Feeling overwhelmed with twins? Raising two babies is hard, but not impossible! Learn 8 secrets to surviving twins in the newborn stage.
Adjusting to motherhood had been hard for me as a first-time mom. So much so that it had taken a while—two and a half years—before I was open to adding another child to the mix. I figured my son was “easier” by that point, that even with a newborn, I felt I would manage.
I’d be a second-time mom, after all. Experienced.
So, when I learned that my second pregnancy was not one, but two babies, I just about had a meltdown. I couldn’t wrap my head around surviving twins, especially after the sleep deprivation I had gone through with my eldest.
I thought I’d have my second pregnancy down pat, but instead I felt like a new mom all over again—this time, a new mom of multiples.
During my twin pregnancy, I started mentally preparing how to care for two, especially that first year. However temporary the newborn stage would be, I also knew surviving twins would be the hardest thing I would face thus far.
8 secrets to surviving twins
And so, I did a ton of research on simple hacks to get through it. These were the tricks that are a must for parents of twins. Thanks to both being prepared and knowing this wouldn’t last forever, this stage was much easier than I anticipated.
No doubt you’ll still be exhausted—there’s no getting around the challenges that come with being twin parents. But you’ll get through this stage more intact, better rested, and even happier than you thought.
Take a look at these secrets to surviving twins to help you get through it:
1. “Synchronize” your twins
You might have heard the advice to put your twins “on the same schedule.” I’ve said the same advice but have now changed the wording to “synchronize your twins.”
When you hear “put your twins on the same schedule,” it’s easy to assume you’re supposed to do things by the clock or at a certain time. But the newborn stage isn’t conducive for putting them on a clock-based schedule.
Sometimes, yes—for instance, you can give them a bath at 6:30pm every night. But for most activities like eating and sleeping, it’s better to wait for their newborn sleep cues or follow a flow instead.
So, what does synchronizing look like? Do the same things for the both of them.
If one twin wakes up to eat, feed both of them. If it’s time to wake one up, wake the other. Get them ready for bath and bed at the same time, and feed them together as well.
You’ll have wiggle room, maybe 15 minutes here or half an hour there, but for the most part, you’ll want to do the same activities for both twins.
This saves you time from keeping track of who did what since the last time. You can also batch many of your activities, like feeding or taking a nap yourself while they’re asleep. If you keep each baby on her own sleep schedule, you’ll have no time to rest yourself.
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2. Have another adult stay with you, especially at night
Friends and relatives will want to visit you and meet the babies, especially on weekends. But see if you can arrange for someone, like your parents, to stay long-term. As useful as it is to have people bring food and help with household chores, nothing beats someone who can stay with you for an extended time.
After my twins were born, my mom stayed with us for the first three weeks. During that time, she knew nearly everything about caring for them, from which twin liked the pacifier to which one tended to sleep longer.
She also knew how we ran our household, like which cupboards the clean dishes go back into and what my toddler liked to eat for breakfast.
Having her sleep over also gave us an extra set of arms in the middle of the night. She was willing to hold a fussy baby at three in the morning just so my husband and I can get a few moments of sleep.
With long-term help, you don’t have to explain your process over and over, like you do with visitors, on how to give formula or do diaper changes. You also won’t feel compelled to entertain, since this person is so ingrained into your everyday routine.
If you don’t have anyone to sleep over, consider hiring a night nurse, as many mamas I know have done. This person can help during those sleep-deprived hours in the middle of the night to give you the sleep you need for the day.
Learn how to take care of twins and still get stuff done.
3. Sleep early
Before I had kids, a typical bedtime was around midnight, or 11pm if I slept “early.” With a newborn, bedtime moved up way earlier.
You’ll no longer be able to sleep for eight hours uninterrupted, so you’ll need to patch them together as much as you can. Since you’ll be up throughout the night, you’ll want to start having an early bedtime.
Yes, it’ll be broken up into chunks, and you’re not getting that long stretch of deep sleep, but chunks of sleep are better than no sleep.
Aim for an 8pm bedtime, both for you and the twins. It’ll be dark and late enough at night for them to settle in. You’re also establishing a routine—yes, even this young—to get them used to sleeping at night.
4. Feed your twins after they wake up
Many parents feed their babies to fall asleep. After all, sucking is one of the most effective soothing activities. Nurse or bottle-feed your twins to sleep and they’ll likely conk out in minutes.
The problem? They’ll rely on eating to fall asleep. Yes, you’ll find yourself in this situation many times where you’ll have to feed them to sleep, but use that as a last resort.
Instead, encourage them to fall asleep on their own by avoiding the habit of feeding them to fall asleep. Feeding them after they wake up from naps provides the calories to fuel them for their wake times. They’ll be more alert and ready to absorb their surroundings after a good meal.
And feed them on demand. If there’s a chance they’re hungry, go ahead and feed them. Babies usually cry because they’re hungry and not much else. However annoying it is to feed them when it feels like they just ate, it’s best to do so.
You’re not establishing bad habits or making them too attached, not at this point. Their growth and weight gain should be your main concern. I’d get annoyed when someone would suggest they were hungry, but in the end, I knew they were probably right.
Breastfeeding frequently also increases your milk supply. Your body won’t produce milk if it thinks there’s no need for it. The more you feed, the more milk you produce.
