“I’m writing a post on tips for surviving life with newborn twins” I announced to my husband during dinner in between frantically dicing up food for our 13-month-old twin girls, who inhale food at an impossibly fast speed.
“Really. Are you sure we survived??” he asked as he picked up a sippy cup that was tossed gleefully on the floor for the 87th time by one of our identical twins.
Ha. I admit there were times during the first year of having twins that I collapsed on the floor in utter defeat because the task given to me seemed impossibly hard.
Sometimes I see pictures from our year with newborn twin babies and I literally don’t remember the occasion.
I’m like “What am I wearing, where are we, and whose hands are those holding the babies??”
Sleep deprivation can do a serious number on you… and the scary thing is that my babies have good sleep habits and are on a great sleep schedule.
During my twin pregnancy, I frequently searched Pinterest for tips for new parents on life with newborn twins.
Surely, someone who has been there and done that will have some good advice!
To my chagrin, most of the articles I read had universal advice for parents of twins such as be patient with yourself and accept offers of help.
Now, I’m not saying that advice like that isn’t good advice. It is absolutely true and has it has value. Yes, being patient with yourself is always a good idea. And a solid support system is amazing, but not everybody has that!
If you’ve read much of my blog you know that I need things to be tangible and actionable. So I’ve outlined some tips for you on how to survive life with newborn twins, and I’ve made them as actionable as possible.
Whether you’ve just found out that you’re expecting twins, you’re approaching your due date, or you’re ready to bring your newborn twins home from the hospital, I’ve got some great advice for you!
*Post contains affiliate links.
GET YOUR INFANT TWINS ON A SCHEDULE.
If one baby wakes up, wake up the other one.
Honestly, the post could end here. This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give to new mothers of twins. Other than to also get your groceries delivered. But, moving on…
Here’s what happens if you don’t follow this tip: One baby wakes up to eat at 1 am. You feed baby and put them back to sleep. The other baby wakes up at 2:30. You get them back to sleep at 3:30, but then the first baby is awake again. You get zero….ZERO hours of sleep.
It’s also more difficult to multitask. Feeding two babies at the same time is doable. Feeding one baby while simultaneously putting the other baby down for a nap isn’t quite possible.
I wrote an entire post on how I got my twin babies on a schedule. Go read it for more tips.
We started our twins on a schedule as soon as they came home from the NICU at just about 3 weeks old.
I shared this post in a few Facebook groups for mothers of twins, and the overwhelming majority agreed with me that a schedule and routine is the #1 way to survive life with newborn twins.
There were, of course, a few twin moms who said that schedules didn’t work for them. If you’re one of those moms, all the power to you!
But for us? It saved our sanity and it is the first step in establishing good baby sleep habits!
There is no BEST WAY to raise twins and when I’m sharing what worked for us, I’m simply sharing it because it worked for us and so it might help another twin mom out. I’m not trying to say that my way is the best way. I believe that however you choose to mother is the absolute best way for your family.
So. Take some deep breaths and know that you are doing a great job and meeting your babies’ needs in a way that nobody else can.
2. Newborn Twin Babies Sleep
I know that sleep training is a controversial subject but BEFORE YOU WRITE OFF THIS POST, LISTEN TO JUST ON THING THAT I HAVE TO SAY: sleep training does NOT have to be leaving your baby to cry alone in their crib for hours.
In fact, I’ve sleep trained all four of my babies, and I have never once done that. Sleep training is simply helping your baby learn healthy sleep habits. Babies NEED sleep. Parents need sleep. The whole family needs sleep!
I had two premature babies and I learned that sleep is VITAL for their growth and development.
So now that we’ve established that sleep training doesn’t have to include crying, where does that leave us?
Check out this post for different ways to sleep train. I’ve outlined ways from gentle, no cry methods, to the cry it out method (which by the way, if done correctly, is not hours upon hours of babies crying alone).
I’d suggest reading up on that post and figuring out your comfort level for sleep training and at least knowing your options.
Here’s where we started with our twins and sleep during the first weeks:
- Bedtime starts at the same time every night (within the same 30 minutes).
- Morning starts at the same time every morning (within the same 30 minutes. and yes, I know what you’re thinking, you actually wake your babies up in the morning. But, if you want your babies to know the difference between night and day… you have to establish when daytime is).
- Your infant twins’ sleep routine should be taking a 2ish hour nap, every 3 hours.
