Having newborn twins and a toddler is bloody hardcore. But I found there are a few ‘must have’ items that are absolutely key if you want to survive relatively unscathed.
If you’re about to have twins (or to be honest, even a single baby) and already have a young child, you may likely be wondering how the hell you’re going to cope. This is a totally acceptable thing to be doing in your position.
Or you might have some idealistic dream that your toddler will be a perfect child 24 hours a day and it’ll all just be wonderful. Mmm, good luck with that.
Everyone does it differently, but I remember there being several things I literally wouldn’t have been able to survive without. You know, practical stuff.
So here they are, hope it helps if you’re in the same situation.
If I could recommend only ONE SINGLE THING (or two if you’re having twins!) it would be to have decent baby bouncers. Because like it or not, your twins will be spending A LOT of time in them. They need to be ones that can lay as flat as possible so they can sleep in them during the day. My twins were basically nocturnal and slept during the day and not until 4am every night (and then only for about 15 minutes), so buy good ones. You may also find if you’re bottle feeding, you can feed the babies in them too. This was an absolute lifesaver for me. Either put them facing you on the settee and lean forward to feed them, or to save your back, plonk yourself down on the floor in between the bouncers, facing them to hold their bottles. If you’re thinking of feeding them separately, YOU WILL HAVE NO LIFE. And your toddler won’t thank you for it…
TWINS FEEDING PILLOW
On the subject of feeding, if you wanted an alternative, get a good double feeding pillow. Either a special breastfeeding one which you can tandem feed on (both at the same time), or a double V pillow (which basically is a W). Put it on your bed, pop a baby in each of the slots (you know what I mean), lie down to one side of it and reach across holding a bottle in each hand. Takes a bit of practice to find a comfy position but beats kneeling over them and breaking your back. I used to do this before they went to bed. Bouncers downstairs. Pillow upstairs. Sorted.
COLD WATER STERILISER
If you’ve not heard of these, it’s basically a bucket with a lid, that you fill with cold water and a sterilising tablet, sling your bottles in and walk away. No faffing. No heating up, no microwaving. I had two Milton ones 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.
SHIT LOADS OF BOTTLES
So obviously the last two points are about bottle feeding, if you breastfeed twins at the same time as having a toddler, you’re a bloody Wonder Woman in my eyes! Most twin mums with extra children I know end up bottle feeding sooner or later. I went for sooner. Like within a day of BF not working when they were born. (Earlier this year lots of people took offence at me saying I was bored of hearing about breastfeeding, and called me lots of silly names, you can read about it here) If you have the luxury of no other kids and can spend all day on the settee feeding, then clearly you don’t need a huge stash of bottles. But if formula is your thing – go large or go home on the bottle front. I had 18 MAM 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. I had a prep machine first time round and found it more hassle than it was worth, but I know people swear by them. As ever, each to their own!
It goes without saying that once you have more children you’re going to need a bigger car. But what a lot of people don’t realise is what a massive pain in the arse it is to find a car which can take three baby seats across the back. There are literally only a handful of them on the market, and you can kiss goodbye to any style. You can get a ‘bench’ type seat which supposedly fits into any car that can accommodate three babies but you can’t put a portable car seat on it, which put me off. Most cars only have a ‘half’ seat in the middle. A whopping great big no-no, when you need to fit in three children still in group one or two car seats. If you know me, you’ll know this was basically the BIGGEST issue I had with finding out I was expecting twins (sad I know, but we’re car people). We’d only just bought a brand new all-singing, all-dancing BMW. Only to give it back straight away and get a VW Touran. I’m still gutted. I live in hope that one day, I’ll have a fancy car again. (You can read about my car hissy fit here).