5. Don’t keep your twins awake too long
After you’ve fed your twins, it’s time for them to be awake. Here’s another good piece of advice I learned too late with my eldest: newborns should only be awake 60-90 minutes at most. After that, it’s time for another nap.
I cringe writing that because it draws memories of me keeping my eldest awake at social functions. I didn’t think to put him down after a mere hour, so he’d get overtired and have a harder time falling asleep for his next nap.
Later, I learned my lesson when the twins came around. I watched the clock and, if an hour and a half had passed, I’d begin their nap time routine and put them to sleep. Any earlier and they were too wired to fall asleep, but any later and they felt overtired and cranky.
As far as what to do during awake time, people make the best toys! Babies love looking at people’s faces and hearing your voice. Talk often to your twins, while also keeping it a two-sided “conversation.” Don’t feel like you have to fill every minute with talking.
Introduce them to new experiences like books, toys, and household items. They’re absorbing so much that you don’t have to do much to impress them. Instead, use their awake time to bond, talk, sing, and otherwise spend time with your little ones.
Discover 7 little-known secrets on how to get an overtired baby to sleep.
6. Cook and freeze meals ahead of time
Many families rely on frozen meals to get through those early weeks at home. You can eat nutritious, home-cooked meals without spending too much time preparing them. They’re also an inexpensive alternative to ordering food.
About a month before the twins arrive, prepare several meals for freezing. You can double the regular meals you’re currently cooking and freeze half of them (make sure the meals are freezable). Or set aside a weekend or two to batch cook several meals you plan to freeze immediately.
Below are several best practices on preparing frozen meals:
- Store food in microwave- and freezer-safe containers or freezer bags.
- Leave some space in the container since frozen food expands.
- Allow food to cool completely before putting them in the freezer to prevent bacterial growth.
- Don’t re-freeze food once you’ve thawed it.
- High-moisture food like stews and soups freeze well, as do casseroles and pasta dishes.
- Label your frozen containers and bags so you don’t have to guess what’s in it. Write the meal, ingredients, and the date you froze it.
7. Pack the diaper bag after coming home from an outing
Make sure you have everything you need long before you leave the house. This will help you avoid scrambling or forgetting something in those last few minutes as you’re rushing out.
The best way to do so? Pack your diaper bag after you get home from an outing. If you got home from an outing and used two diapers, pack two more right when you get home. If you soiled the burp cloth, pack another one at the same time you throw the old one in the hamper.
I used one diaper bag for both twins and made sure they included everything I’d need for outings, like:
- Diapers (your outings will likely be short, but you’ll still want to pack at least six or eight)
- Burp cloths
- Two large, thin blankets (which can double as a nursing cover)
- Two thicker blankets to place over them in the car seats (in case it’s cold)
- Rattle toys
- Bottles if you’re bottle-feeding
- A change of clothes for each
- A bag in case you don’t have access to a trash can
- A snack for yourself
- Hand sanitizer
8. Bond with your twins during daily tasks
When the twins arrive, you might feel guilty for not spending “quality time” with them. When you have one baby, it’s easy to spend all your time with him, but what happens when you have two? Will you be able to form a special relationship with each one?
The good news is, yes! Even with caring for twins (on top of other children you may already have), you can still create special moments. The key is to find one-on-one time with each of them, especially during daily tasks.
Think about how often you’re with one of them during the day, like bathing or changing. You’re already spending time alone—use these moments to bond with them further.
Rather than going through the motions, talk with each baby. Describe the water pouring on her toes. Smile and kiss her forehead after strapping on a diaper. Yes, even with your other twin crying or waiting his turn to take a bath. Make the experience you already have with your current twin a positive one.
Another tip is to have another adult bottle-feed one of the twins.
I’m all about tandem nursing, but one-on-one feedings can allow you to spend time with each twin. Talk, snuggle, and focus 100% on them. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but these are the moments you can bond while they’re feeding.
Twins by default don’t get the same attention that one baby would, no doubt. They have to learn to wait or share their time. But this doesn’t mean yours are stuck with little to no attention forever. Don’t feel like you’re neglecting one baby or aren’t bonding with them because they’re twins.
Surviving twins can be hard, especially in the newborn stage. But life with newborn twins the next few months can be much easier when you have a few hacks in place.
Synchronize your twins so they’re on the same schedule, and see if you can have someone stay for an extended time to help (especially at night!). Don’t keep them awake for too long, as this can tire them out. Aim for an early bedtime for the whole family so you can patch together enough sleep.
Cook and freeze meals ahead of time so you’ll have healthy home-cooked meals ready. Save yourself time and hassle by packing your diaper bag after coming home. And if you’re worried about bonding with two babies, rest assured that you’ll still have pockets of time to spend with each one.
As challenging as being a twin mom can be, I’m glad I eventually decided to try for a second baby—especially since we got a bonus third one as well.
Get more tips:
- When You Don’t Have a “Village”: How to Take Care of Twins Alone
- How Caring for Newborn Twins is Different from Singletons
- Beat the High Cost of Twins Using These Sneaky Ways
- Raising Twins after a Singleton
- Finding it Hard to Raise Twins? You’re Not Alone.
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