Kanika Chadda Gupta

Parenting

5 Parenting Tips When Raising Twins

 

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!

Baby Proofing Must-Haves

 

Each milestone in your baby’s life comes with a host of changes you have to make to your own lifestyle. As newborns, they can only placed down on their backs, then explore the joys of tummy time, start rolling over, crawling, cruising, walking, and before you know, your little one is running around the house amuck, curiously exploring every corner and gadget he can find. We are in the thick of our twins toddler phase and took these precautionary measures to baby proof our home (without having to compromise our interior design and aesthetic!) 

Baby Gates

We use the Retract-a-Gate mesh, retractable gate for all our stairways. Firstly, these gates are the only ones that fit our broad main entrance steps. Secondly, they’re discreet and retract away when not in use. When they are locked in place, they’re fixed and taught so the kids can’t push their way through.

Child Safety Locks

We use Magnetic Child Safety Cabinet Locks which have hooks that you place inside your cabinet drawers and a magnetic opener which you hover over the hook to open it up. I bought small 3/8″ circle felt black stickers to use as indicators from Etsy. You can’t see them at first glance and they match my white and black kitchen.

Crib Rail Covers

For the first two years of their lives, kids have to grapple with teething and gnaw at everything in sight! My husband and I were shocked to find that our twins left teeth marks in the wood of their cribs and the paint had chipped off. Not only is the wood & paint toxic for the little ones to ingest, their beautiful cribs look worn out. I came across Trend Lab Waterproof Crib Rail Covers, which are perfect for covering the crib rails, protecting the kids teeth since the fabric is a soft felt/shearling, and they’re waterproof and easy to throw in the wash as needed.

Play Yard

One of the first things you want to buy when your toddlers are walking everywhere is a play yard. Throw their toys, games, and books in there so they can play in this confined space. We have this North States Play Yard at home. As a DIY project, I covered the play yard rails with felt/shearling fabric that I bought from JoAnn Fabrics and had my tailor sew in strings every 10 inches to tie around the rails. They get the job done and protect our little teethers much like the crib rail covers.

Play Mat

Lastly, invest in a good play mat for your kids. We have the Skip Hop Geo Grey/Cream Playmat, which matches our cream/grey decor. Your kids will tumble and wrestle and bang their toys on the floor, so the thick foam cushioning protects them (and your home!)

What baby proof items do you have at home that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comment section below! 

Family Beach Vacation (With Packing List!)

 

Since I’m due with baby #3 this summer, I know my family and I won’t get much of an opportunity to travel or go on vacation with our newborn. So, shortly after the Memorial Day weekend rush, my husband and I decided to take a long weekend trip to the beach in Long Branch, NJ (just 45 min. away from home!) with a bunch of our friends and their kids. This was the first time we took our 16-month-old twins to the beach and pool, and given how much they LOVE splishing and splashing at bath time, I knew they would love it.

 

We made a group decision and chose staying at a resort over a beach house. First off, there weren’t many viable options available since houses get booked up months in advance. Secondly, I knew I didn’t want to have to deal with the upkeep involved — making the beds, laundry, cooking, and cleaning the kitchen after meals. No thanks! I already do that enough at home and I wanted housekeeping and room service! We stayed at the Ocean Place Resort and Spa and had an amazing experience. The hotel staff were very friendly and provided us with everything we needed (1 pack & play, 1 crib, microwave). We ate our breakfast at the Seaview Restaurant in the main lobby and enjoyed our private entrance to the beach where we were given umbrellas, chairs, towels and were close to the boardwalk to be able to pick up snacks & drinks while we lounged. We also taught the older kids chess and let them play in the designated kids play room.

As for dining out, we explored the family friendly restaurants along the boardwalk. We took the kids own food along just incase (oatmeal, squeezable fruit) but mostly ordered items off the kids menu like grilled cheese & fries for them to eat. 

Here’s what we packed for our toddlers (and managed to fit in our sedan!)

Beach Vacation Toddler Packing List:
Clothes & Toiletries:

  • 6 outfits for 4 days
  • 2 pairs of pajamas
  • Headbands for my daughter
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair of sandals
  • Toothbrushes
  • Tom’s baby toothpaste
  • comb/hairbrush
  • coconut oil (we use this instead of lotion) in a small tub
  • Eucerin baby body wash/shampoo we transferred into a small travel size bottle

Diaper Bag:

Sleeping:

  • Toddler Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Teddy Bear & Baby Doll

Beach/Pool:

Food:

  • Trader Joe’s unsweetened applesauce
  • Trader Joe’s string cheese
  • Earths’s Best Organic baby oatmeal
  • Plum Organics squeezable fruit
  • Frozen aloo parathas from our local Indian grocery store
  • Homemade kichdi (rice and yellow moong daal) in glass containers which are microwavable
  • Gallon of milk (lasts us 2 days)
  • Gallon of water

Toys:

  • Books
  • Mini Football, Basketball
  • Plush Toys
  • Android Tablet with Case

Misc:

We stuck to our nap and bedtime schedule for the most part (which was fine with me since I napped with the kiddos at the hotel in the afternoon!), but we also allowed ourselves to go with the flow, like enjoying evening strolls well after bed time and dancing at the hotel Tiki Bar! The most important thing is to have fun — family vacay memories will last a lifetime!

