From Feeding to Sleeping: How to Take Care of Twins

From Feeding to Sleeping: How to Take Care of Twins

People ask me if having twins is more difficult than when I became a first-time mom with my eldest son. Emotionally—yes, because I know what to expect and that the challenging months are temporary. But physically? It’s much more difficult—there are two of them and still only one of me with no extra hours in a day.

However, through these last several months, I’ve learned how to take care of twins and still get stuff done:

Put the babies on the same schedule

One of the best ways to streamline your day (and catch some rest) is to put both babies on the same schedule. If one baby wakes up hungry, feed both of them, even if it means waking a sleeping baby. Put them down to nap at the same time. And bathe them one right after the other.

I’ve tried putting them to sleep based on individual cues instead of putting them on the same schedule, and I just wound up exhausted. I felt like I was on a chase, exhausted from task after task. Now I put the babies on the same schedule, and they have learned to adjust not only to one another but to the routine that guides their day.

Tandem nurse or bottle feed simultaneously

Most people assume it’s impossible or have never even heard of tandem feeding (“Wait—you’re breastfeeding both of them? At the same time?” are common reactions I get when I’m with family). Considering that newborns normally nurse for 20+ minutes and are awake sometimes only for an hour, mastering tandem feeding will help you make the most of your time.

You’ll want to purchase a nursing pillow catered to twins (I use My Breast Friend Twin Deluxe) so that you can comfortable place both babies on the pillow and keep your hands free. Start with the baby with the more difficult latch. If one finishes before the other, burp him by either holding him up to your shoulder or sitting him on the pillow.

As with most new experiences, practice makes perfect. For the longest time, I wasn’t able to burp the babies on my own and would have to hand one to someone else. But over time I was able to handle the entire feeding—from placing them on the nursing pillow to finally burping them—all on my own. Plus, I couldn’t stand feeding one while the other was wailing his head off. With tandem feeding, I know they’re both nursing and taken care of.

Feeding babies with bottles can be done in tandem as well. Once your babies have more control over their necks, place them in bouncers next to each other so that you can hold both their bottles.

Run errands with the twins in a stroller

You may not be able to buy cartloads at the grocery, but running errands with a stroller allows you to get stuff done, entertain the babies and even squeeze some exercise into your day. Whether you’re walking to the nearby bank or driving to the mall, taking the twins out on errands can save time as well as get you out of the house.

This may seem daunting, especially when you double the chances that a baby will start crying. You may want to avoid (or have a quick exit from) places like the library and stick to places that are fairly loud and won’t mind you soothing a fussy baby. There are two of them, and only one of you.

Use baby gear like swings, bouncers, mobiles and baby carriers

I have a love/hate relationship with swings and baby carriers because on one hand, you don’t want your babies to get used to them so much that they can’t sleep in anything but, yet on the other hand, they work. If the babies have a difficult time sleeping in their bassinets or cribs, consider placing them in a swing, baby carriers or wraps. They’ll eventually outgrow the gear at some point, whether on their own or through sleep training, so use them now when you most need them.

Bouncers and mobiles are other useful items to keep your little ones occupied so that you have time to do quick tasks around the house. They’re also great for entertaining one baby while you tend to the other such as alternating diaper changes.

Get creative with bath time.

With two babies to bathe, you’ll need to get creative with bath time. For us, my husband and I are lucky: we’re almost always together to bathe the babies. One parent was the designated bather while the other was the designated dryer and changer.

However, whether alone or with help, you’ll want to get everything ready before starting the bath. Set up the pajamas, diapers and any other medicines, nose suctions or other gear you’ll need. Prepare the bottles or set your breastfeeding station up with the nursing pillow, your water, phone and book. Preparation is key with bathing twins, especially since it’s one of the tasks you’ll most certainly need two hands to do.

Accept and get help, especially during the first few weeks

Asking for help is common even with singleton babies, but much more necessary with twins. If someone can spend a few weeks at your home, even better. You’ll need help soothing and caring for the babies, tending to your other kids, preparing and planning meals and maintaining your house (such as washing dishes or throwing out the trash). Even if helpers can only come on the weekends, you could still ask them to bring meals, buy your groceries, or play with the babies while you catch a break.

Almost every twin mom I spoke with says that getting help is crucial, especially in the first few weeks and months. You’ll never feel more outnumbered than during those challenging moments, so don’t be shy about asking for or even hiring help.

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As a mom who not only has twins but a three-year-old to care for, trust me when I say that you can definitely do this. Put the babies on the same schedule. Buy whatever gear you need to make life with twins easier. And accept help when offered. From taking a shower to going for a walk around the block, you’ll slowly but surely be able to get stuff done, even while taking care of your twins.

What are some of the best ways you get stuff done—twins or singleton babies?

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Nina

Nina is a working mom to three boys—a five-year-old and toddler twins. She blogs about parenting at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she's learning about being mom and all its joys and challenges. She also covers topics like how kids learn and play, family life, being a working mom and life with twins. Download her free ebook, "Time Management Strategies for the Overwhelmed Mom" for more tips.

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  1. says

    I love your parenting posts – so practical and grounded. I use babywearing to get stuff done, and I prioritize bedtime. As a stay at home parent, I find that if my kids get focused attention from me in the morning they will often self-regulate for the rest of the day. I think I would use more of a schedule if I had multiples.
    maryanne @ mama smiles recently posted..World Culture for Kids: Munich, GermanyMy Profile

  2. says

    With twins (13 mos) plus two older ones, I agree with this list! Unfortunately with a husband in the military and living far from family the asking for help point does not always work for me, but I just do what I have to do. It is great to connect with other twin moms-essential even. That is one point I would add. The demands are greater with two for sure.
    Jaimi@TheSAHMSurvival Guide recently posted..Calendar Photo Crawl Activity for Infants and ToddlersMy Profile

    • says

      Wow Jaimi, props to you! That’s what I’ve learned as well: You just do what you have to do. If I even tried to think of the technicalities of taking care of twins before it happening, I’d be in disbelief. But suddenly you find yourself in that situation and you just do what you have to do. No choice otherwise!

      And yes, connecting with other twin moms is very important. I don’t know too many in my real life but I relied a lot on Baby Center’s twin board. There is definitely a camaraderie that’s so supportive among twin moms. I find it’s a little bit more welcoming.

  3. Erin says

    This article was a good read. I wish I had read it months ago, but have figured out most of these tricks with our 7 year old, 5 year old, and 8 month old twins! We are still using swaddlers at the moment to help with sleeping/falling asleep, but they won’t work for much longer. Any suggestions for transitioning to sleep without using swaddling would be appreciated! Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Erin!

      We sleep-trained our twins when they were four-months-old, and we weaned them from their swaddles at that point. We did the same with our eldest when he was about six-months-old. With him, the swaddles were clearly not working anymore. He was so frustrated being constrained, but at the same time, wasn’t used to falling asleep without it, either. We tried the gradual ‘one arm out’ trick but that didn’t help either.