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Resources Centre / Twins Tips Introduction / Twins Tips / Establishing Routines with Twins
Establishing Routines with Twins
What most people consider to be basic childcare tasks -- feeding. bathing and putting more than one child to sleep -- can be VERY hard when twin babies are small. Setting up routines for your twins is helpful to parents and children because everyone knows what to expect. The key is to keep things simple and here are just a few tips that may help you to establish some routines for your twins.

Feeding Twins

It would be ideal for you to begin breastfeeding your twins as soon as possible after the birth. When a mother is expecting more than one baby, sometimes a surgical birth (c-section) becomes necessary. In this case, some hours may go by before you can start to breastfeed. However. it is important that you nurse your babies as soon as you are able.

For many reasons, breastfeeding may not always be possible or indeed, you may choose not to breastfeed. Some multiple births take place prematurely anf if this happens and you are unable to initiate breastfeeding soon after the birth. you can still pump your breasts to initiate lactation. From the moment of birth. your body will begin the process of producing milk for both your babies and its important to express the milk that is beginning to be produced to establish a good milk supply. For this you can use a high quality breast pump and for frequent use, it is recommended that you use a good quality electric double pump like the Ardo Calypso Double Breast Pump or the Medela Freestyle Double Breastpump as this is the most efficient method, especially for mothers of twins or triplets.

Milk from mothers of premature babies is a lot different from that of mothers of term babies. If your babies are born early. they will especially need your milk to build up their immune system. Expressing may be the only option in this case as premature babies cannot always be breastfed and can be too small or weak for bottle feeding.

If both babies are born healthy, talk to the mid-wife or breastfeeding counsellor about breastfeeding them on demand. The ideal set up is rooming in with your babies. Breastfeed the babies together to save time. This works well during the first weeks. After this you may have to breastfeed them one at a time depending on their particular hunger patterns.

There are several different ways that you can position the babies in order to nurse them at the same time. One way is to place the babies in front of you with their legs overlapping. making an X across your lap. The other position is to place both babies in the clutch or football hold. You will need pillows at your side and one on your lap and you will place the babies on the pillows with their legs going toward the back of the chair. Remember that if you are placing the babies in front of you. you must try to keep their whole bodies turned toward you. their chests against your chest. Their bodies must not be facing up. This is very important to avoid soreness and also to make sure that the babies are receiving enough milk.

There are special pillows available that help in positioning twins like the Harmony Duo Twin Feeding Cushion which is a must-have aid to breastfeeding or bottle feeding twins. If breastfeeding twins, alternate feeding each baby from both breasts as this evens out their particular needs, gives them extra visual exercise and empties your breasts more fully. Learn different positions to breastfeed like the double clutch or 'football' hold. Learning to nurse two at a time, or tandem feeding as it's known, during the first few weeks is helpful to help you get your twins into a routine and will save you a lot of time!

As you twins grow, they will need more than milk and you will then need to begin feeding them on solid foods, this is called weaning and it usually starts around 6 months. Almost all parents of multiples have tried separate bowls of baby food with separate spoons only to find that by the third bite, everything is mixed up again. Feeding your twins from one bowl of food with one spoon saves a lot of time and tcauses no harm as they're sharing germs anyway! Exceptions may occur if one child has an infection where it is recommended by your GP that should this be avoided to avoid a spread of the infection. You can find more information under Twins Tips for Breastfeeding & Weaning

Getting Twins to Sleep

You have heard it a million times twins mean double the amount of trouble and double the amount of fun. It is hard to remember the fun part when you're struggling to get your crying twins to go to sleep and stay that way. Here's a few tips to help...

Tip 1. Put your twins to sleep at the same time
Keeping your toddlers on the same sleep schedule is the key to developing a healthy sleep pattern and giving you some hope of time off. If your twins nap or go to bed at different times. one or both of them may be awake at any given time leaving you feeling exhausted and helpless.

