If you’re pregnant with twins or have just had them and are thinking about bottle feeding twins, then you’ve come to the right place.
AD: This is a collaborative post.
Yes, we all know the advantages of breastfeeding and breast milk and I’m not going to get into that debate (again) but some mums for whatever reason choose to, or have to go down the bottle feeding twins route. Whether that’s exclusively, or in combination with BF.
And that’s exactly what happened to me. After having a total nightmare breastfeeding my firstborn, I pretty much knew I’d be bottle feeding twins when it came to the second time round. And despite unsuccessfully trying breastfeeding again, I knew for me, my twin babies and for my sheer sanity, formula feeding was going to be the best thing for all of us. And it absolutely was. Having a 2 year old to look after at the same time also had a lot to do with it. I just couldn’t simply sit on a settee for the first six months feeding newborn twins, like some friends had done. I was dragging them along to toddler groups when they were just a week old!
There are obviously advantages and disadvantages of bottle feeding, not least the cost, but the main thing to consider when you’re thinking about it (if you are lucky enough to have the actual choice) is that, as much as I loved it, it is a TOTAL faff.
As opposed to being able to do it anywhere and anytime by just whipping your boob out and you have enough milk, bottle feeding twins can be a bit of a military operation. BUT one that is absolutely do-able.
You just need to be organised.
Bottle feeding twins – what you need to know
Getting into a routine
If you take just one bit of advice onboard, let it be this one – get your twins into routine when it comes to feeding. Otherwise you will basically spend ALL your time feeding one baby or the other if you feed them on demand. Feeding routines and getting them on a similar schedule when it comes to bottle feeds in both the early weeks and the rest of that first year, is an absolute lifesaver.
Yes it sounds hard, and yes it is a bit tricky, but with some practice, you can nail it. You can even entertain your toddler at the same time! If you’ve not heard of tandem feedings, it’s when you feed your babies at the same time. But if you’re not up for that to start with, then just feed one after the other. Whether you think one is hungry or not. Otherwise if you wait, you’ll just be forever feeding a baby and it always pretty much be time for their next feed!
What formula to use?
When it comes to bottle feeding, you’ll find your way in terms of which formula you use. There are lots of different ones on the market, that are for different ages, and do different things, including Holle Stage 1 formula. In my opinion, don’t feel the need to buy the most expensive, most popular brand. Which is basically what I did the first time round (obviously). When it came to bottle-feeding twins I soon realised that when you’re going through at least three boxes in a week, you need to look at the cost. And funnily enough it has made absolutely NO difference in my children’s health and wellbeing. Funny that, eh?
How to make the bottles
As with everything, there are various ways to make up the formula bottles. If you have a perfect prep machine, that’s one of the quickest and most convenient ways to make it. Although it won’t do you a lot of good if you’re in town shopping, at a soft play with your toddler, or wandering around a National Trust with your new mum mates. But they are good for if you’re at home and you have hungry babies. I used one a lot for my eldest but actually found it a bit of a faff in the end.
So when it came to the second time round and bottle feeding twins, I went back to the old school way of doing it. With a kettle and lots of water!
I ditched the machine early on as it became a massive pain in the arse, and went for making up bottles in batches with my kettle and topping up with hot water from a flask. I would also recommend getting cold water sterilisers for ease. They are a good option for parents of twins as they enable you to sterilise so many baby bottles in one go. They’re basically buckets with lids that you fill up with cold water and a sterilising table, sling your bottles in and walk away. No faffing. No heating up, no microwaving. I had two which had a plastic tray thingy on the top to keep the bottles from bobbing up and a lid. Each would take six bottles, and the sterilised water lasts for 24 hours. So I would have one bucket full of water with bottles in, and the other bucket stacked high with ready-made bottles (see further down for how I did it). I loved these sterilisers, it was so easy and to be honest you could always just use a giant tub with a sterilising tablet if you don’t want to buy a proper one. They’re a good idea because the important thing you never have much time to waste when it comes to feeding time.
The other thing that’s worth investing in, is a LOT of bottles. Basically if you’re bottle feeding twins, go large or go home on the bottle front. I had 18 bottles which seemed ridiculous (and was a massive pain when it came to washing them up. I couldn’t bring myself to stain them with spag bol in the dishwasher) but it meant I could always have some at the ready.
