Parenting Tips for Raising Twins
There are two heartbeats in your womb? You may be excited and exhilarated while worried about raising twins, anxious and down-right terrified about having double bundles of joy. You might wonder, “Can I take care of two babies at once?” “Will I be able to tell them apart?” or “What should I do if they cry at the same time?”
At ParentEducate.com, we know parenting one child is hard work (and two at once is a lot!). We offer online research-based parenting courses that teach techniques and tips that can be multiplied and applied twice!
Here are tips for raising twins without feeling like losing your mind.
Avoid Confusing Them
One of the best tips for raising twins is to avoid confusing them. Every parent of multiples has wondered how they will get past the obvious — who is who? It might take a few days after delivery to figure that out, but getting to know your little ones won’t be as difficult as you think.
Once you leave the hospital, don’t (we repeat, don’t) remove your babies’ hospital ID bands until you’re sure you can tell who’s who. As you begin taking care of newborn twins, you’ll be able to spot differences like a birthmark on the leg or how each twin’s head shape is distinct. We recommend dressing each baby in different colors to ease your stress about identifying them. You can even paint one child’s toenail a specific hue while learning about your twins. Most importantly, be patient because this process takes time.
The more you spend time with them; you’ll start to notice subtle physical differences between your babies - which will allow you to recognize each twin easily.
Your twins must have the same schedule for eating, sleeping, diaper changes, and other daily activities. Not only will this help you establish a predictable routine for taking care of newborn twins, but they will also know what to expect throughout the day.
First, get your kiddos on the same page with mealtimes and simplify feedings as much as possible. For example, if one twin is hungry and the other one is asleep - you guessed it - wake the other baby up too so everything stays on track (despite how much it will pain you to do so). Prep ahead of time with bottles, bibs, and anything else that will make the process more efficient. We also want to note that you can simultaneously breastfeed while taking care of newborn twins using prop-up pillows. Bottle feed them with similar pillows while they cuddle next to you.
Once you get your tots on a proper feeding routine, you can start a sleep schedule (since your little ones will get drowsy after eating). You can incorporate various things into the pattern that will help your twins know it’s time for bed, such as dimming the lights, playing lullabies, reading a book to them, or using white noise machines that play a repetitive rhythm. White noise is excellent for managing twins’ sleep because it soothes babies, making it easier for them to rest. A study found that 80 percent of newborns exposed to white noise dozed off within five minutes, while 25 percent of those.
If you try white noise, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests setting a machine no louder than 50 decibels (the sound level of a quiet dishwasher). You will also want to place it away from the crib and plan to turn it off once your tot dozes off. Without it didn’t fall asleep as quickly.
If all else fails, don’t be afraid to divide and conquer when caring for newborn twins. Place the twin sleeping through the night in another room temporarily while you focus on getting the other to sleep. That way, if one twin wakes up in the middle of the night, it won’t disturb the other child’s rest. Make adjustments if needed, and don’t be afraid to try different tactics that might work better for your little ones.
Ultimately, one of the best strategies for how to raise twins is sticking to a schedule so your little ones get accustomed to a routine while adding structure to your responsibilities. To set schedules effectively, we recommend tracking the twin’s activities during the early years so you can learn their behavior and eventually sync them into one consistent routine (so you can stay sane and catch a few more Z’s). This can be done with apps on your smartphone like BabyCenter or by tracking everything with a journal at home.
Treat Each Child Individually
Another thing to keep in mind while learning how to raise twins is to avoid thinking of them as one unit. You should never forget to treat them as two separate individuals who will develop their own identities. Do this by respecting their differences and forming unique expectations around each child’s abilities and interests. It can start with referring to each child by name and avoiding calling them “the twins.”
As your kiddos grow older, you should steer clear of comparisons. It is because your kiddos are perceptive and internalize what they hear. The last thing you want to do while managing twins is discouraged one of them and their abilities. For instance, if one twin is better at sports, you should let them shine on the soccer field and place them on a little league team. If the other twin is a Picasso-in-training, enroll them in art classes so they can flex their creative muscles.
