautiful babies arrive. So once they are here you can spend your time enjoying your newborn treasures.
PREPARING FOR TWINS
Twins have a habit of arriving into the world earlier than the usual 40 weeks. 37 weeks is deemed to be full-term for a twin pregnancy. And your obstetrician will most likely recommend that your pregnancy should not go past this point. It’s even earlier for identical twins.
Many twins will have arrived even before 37 weeks. So it pays to be organized just a little earlier than some of your singleton mama friends.
This means having your hospital bag packed by around 24 weeks. And having as much as possible of your twin nursery set up and ready to go.
It is also worth remembering, that by the time you are 29 weeks pregnant, you will be the size of a full-term singleton pregnant mama! You really won’t feel like doing too much shopping and organizing by then.
YOUR TWINS SLEEP
When your babies first arrive they will sleep for around 16 hours a day (well that’s the plan anyway). So one of the first things you should think about should be how and where they are going to spend all that beautiful slumber time.
It is recommended that babies sleep in your room for at least the first 6 months so you can monitor them more closely. Especially if they were born prematurely. It also makes nighttime feedings much easier if they are close at hand.
Of course, not everyone has the space required to sleep both you and TWO cribs or bassinets. So you may have to weigh up your options before deciding on what they are going to sleep in.
There are many options for newborn snoozers – cots or cribs, bassinets, co-sleepers, Moses baskets, or sleep pods. Most babies will end up in cribs eventually, so at some point, you will require one crib for each baby.
It is recommended by many experts around the world, including the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) that twins sleep in their own beds. However, little research has been done on the risks of co-bedding twins. And often there can be great benefits to sleeping them together – as long as you follow safe sleeping guidelines.
Many twin parents opt to sleep their babies side-by-side across one crib to start with. You will find that you can sleep them this way for the first 4–6 months until they get too long and are moving around.
A great option for the first few months, especially if you are short on space, is a co-sleeper or a large bassinet. One of the greatest challenges you will face with newborn twins is getting enough sleep.
Having your twins in a bassinet right by your bed can make settling your babies at night much easier. Sometimes all they need is a gentle pat from their mama to settle them back to sleep. They can also sense that you are close by which is comforting for them.
Another favorite with twin parents is the Moses Basket or Sleep Pod. They are so portable and can be moved around to suit. It is also easy for you to transition them into sleeping in their cots when the time comes. You can just put the Moses Basket into the cot to get them used to their new surroundings. And then transition them out of the basket and into the cot.
Some things to think about
How much space you have in the nursery or your room and the layout of your house will be the determining factor in the types of sleeping options you have available to you. Make sure you measure up your available spaces before you go shopping.
If your babies require monitoring devices while they sleep, you will need to place them in separate beds to ensure the monitoring devices work accurately. Alternatively, you could purchase one of the devices that attach directly to the baby such as the Owlet or Snuza.
Ensure all bedding is made of natural fibers to prevent babies from overheating. All sheets and blankets must be firmly tucked in.
FEEDING YOUR TWINS
One of the biggest and most emotional decisions you will make for you and your babies is whether you will breastfeed or bottle-feed your twins.
There are pros and cons to each decision. So it’s worth spending a bit of soul-searching time to decide what will be best for you and your babies.
Breastfeeding your Twins
Yes, you absolutely CAN breastfeed your twin babies if that’s what you want to do. There is a huge misconception that it’s not possible to successfully breastfeed twins. Even some midwives will tell women it can’t be done – it’s just not true.
MANY twin mamas breastfeed their babies until well past their first birthday. I’m not going to lie to you – it can take some serious effort and determination. It took me three grueling months to get established. But I swear it will be worth the blood, sweat, and tears.
Some things to think about
It may take you a while to get established with breastfeeding. Keep your options open and prepare to cry a lot. In the early days, it can feel like all you do is feed your babies so it can be tough.
