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14 tips for new parents of twins

14 tips for new parents of twins

When I got pregnant for the third time, I felt pretty confident.  I thought I had this mothering babies thing nailed down, but then….

Then I came crashing back down to reality with a bump (literally!)  when I discovered that it was actually twins.  Suddenly I felt like a first-time mum all over again just full of excitement, fear and questions; the biggest of which was how would I manage with four kids under four!

Now that I am 6 years into this twin mum life I can look back and firstly tell you that it is hard, but it is doable.  If you are currently pregnant with twins and feeling daunted you will be ok.  You will be tired and you will, no doubt, have times where it feels impossible, but you will get through it and have the most extraordinary times of joy and amazement with your twins. 

I can also share with you the things that I wish I had known or done when I started this twin mum journey.

1. Join the Twins Trust

The Twins Trust is a charitable organization that has a fantastic website where you can access (for free) a wealth of information about parenting twins.  There are challenges that are unique to parents of multiples so it is a great and reliable source of information.  I recommend joining the trust which costs less than £3 per month and gives you access to discounts for all kinds of things including Clarks shoes (so useful when you have two feet to maintain) and practical support if you face issues.

2. Find your local twins club

Many areas have twins’ clubs which can be invaluable in connecting you with other twin mums as well as providing practical support.  For example, my local twins club has a full preemie clothes kit that they loan out as needed.  They also connect twin mums in the area who are expecting around the same time.  6 years on my cohorts what’s app group is still going strong although there are less middle of the night chats these days.

3. Engage some night time help

If you can (and it isn’t cheap) then getting a night time nanny or doula would be a huge help even if it were only one night a week or even once a month. This is not something we did and as my husband was working it meant that I did almost all of the night feeds on my own.  I was at times very broken by this, but I was lucky enough to have my family close by and so I did have help and get chances to sleep.  If I could go back in time, I would definitely try to find a way to have a regular overnight helper as I did find the lack of sleep extremely difficult to handle and it messed with my mental health.

4. Ask for help

Don’t be proud.  Having baby twins is challenging.  It can be overwhelming as there is very little break when there are two babies.  Sleeping when they sleep is, of course, a sensible idea, but I do get that you won’t always want to do that.  When they are napping that is also the only time you have for you so if there is anyone you can ask to help then definitely do it.

5. Be honest about how you feel

This is something I never did when my twins were very little and that was a mistake.  People asked how I was and I said fine, but I wasn’t fine.  I was exhausted and overwhelmed.  I don’t say this to scare you so let me just qualify this by explaining that one of my twins was very unwell after birth and was in and out of hospital for the first 9 months (she is all good now) and I also already had a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old so I was under a lot of pressure.  However, even without all that going on having two babies is challenging so I recommend swallowing your pride and telling people how you actually feel.  This goes for singleton mummies too! 

We should not feel ashamed that we are finding having a baby to care for difficult – it is difficult.  It is amazing and special, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t exhausting and isolating and hard.  So tell your friends and family when they ask, be honest as those that love you will be keen to help you if only you let them know what is going on.

6. Go to Twin specific playgroups

If there are any in the area I really recommend getting out and about to twin specific playgroups even when they are babies.  You need other twin mums to talk to as they are the only ones who truly understand what it is like.  This isn’t to say that mums of one baby aren’t great friends to have too, but their experience is different.   Meeting mums of twins who are a little older than yours is also great for getting knowledge about local groups and activities that are twin friendly as you will find some baby activities groups can be difficult to join in with when you have two babies instead of one. 

Also, once your twins start running around a twin playgroup can be an easier space for you to be in and they are set up by those who understand that your twins will always run-in opposite directions. 

7. Join twin mum Facebook groups

The groups on Facebook for twins can be really useful especially if there isn’t a twins’ club in your area.  I have seen people on these groups connecting with other mums in their local area and creating meet ups etc…  They are also useful for buying and selling twin specific items and clothing.

