Looking after Twins
Having one newborn baby is challenging enough, having twins can be incredibly daunting. No matter how much you do to prepare, it is never going to be an easy job, but there are things you can do to make it easier. Below are some tips, many of them based on problems parents of twins have written about, designed to make the journey a bit smoother.
Start planning how to manage your twins early on. Accept any offers of help you get before the babies are even born, and discuss with each other how you are going to handle the babies, imagining how you would deal with possible scenarios such as one twin wanting to sleep while the other is crying. Make all your arrangements such as childbirth classes early, because twins are often born prematurely. It is also worth having a look at some of the books that have been written about caring for twins.
It is also important to be financially prepared, as having twins is very expensive. Set some money aside for the early days of the twins’ lives when you will have lots to buy. If you have other children you may already have some of the things you need, but having to have two of everything can be a burden on your income. You may also need to consider buying a bigger car, or a new house, and if both of you want to return to work you need to budget for childcare. Being prepared for these things can make it easier when you come to them.
Know what to Expect
Knowing what to expect probably won’t make things easier, but at least it will be less of a shock. You will feel tired for long periods of time, and must take every opportunity to rest while the twins are resting. Forget that the house is a mess and have a nap, because looking after twins is about prioritising. It is completely natural to feel very negative at times; to think you are not up to the job, even to wish that the babies had never come along. Try not to feel too guilty about this, because it is normal. These feelings won’t last.
Ask for Help
Forget what people might think about you, and forget about not wanting to put them out – ask as many people as possible to help you. Family and friends are usually more than willing to help out, whether with actually looking after the babies, helping out around the house, or just being around to give you a hug. If you have other children, it can be helpful to get somebody to take them on a day out to give you one less responsibility. If you can afford it, it might be worth hiring a nurse or nanny for the first few months. The most important thing is to avoid isolating yourself as this can lead to depression.
You cannot be expected to look immaculate or have the house spotless when you have twin babies. You cannot even be expected to give your older children the same level of attention that you normally would. You have to learn fast where your priorities lie, and more often than not, if your priority is not caring for the twins it should be caring for yourself and getting some rest. It is impossible to run your household exhausted, so be realistic and sleep whenever you can.
Look after your Relationship
If you and your partner are married or living together, it is important to try and find some time to spend alone together (easier said than done). Having one newborn baby puts immense strain on a relationship, having two can cause real problems. Particularly difficult moments include your partner coming home from work. Whichever parent has been at home all day will feel as though they need a break as much as the parent coming home from work. This can cause big arguments, so discussing how you will handle this as a routine beforehand is a good idea.
Find a Sense of Humour
Laughter can help get you through some of the worst days. While you may not feel like there is anything to laugh about, try to find something funny as often as you can. Watch a film or television program that makes you laugh, or try to have a joke with friends and family. However, do not be afraid to cry as much as you want as well. Holding in the tears does not help anyone and can make you feel worse.
Making the Switch
Whilst the number of house-husbands is growing, it is still mainly women who have to make the shift from being career women to full-time mothers. This can be difficult to deal with, and it is down to you as an individual to work out how you handle it. However, thinking about part-time work in the future, taking up different hobbies, or doing some further study some help you adjust to your new role. Obviously you will not want to do these things for a while, but knowing that you have ideas for when the babies are less dependent on you can ease the transition. It does get easier to forget about work. Of course, many mothers use childminders and other forms of day-care, but this can be expensive, especially with two babies, and is not the right choice for everyone.
Remember your Other Children
If you have other children, it can be all too easy to make them feel neglected or jealous. You will, of course, have to devote most of your time to the babies, but try to spare a little special time for each of your other children and treat them as much as you can. Make them feel involved in looking after the twins so that they understand their role as an older sibling.
