Hey y’all! Life with twins can be challenging, especially during the first year. Even more so if you are a first-time mom to boot! It’s natural for a new mom to be nervous, even if baby was planned. But to find out your having twins can make you weak in the knees! My husband and I about fell over when we got the news of twins. Yet, somehow the joy of this unexpected blessing overcame all of the fear.
However, once those bundles of joy surprised us 5 weeks early, the panic set back in! I had years of experience caring for babies and children, between teaching a Sunday school class and babysitting. But nothing can prepare you for being a “MOM”! Your emotions, sleep, and body is taken over; along with any private quiet time that once existed. (Including a trip to the potty.) Yet 3 kids later I wouldn’t change a thing! In fact, while writing this my youngest has asked me about 20 questions and is listening to the same preschool songs he’s heard a thousand times…what others would consider “distractions”, moms have the ability to block out! (And no, I don’t mean my son. hehe)
Disclaimer- I AM NOT a professional therapist, doctor, or child rearing guru. These suggestions are simply ideas that have worked for my family. If you are looking for professional help, please discontinue reading now. But if you are interested in some helpful tips I encourage you to read on!
not what you EXPECT IN THE FIRST YEAR
The first thing I want to tell you is don’t waste too much time reading books to prepare yourself! And this is coming from someone who loves to prepare for EVERYTHING! However, a little light reading to educate yourself is helpful. I spent many nights with my nose buried in a book for 7 months trying to learn everything about pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. After draining those resources dry I moved on to books about “babies first year”. I considered myself an expert by the time I was done! Needless to say, I was FAR from it! While all of the information was helpful, they did not prepare me for my own personal experience.
Every mom experiences her own story. From pregnancy to their babies high school graduation, no two stories are exactly the same. So, reading every book ever written on child rearing isn’t a great use of your time. However, I did (and still do) find myself Googling different stages and mile markers about my kids, especially my twins. So, I decided to create a list of my questions in that first year. Then, I will give my opinion and examples of what worked for my family. Hopefully, they will help yours as well!
Questions i asked in the first year
- How often should my twin babies eat?
- How to bathe a newborn?
- Is there such a thing as too much cuddle time?
- Should I pick baby up every time they cry?
- How to dress my twins depending on the weather?
- Should I put my twins in separate cribs?
Babies physical needs
- This is definitely a question for your pediatrician, always follow the doctors instructions! But, as for my twins, they needed to eat every 3 hours for the first couple of months since they were born premature. They were born at a healthy weight for being 5 weeks early (5.5# + 5#), but like most babies their weight dropped in that first week so we had some catching up to do.
2. I was super nervous about this because of their belly button! However, it’s a fairly simple process. Place your baby in an infant tub on your bathroom counter or in the shower and simply give your baby a sponge bath! Pampers has an article here full of helpful tips!
Babies emotional needs
3. Cuddle time is an extremely important part in creating that bond with your children! It strengthens their mental development as well as their emotional needs. As newborns cuddling both at once will not only strengthen the bond between mom and babies but also between baby and baby. Remember, they spent 9 months together in the womb, they will feel safer if they stay close. However, as your children get older one on one cuddles become very important. Though, it can feel a bit overwhelming it is also rewarding!
4. As moms we feel the need to pick up our babies every time they fuss. However, sometimes babies get fussy for no reason and need to learn to soothe themselves. So, as hard as it may be, give them a couple minutes (age 0-3 months) before picking them up. And up to 10 minutes at age 3-6 months. Usually by about 6 months babies are better at self soothing, which makes mommy’s sanity happy! However, only try this technique when you know baby is not hungry, sick, or hurt. It is simply for those “fussy just because” moments!
5. As a rule of thumb I always heard your baby should have one extra layer on. But what about those people who are naturally extra hot in the winter and wear shorts instead of winter apparel? This is where common sense comes in. There is a fine line between overdressed and underdressed. Firstly, you don’t want your babies so warm that they are sweating in 20 degree temps. And secondly, you need to keep them from getting chilled. So, my suggestion is, if you are going from house to car in the winter, put a fleece or sherpa jacket on them. Along with a blanket to protect them from the elements. As for the summer, keep baby as cool as possible! Keep baby in shade, lather in sunscreen, and dress them in light clothing to reduce heat rash.