We also suggest planning activities with each of them separately, like playing a game, watching their favorite show or taking them with you to the grocery store. Once a child is apart from their twin, they will learn to develop separate identities. It also gives each child much-needed adult one-on-one time. This can be done by creating a schedule to arrange for each child to spend a few hours alone with you during the week. During your quality time, don’t be afraid to ask questions about what they like and feel to understand them better individually. Additionally, remember to use this time to build separate relationships with each twin so you can support their interests and emotional and physical development.
Not sure what to do about birthdays? We recommend getting different gifts for each child because possessions help children form a sense of identity. This can be anything like clothes, blankets, books, or anything else that will encourage individuality and ownership. Family and friends will follow your lead and learn to see them as two people rather than a unit.
You can also give each twin a special space to keep their belongings. And, even if you’re taking care of newborn twins that can’t read, exercise ownership by labeling each of their names on their areas. As a result, they will learn to make that shelf or cubby their own.
Managing Your Twins’ Cries
This one won’t be easy. As a parent (especially of multiples), you’ll often deal with guilt while learning how to raise twins because you can’t meet both of their needs 100% of the time. If one twin wants a bottle and the other wants to be held, one will have to wait. After all, there is only one of you (as much as you’d like to clone yourself in those situations).
Babies communicate by crying — so whether they’re hungry, have a wet diaper, or feel tired or hurt, deciphering the reason behind the tears will make it easier to navigate managing twins.
For instance, if your tot is upset, start by looking for hunger cues (since feeding is the most common reason for waterworks). Some can be their hand to their mouth, an open mouth, a turned head toward the bottle, or smacking or licking their lips.
After feeding, rocking, changing, and burping your twins, they might just need some entertainment. To soothe your baby, we recommend managing your twins’ tears by singing, reading to them, distracting them with a funny dance, or taking them outside to get some fresh air.
Raising twins may not be easy, but it’s worth it. When your twins cry simultaneously, one way to handle it is tending to the baby with the most prominent issue. For example, if you see one child noticeably in pain from an ear infection or diaper rash, you may need to prioritize one baby over the other. If you see one twin weep because of a fallen pacifier, it might be a fast solution to take care of that baby first. If one is louder than the other, soothing the twin by yelling at the top of their lungs could be an intelligent route to calming down the “dynamic duet.
If you’ve tried everything and the tears are taking a toll on you, let them cry for a little while. It won’t hurt your kiddos, and they’ll likely be calmer after the fact or fall asleep - which is a big win for you. Being in a crying room can be challenging (especially while caring for newborn twins), but it’s okay to ensure they’re safe and go to another part of the house. Just be sure to check on them regularly.
Most importantly, remember their cries don’t make you a bad parent. Sobbing is normal, and this part of their development won’t last forever.
Connect With Other Parents of Twins
When raising twins, connect with other parents of twins. What’s better than another parent advocating for you while you get up-to-speed on how to raise twins? Not only is it helpful to have a network that deals with the same struggles, but hearing their stories and what works for them will also equip you with more tools to try with your little ones. Don’t happen to know any parents with two simultaneous mouths to feed? Many adults don’t — which is why we recommend finding parenting groups made up of others navigating “twinning.”
One well-known organization is Multiples of America. They can put families in touch with a local multiples club to connect with others, provide resources for parents, and more. Their chapters are meant to educate families on managing twins and create a community so they don’t feel alone. For instance, parents can ask questions and collaborate on what works and what doesn’t. Plus, you will have a safe space to express yourself emotionally about things only parents of multiples would understand.
Speaking of parents of multiples - this organization (Parents of Multiples) ensures you’re set up for success if you have questions about how to raise twins. Their organization provides advice from other moms in your shoes and suggested activities for different age groups. Best of all - if you decide to become a member - you will be matched up with a mentor who experienced similar situations when they raised their twins.
If you’re seeking online communities that are easily accessible from your smartphone, there are a number of groups that provide information about managing and raising twins that can help. And, the good news is you can join as many as you’d like! We recommend joining Facebook groups that are twin-specific such as the TwinStuff Group because they share relevant news as well as reviews on useful pregnancy and baby products. You can also interact with other twin moms online who can share their expertise on how to raise twins.
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