Two heartbeats? Twins….twins?! YOU HAVE TWINS!!! Congratulations mama!! It is a WILD ride – let me tell YOU! This is the most exciting, exhausting, rewarding, challenging journey that you will ever be a part of. Keep scrolling to read my tips for navigating twins and to learn more about my experience.
It is so special. Two babies at once! It is also SO hard – two babies at once… I remember going into my 8 week ultrasound, excited and hopeful to see a tiny, flickering heartbeat. The doctor showed us right away and then he went silent. He searched around some more, then asked if I had a full bladder. YES of course I do!! He asked me to go to the bathroom and pee (thank you lord!) and come back to the exam room. I climbed back up on the table, nervous at this point (my neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) brain was spiraling…however twins did not come to mind).
He began the ultrasound again and said, “so you see this little heartbeat?” my husband and I, beaming, acknowledged the faint flickering and then he stated “AND you see THIS little heartbeat?!” We burst into tears! I have no clue what he said after that.
We were elated, petrified and more than anything so shocked! How truly blessed we were to be having two babies at ONCE! Would they be boys? Girls? One of each? We didn’t care of course we wanted healthy babies.
Besides an irritable uterus (how can you blame it?!) my pregnancy was more or less uneventful. And then on March 17, 2017 my twin, baby boys were born – my lucky charms, Happy St. Patty’s Day! Once they were earthside the fun really began!
Whether you are a schedule type person or not, when you have a baby you become a schedule person – and with twins there is no way around not having some sort of schedule (especially if you have older children as well). After being on this journey for 3 years now, I want to share my tips and tricks and what I wish I would’ve known before I brought my sweet boys into this world.
The trick is to get them on the SAME feeding schedule. I know not every baby is the same and we should treat them as individuals – HOWEVER, they are a part of your family and you need to have a moment of rest before the whole cycle starts again for your own sanity.
Whichever way you have chosen to feed your babies, know that it is the RIGHT decision; formula in a bottle, pumping and breastmilk in a bottle, nursing directly from the breast (more power to you!) – lets just remember to feed your baby in a way that works for you and your family – that is THE MOST IMPORTANT!
I put a lot of pressure on myself to breastfeed my twins and guess what–we didn’t get very far (about 6 weeks). I am thankful we live in a world where we have different options to feed our babies. Any amount of breastmilk is wonderful and they still DO get all the benefits even if you pump and feed it to them using a bottle. But twins are a LOT of work so be gracious with yourself mama, don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. If breastfeeding was your goal and it doesn’t work out IT’S OKAY- there are options!
MY MUST HAVE TWIN ITEMS:
- Twin Z Pillow:
- this is basically a double Boppy pillow – it’s great for breastfeeding, and eventually for awake time and tummy time!
- Table for 2:
- great for awake time, feeding, and so much more!
- Dr. Brown’s bottles
- the Options+ bottle are key – the inserts are optional. With two, you will be washing SO MANY bottles, parts, etc. If your baby is more sensitive, you have the option to keep the insert in, otherwise, the bottles work without them.
- Pump accessories – checkout Kate’s post on “Back to Work Essentials” for our recommendations
- Milk storage bags
- Haakaa – checkout Kate’s post on why you should use a Haakaa
- Hydrogel pads
- Check out Kate’s formula posts, too!
My nemesis for 1.5 years. This is the area where I would like to really share my opinion and story because I don’t want ANYONE to go through what I went through.
We were new parents. I had read some books on how to train 2 babies and get them on a good sleeping schedule but guess what…. It is SO much harder in real life! My husband went back to work so most days I was there caring for them by myself all day. The three of us would go through cycles of eating, sleeping, changing, repeat.
We slept where we laid – most of the time it was one or both twins on my chest or on a boppy pillow in my bed or one in a bouncy chair and one on me; endless combinations, but never in their cribs/bassinets (I realize this is not safe sleep and DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS). My husband and I were so sleep deprived. We did countless crazy things to try to get the babies to sleep, to prepare for our nightly battles, etc. Looking back, I do not even know how we did it. We joke about it now but it was taxing, trying on us as parents and our relationship, we were not productive in our lives – we just were surviving day to day. Plus – I was also exclusively pumping and working full time at the hospital which added to the craziness!
What I would have told myself now that I am on the other side is this:
Start as soon as possible
- If your babies are term, healthy and gaining weight, START THE SCHEDULE! It will promote sleep and give you down time.
- The younger they are, the easier it is to get them on a schedule.
- Hire help if you can – a night nurse, a sleep consultant
Pick a plan and stick with it
- My issue is I that I had a lot of different information in my head and I didn’t know how to put it all together
- Cry it out (CIO)
- Interval cry it out
- Non-crying method
- It doesn’t matter what you choose, just stick with it. If you’re not seeing change, we can help through a consult!
