Author: Gauri Kshirsagar
“Two mouths to feed plus two bottoms to wipe plus two little ones to soothe to sleep can make for two shell-shocked parents”. A single baby in itself is a full time job, and having twins or multiples is like never ending job!!!! When I had my twin daughters in 2013, I had no idea what was in store for me. It was like a continuous cycle of feed-burp-sleep-change diapers. I used to joke with other expectant twin mothers that you won’t see the sun for 6 monthsJ. When my girls were newborns, I tried to keep a set routine. I found it made everyone happier–my husband and me, the girl’s caregivers, even the girls–if life was a bit regimented, they still follow some a schedule now that they are toddlers. It’s true that infants often operate on their own time, but there are ways to get them in sync. Here’s how. You can try to synchronize their timings from the first month itself so as to they have the same pattern of tasks each day. It is quite difficult in the first 6 months since the diurnal cycle (i.e. waking and sleeping) of a baby is not well developed, but after 6 months you sort of have a schedule for everything. For example start with a simple task like bathing, try to keep it at the same time of the day with the same method. By doing so you will have atleast 1-2 hours for yourself for the first year. Many twin mothers ask me “does this end anytime?” and the answer is “YES” it does. It is quite ‘manageable’ by 16 months of age and after that it gets easier after every passing month. By 2.5 years you can single handedly handle the twins together in terms of travelling to school, feeding, activities, potty training etc. So buckle up, it’s a very small jumpy ride, don’t get discouraged. Even if you feel frustrated and tired, remember everything will get normalized when the twins celebrate their third birthday.
Following are some methods and ideas I followed to have a schedule for the twins:
- Note down everything!: For the first six months, since the twin’s feed (BF and Top feed) innumerable times, it becomes a herculean task to keep a tab on which baby did you feed or which one you didn’t. It is more confusing if you have identical twins (which were my case). I suggest you maintain a diary for these tasks so you don’t waste unnecessary time in wondering whom did you give the syrup or which baby didn’t do her potty. I used some what the following format:
- Bathing: One thing which I was very careful about in regard to bathing and oil massage of the baby is the comfort of the baby. I Made sure it was a very pleasant experience for them. Usually what happens in India is the ‘malishwali’ does the massage and the bathing, some of them use traditional methods which may cause discomfort to the baby and in turn the baby may develop aversion to the whole process. I have seen some toddlers who resist bathing even at the age of 1.5 years. Try to be as gentle as possible with the baby, try to find out the ways which are causing discomfort to the baby so that in the long run the bathing process is not a cause for stress for you and the babies and you don’t spend an hour pacifying the babies every day. For more details do read Oil massage, bathing & post-bath skin care in twins
- Diaper changing time: Have fixed diaper changing timings (except in case of potty). The manufacturers usually mention on the diaper bags that they may last for 12 hours or so, but that’s never the case, diapers should be changed every 4 to 5 hours to avoid nappy rash. Try to avoid the use of baby wipes and use simple cotton with water. The more you avoid diaper rash the happier the child. Try to keep a separate area for diaper changing so that it becomes easier and faster. You can check out my post How to make a comfortable and inexpensive, diaper changing station at home
- Synchronizing sleep timings: Putting your babies to bed at the same time, they’re more likely to develop a synchronized sleep pattern. If you don’t, one or both of them will be awake at any given time – and you will become very tired, very quickly. Whoever said “Never wake a sleeping baby” clearly wasn’t taking care of multiple babies at once. If one baby wakes in the middle of a night for a feeding, wake the sleeping sibling and feed him/her too. There’s a temptation to think, “Maybe the sleeping one will sleep all night if I leave him alone”, but what tends to happen is that the second baby wakes up an hour or so after you’ve taken care of the first baby. Then you’re on an ugly cycle: tending to the needs of one baby just an hour before the other baby needs the same care.
- Regulating day time napping: As rule try to increase their night sleep and cut down on their day time sleep. My twin’s nap time was regularized by end of 1 year and they had about 3 nap times in a day:
- After bath at mid morning for about an hour
- After lunch for 2 hours
- Evening for half an hour
This later on decreased to one time napping of 2 hours by end of 1.5 years. Do not hesitate to wake up the child after the scheduled nap time whatever it may be 1 or 2 hours. Try to put them to sleep at the same time so you have free time during their naps
- Divide and conquer: If one twin seems ready to sleep through the night, let her snooze in a different room from her sibling, even if it’s only temporary. That way, the nighttime waking of her twin won’t give her a case of the midnight cranks, too.
- Feeding: Make a habit of always feeding both the babies at the same time or one after the another, even later on when they are toddlers. For weaning tips read Weaning & Feeding in Twin Babies : My personal expirience
- Travelling: In my experience, a simple day out got me more tired than staying in. I don’t know about single babies, but managing twins for a trip or even to the mall needed a lot of planning and juggling. So even if you plan to travel it’s best to minimize interruptions to your children’s schedules (don’t plan outings that conflict with nap time).
- Get back to normal after a hiccup: Even after all this changes in babies’ routines are sometimes inevitable. For instance, sleep or feeding patterns can get out of whack when one baby is sick or you’re traveling to visit relatives. When your baby is well or you’re back home, use the ‘wake a sleeping baby’ method to get your two little ones back in sync again.
- Play Areas: Convert a spare bedroom in a play area, it is clutter free and hence it reduces extra work immensely (you dont have to monitor the twins continously). Check out the following posts : How to arrange a safe age appropriate ‘Play Area’ and ‘Nursery’ and DIY Baby safety door gate
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