If you have a C-section it may take a while for your milk to come in. Be prepared for lots of breast massaging and pumping. Your breast pump will become your closest companion for a while, so try to learn to love it. I had a serious love/hate relationship with mine. Make sure you choose a hospital grade double electric pump, as time will be precious when your wee ones arrive. You will want to be able to pump in the minimum amount of time possible.
It can take HOURS to breastfeed twins to start with. You will feel like your whole day is spent breastfeeding, and no-one can help you feed them. It’s one of the biggest downsides of choosing to breastfeed twins. I used to be secretly envious of mamas who could easily pass a baby and a bottle to someone else to feed.
In the early days with my girls, it could take around one and a half hours to feed both babies. I chose to stagger their feedings to start with so I could get to grips with breastfeeding. It also meant I could focus on each baby separately. There definitely wasn’t much time for sleep.
I just knew the payoff would come once they were older and could finish feeding in 10 minutes. There wouldn’t be the need to worry about bottles to make up, clean, and sterilize. I also didn’t need to worry about having bottles with me if we went out or stayed out longer than expected. Their food was available ‘on-tap’ whenever they were hungry.
Breastfeeding can bring with it a whole new level of stress and worry about whether you are making enough milk. I think I tried every trick in the book to boost my milk supply during my first year of breastfeeding. I tried everything from oats, brewer’s yeast, teas, Complan, Fenugreek & Blessed Thistle to prescription medication.
Every time your babies go through a growth spurt (which is every few weeks in the early days) you start to question yourself all over again if you have enough milk to fill your babies tummies.
Look at investing in a twin breastfeeding pillow, it will make your breastfeeding journey a whole lot quicker and easier. For some, it could be the difference between successfully breastfeeding or not.
And then there are the nutritional benefits – nothing is better for your babies than breastmilk.
Read up – La Leche League has some valuable information available. If possible see a lactation consultant BEFORE you have your babies. Being fully informed before your babies arrive will go a long way to a successful breastfeeding experience.
Most importantly, remember that FED IS BEST. So, if breastfeeding isn’t working out for you then there is no harm adding in, or switching to formula. Your babies need to be fed.
Read more about breastfeeding twins: Twins & More – Breastfeeding Twins.
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Bottlefeeding your Twins
There is something to be said for being able to hand a baby and a bottle to someone else to feed in the early days. You will be tired, emotional and your primal need for sleep takes over everything. Bottle feeding can appear to be relatively quick in the early days.
It also takes the guesswork out of how much milk they are getting. There are so many brands and varieties of formula which can be overwhelming. You are best to discuss the options with your Paediatrician/Doctor/Midwife so you get the best possible advice.
Many of the major formula companies provide families with multiples a bulk purchase discount. So be sure to investigate with your local Multiple Birth Club.
Some things to think about
You may need to try a few formula options to find one that suits your babies’ little tummies. Try to avoid buying bulk until you are happy with your chosen formula.
There are lots of different bottles and teats on the market. You may find you need to try a few brands before finding a teat shape and flow that suits your little feeders.
If you are planning to mix feed (breast/bottle) then to avoid nipple confusion, consider purchasing a chu-chu or cross-cut teat. Babies must use the same tongue action to get the milk as they do on the breast. It stops them from getting a bit lazy on the bottle which can greatly reduce the amount they’re taking from you if you are still breastfeeding too.
You will need to consider how you want to sterilize your bottles – microwave, sterilizing tablets, boiling water.
Many people will try to tell you it’s easier and less time consuming to bottle feed. But you must consider the time it takes to prepare, warm, clean and sterilize the bottles.
CLOTHING FOR YOUR TWINS
There are so many super cute baby clothes around and it’s easy to go completely mad buying all these gorgeous outfits. In reality, they will wear onesies or stretch-n-grows most of the time when they’re little. And all those beautiful outfits will end up gathering dust in the drawers.