Babyproof your Home
Make sure your home is a baby-safe environment before the twins learn to crawl, because once they do, you will have quite a job keeping up with them. Some basic things include; installing fire alarms, keeping emergency contact numbers handy, keeping a first aid kit stocked up, put safety plugs in all your sockets, put a stair-gate up move cleaning products to cupboards out of reach, move breakable ornaments up high, move cutlery and crockery somewhere out of reach. A good tip is to get onto floor level and look for anything that a baby could reach and potentially hurt themselves with. This includes lamps that can be pulled off tables and the cords on blinds which can be a strangulation hazard. Babies pick up anything and everything, and it all goes in their mouths, so vacuum regularly. They also tend to chew and destroy books and magazines, so avoid leaving them in reach.
Learn to Be Safe at Home
Babyproofing is just one step towards home safety. You need to learn how to act safely around the baby too. This means doing the common sense things which can be easy to forget, such as making sure if you leave a mug of hot drink lying around it is out of reach of the babies. With twins, you have to be more cautious than other parents, because you cannot watch both of them all the time. Never leave one twin on a surface higher than the floor to chase the other one, always make sure that baby is safe before you rescue the other. Never leave a baby in a bath on its own, even for a second. Most parents do these things automatically, but it is easy to forget once in a while, especially if the twins are your first children.
Telling your Babies Apart
Even if the twins are not identical, two babies look very similar, and many parents of twins genuinely have difficulty telling them apart, even when they get older. It is a myth that the mother always knows, so don’t panic if you have trouble. While they are little, to make it easier you could dress them in different colours or sew name tags into their clothes. Telling them apart will get easier as they get older.
With twins, it can be so tempting to dress them the same so that they look cute for photographs, or to give them rhyming names. However, this can affect their ability to view themselves as individuals, and to develop personalities separate from each other. Avoid referring to them as ‘the twins’, but call them by their separate names as you would other children. Take some photographs of them separately so that if they ask to see a photo of ‘me’ they can have one.
As the children grow older, try buying them different toys and encourage sharing, rather than buying two of everything. Encourage them to choose their own toys rather than always having the same. Similarly, encourage any separate hobbies or interests. Many twins have a special bond, and you cannot destroy this just by encouraging them to be themselves. Putting them in different classes at school might help, giving them a chance to develop their own friendship groups.
All of these decisions are of course up to the parents, based on the personalities of the twins. However, one thing that applies to all parents is that you should try to build a special one-to-one relationship with both your twins, and get to know them both as individuals.
Getting Out and About
It can be tempting just to stay at home with twins, because carrying two car seats and finding an affordable, manoeuvrable double buggy can seem impossible. Keeping an extra bag packed with essentials such as nappies and baby wipes can help you get out of the house, because it will all be there ready for you instead of you having to pack it all up. While the twins are babies, they will probably sleep a lot while travelling and cannot run in different directions, so it may be easier taking them out than you would expect. It is also essential for your sanity that you leave the house. Going food shopping can seem like a nightmare. Try to find a supermarket which provides trolleys with room for two babies, or else try wearing one or both babies in a sling, or wearing one baby and putting the other in a car seat in the trolley.
Mother, Baby and Beyond
- Pregnancy & Birth Guide
- Mother, Baby and Beyond
- Baby calendar
- Newborn Baby’s Check-ups and Tests
- Newborn Babies’ Appearance
- Bonding with Your Baby
- A Guide to Sleeping for Mother and Baby
- Coping with a Crying Baby
- Sibling Bonding
- The Father’s Role
- Postnatal Health
- Baby Predicaments
- Sex after Childbirth
- Weaning and Moving onto Solid Foods
- Travelling with a Newborn Baby
- Losing Baby Weight
- Baby Health Concerns
- Caring for your child
- Looking after Twins
- Baby vaccinations
- Caring for your newborn
- Mother and Baby Myths
- Mother and baby development FAQ
- Pregnancy & Birth Guide
- Guide to Getting Pregnant
- Guide to Pregnancy
- Guide to Giving Birth
- Guide to Pregnancy Tests
- Mother, Baby & Beyond Guide
- Guide to Pain Relief in Labour
- Guide to pregnancy scans
- Pregnancy calendar guide
- Baby calendar guide
- Child development calendar guide
- Guide to miscarriage
- Guide to breastfeeding
- Guide to sleeping for mother & baby
- Guide to birth defects
- Guide to Post Natal depression