It’s been a minute since I was a brand new mom of twins (9 years ago!) but I often think about all the things I’d do differently if I had twins again. Some of these include both big and small changes in feeding, sleep schedules, baby products and more. Read on for 4 things I wish I’d known before having twins!
Finding out you’re having twins can be miraculous, shocking, emotional and fairly terrifying news. Our twins came when we already had 3 other small children and were most definitely NOT expecting multiples (watch this if you want to hear our hilarious reactions when we found out at our 20 week ultrasound) . It was a huge adjustment but a really fun, exciting time of life, as well!
I generally think we did pretty well managing 2 tiny infants (plus a 6, 4 and 2 year old) but there are a handful of things I’d most likely do differently if I had twins again. Some of them were big mistakes (sleep schedules, anyone?) and some were just minor oversights but I wanted to share them for anyone else who’s expecting multiples and wants to avoid some headaches and sleep deprivation.
You Don’t Have to Exclusively Breastfeed
I’m a BIG fan of breastfeeding and have loved almost every minute of nursing all (now) 9 of my kids. But exclusively nursing my twins was SO FREAKING HARD. Nowadays it’s pretty common for moms to breastfeed one infant while someone else feeds previously pumped breastmilk to the other baby (see next tip for why it’s so important to feed them at the same time!) but at the time, I’d never even considered pumping my milk so someone else could feed a baby.
In my mind, my only choices were to either nurse both babies all the time, or put them on formula some of the time. And since I always made enough milk (and usually didn’t have someone around to help me bottle feed a baby), I just went with breastfeeding. It was also hard for me to tandem nurse, so I always ended up feeding one baby, and then feeding the other baby. That pretty much meant that I was feeding someone nearly 24 hours a day.
In hindsight, I would have propped one baby up with a bottle of formula while nursing the other one, then switched babies for the next feeding. They both would’ve been fed, I wouldn’t have been so exhausted and life in general would’ve been a ton easier!
I’m not saying that exclusively breastfeeding can’t or doesn’t work for other moms, it was just something that I could’ve let go of to make my life easier.
P.S. You might even consider the option of donor breastmilk! That way you could give your babies the benefit of breastmilk even if you don’t make enough or you don’t have the time/desire to pump.
Put Babies on the Same Sleep Schedule ASAP
As you can imagine, nursing two babies, one after the other one, meant that their sleep schedules were rarely synced. Even the fussiest baby on the planet has to sleep sometime, but with two babies (and one of mine happened to be crazy fussy all the time), they can tag team you until you DIE of sleep deprivation.
Our twins woke up a ton during the night as infants. One night I tracked their wake/sleep periods and they each woke up 7-8 SEPARATE times (that’s right, 14+ times total in one night). It was torture.
Finally at 8 months old, I’d had enough and we buckled down for some sleep training. My singletons had all created their own good sleep routines fairly early on, but the twins needed some serious help. I have a whole post about that and the sleep training book that saved our lives here.
You Don’t Need Two of Every Baby Product
This is probably the biggest (and spendiest) mistake that a lot of us twin moms make – we buy duplicates of every baby outfit, accessory, product, toy and gadget out there because, well, we have TWO babies! If you really want to save money, buying secondhand is my favorite way to get baby gear. (Toycycle, is a really fun secondhand resource for baby stuff!)
Here are a few of the products that were really helpful to buy in duplicate:
• Clothes & Blankets: you don’t need fully double the wardrobe, but (depending on how often your babies spit up or blow out of diapers) you will need a decent amount of extra clothes. I think my babies probably had about 75% more clothes and blankets than a normal singleton wardrobe and we were fine. You can always buy more as needed!
• Cribs: Our babies shared this kind of bassinet for several months (there’s even a twin version if you want to keep babies separate) but once they started moving around significantly, they definitely needed more space. We used our old crib for one baby and bought another one secondhand to save money. They’ve successfully shared a room their entire lives and we found it amazing that most of the time one twin’s crying would not wake up the other one.
• Car seats: This is an obvious one! I’m a big fan of investing in car seats with the highest maximum weight allowance possible so that you don’t have to buy a new one for a long time. Most twin moms I know use the regular infant car seats (we’re big fans of the Chicco KeyFit) for their new babies; they make it easy to take out a sleeping baby without disturbing them. However, some families put newborns in a convertible car seat like this one (we usually buy Britax for the bigger seat) and then just babywear or put baby in a stroller everywhere. It’s definitely a matter of preference but the twin thing means you’ll have your hands fuller than most first-time moms.
• Bottles: I highly recommend every twin mom have some bottles on hand, even if you’re planning on exclusively breastfeeding (see tip #1 above) but you don’t need a gazillion. Just like clothes, the more you have, the less often you have to wash them but just 30-50% more than what you’d buy for a singleton will probably be sufficient.
• High chair or booster seat: You’ll definitely want a separate seat for each baby when it comes time to feed them solids. Note: you won’t need this until babies are around 6-8 months old. Each of my babies has started solids later and later as I keep having them because it’s just so much more hassle than nursing them!
There’s generally no need for duplicates of these: bouncy seat, swing, jumper or activity seat, stroller (obviously get a double seater), baby wrap or carrier (unless your hubby wants to wear a baby at the same time – I could never talk mine into it), changing pad and portable crib.
You can see the list of all my essential baby products (and watch the vlog where I tell you what to skip) here!
Ask For Help When You Need It
I’m gonna get a little vulnerable here, guys, and tell you that having infant twins was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done in our parenting years. We had no idea what to expect and we had very little outside help. We lived by both of our families and had a supportive church community, but we just didn’t know how to ask for it.
If you find yourself in the same situation, please don’t make the same mistake we did! Reach out to loved ones, tell them you’re struggling and ask for something specific.
Here are a couple ideas of what others could do to help lighten your load:
• bring meals in (especially freezer or crockpot meals)
• come over to hold a baby (or two) while you nap
• help with laundry or housework
• donate gift cards for restaurants or house cleaners
• come over to play with your other children (or take them for a playdate)
• run errands for you (grocery store, pharmacy, picking up baby necessities)
• just come over so that you have someone to talk to
When our twins were about 6 months old (and still not letting us sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch), my sisters-in-law took all our kids, including the babies, and sent us off to sleep at a hotel for a night. It was one of the most glorious nights of sleep I’ve ever had!
Remember, most people around us would love to help, but they’re not mind readers. Why not give them a chance to serve and help ourselves in the process?
One note about traveling with twins
I’ve always been a big fan of air travel with small babies because they’re so much easier than to bring along than toddlers. But if you’re ever tempted to try flying alone on an airplane with 2 babies, I wouldn’t recommend it unless absolutely necessary!
Even with another person, flying with twins can get tricky. We found out the hard way when my mom and I flew with my babies that you can’t even sit in the same row with 2 lap babies because every airplane row only contains 1 extra oxygen mask. This isn’t a big deal if you end up purchasing a separate ticket/seat for one of more babies but who wants to do that?
If twins are in your future, I hope these tips were helpful! Parenting multiple babies can be such a wonderful thing, but it’s not without its challenges. You might also be interested in reading our twins’ (VBAC!) birth story or this post about making an informed C-section decision.
And if you’re looking for an amazing prenatal class, check out Pulling Curl’s deluxe online prenatal course. Hilary has been a nurse for many, many years and definitely knows her stuff. Plus she’s just a generally hilarious human and great fun to learn from!