Our Twins 1st Birthday Bash

Ahh…the joys of party planning! In the age of Pinterest, Instagram, and Etsy, it seems parties, whatever the occasion (birthdays, bridal showers, bachelorettes), are on steroids. I knew what I was getting into when I decided to throw our twins a themed 1st birthday, and now that it’s all said and done, I have to admit it was well worth it. We have memories and beautiful photos to last a lifetime and most importantly our friends and family from far and wide got to celebrate the little ones who have made us a family.

Our theme for our boy-girl twins was Ties & Tutus. (So cute, right?) I created a Google doc of all the logistics and am sharing all the vendors we used for their special day.

Invitation
If you haven’t heard of Fiverr, your world is about to change. Fiverr is a marketplace of graphic designers, video editors, and other creative professionals you can hire based on their portfolios and reviews. I wanted my twins birthday invite to look like a chalkboard with pops of baby pink and blue and came up with a concept that my designer Sachi executed to a T. She specializes in kids invitations which is big plus.
Graphic Designer: diplomadon

Venue
Since we were expecting 75+ guests, my husband and I decided it would be best to have the kids’ party at a venue which allowed for catering rather than hosting at home. Big win! I just googled “clubhouse New Jersey” and happened upon a place called The Clubhouse in Montclair, NJ. It was perfect. I love the industrial interiors, which appealed to the adults. Someday, we’d like to go there for a get-together with friends and actually make use of the pool table, darts, and the private theatre upstairs. The event manager was extremely helpful throughout the booking process (you have to register for insurance and sign a contract to reserve your date) and the staff member who helped us on-site the day of was excellent.
The Clubhouse, Montclair, NJ

Catering
Our cuisine of choice was Mediterranean – it’s healthy, flavorful, and has plenty of options for non-vegetarians and vegetarians alike. Once we reserved our venue, I was on a hunt to find a restaurant nearby and came across Mediterranea. My family and I reserved a tasting session with the chef a few weeks prior to select our menu. We decided on the following:

  • Greek Salad
  • Falafel with Tatziki Sauce
  • Cheese & Spinach Borak (phyllo rolls)
  • Hummus and Pita Bread
  • Chicken Shawarma
  • Mussakah (sauteed eggplant, zucchini, onions, tomatoes)
  • Rice Pulao

For the kids, we ordered a few large pies of pizza. 
Mediterranea, Villa Victoria Pizzeria

Entertainment
Since we had a winter birthday party, our entertainment was confined to indoors. We wanted to cater to our kids who were 1-year-old up to kids who were 5. I was referred to a company called Parties for Peanuts which has characters (Elsa, Paw Patrol, Elmo, you name it!) who do circle time music, balloon making, the parachute game, and face-painting. We chose Daniel Tiger, my kids’ favorite and ours too since my hubby and I grew up watching Mr. Rogers. He was a hit!
Parties for Peanuts

Cake
We had two separate cakes rather than a 2-tier that way each kid got to cut their own cake and have “Happy Birthday” sung to them. Krish’s cake was a butter cream and fondant chocolate cake with vanilla icing. Suhana’s cake had rosettes made of butter cream; it was a yellow cake with raspberry and white chocolate ganache filling. We ordered custom tutu and bow-tie sugar cookies that were a nice touch on the desserts table. Everything was delicious!
Pink Petals Cakes

Photographer
I can’t say enough about our photographer, Melissa of Little Spoon Events. Not only does she take stunning photos and specializes in kids photo shoots and events, she was my right hand woman throughout the party and helped my vision come true. She had props for our dessert table, crafted poufs for our backdrops, had photo stands, our handmade cake toppers, the works! We’ve done several photo shoots with her including a holiday family shoot, the kids 1st portraits, and of course their big 1st birthday. We couldn’t be happier with the fun moments she’s captured for us.
Little Spoon Events

Decor
Decorating was the lion share of the planning, but it was only possible because of the amazing women who are so talented and crafty to bring my vision life! Here are a few of my favorite pieces.

Misc.
For all the extraneous items, my go-to shopping destinations were Amazon, Walmart and Michaels, Home Goods, and Trader Joe’s.

  • Amazon: Gold-trimmed plastic plates, Gold-trimmed plastic bowls, Gold plastic utensilsGoody Bags, Gold curling ribbon, Apothecary jar set
  • Walmart: Hershey kisses (2 lb. bags in pink, silver, and navy blue), 9 oz. clear Solo cups, 2 oz. clear Solo shot glasses, Sheer white curtain panels, White & black table cloths, Burners for buffet trays, Gold balloons, Pearl balloons
  • Michaels: Cookie packets, Jute twine string, Vase for Photo Booth props
  • Home Goods: White dessert trays, Cake stands, Ice buckets, Water Pitchers, Silver frames for printed signs
  • Trader Joe’s: Sparkling Lemonade & Pink Lemonade

Printed Signs
I designed the printed signs using Canva, an online portal for designing graphics, posters, and signs. We had signs that read Milk Shots, Photo Booth, Lunch is Served, and Sweets & Treats. Download the Photo Booth Printable I made for your upcoming event!

Enjoy birthday planning — these milestones go by in a flash! :)

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