The day is looming. With dad going back to work, you’re wondering how to handle twins alone. Or maybe your mom’s extended stay has come to an end, and she’s headed for home. Just as you were getting used to caring for newborn twins, you now need to learn how to handle twins alone.
That was me after my twins’ arrival. I considered myself lucky—my husband used all his paternity leave so he was home a few weeks when the twins were born. Still, he had to go back to work while my maternity leave continued. My mom stayed with us soon after, but after a while, even she had to go home as well. The many visitors that came when the twins were born were now dwindling down.
I’d officially be on my own.
*Cue freak out moment!*
Thankfully, it all worked out. I somehow managed to survive those months alone with the twins (plus a three-year-old!) using these tips.
1. Put your twins on the same schedule.
With a singleton, you can get by with following your baby’s cues much more than with twins. Two babies means putting them on the same schedule as much as possible, because if you don’t then you will never get a break. Be prepared that it will take you a while to get them synched up, but the point is to keep trying and eventually a pattern will emerge.
- Nurse both at the same time. Using a nursing pillow for twins (I used the My Brest Friend Twin Deluxe), tandem feeding becomes much easier. First, place both twins on your bed, leaving space for you to sit in between. Then, attach your nursing pillow to your waist and sit cross-legged in between the babies. Next, place one baby on the pillow football style and latch him on, then do the same for the other baby on the other side. When your twins need to burp, carry one baby over your shoulder or even sit him on the pillow as he burps. When he’s done, set him down on the bed and do the same with the other baby.
- Twiniversity Tip: Another option, if you’re having difficulty with tandem feeding, is to breastfeed one baby on a single nursing pillow while bottle feeding the other at the same time. Then at the next feeding switch who gets to breastfeed. Just make sure you’re alternating boobs for each baby so your breasts don’t become uneven.
- Bottle-feed both at the same time. My twins were both breastfed and bottle-fed. During bottle-feeding, I’d put the twins in their infant seats. Then I’d hold the bottles up for them while they drank. As they got older, I encouraged them to hold their own bottles.
- Put them to sleep at the same time. Keep your twins’ napping and sleeping schedules the same. Naps can be a juggle, especially when you try to find different ways to put the babies to sleep. Sometimes they’ll sleep together on a blanket on the floor. Other times, you need to put one in the swing while the other is in the bassinet. Regardless, try your best to keep bedtimes and nap times the same for both babies.
Speaking of naps…
2. Experiment with different ways to put your twins to nap.
Before my twins could put themselves to sleep, I was a ping-pong ball bouncing between putting the both of them to nap. Experiment with different ways for your twins to nap, including:
- Pushing them in a stroller
- Wearing one in a baby carrier
- Putting one in a swing
- Swaddling them in their cribs
- Placing them in their bassinets
- Laying them on a blanket on the floor
- Using an infant cushion
Make a list of all the safe places your twins have fallen asleep for easy reference and when you’re low on ideas.
3. Get familiar with your double stroller.
Being alone with twins means you don’t have another adult carrying one of them. The next best alternative to getting around? Using your double stroller.
You’ll use your double stroller for everything. Even getting the twins to the car required a double stroller when I was alone. Not just for a leisurely stroll, your double stroller serves as your extra arms. You’ll need something to carry both babies when needed.
Learn the ins and outs of your stroller and how to fold and unfold it before you venture out on your own (I speak from experience!) A baby carrier or two will also be a huge help.
4. Learn how to sleep train twins.
My life went back to normal once my twins knew how to put themselves to sleep. No more rocking, nursing or shushing to sleep for each baby and for each nap. I sleep trained my twins once they were old enough. I could finally put them down awake, knowing they’d fall asleep on their own without crying. They’d sleep 12 hours straight at night, and an hour and a half to two hours for each nap. Bliss!
Be sure to check with your pediatrician before starting any sleep training plan to determine if your babies are old enough (no earlier than 3 months old) and have gained enough weight.
5. Alternate holding and floor time.
Worried that your babies will fuss if you’re not holding them? Alternate holding and floor time with both twins. Sit on the floor near a play area where you can set one twin down on a blanket, infant seat, or mat while you hold the other one. Once the baby on the floor starts to fuss, put the one in your arms down and carry the crying baby.
If you need to hold one baby, alternate so they both get “independent” play and arm time as well. This is also a good opportunity to practice tummy time on the floor.
You CAN do it alone
Learning how to handle twins alone has been one of my biggest challenges to date. I felt exhausted and sleep-deprived from caring for two babies. Still, managing two babies alone has also been one of the most rewarding experiences. Just when I thought I couldn’t do it, circumstances forced me to do so and, to my surprise, I was able to do so with success.
Continue to challenge yourself. You may not think you can take your twins out alone without another adult to help you. Maybe you don’t think you’re cut out to put two babies to nap multiple times a day. Whatever obstacle you face, meet it head on. You’ll come out of it feeling much more empowered and stronger than you ever thought.
Nina Garcia is a mom to three boys—a six-year-old and two-year-old twins. She blogs about parenting at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she’s learning about being mom and raising twins. For more tips on how to sleep train twins, get her guide, How to Sleep Train Twins.