- White noise machine, a dark, cozy room, and a nice swaddle for naps and night times.
- Give baby some cuddles and love and then put them down in their bed, drowsy, yet still awake.
- Make sure to put them to bed well before they are overtired. I have more information in other blog posts on how to determine how long they should be awake, but a newborn should only be awake for 45-60 minutes. A premature baby will only be awake long enough to eat and then go right back to sleep (more on a preemie’s sleep needs in this post).
Read this post for more in-depth details on how we got our twins to sleep through the night: The Ultimate Guide to Sleep Training Twins
3. Find Parenting Shortcuts for Infant Twins
It feels wrong to look for ‘shortcuts’ in parenting, but you get to break all the parenting rules the second you see two heartbeats on the ultrasound. Bringing home not one, but TWO new babies gives you permission to take shortcuts, especially in the early months.
Taking care of twins is a lot of work. Here are some shortcuts that I took:
*Rinse (DON’T WASH!!) bottles and pump parts: put them in the refrigerator and reuse them throughout the day. Wash them or throw them in the dishwasher at the end of the day (this is the bottle rack that we used). If my twins were sick, I did wash their bottles after each use, and I did wash and sanitize them often when they were preemies.
*Prop the bottles: We used the Twin Z Pillow, put the babies on their sides and propped their bottles with burp clothes. If you don’t have the twin z pillow, and your babies are bottle-fed, you can use two boppies or place the babies in bouncers. Some moms are very judgy about propping bottles, but when you have twins, it’s all about survival.
Obviously, never walk away when they are having their bottles!! I used this time to pump, or pick them up and burp them one at a time. It’s just really hard to hold two babies at the same time to give them their bottles.
You can read more about how to bottle prop <— here.
*Hands-free pumping bra: I frequently used a hands-free pumping bra (I love this one because it is adjustable from XS-L) and pumped while the babies were eating, propped on their Twin Z Pillow, of course. If you’re an exclusively pumping twin mama (I was!) you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your breast pump. It’s much easier if you can free up your hands.
*Prepare for feedings in advance: For us, this included preparing lunch for our two-year-old the night before and also, since we were bottle feeding pumped breast milk, getting bottles ready early.
I know moms who made pitchers of formula in the morning (apparently a blender eliminates the chunks). Other families premade the actual bottles.
*If you are breastfeeding,
Figure out what works best for you.
For more tips on feeding:
*Weekly baths: Yes, my children got baths weekly. No judging! Every mom of twins knows that bath time can be fun and cute. However, at the end of the day, I’m exhausted, and the thought of bathing my twins AND my toddler is just too much. Now they get baths twice a week (on a good week).
*Put everything in the same room, or at least the same floor: I’d bring the kids downstairs to the playroom in the morning with changes of clothes, diapers, etc. It might have been a bit messy, but I didn’t care. We had portable cribs set up downstairs as well. Our twins slept in them for naps during the first few weeks, but this only worked because they were preemies and slept through anything.
*At night we would bring our bottle warmer and a cooler full of milk up to our bedroom so we didn’t have to go downstairs for the middle of the night feedings.
*If it’s not dirty, keep it on: Sometimes the babies wear the same outfit for a full 48 hours. If it has no visible stains, it stays on day and night. This saves time getting them dressed AND creates less laundry.
4. Setting Your House Up For Success With Twin Newborns
I’m going to go into a bit more detail about my point above when I mentioned that I had everything I needed for the day in one room with me. You want to make sure that you set your house up for success for your twins coming home.
Twin Sleeping Arrangements: You want to make sure that you have two safe spaces for your babies to sleep. Either two cribs, portable cribs, or bassinets will work. It is your choice whether or not you want your twins to sleep in your room. We had our babies in their own room from the start, but their room was right now to our bedroom so it was easy to get up and feed them.
We also had them sleep downstairs during the day for the first few weeks, because it was just easier and they slept super soundly as preemies.
Feeding stations: Think about where you’re going to be feeding your babies. If you have a 2 story house and the bedrooms are upstairs, you will probably want to have a feeding station both upstairs and downstairs.
As I mentioned, we fed our babies downstairs during the day and upstairs at night. When we went to bed for the night, we simply transferred the bigger items from our feeding station upstairs.
- A million burp clothes
- Twin nursing pillow
- Bottle warmer (this is not crucial for newborn twins but is important if you have preemies because cold milk can be a shock to their system).