PORTABLE CAR SEATS
I think most people opt for portable car seats anyway but for me it was an absolute necessity. I wanted to put them on my buggy and not be fannying around with carrycots when I was just nipping somewhere. Actually, who the hell am I trying to kid? It’s IMPOSSIBLE to ‘nip’ anywhere with three children under three (or indeed twins, or actually even one baby!) but car seats on a buggy make it marginally quicker. (Read about how difficult it is to ‘nip’ anywhere here) But when it comes to twins and a toddler, the added advantage is you can put them in the seats inside your home. You’ll find getting out of the house a giant mission anyway, but at least you can get everyone ready in the warm and then do what seems like endless trips in and out to the car in one go. I would get my toddler into the car on the drive first, so I wasn’t leaving him to cause havoc in the house on his own, then do baby, baby, bags. Phew! Also make sure you have toys in the car for your toddler. The whole rigmarole of getting everyone in and out anywhere you go, will mean they probably have to sit in there for a while whilst you sort the babies. That’s how I did it to reduce the risk of him escaping/being flattened by traffic. So make sure you have a stash of things to entertain them while they sit there. It probably won’t work, but at least you’ve tried.
This is a good one. Not only do babies seem to love music they often find it soothing. Anything that works to stop them crying, right? So if you’ve not already got one, get yourself a decent radio and tune it into some half-bearable music. It doesn’t have to be Classic FM, although I’m sure that might soothe them better than some of the commercial radio station playlists. So long as it’s not some ranting BBC Talk Sport presenter, you’ll be okay. Some harsher people would say it also works for dulling the noise of screaming, but I couldn’t possibly comment on that… Or if music isn’t your thing, tune into Radio 4 and it’ll totally teach them how to talk by the time they’re 18 months old. To find some great radios (and a lot of other items on my must-have list) have a look at Late Deals here for some fab offers and savings.
This leads me onto the other ESSENTIAL item if you have any hope of being able to survive those first few months. Get an iPad, or similar for your older child. Ditch the mum guilt about them using it, and realise that this shit is hard. Like REALLY f*cking hard. I had the idealistic thought that I’d get a ‘special bag’ of toys for my toddler to play with whilst I was feeding the babies. Ones that only came out during feeds so he was entertained by them. How lovely it would be. They lasted approximately half a day. It’s sods law, but you know the second you start feeding a baby your toddler will be kicking off for some attention. My twins both had bad colic so feeding time was sometimes quite stressful – a bit of a Russian roulette of who was going to projectile vomit their entire bottle across the wall/carpet/me first. It wasn’t even like I had a spare hand to read a book with him, like I may have possibly done if I’d only had one baby. (Read about those early days fun and games here) So get over your ideals, and get the iPad out. Stick on Cbeebies iPlayer, press guided access so they can’t f*ck it up and whinge, and relax in the knowledge that Andy Day is teaching them all about dinosaurs you’ve never even heard of, but that in six months’ time your child will be pronouncing perfecting. Parasaurolophos anyone? I also let my toddler watch the iPad at bedtime whilst I got the twins ready for bed and still do. I fly solo a lot, and I couldn’t do without it. If you can, you’re a better mum than I am (not hard, I know).
EXTRA PAIR OF HANDS
If you had one wish at this stage, it would be that you could grow an extra pair of hands. To cuddle one crying baby/toddler whilst changing the other one’s dirty nappy or build Duplo with the toddler. The alternative is to accept offers of help. Ditch the pride and get help, or risk losing your mind. If someone wants to come and cuddle your baby/babies, let them. If they want to feed them, say yes please (especially if they’re colicky), if they want to help you at bathtime/bedtime – bite their hand off. When you’re out and about (and you MUST go out and about even if it takes you three hours to leave the house) go with friends who will look after a child whilst you take the other one to the changing room, or will feed a baby, whilst the toddler has a meltdown over what you’ve packed him for lunch. Assuming they’re bottle-fed, or that would be a tad weird. There are no medals for surviving this on your own. I would have lost the plot had I not had so much help from my husband, parents and friends in those early days. I would also never have left the house. If you don’t have many friends, find them in online twin groups. They’re a great bunch and totally ‘get’ it.
This needs no explanation. But I assure you, it is ABSOLUTELY KEY to your survival.
*This is a collaborative post.
If you liked this post, how about you hang around and have a read of some more. You’ll definitely like this one about how I ignored advice to survive the newborn days or this one about how my toddler wasn’t too keen on the twins, ooh, for about six months. Enjoy!