Have a plan based on age
- There’s a difference between a sleep schedule and sleep training
- Twins are often born early, so remember that they should be term, healthy, and gaining weight before you start a schedule
- schedule = set feeding and nap times
- training = crying methods at an appropriate age (usually 12-16 weeks corrected)
- Mom’s On Call is great for this – book a sleep consult or video chat consult with Kate to get her help and advice! There is a twin section.
- Read Kate’s blog post, “what is mom’s on call?” to find out more about it from an honest prospective! She’s worked with twin families.
Have them awake and asleep at the same time
- I grew up with the mentality that you never wake a sleeping baby – well this is what I did and it backfired- big time!
- In order to get them on the same schedule so that YOU and your partner can get some sleep you have to sometimes wake them. And that is OKAY.
- For me someone was ALWAYS awake… it takes a toll when you never get a break I can tell you that from experience. It’s SO IMPORTANT.
Feed them at the same time
- Twins often have different appetites – even if one baby just ate, wake and feed the other. This will help them get on a schedule.
Remember that they NEED sleep to develop and grow
- When we finally got a plan together and did sleep train them (around 6 months the first time) I told myself this over and over again as they were crying
- If you choose to do some version of CIO – It is SOOO hard to listen to your babies cry but it teaches them how to self soothe – remind yourself this is temporary, they are safe and loved, and you are doing the best thing for them so they can sleep
- I did not believe this. I did not want to hear them cry and I didn’t want to make them cry and be so upset.
- The sleep training didn’t work that well because we gave in to stop the crying
- For my 3rd son, we decided to try the CIO method again and it worked and he is by FAR our best sleeper.
- You have to do what works for you and your family. Not all sleep methods work for every family.
- Be gracious with yourself. THIS IS HARD!! And it takes time to work – some days are better than others.
MY FAVORITE TWIN PRODUCTS
- Sound machine
- Sleep sacks
- Ollie swaddle or Swaddle Me
- PRO TIP: get three for each baby. One to wear, one to wash, and one in case of emergency!
- Bibs pacifier – This is what Kate uses with her sleep clients and is the only pacifier in our experience that actually stays in baby’s mouth!
- Cribs – We got 2 of these and used them as bassinets then moved them into their room as starter cribs!
- Newton crib mattress
- Read more about why we love this mattress in Kate’s post, “sleep products I chose for the new baby” – use code NB50 for discount.
- I used these sheets to go over this mattress (you also don’t have to use sheets on this mattress if you don’t want to!)
- Bassinet for twins – I like this one! I have heard of similar products sinking in the middle, so be sure to read reviews if you purchase a different one!
ASKING FOR HELP
Ask for it and take it!!! I had people willing to help but I didn’t know what to ask them to do and I also felt bad asking. I always thought “these are my babies shouldn’t I be able to do this myself?!” The answer is NO! It is a lot of work having just one new baby but you have TWO! If you are lucky enough to have people around who are willing to help let them – they wouldn’t be offering if they didn’t mean it.
Things people can do to help you:
- Watch the babies so you can shower, sleep, run to the store.
- Don’t be ashamed to have someone come over so you can nap – my biggest regret
- dishes, laundry, vacuum, mop/sweep, clean bottles, there are endless things that need to be done
- Make or bring food over
- (or coffee – sometimes you just need a latte from a coffee shop instead of brewed from your pot!)
- Help you get out of the house
- Getting yourself and 2 babies out the door takes a lot! Having an extra set of hands to help carry things (or a kid) is wonderful! Even if you just want to go for a walk and get some fresh air!
How to ask for help:
- Set your expectations before they come over
- If they are going to be doing cleaning for you, make sure you have the products out or show them where they are
- Make a list of what you want done, in a prioritized order
- Let them know what would be the most helpful
- Set a time frame before they come over
- Let them know how much you appreciate their time and help
How to with TWO:
These activities are obviously easier with two people but I want you to know you CAN do it alone!! Unfortunately there will be some crying… This is just how it goes when you are outnumbered! The key to any of the following is to have a safe “container” for the second baby while you are working with the first baby (see Kate’s post on safe “containers” for babies).
- We had a few changing stations throughout the house because you never know when a blowout is going to occur! It is way more convenient if you can just drop what you are doing and change where you are instead of having to transport one poopy baby and another baby to a changing spot. It was a life saver!
- Have changing spots fully stocked throughout your house
- This does not mean a full blown changing table just a mat or blanket and a container with diapers, wipes and cream that is easily accessible
- Have a place to put baby number 2 while changing baby 1
- This can be the floor (I used this twin pillow all of the time), bouncy chair, bassinet, crib (see Kate’s safe containers post for babies)
- Remember it is OKAY if they are crying – it’s only temporary!
