The ultrasound technician rolled the probe over my baby bump and said “I see two heartbeats. You’re expecting twins!”
My husband and I nearly fell out of our seats. We looked at each other in disbelief and then back at the sonogram screen feeling a surge of emotions at once – joy, shock, gratitude. We always wanted a big family so having two babies in one pregnancy certainly put us on the fast track.
My boy-girl twins are a year old now and I’ve learned so much since the day they were born. From double strollers to tandem breastfeeding, tummy time to their first steps, we’ve all grown as a family and I have to say I’ve become well-attuned to their needs and am always thinking two steps ahead!
Here are my top 5 tips on what to do when raising two:
1. Have your babies follow the same schedule.
If you ask any parent of multiples, they’ll tell you this is a cardinal rule to follow from day one. Imagine this: it takes up to an hour for just one feeding, and newborns feed every 2 – 4 hours. Then they burp. Then they need a diaper change and go back sleep. And the cycle continues. If you were to do this back-to-back day and night, you would never get a break!
In the beginning, I breastfed my twins simultaneously (using a Twin Z pillow) and once they outgrew it, I breastfeed one while my husband/nanny/family member gave the other a bottle. That way, their feeding and sleeping routine was in sync. The same went for bath time, play time, etc. As toddlers, they have grown accustomed to doing everything together. They both wake up at 7 am, nap from 12 – 3 pm, and wind down for bedtime around 7 pm, with their breakfast/lunch/dinner, bottle feeds, bath time, and play time allotted for. I put a printout of their schedule on our fridge so that everyone knows what the twins are up to, which has made life so much easier.
2. Assemble your village.
Sure you may want to prove to the world that you can handle child rearing all on your own, but believe me, you’ll be tired, cranky, and won’t be able to give your 100%. The better care you take of yourself, the better caretaker you’ll be for your family.
I have been fortunate to have a husband who enjoys being a hands-on superdad. He does diaper changes better than anyone (no leaks!), orders their baby products on time (thank you Amazon subscribe and save), and reads books to them before bedtime with sound effects and Hindi translations to boot. Ask your partner to partake in all the childcare duties. It’ll help build a stronger relationship between the two of you and the kids will be thankful for that quality time.
If you’re a working mom, hire a nanny or opt for daycare. Our nanny works on weekdays and some weekends and has helped look after our twins since the day they came home from the hospital. That familiarity is key as they are so comfortable with her and adore her. We are eternally grateful to her and trust her with what’s most precious in our life – our kids.
Lastly, have your family members get involved. We live a stroller ride away from my in-laws; Our kids’ faces light up when they go to Dadaji and Dadiji’s place. My sister visits on her free weekends and my parents come stay with us when they can. Any help is a huge load off your shoulders, so don’t hesitate to ask your family and friends to come by for play time so you can take a nap or have them bring over food so you won’t have to cook. And don’t forget to thank them and return the favor in any way you can.
3. You actually don’t need two of everything.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to go on a crazy shopping spree buying two of everything. There are some essentials that you’ll have to double up on like diapers, clothes, bottles, bouncers (we bottle-fed them at the same time this way when they were infants), and high chairs, but there are other baby items where you can get by with just one. For instance, there are strollers on the market, like this one, that are versatile because they can convert from a single stroller to a double stroller (be it for twins or if you have a newborn and toddler). We have one baby tub, one jumper, one walker, and one of each toy, and guess what, they have to take turns and learn to share.
Don’t get me wrong, our kids have their moments where they fight over the same puzzle or blocks, but we let them resolve their issue on their own rather than mediating every single time. It’s the only way they’ll learn to compromise as adults and meet each other halfway.
4. Allow them to embrace their innate bond.
The bond between twins is so unique. From womb-mates to roommates, they understand each other like no one else and can truly feel what the other feels. My husband and I always thought this was special and try to capture photos of them interacting, whether they’re giggling together or giving each other high-fives.
When our kids were newborns, our pediatrician told us they should sleep in separate cribs. Somehow this didn’t sit well with me. They were together in my belly for so long, I couldn’t bear to separate them in the outside world. So I went with my gut and swaddled them and laid them to sleep side by side (this was not a SIDS risk since they were not able to take their arms out of their swaddles or roll over at this time). They looked so peaceful and content sleeping this way. Twins have an innate connection so allow them to embrace their bond; it’ll last a lifetime/.
5. Encourage them to develop a sense of individuality.
I feel I may have an easier time with this since I have boy-girl (fraternal) twins. Since they are physically different, it’s natural to accept their different tastes and interests. My son loves eggs, aloo parathas, and blueberries; my daughter likes to eat daal chawal, string cheese, and apples. My son loves kicking his toy soccer ball and playing with cars and trucks while my daughter prefers musical toys and her mini laptop. It’s fascinating to see what they gravitate towards and how they’re happy playing with their chosen toys on their own.
Lumping your twins together as one unit, especially if they’re identical, may create a complex later on. Pay heed to the foods and toys they like. Also, accept that they may be different weights and heights and reach milestones at various times. They are still two distinct human beings with different DNA. They shouldn’t be attached at the hip or be forced to do the same things. Instead, allow them to shine as individuals with their unique preferences and opinions.
I hope these tips were helpful to you and remember, go easy on yourself, trust your gut, and enjoy the ride, you supermom of multiples!