It’s a good idea to purchase a few preemie sized all-in-ones in beautifully soft merino wool or organic cotton just in case your babies arrive earlier or smaller than expected.
Some things to think about
You will want easy! Easy to wash and easy to change – envelope necks and domes are the go-to styles for ease and comfort.
Cotton for summer or wool for winter – keep to natural fibres to minimize overheating.
Some brands are more stain-resistant than others – they will get vomited/pooed/dribbled on – welcome to motherhood! If you’re not sure, then ask in our Facebook Group for brands that other twin mamas have used and loved.
Cotton vests are a great idea as they add an extra layer of warmth plus a layer of softness under wool.
Your babies will live in onesies/stretch-n-grows/ bodysuits for the first few months so purchase at least 5-6 per baby.
GETTING OUT WITH YOUR TWINS
During the first few months with twins, it can feel like an enormous achievement just to get yourself and your babies organized enough to walk outside the front door.
You will eventually want to leave the house with your precious bundles. So having the right twin gear to make it easier for you will be essential.
A twin stroller requires a sizable investment, so it is definitely worth spending some time researching the various brands and models available.
Your first step will be to consider whether you prefer a side by side or inline stroller.
There are so many options available, and it can get confusing. So before you go searching for strollers, have a think about when, how, and where you will use the stroller. You can then eliminate the models that won’t work for you as you do your research.
Some things to think about
What do you plan to use the stroller for? Is it to use for school runs with older children? Are you planning to take your twins on runs with you? Will you be using the stroller on many types of terrain such as pavements/beach walks/parks and do you need it to cope with all activities? Some strollers will hold up better than others for certain activities.
Is the stroller quick and easy to put up and fold down? To help you decide, try to imagine that it’s raining and both babies are crying. You don’t want to have to be taking wheels on and off your stroller to get it in and out of the car.
The weight of the stroller. How easy will it be to maneuver and to get in and out of the car? You will use your stroller A LOT with twins!
Does it have independently adjustable seats with a lie-flat position so babies are able to sleep?
Will it fit through normal-sized doorways? There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to get the stroller to where you need to go.
Check the folded-down size. Will it fit in your car without having to remove some or all of the wheels or handles?
What accessories are available with it? It’s a good idea to be able to create a travel system between your stroller and capsules. It will make it SO much easier to get out and about in those early days. Take the time to research that all your chosen pieces will fit together. And don’t forget the coffee cup holder – you will need it, mama!
If you have a toddler, is there space for a toddler board? Some twin strollers will allow you to add on an extra seat or standing platform for your other children.
Read more: Twins & More – Creating a Twin Travel System
Car Seat/Capsules for Twins
If you have a car, then you will need to have a car seat or capsule for each baby.
A car seat is usually buckled and/or braced into the car and will last until your child is ready for a booster seat. Some models will adapt from the car seat into a booster seat and will last you right through until your child no longer requires extra restraining.
A baby capsule is a more compact and portable seat for babies. It will generally only last until your babies are 6-9 months old when they will either get too tall for the capsule or get too heavy to carry anymore.
When deciding whether to go for a car seat or capsule for your twins, you will need to keep in mind that you will have two babies to cope with.
By having them in capsules, you will find that you have much more flexibility. Especially when you want to run quick errands or to pop-in to places. You will be able to keep your babies in the capsules and just carry them with you. This is especially valuable when they are sleeping.
If you decide that capsules are the way to go, then I would highly recommend considering purchasing or hiring bases to go with the capsules. This will enable you to quickly click the capsules in and out of the car without worrying about strapping them in each time.
If you opt for a car seat, you will need to wake your babies and transfer them into either a stroller or twin baby carrier to enable you to get where you are going. Even if it is just to pop into the local store for a carton of milk.
Twin Travel System
Another thing to consider is to purchase capsules that are compatible with your twin stroller, This will enable you to create a twin travel system that will truly make your life so much easier – especially during the first few months with your twins.
