The Real Scoop on Parenting Multiples
Parenting multiples isn't just about doing things in duplicate (or triplicate or quadruplicate!); it requires a lot of creativity and quick thinking on your feet as you navigate the logistics of feeding multiple babies at the same time, getting them on the same schedule, and making sure they sleep in unison. From thoughts on prematurity to which items you'll need to purchase more than one of, this crib sheet on parenting multiples will help you get your bearings if you're carrying twins, triplets, or more.
I thought this crib sheet was really useful. First of all, it’s written by Jen (the mother of quads) and she really knows what she is talking about. As the mother of twins, I thought I’d add a few more tips.
Do You REALLY Need 2 or 3 of Everything?
Jen is right. You really DON’T need multiples of everything on the registry. It’s easy to get sucked into trying to be prepared -- but when the wee people are, well, wee, they can easily share without it feeling like you’re being cheap.
You won’t need two (or three, or more) of everything -- not even cots (cribs) initially; my two slept in the same cot until they were four months old. You will need multiple diapers, bottles and burp clothes; in our case, we used swaddles, so we needed two of those. Beyond that, you really don’t need dupes of most things. We had a baby gym that we rotated with a baby swing or a baby chair. And if you have multiples, then Craigslist, eBay, and hand-me-downs are your best friend. Used and clean is as good as new. If you do get two of something, it’s a good idea to get two different things, as some babies take to some things differently than their siblings.
The Tough Days of NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)/SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit)
There is no real advice I can give here, other than this: Don’t beat yourself up. (And you will want to. When our children are unwell, our guilt is huge.) Our son was in SCBU (the English equivalent of NICU) for two days. I agonized over it, but it's not your fault. The one thing I would say is be tight with the nurses (like Jen said), but don’t be afraid to be firm about your concerns and –- if they're recovering from surgery –- your need to be able to visit your little one(s). Some nurses try to tell you that they’re too busy or that you need the rest, but nothing is a bigger driver than wanting to see how your baby is faring.
Feeding Time at the Zoo
I agree with Jen -- you can feed two (or more) babies at once, whether tandem breastfeeding or dual bottle feeding. I’m not here to get into a debate about which feed is best –- I think what is best is what works for your family. For my family, we had to feed with formula. It’s not hard to feed both babies at once if you’re home alone. I used to sit on the couch lengthwise, with my legs straight out in front of me on the cushions. I laid both babies across my legs and fed them that way.
To burp them, I used my chin to hold a bottle in one’s mouth while picking up the other to my chest, where I burped them. I bent my knee and used the knee to support them while being burped. As they got older, I used those nursing cushions that are shaped like a “U” to prop them in and hold them while I held the bottles. A key trick as well (if you’re formula feeding) is to make up a pitcher of formula every morning and apportion it into bottles in the fridge. Formula is good for 24 hours, and making that one large amount in the morning will save you time and sanity.