- Breast pumps (if you’re bottle feeding and pumping at the same time)
- Nipple cream
- Cooler or refrigerator to keep milk cold upstairs
Diaper stations: We just had little baskets with our diapering essentials. They included diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and the little diaper cream spatula spreader thing.
5. Join a Parent of Multiples Tribe
Being a parent of multiples is something that you cannot possibly understand unless you are one yourself. I am a member of the Columbus Mother’s of Twins Club, as well as many facebook groups for twin parents.
Sometimes you just need to vent about the lady at the bank who told you that she knows what it’s like to have twins because she has two kids 18 months apart (um, what?), or the guy who asked if your 3-year-old singleton and 1-year-old twins are triplets (seriously, this happened to me last week).
The fact that you even say the word singleton means that you need to have other twin parents in your life.
Aside from venting and sharing silly stories, having other twin parents to talk to is extremely helpful.
Looking for a double stroller recommendation? Post in the twin club facebook group! Want to see if anyone has used one of those crazy twin baby wearers?
Ask the twin mommies! Want to know if it’s normal for your twins to ignore each other or steal each other’stoys?
Nobody can answer you better than a fellow parent of multiples. Find your tribe. They will encourage you and give you endless tips for newborn twins.
If you find a local twin mom club, you can even find items second hand, which I HIGHLY recommend. I purchased two twin breastfeeding pillows second hand that were barely used, as well as a double snap and go stroller. Many baby items are use for such a short period of time and you don’t know if you’re really going to need them, so it’s wise to get things that are gently used. The only item I would not recommend buying second-hand is car seats. Since you don’t know for sure if they’ve been in a car accident, it’s best to purchase those brand new.
How do you find your tribe, you ask? Well, try google to see if there is a twin club in your city. If that doesn’t work, search on facebook for groups for parents of multiples. If all else fails, send me an email, and I’ll add you to some groups!
Related –> Twin Mom Life Can Be Lonely
6. Prioritize Household Duties
I hate hearing that I need to just let things go, even though it’s true.
How do you decide what to let go of? Make a list of everything that you want to get done that isn’t an absolute necessity.
Feeding the babes = necessity.
Dusting your baseboards = not a necessity.
Diaper changes = necessity.
Organizing your changing station with cute baskets = not a necessity.
My list came down to letting go of one of two things: keeping my house clean and preparing healthy meals for my family.
I hated the thought of letting my house go, BUT I hated the thought even more of feeding my family processed food and takeout for several months to a year.
Decide what bothers you the least to let go of, and remind yourself that it’s not forever. Your priorities might not be the same as mine. And I don’t mean that we had zero takeout, we obviously still had a decent bit of it, haha!
You might decide that older children’s after-school activities take priority over home-cooked meals.
That’s fine! Just make your decision, and own it.
Once I decided that I was no longer going to dust and vacuum weekly, I felt a lot less stressed.
You can eventually get back to doing everything you want to do, but while you’re adjusting to newborn twins, it is wise to cut some things out.
Here’s my 10-minute cleaning schedule if you’re feeling really optimistic…
7. Pay Someone to Help
Now is not the time to put on your superhero cape and try to do it all.
I’m sure you CAN do it all, but at what cost?
If we had the extra funds, you better believe we would have hired a housekeeper, a chef, and a nanny.
Trouble breastfeeding your newborn twins? Get a lactation consultant out, ASAP.
Do your twins only settle in the one swing you have? For crying out loud, buy another one.
Do your little angels want you to hold them 24/7? Splurge and buy the TwinGo Baby Carrier so that you can wear them at the same time.
Pay to have your groceries delivered, sign up for Amazon prime, hire a house cleaner, pay for some child care to help with your little baby twins, hire a night nurse, or anything else you may think is silly.
If you’re currently pregnant with twins, you might want to start tucking away a little bit into your savings account because having two new babies is going to be a financial strain that you weren’t expecting. It’s totally manageable and worth it (especially once you see the amazing best friend bond they develop!) but in the early days you will have a lot of extra expenses that you wouldn’t have with just one baby.
Raising twins has been one of the biggest joys of my life. Do you have twins? What are some ways that you survived life with newborn twins? Pregnant with twins? What are some of your biggest fears? Drop your thoughts and questions in the comments!
Head over and follow me on Instagram for lots of twin cuteness!