8. Choose your buggy wisely

There are so many double buggies and prams on the market that it can be tough to decide so here are my top tips for choosing a twin buggy. 

  • Consider the weight – get the lightest one you can as twin babies turn into twin toddlers!  With that in mind, in my opinion, the inline doubles are harder to push as they get bigger especially if you need to get the buggy up and down pavements.  Having a toddler in the back seat of an inline double and trying to get it up onto the pavement can be a workout.
  • Properly measure the width – check it will get through your front door, front gate (we had to take ours off!)  It is great if the buggy can make it into one of your rooms for those times that the babies fall asleep when you are out and you don’t want to wake them

9. Develop your routine and stick to it

I am not a slave to a baby routine and I like to have some flexibility with things so that I can still have a life, but with the twins, their sleep and their feeds I was militant.  When I was pregnant with the twins a friend who has two sets of twins advised me to always feed them together so that they were on the same schedule for sleep and that was top advice.  Feeding baby twins at the same time is not always easy and I must say I found tandem breastfeeding tricky, but if you feed them consecutively rather than simultaneously there is just no time for any sleeping for you.  So, my advice is choose your feeding and sleeping schedule and stick to it.

10. Help your twins learn to self soothe

There are endless techniques out there for this and I definitely suggest finding one you like as believe me trying to settle baby twins if they need to be cuddled to sleep is almost impossible. 

My favourite way of settling babies is the shush pat technique from Gina Ford which involves gently patting your baby’s leg or arm whilst saying shush repeatedly.  I did this with my twins especially as if they both woke crying and didn’t need to be fed I found it hard to cuddle them both and then put them back into their Moses baskets, but I could shush pat them both at the same time.  I wanted to offer them comfort, but without picking them up.  Over time this developed into them not needing the ‘pat’ I would just say shush gently and then into them self soothing and heading back off to sleep.  Even now at 6 years old we just say goodnight give them a kiss and a cuddle and they lie down and go to sleep – the same cannot be said for my singleton boys who are still a mission to get off to sleep aged 10 and 8.

11. Focus on communication

One of my twins had a speech delay and having done all the research I learnt that this is a common thing with multiples so if I could go back in time, I would have made sure that I consciously talked to my twins individually each day making sure to focus on one of them at a time and giving eye contact.  In the thick of it I was so busy caring for them that I was often doing something else at the same time as feeding or playing and this can make a difference to their development.

12. Be focused on your twins as individuals

One of the things that my twins have struggled with is their sense of self. Often, they are more concerned about what is happening with their twin than what is happening with themselves.  They became reliant on one another in a lot of ways and whilst that relationship is beautiful and special it can make it harder for them to form other bonds outside of the twin world.  I am not an expert, by any means, just a mum like you, but in my experience encouraging them to try activities separately can be really helpful in supporting them with developing their own identity as an individual as well as as a twin.

13. Get a perfect prep machine

Breastfeeding is of course amazing and I found it to be a hugely rewarding experience, but there are many reasons that people can’t breastfeed or have to stop earlier than they would have liked.  My twins refused to breastfeed during the day once they were a few months old, but carried on at night. ** they were determined and single minded even then** If you find yourself in the situation of needing to switch to formula or combination feeding as I did then I whole heartedly recommend a perfect prep machine as it saves time and stress when trying to prepare two bottles for two screaming babies.

14. Don’t forget about you!

This might be the single most important thing that I have to share with you and this one is not just for the twin mamas, but also for the singleton mamas too!  Please don’t forget about you.  Taking time for yourself even if it is just a few minutes can make a huge difference to your sanity and mental health.  You know the saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ well it is true so look after you too!

I hope that you have found this post helpful and that all you twin mums and twin mums to be.  My DMs are always open for anyone to ask questions or just for a friendly listening ear.

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About the Author

Kirsty is the creator and writer of Navigating Baby; a parenting and lifestyle website and the mother of 4 children.  She is all about helping others navigate parenting by sharing her experiences and mistakes! Read more from Kirsty on her blog NavigatingBaby.com.

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