Twins, Triplets and More: Survival Strategies From a Mom Doctor Who Knows Firsthand
It’s hard enough to take care of a newborn. Factor in twins, triplets or other multiples and you can definitely start to feel outnumbered—and overwhelmed.
It’s hard enough to take care of a newborn. Factor in twins, triplets or other multiples and you can definitely start to feel outnumbered—and overwhelmed. Indiana University Health pediatrician, Dr. Rebecca Dixon, who is the mother to two sets of twins herself, offers up this advice for navigating those early days.
1. Set yourself up for success.
Be prepared so if the babies come early—and with multiples, they almost always do—you’re ready to go from day one. But keep in mind that having two infants doesn’t mean you need double of everything. “You’ll definitely need two car seats, and it’s helpful to have at least two swing or two bouncy seats so that you can put both babies down somewhere safely,” says Dr. Dixon. But especially in the early days, you probably don’t need double cribs, play spaces or mats. It can also help to buy some of these items secondhand—check out local listings for resale items.
2. Get on a schedule ASAP.
To survive the endless sleep/wake/eat/change cycle that makes up the early days of infancy, it’s crucial to get your little ones on a similar schedule, says Dr. Dixon. Every three hours, choose one, change the diaper, feed him, then wake the next and do the same thing. (Or feed them simultaneously, see below.) This will help get the babies into a similar routine so you’re not constantly running from one to the next trying to fill their every need.
3. Develop some feeding strategies.
Whether you choose the bottle or the breast, you can try and feed both babies at the same time to help keep them on schedule. Don’t worry too much about your milk supply if you’re breastfeeding: “Your body will be able to make enough milk to feed multiples,” says Dr. Dixon. Using rolled-up towels or a nursing pillow specially designed for twins can help support your babies and make breastfeeding easier. If you are feeding from a bottle, you can also tandem feed by putting both babies in their own bouncy seat and holding the bottles. But avoid using bottle props, she warns. “There is no safe bottle prop—if a baby is choking, you simply may not be able to react in time.”
4. Don’t turn down help.
“A classic first-time mom mentality is that no one else can do what you do, but after awhile you can simply run yourself ragged,” says Dr. Dixon. So if a friend, family member or neighbor offers to make you dinner or hold one of the babies for a while, say yes. “Sometimes, you just need a break,” she adds.
5. Find support.
There are a wide variety of on-line groups who can help answer some of your many questions about parenting multiples and who can provide a sense of community and support. Some of these can provide local resources (i.e. where to buy furniture or equipment or the best classes for multiples), others are on a national level. Multiples of America (multiplesofamerica.org), for one, helps you search out local clubs while also providing more general information on caring for multiples
— By Alyssa Shaffer