6. We placed our twins in the same crib for the first few months, until they starting rolling over. Not only does this buy you a little extra time to afford another crib but it also gives your babies a little time to adjust being apart. Remember they were very close in the womb for many months. Separating them cold turkey can be slightly emotional for them. I also found that they helped soothe each other while being together.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENS IN THE FIRST YEAR
Like I mentioned earlier, all of the reading in the world can not prepare you for the first year with twins! Every day is its own adventure. But here is a heads up on what I wish I knew ahead of time.
Some moms will start off with full intentions of breastfeeding. I was one of those moms. However, each baby takes to it differently. One latches, one doesn’t. Breastmilk agrees with one baby but not the other. But don’t be discouraged and most certainly do not blame yourself! Sometimes nature takes a different course and that’s okay. Your job is to make sure your babies are healthy no matter what. My twins eating patterns were completely different and it was exhausting. I eventually went to pumping and feeding both through a bottle. It got us on a schedule that made everyone happy! I also had to switch to formula about 9 months in. Sometimes twins can drain us dry by no fault of our own.
You will go through WAY more diapers than you could ever imagine! But you can be prepared by asking for diapers at your baby shower versus odds and ends. For my twin shower my mom and sister made bringing diapers a “contest”. Whoever brought the most won a prize. We were blessed with diapers for months!
making the first year easier
I am a strong believer in routines! However, throw that routine you have followed for the past 20 years out the window! When babies come along your entire life will change. I’ve read so many stories about moms losing their sanity (not literally) because there is so much to juggle and it can be REALLY overwhelming.
About 1 month in I realized my old routines were not matching what the twins wanted or needed. So, I created a new one that worked well for everyone. It helps if you keep a log of feed times, bath times, and your work schedule for about a week. Then take 5 minutes to create a schedule that may help reduce any added stress. Start by keeping bath time the same everyday, and mealtimes at a consistent pace. If you have other children that need to be dropped off or picked up from school, try to rearrange the twins schedule to match. (Try feeding right before you need to leave the house.)
Everyone will tell you to get two of everything; my advice is to hold off. (Except for car seats obviously.) Instead of buying two swings and two bouncers, register for one of each or ask for gift cards to make future purchases. Twins are very much alike, but in the same instance can be very different. My son preferred the bouncer, while my daughter enjoyed the swing. Once you find out their preferences you can purchase what you actually need and will use, versus filling your house with nonessentials.
A “supply” that I found extremely essential was a double stroller! It is a life saver. However, not all double strollers are made the same, I learned that the hard way. My double stroller had two sets of double wheels that twirled and made it hard to steer. My single stroller for my youngest was a jogging stroller, it was 10x easier to maneuver! If I could go back, I would buy a jogging double stroller!
the first year celebrations
Keeping track of our babies milestones in the first year is exciting! But it can also be a little frustrating as well, especially with twins. In my experience each twin will develop slightly different. My son could walk first, but my daughter spoke before her brother did. And that is okay! Honestly, twins feed off one another’s emotions and can somehow encourage each other without a word. So don’t be worried if one of your twins is a few weeks behind the other in the milestone markers. However, if you need more reassurance, it never hurts to talk to their pediatrician.
I think this is what all moms look forward to with high expectations! But, I have found that while high expectations are good for some things, first birthdays are not it. I had everything planned out down to the sprinkles. But my twins decided they were going to upset all of my plans. They didn’t want anyone but mommy, they fussed about even someone looking at them. And to top it off, my son didn’t like the cake! (And he still doesn’t like cake 6 years later.) So, my suggestion is to go into the first birthday with a plan and excitement, but be ready to roll with whatever twin mood shows up that day. By doing so, your stress levels will remain low and you can still make the day fun for everyone. (Pictures with cake on the nose and tears on the cheeks are still adorable!)
Summing up the first year
To say the first year with twins is a roller coaster would be an understatement. However, the thrill and joy it brings far surpasses that of a roller coaster!
There will be sleepless night, along with tears from pure exhaustion. You may pass on a few events because getting everyone ready to leave the house is longer than the actual event itself. However, having two bundles at once to bring you joy is something not every mom gets to experience!
Always take the good along with the bad. And see “failures” as lessons learned. (e.g. – when you buy a binky because it’s on sale and you think baby won’t care. Think again! In my opinion, if you own one they love, it’s not worth the risk of turning a happy baby into a displeased baby.) And to sum it all up, the first year of your twins life will be your greatest accomplishment! Trust me, it does get easier!
If I could give one more piece of advice, it would be to start a budget! Read my post on how to create a budget for some added tips!