Read more: Creating a Twin Travel System
If you already have another child who is still in a car seat, then you might want to look into some of the super slim car seats available. Brands such as Diono or Britax offer car seats that are narrow enough that three will fit across the back seat of most standard cars.
TWIN BABY CARRIERS AND WRAPS
Babywearing has many benefits for both mama and babies. And thankfully, there are quite a few twin carrier options available to help you babywear your twins.
As a mama of two newborns, you will quite often find yourself needing to comfort both babies at the same time. Especially during the dreaded witching hour at the end of the day when everyone is tired.
This is where a twin baby carrier becomes an absolute lifesaver.
You might also prefer to carry your babies when you go for a walk, visit a friend at a cafe, or for school drop off with older children. Sometimes taking the huge twin stroller is just inconvenient.
Having a twin carrier will definitely give you a whole new sense of freedom and flexibility.
With a bit of practice, you will be able to just pop into the supermarket or get into those stores/cafes you couldn’t previously with the stroller. I wish I had discovered that such a product existed before my babies got too big to make the purchase worthwhile.
The type of carrier you purchase will depend on your babies age, weight, and intended use. Below we go over some of the common types of twin carriers.
Carriers for Newborn Twins
The Weego Twin carrier is perfect for those first few months when bonding, comforting and upright carrying for reflux is most important.
It’s also a wonderful way to multitask. You can keep up with the washing or housework or go for a walk while carrying your babies in their favorite spot – with you mama. It is also the only structured twin carrier that can be used with premature twins.
Many twin mamas opt for a stretchy or woven wrap tandem carry. It may take a bit of practice to learn the wrapping and tying techniques to ensure your babies are comfortable and safe. But once you get the hang of it, having a wrap is a very convenient way to carry your twins from newborn to toddler age.
There are also a few babywearing t-shirts for twins which are perfect for wearing if you have your babies prematurely. Skin-to-skin contact or Kangaroo care is encouraged for teeny preemies and these twin baby wearing t-shirts make it easy to hold both of your precious little ones safely.
Twin Carriers for 4-months +
Once your babies reach around 4 months old and can hold their own heads up, then there are a few other popular twin carriers you can move to.
The MiniMonkey Twin Carrier is popular with mamas who love to nurture their babies and wear them on their front within kissing reach.
The design makes it a wonderful alternative to a woven wrap, as you don’t need to learn all the wrapping, tightening and tying techniques that come with woven wrapping, to ensure your precious babies are safe.
The TwinGo Carrier comes into its own for out of the house activities such as running errands, school runs, shopping, etc. It is also handy that either one or two adults can use it.
Other options include the Naked Panda Designs Duo.
Woven, Stretchy and Hybrid Wraps
While the learning process for tandem wearing your twins using a wrap can be challenging for some, the benefits are huge and will be well worth the time it takes to get comfortable with using wraps.
Stretchy wraps are only usable for the first month or two with twins and are generally not recommended for use with twins by the product manufacturers now. But many twin mamas still love the closeness a stretchy wrap offers during the first weeks with newborn twins. Brands such as the Moby Wrap and the Boba Wrap are firm favorites.
Woven wraps offer the most versatility when it comes to tandem wearing twins. Front carry, hip carry or front/back carry are all possible once you get used to the various ways to safely wrap and tie your babies.
Hybrid wraps can offer the best of both worlds in that you have the option of both stretchy wrap ties and woven wrap ties.
Some things to think about
What is the main purpose for the carrier? Bonding and closeness, to help you get other things done at home, or to help you get out and about?
Would you like the option of being able to use the carrier as two single carriers or a tandem?
Your body shape and size, and the strength of your back/shoulders. If you have back issues, then carrying your babies both on your front for too long may not be a good option for you. If you have large breasts or a larger body frame, then you may find some of the structured carriers more challenging to get comfortable for both you and your babies.