Tip 2. Establish a calming bedtime routine
A quiet. calming routine at bedtime such as a warm bath. a bedtime story. and a few minutes of cuddling. back rubbing. and quiet talk will help you prepare your twins for sleep. If you stick to a consistent bedtime routine. your toddlers will soon learn the signal that it's time to settle down.

Tip 3. Put your little ones to bed drowsy. but not asleep
Help your babies learn to fall asleep on their own by letting them drift off once they're in bed. rather than just before you put them down to sleep.

Tip 4. Tend to your calm twin first
If one is a screamer and the other is calmer. you may be tempted to tend to your wailing toddler first. Before you focus on the screamer. make sure your quiet one is happy and settled. Don't worry about one twin waking up the other: Most twins don't seem bothered by their sibling's crying. even when they're in the same room.

Tip 5. Discourage night-time waking
You can do this by keeping your twins as calm and quiet at night as possible. Keep their room dimly lit. and don't play or talk to them during the night more than necessary. You can encourage self-soothing by giving them a special soft toy or blanket to sleep with. These "transitional objects" are comforting and can help them go back to sleep.

Tip 6.Try separate rooms
When your twins get older. they're more likely to spend bedtime and naptimes talking and playing rather than getting their needed shut-eye. Some parents find that giving each twin his or her own room stops the night-time antics and gives everyone some much-needed rest.

Bathing & Changing Twins

When there are two babies to bathe and dress and only one of you. what do you do? Handling both babies in the bath at the same time can be tricky.

Tip 1 Get everything ready for bathtime before you start !
First. assemble all of your necessary supplies and have them within arm's reach. Then. fill the bath. Have the babies prepared and secured in bouncy seats. bumbo seat or something similar. While you are bathing one. the other rests comfortably nearby in the seat. Even though your hands are busy with one twin. you remain within earshot and eyesight of the other. providing reassurance and comfort.

Tip 2 Invest in a baby bath supports
These can be as simple as a foam support which lies in the bottom of your baby bath or larger bath or the more fancier sling types that cradle babies in a very silimar style as a bouncy chair without the bounce ! They provide a much safer way to bath one or two babies (recommend with foam supports that two people are on hand) and allow you to bath them hands-free !

Tip 3 Get an extra long bath mat
Ordinary bath mats are just not long enough for twins who are able to sit up on their own and the bath becomes very slippy so for safety reasons. either stick to bathing one at a time or invest in a long bath mat that should cover most of the length of the bath.

Tip 4 Have some fun in the tub !
Bathing your babies should be a nice. relaxing time for all of you and it's not all about keeping clean ! Learn to have some fun with your twins by playing simple games with the water and later you can add some bath toys. You could even make this valuable one on time if you can get some help and spend 15 minutes with each child to talk and play.

Tip 5 Get some help
Everything is a little easier if you have some help and bathing twins is no exception. This is a great time for Dad (or Mum) to be involved if they have been out at work all day. With newborn twins, bath one at a time if using a small baby bath.

Tip 6 Get them out & dried and then move on to doing nappies. PJs etc
You may find it easier bathing and drying both twins first and then moving on to the nappy and dressing part together. We still do this in our house as we keep all the changing accessories in one bedroom and get both twins ready together and then separate them into their own bedrooms for their stories.

Tip 7 You don"t have to bath them every day
Yes. it's perfectly acceptable to only bath your twins every other day or even every few days is fine - they just don"t get that dirty !

Tip 8 Bathing daily does help establish a routine
I know. contradictory !! Establishing a normal bedtime routine for your twins - bath. drink. story. bed is helpful as they grow. It also helps them relax and can help promote sleep.

These are a few twins tips to help you establish routines for your twins in the early days but remember, twins grow and their demands change over time so you need to be flexible and adjust your routines accordingly. There is a lot more information to be found in our Twins Tips - The First Year so please do take a look as other articles cover areas in more depth.

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