The professionals’ advice on how to make up bottles seems to change by the year, but I went for old school boiling water from a kettle, doing a batch of probably 8 at a time, then when I needed them (they’d obviously cooled by then), topping them up with freshly boiled water to warm it up before adding formula. If I was out, I’d take a flask of hot water with me to top up the bottle of cooled boiled water. And then have two of those pots that dispensed out pre-measured amounts of formula. It was absolutely the best way for us.
Tandem bottle feeding twins
If you think you’re going to be bottle feeding twins on your own quite a lot then tandem feeding is a great way to save time. I mentioned it above, and it’s basically feeding them both at the same time. It gets the job done quicker, plus nobody wants to have one screaming baby losing the plot whilst you feed their sibling.
If you want to try tandem feeding, there are different ways to do it.
Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, there is a twin feeding pillow for you out there and advice designed to help you tandem feed. Everyone finds their own way of doing it, and don’t be scared to try different ways until you find something that is comfortable for all of you.
I tandem bottle fed my twins and did it in a few different ways. One of the best things I bought was a special pillow. You know if you have a single baby, you can buy ‘V’ pillows? Well this was kind of a ‘W’ pillow with two slots for two babies. I think it’s called a twin Z pillow and it was an absolute lifesaver. I’d put it on my bed and lie them both in it at bedtime. I’d then lie to the side of it or in front of it with two bottles, reaching out to hold them in the baby’s mouth. It took a while to find a the best positions where it didn’t hurt my back, or make my arms go dead, but once I found it, it was absolutely fine. With them on the twin-feeding pillow I could even hold both bottles with one hand sometimes, but that was just showing off. (Or if I wanted to look at my phone with my free hands!)
Feeding twins during the day
During the day downstairs I’d feed them in their bouncy chairs at the same time. (I purposely bought the best bouncy seats I could find as I knew they’d spend a fair bit of time in them). At first I would kneel in front of them and hold their bottles but soon realised this is flipping uncomfortable on your back – especially when they take ages to feed. The other way I did it was to sit on the floor and lean up against my settee. I’d then position each bouncer facing me on either side of my legs and hold their bottles that way. This was so much more comfortable.
I would give each of them half the bottle, and then stop to wind them alternatively. Mine were both colicky so it was a bit of a guessing game as to who would throw up first and you’d be surrounded by burp cloths. It was usually Twin Two so I’d wind him first whilst Twin One had to just wait.
The absolutely BEST thing is when you’re with a friend or family members who offer to help you feed them, either at home or when you’re out and about. I was lucky enough to have some fabulous mum mates who would gladly feed one twin on their lap whilst I fed the other and our toddlers ate or played. When they were a little bit older and not in their carrycots, I’d be able to feed them both at the same time whilst they were in their buggy or car seats.
Feeding twins during the night
The only time they’d be fed separately was in the middle of the night because my husband was home most of the time and we’d feed a baby each. (None of this letting him sleep in another room as he had work the next day – he was just as involved in this as I was!). The occasions he was working away, I would dread the night times in the early days. It felt such a big deal to me. To start with if one woke up I’d feed them on their own silently praying that they’d finish before the other one woke.
But I soon relaxed and fed them on the pillow if it was both at the same time. One thing that did really work for us was to wake the second twin up at night once the first one woke up. It meant they stayed in ‘sync’ with their feeds in a similar pattern and you could do it all in one go, rather than be woken up an hour later. Because back then, even half an hour’s sleep is EVERYTHING!
So the good news is it’s not as daunting as you might think, once you’ve got the hang of it. Of course you don’t have to feed them at the same time. Do what’s best for you, but I wanted to so that it was done quicker. I also had a toddler in the mix that demanded my attention and this way was fairer on him and not so time consuming. Oh and also, the day they start holding their own bottles to feed, is a day you will rejoice!
All of the above is my own experience, and I’m sure there are experts out there who would say I should have done it differently. It worked for us, and considering my boys are fighting fit and healthy, it couldn’t have done them any harm! Although looking back now, I’m SO GLAD that phase is all over. If you’re in it now, don’t worry, it won’t last long, honest! There is light at the end of the tunnel!
How did I do?
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