17 Tips on Raising Identical Twins
Got twins? Here are 17 tips from multiples experts and parents of identical twins.
Seeing two babies on the ultrasound was probably one of the most amazing moments of your life. Sure, the pregnancy was tough, but nothing compares to the joys (and challenges) you face raising identical twins. Rest assured, you're not alone. Many other moms have survived those first few years and lived to tell about it.
To help guide you through the twin zone, here are 17 tips from Pamela Prindle Fierro, twins and multiples expert and author of "Mommy Rescue Guide," and Jennifer Walker, co-founder of Moms on Call and a mother of twin boys. Theresa Hernandez, mother of 12-year-old identical twins, and Jennifer Boyd, mother of 3-year-old identical twins, also weigh in with their thoughts.
- Encourage Their Differences
Your twins are individuals with their own set of likes, dislikes and needs. One may love to play with blocks while the other prefers reading books, but you shouldn't feel guilty about catering to their differences. Walker says, "I promise that the one playing alone is not keeping a log of how much time you spent reading to their twin. Both of their needs are met."
- Keep to a Schedule
Infant twins should share nap times, bedtimes and feeding times. When both babies are sleeping at the same time, that means an extra moment of precious free time for mom. "Use those coveted 20 minutes to do dishes or prepare food or sit and stare at the wall. Whatever you need," Walker says.
- Parent the Kids You've Got
It's not uncommon for twins to lag a bit in speech development. Walker notes that "when my twins' friends were saying words like 'brochure,' my twins had their own goat language and sounded like a never-ending "Saturday Night Live" skit. They eventually put those words together and could speak 2-3 word sentences by about 3 years of age. Now, they talk nonstop."
- Have a System When They're Sick
"It's important to have a system for feeding, and especially medicating, when they get sick," advises Hernandez. Keep a notebook on your counter and write down feeding times and medication dosages to help stay organized.
- Join a Local Mother of Twins Club
Hernandez believes the support from other twin moms is invaluable in the early days. And as your twins grow up and enter new stages in their lives (What happens if one gets invited to a birthday party without the other? What if they both love ballet but one excels where the other struggles?), groups like this can offer support and insight from people who have been there before or are going through it alongside you.
- Reach Out to Moms With More
When you're feeling overwhelmed, reach out to mothers of triplets or higher multiples. To most twin moms, parents of higher multiples are true heroes.
- Stay Consistent
If one wakes up at night, feed them both, advises Boyd, a mother of five boys, including 3-year-old twins. Otherwise, you'll be awake all night.
- Plan Ahead Before You Leave the House
Dressing two kids, finding shoes, zipping coats and buckling your twins into car seats takes a long time. As Boyd says, "It's OK to have some days where they stay in pajamas!"
- Don't Buy Only Matching Outfits
Although dressing your twins similarly is a personal decision, Boyd doesn't dress her kids alike. "This is my personal opinion, but an elderly man once approached me and told me he was an identical twin. His one piece of advice for me was 'Don't dress them alike.' This stuck with me." As your twins get older and start grade school, let them have input on whether they want to dress alike and help each express their own style should they want to dress differently.
- Help Others Tell Them Apart
Do what you can to help others tell your twins apart. For preschool, Boyd dresses her twins in different shoes to help the teacher. Other parents may have one twin wear a specific color. Does one of your boys have a freckle under his eye that the other lacks? Clue the teacher in on this.
- Celebrate Your Children's Special Bond As Identical Twins
But find ways to nurture their individuality, too, advises Fierro. Encourage your twins to try new activities and discover their own unique interests.
- Avoid Comparing Them (As Much As Possible)
Fierro advises against comparing your kids to each other. Celebrate their differences without unintentionally making one feel not as good as the other.
- Shop for Groceries Strategically
Fierro recommends stocking up on essentials in order to limit spontaneous shopping trips with your twins.
- Organize Efficient Help
You may be overwhelmed with offers of assistance, Fierro says, but a little planning helps you take advantage of offers when you need them.
- Take Time for Yourself
Fierro stresses that parenting twins is hard, and everyone needs a break now and then. You deserve it!
- Take Lots of Pictures (Just Don't Forget to Make a Note of Who's Who)
Despite all the challenges, Fierro encourages you to "enjoy your beautiful babies as much as you can."
- Remember, Most of All, "This TWO Shall Pass"
In a few years you'll feel like you've blinked and your twins have suddenly turned into grown-ups. Take time to enjoy the journey with your babies. They're only young once!
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