Author: Gauri Kshirsagar
Why age appropriate? Why a special play area for twins? Babies from birth to 18 months develop different milestones, like turning on their back, lifting themselves from the ground, crawling, standing, walking and running, hence require play areas having different surfaces. For example a baby who has recently learnt to turn on its back requires a relatively hard surface whereas a baby who is learning to stand & walk requires a comparatively softer surface. Once the baby learns to walk then there is again need for a hard but non slippery surface. Now question arises, why a special play area for twins? which is hardly a matter of importance for say a single child. In my experience at least minimum of 3 people (not 2) are required to handle twin babies. But if a separate safe area can be created for the babies then they can be handled with 2 or even 1 individual. Also the tendency to trip, fight, push each other is more with twins. If possible clear a smaller bedroom of its furniture to make a safe play area, can even convert it into a sleeping area at night (sleeping on a mattress on the floor is very important after the 4th month to avoid unnecessary accidents). And a small corner of the room can be converted into a diaper changing area. I have noted down some simple ideas to convert a spare bedroom into a play area, which are age appropriate:
1: Birth to 3 months
Babies of this age group can be managed on the bed itself, and its easier for the mother after the pregnancy to move around, change diapers and feed them.
2: 4th month to 8th month
Babies of this age group require a relatively hard surface, they do not move around, hence a smaller area will suffice Material required:
- Indian mat (chatai)
- Quilt (standard double size)
- 2 long strips of plastic/ rubber sheets.
*Invest in about 8-10 pillows, they can be used for a year and prevent a lot of injuries
3: 9th to 13th month
This a a period where the babies learn to stand and walk, so there is a lot of tripping, hence a firm coir mattress or 2 single locally made cotton mattress can be used a third one can be used for the diaper station. I used 3 of such mattresses which I combined to be used as sleeping mattress at night. Material required:
- 2 long strips of plastic/ rubber sheets
Now by this time the babies can walk in a stable manner, but run around a lot If there are a lot of people to keep an eye on them then they can play around the house, but if you are taking care of them alone with or without the help of a nanny (who are most of the time unreliable) I suggest the use of EVA (Ethylenvinylacetat) interlocking foam mats (which I did use). Now there is a controversy surrounding these mats. These mats are banned in France & Belgium (not banned in US & India), since they emit toxic Formamide (recognized by a typical odour it emits) which is a reproductive carcinogen (I have yet to come across any reports which proves cancer caused due to the emissions by mats). As of the recent reports these two countries have reversed the ban and reduced the restriction limit to >200 mg/kg i.e if the mats are kept out in the open for about 10-15 day, they stop emitting the odour.* Now for the advantages of these mats: They were a great advantage to me, they were one of the best things I bought other than my twin stroller. Along with the use of pillows as buffer and a wooden plank at the door, I could manage both the twins when my nanny didn’t show up for work. It reduced a lot of injuries and I could manage to change diapers and make their feed. Buying these mats is a personal choice, and advice to use your discretion before buying them. They come in various sizes, the smaller puzzle mats which are easily available online are thin and small and of no use (other than playing as jigsaw puzzles). Proper size mats are very difficult to find and after a lot of probing on the internet I came across, “Fitness Mats India” who make special kids mat. There is a lot of variety of mats, in thickness, size and color. I chose a 2X2 feet, 17mm, monocolor mats, which costs around 400 rupees/mat. I ordered about 20 mats with edges (costs 10 rupees each) where the total charges came to about 8200 + delivery charges.These are easy to clean, easy to store, anti tripping and also easy to arrange and dismantle. I have attached the details of the company for reference in this pdf : (click on this link) Fitness mats India
- Sleeping on a mattress on the floor is very important after the 4th month to avoid unnecessary accidents. Absolutely avoid using cots or bed. Always remember there is no one other than you (mother) who will keep an eye on a sleeping baby on a cot. So avoid Cots.
- Invest in about 8-10 pillows, they can be used for a year and act as a buffer against the wall.
- Keep the EVA mats out in the open for about a fortnight, keep the windows of the room open.
- Clean the mats with dettol solution everyday.
- A baby crib costs around 2,500-5,000 whereas a cot cum crib costs between 7,000-10,000, which can be used for about 3 months and 1 year respectively, not to mention buying two. Instead of spending on these, items I suggest spend on pillows and interlocking mats
- Cribs are now a days not recommended by pediatricians since the baby sleeps for a longer time and feeds less during the early months, also it gets unsafe once the baby grows. Either way it just lies around the house and causes clutter
*please refer the internet for reports/studies regarding EVA mats
I am not a big fan of a Toddler crawl mat playing carpet, since in my experience or what many parents have told me, crawling mats are easier to tear even by a toddler and hence are more prone or open for the child to ingest tiny bits of the foam.
*I have divided the age group according to the milestones reach by my twins, please do arrange the play area with respect to the needs of the twins.
Other baby proofing methods
- Make sure all the electric sockets are closed using a simple white paper, try not to use colored safety plug covers since they attract more attention
- Check for loose doors, loose door stoppers, loose window hinges, also avoid long curtains or tie them high up.
- If possible get CCTV cameras installed. The cost of good quality cameras (about 3) is around 25000-27000 rupees.
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