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Resources Centre / Twins Tips Introduction / Twins Tips / Coping with Crying Twins & Multiples
Coping with Crying Twins & Multiples
Crying is communicating ! Crying is the main way your babies have to communicate with you when they are unhappy. Research has shown that a baby may spend an average of one to three hours a day crying. When you multiple that for twins. triplets or more that"s an awful lot of howling in one house ! It can be very difficult for parents of new born twins and multiples to find any joy in their babies when there is a seemingly never-ending stream of crying. Gradually. it will become easier for you to work out what each of them is trying to tell you. but in the meantime. here are some ideas that might help.

Multiple Tears

All babies cry. and some cry a lot. Multiple babies cry even more just as a result of pure numbers. Sometimes they will cry all at the same time or take turns one after another. either way this can lead to a lot of frustration and distress for parents tryng to cope. Babies cry most in the first year of life. and most of all in the first three months. This is also the time when you are most unsure of your skills as a new parent. and it"s easy to worry that you"re doing something wrong if your babies cry. But even "normal". "average". entirely healthy newborns may cry for somewhere between one and three hours each day. They have to. It is the main way of communicating their needs.

Why Babies Cry

Some babies cry when they"re being undressed. when any of their senses are over-stimulated (such as by loud noise. bright lights) or if tickled. rocked or talked to when they"re tired. grumpy or impatient for a feed. Babies do not cry because they are "spoiled". They cry because they need something. When your babies cry. it might be because they are:

Hungry - Before your babies were born. most did not know hunger. Nutritional needs were met before they felt it. Now. for the first time. they feel an empty stomach. No wonder they cry.

Too hot or too cold - It can help to check that your babies aren"t waking from sleep simply because they are too cold (if the cot is against an outside wall. it may get chilly in the winter) or too hot (if they are next to the airing cupboard and the water heater stays on all night).

A room thermometer will help to guide you in this: the ideal temperature for your babies" bedroom is around 18C (65F). Use blankets in the cot. so you can add or remove layers as necessary. DO NOT use a duvet. quilt or pillow before your baby is at least a year old. Taking your baby"s temperature can be done using a standard clinical thermometer held in his armpit for about 3 minutes. There are thermometers that measure the temperature inside the ear. These are very accurate but more expensive.

Uncomfortable - Like all of us. a baby will protest if his clothes are too tight. or if a wet or soiled nappy is making him/her uncomfortable.

Bored - A baby can be lonely. fed up. and in need of a bit of entertainment. just like the rest of us. This doesn"t mean that any of them are "demanding" or "attention seeking" but is as much in need of a bit of socialising as you would be if you were tucked up for most of the day in a cot.

Needing reassurance - Some babies need a great deal of reassurance. Adults can be comforted by soothing words. For babies. words and sight are often not enough and they need the safety of close physical contact. Hold your babies if that is what they need. With multiple babies. you may be able to handle holding two but will need help if you have more than this.

Wanting something to suck - Some babies have a strong need to suck and gain a lot of comfort from it.
Tired - Babies will often cry because they need to sleep. If your baby(ies) are crying because they are over-stimulated and needs a rest. then all that singing. talking and jiggling about may be keeping him/her awake when they need to sleep.

Unwell - If there are other signs that he/she may be ill. such as a rash or a high temperature. then always ask your GP to check your baby(ies).

Crying cures

Check all the obvious reasons why your baby(ies) might be crying. and if each of your baby"s particular needs have been met; whether for milk. sleep. sucking. comfort or entertainment. The crying will often just stop. Sometimes. however. it doesn"t. There just doesn"t seem to be any reason why it carries on. In this case. why not try:

  • letting your babies listen to the vacuum cleaner or washing machine; in these early weeks. "white noise" will stop some babies crying
  • swaddling - Many babies are soothed by being wrapped in a blanket; this wrapping is called "swaddling". It is a tried-and-tested method for soothing newborns. It can help a baby settle by making him feel safe and secure. Use thin material rather than a blanket so that he doesn"t get too hot. and keep his head uncovered.Once babies are about a month old. they don"t like being bundled up so much. and will probably kick off the covers. Don"t put a "swaddled" baby asleep in a cot or your bed.
  • walking. or driving him/her round the block - if you are able to take only the unsettled one then even better but it may require all babies be taken which in itself is rather a task !
  • Singing to them (they have no preferences as to which songs at this age)
  • a baby sling so they are close while you get on with other things. this could be a single or double baby carrier depending on the requirements.
  • getting a grandparent or relative to take over for a couple of hours
  • music; whatever"s your favourite
  • giving them some gripe water; it probably won"t make a blind bit of difference. but there"s always a chance and washing the spoon will take your mind off the crying for a moment.

Still crying? Check that your baby/babies are not ill; see your health visitor or GP.

Coping with crying

Nobody can cope alone for long with a baby who cries a lot. Parents of multiples have more than most to cope with and it can be easy to lose control. Things you can do to ensure this does not happen include :

  • share the crying times with your partner; take turns to try to comfort your babies or at least share the multiple burden. It sometimes doesn"t feel quite as bad when you"re both walking around rocking and singing babies !
  • take some time out; hand your babies over to someone else. even if it"s for just an hour. Ask a relative or neighbour if they can give you a break. to calm down and get some rest. Ideally this is best with only one baby as others may find it difficult to handle more than one baby at a time but at least it may give you a break and be able to spend some one-on-one time with one of your other children.
  • Don"t forget to eat well every day to keep up your energy. If a crying baby interrupts your evenings. which is pretty likely with multiples. make lunch your main meal of the day.

When the crying gets too much

If you feel so desperate and angry that you think you may shake or harm any of your babies. put them down in the cot or pram straight away. Make sure they are safe. close the door. and go into another room. Let yourself calm down. Give yourself perhaps ten minutes before you go back.

Even with help. there may be times when the strain of living with a crying baby gets to you. You may feel and think that you can"t take any more. Don"t be ashamed to ask for help; call the Tamba Helpline on 0800 138 0509 - the service operates from 10am to 1pm and from 7pm to 10pm. every day. all year round. Ask your health visitor if there is any local support for parents of crying babies. Some areas run a telephone helpline. An organisation called CRY-SIS also offers support through a helpline 08451 228 669. You can talk to mothers who have had crying babies themselves. and know just what you"re going through.

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