How important is ease of use for you? Do you want to be able to just clip the straps and go, or are you happy to go through the learning process of wrapping and tying a woven wrap?
Budget – are you wanting something to take you from newborn to toddlerhood or do you prefer to purchase specialty carriers that are specific for age and stage?
The ages and weight of your babies – something like the Weego Twin is just for the first 5 or so months but is the only carrier that can be used by teeny prem bubs. Whereas the Twingo or MiniMonkey is more suitable for 5 months plus.
TWIN DIAPER BAGS
As a parent of twins, every time we leave the house, we have to carry around So. Much. Stuff. Double the clothing changes, double the diapers, bottles… the list goes on….
To help you feel a bit more stylish than a packhorse, it pays to look at some of the great diaper bags that are suitable for carrying all the things you will need for your twins.
Some things to think about
Lots of pockets will help you stay somewhat organized
Straps to enable you to attach it to a double stroller
Multi-use straps – having both over the shoulder and carry handles are really useful
Some parents prefer a backpack style bag as it leaves both hands free which you often need with twins.
Insulated pockets for two bottles which later can be used for water bottles
Having twins turns you into a diaper changing expert practically overnight. Once those two cute tushies arrive and you are changing about 20 diapers a day, you will want to ensure that you choose a diaper option that is both practical and cost-effective for you.
You really have two choices of diaper – disposables or reusables (or a combination of the two).
It’s best to shop around for disposable diapers. There are plenty of options both from the supermarket or from the MANY online nappy stores.
Go for the bulk pack ranges rather than the higher end supermarket brands. When you are going through 20+ diapers a day, premium-priced brands can add a whole lot to the weekly budget.
If cloth diapers are the way you want to go, there are plenty of options. While the initial outlay can be expensive, over time it is a much cheaper option. And don’t forget the benefits to our planet.
Many brands offer starter packs that include cloth diapers, inserts, and wet bags. They can come in such a fun assortment of colors and patterns. The technology has come a long way too. These reusable diapers are able to offer a similar level of moisture draw and leakproof qualities as their disposable cousins. Definitely worth considering.
Some things to think about
You will go through around 600 diapers in the first month with your babies…. Yep!
Some diapers are more skin-irritating than others. So while it’s an excellent idea to stock up before your babies arrive to take advantage of store specials. You may find your littlies skin reacts to the brand you have chosen. It pays to test a few brands first with smaller packs – just in case.
A diaper disposal system is a great idea for twins. You really don’t want to be traipsing out to the bin 20 times a day. Having something right next to the changing table is a huge time saver. Just make sure you go for a larger size that will hold a higher number of nappies.
CARING FOR THEIR SKIN
Your beautiful babies are born with the most perfect skin that will take a minimal amount of care. Their skin is sensitive so it’s important to use products that are as natural as possible with minimal fragrance.
Just a plain old baby bath and flannel will be all you need to start with. Bath time should be kept to a minimum to prevent their soft skin from drying out. You also have two babies to bathe so you don’t want to take too long anyway.
While you have one baby in the bath you can have the other one next to you lying in their Twin Z Pillow or a bouncer. Once the first baby has had their bath, gently pat them dry and apply an oil or moisturizer to their skin. You can then wrap them up and swap to baby 2.
Some things to think about
If you have had a C-section you will want a baby bath that either comes on a stand or that you can place at hip height to save you bending over. Some even use the kitchen sink while babies are small enough to fit into it as it’s usually the perfect height!
If you want to use a bath soap then choose a product with minimal ingredients and organic if you can.
Your babies’ skin can get very dry. A little massage with some oil will not only help their skin but fulfill your babies’ need for touch and nurturing.
Choose a reputable baby skincare brand that uses ‘real’ ingredients and again go organic if you can.
Using a bath support when your babies are a bit older is a great way to bath both twins together while keeping them safe.
Invest in some great nappy rash cream as sore bottoms will make for grumpy babies.