My favorite diapering products:
- Target diapers – I am actually a HUGE fan of target diapers, no rashes, durable and contained blowouts better than some other brands I tried)
- Wipes – these are the best because they’re made mostly of water and Kate recommends them in her 48 hour diaper rash remedy + diaper bag essentials post.
- Diaper cream spreader – trust me on this (also in Kate’s 48 hour diaper rash remedy)
- Diaper cream – triple paste is one of my favorites and I also love the purple Desitin
- Diaper caddy – I love this Skip Hop diaper caddy and I had these diaper caddy’s from Target placed in different spots around the house for easy changing!
- Changing mat – I also had a few of these around the house too!
- Diaper trash can – Contains smell really well AND you can use regular trash bags – huge money saver!
This one can get tricky by yourself and again a safe container is the way to go when you are doing bathtime alone with twins.
- Have everything you are going to need in the bathroom with you
- Things for bathing: soap, washcloth, towel, etc.
- Things for after bathing: clothes, lotion, diaper, diaper cream, etc.
- Bathe each baby separately either in a baby bath or in a bath seat in the big tub if they are old enough (see Kate’s post on bath essentials)
- Have your container in the bathroom with you (can just be a mat on the floor)
- Bring toys, pacifier, etc to have baby #2 entertained while you bathe the other twin
- Once you finish the bath, dry and dress #1 and repeat the whole process for #2
**TIME SAVER TIP**
A wipe down with a soapy washcloth and rinse can be done with both babies at once and is just as effective and no chance of drowning.
- Have warm soapy water ready with washcloths
- Place both babies on a mat or towel on the floor – wash!
- Cover with a towel and switch the water to clean water – rinse babies!
- Then you can lotion and dress at the same time
- Some parents find this faster and easier than dealing with the tub – up to you!
**You also can choose to bathe them on different nights**
Favorite bathing items:
- Water rinser – this made it super easy to rinse their heads in the bath
- Spout safety cover – this has saved them from bumping their heads so many times! Checkout Kate’s post on “baby + toddler proofing safety” for more recommendations!
- Baby bath – this is what I used with my twins in the tub up until they were 6 months old!
See Kate’s “bath essentials for newborns, babies and toddlers” post for more recommendations based on each age!
LEAVING THE HOUSE
Some of this depends on where you are going (grocery store, restaurant, doctor’s appointment, etc.), but many of the preparation efforts are the same
PREPARE ahead of time!!!
- The MORE you can have ready, the BETTER!
- I am talking have as much packed and ready the night/hours before you are trying to leave and PUT IT IN THE CAR
- Pack extra outfits/burp cloths/pacis/bottles/blankets – you never know what may happen
- see Kate’s diaper bag essentials post for more details!
BIG diaper bag that is a BACKPACK!
- Trust me you already don’t have enough hands for one let alone 2 babies – being able to throw your essentials on your back is key!
- I love this diaper bag because it can be worn as a backpack or cross-body. Click here to read more about why Kate loves this diaper bag in more detail!
Allow enough time …and then ADD TWO HOURS
- It sounds crazy but as soon as you are about to leave someone will have a poop/explosion/meltdown/puke everywhere and it will slow you down!
- This will decrease the rushing which is nearly impossible with 2 babies
- The worst thing that can happen is that you will have some time to sip some coffee or be early (which you have twins so if you are late that is the best and valid excuse)
MAKE A LEAVING THE HOUSE LIST!
- Anything you have to grab last minute
- I cannot tell you how many times the list saved me… MILK!!! Yes, I almost forgot milk… the list I am telling you is a lifesaver!
Other twin products I found helpful:
- Everyday stroller – I love this because it’s easy to push, affordable and fits on sidewalks!
- Active stroller – This is perfect for running, going on trails or to the beach (it’s also easy to push!)
- I love this diaper bag because it can be carried as a backpack or cross-body and fits EVERYTHING
- My husband likes to use this backpack diaper bag (because double the baby, double the things!)
- For more info on what to keep in your diaper bag click here!
- Drool bibs – These hold up in the washing machine after MANY washes better than any other bib I’ve ever used and absorbs a lot of spit up! (and they come in so many cute patterns!)
- Burp cloths – These are super absorbent and HUGE compared to others on the market
- Bib pacifier – This is the only pacifier that actually STAY in your baby’s mouth. Kate uses them with her sleep clients too!
- Cooler bag – This cooler bag is perfect for formula, breastmilk, daycare, etc. It also fits perfectly in your diaper bag!
- Boba wrap – this can fit 2 babies when they are little (see picture of me wearing it above)
I hope that you find these tips and tricks for twins are helpful!! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out!! You can book a videochat or text consult with me by clicking here.
The first year is really hard but so rewarding. They have playmates for life – at around 16 months they start to entertain and play with each other which is amazing to see (and offers a little break)!
Hang in there mama, twins are the BEST!!
**This post is educational and not meant to take the place of your provider. Bumblebaby makes a small commission on some of the items listed above