Warning: Please stop reading now if you don’t have one or more babies. This post will bore you to tears. We, parents of young babies, are obsessed with getting a baby routine that works for us and we will talk about it a lot. That’s just the way it is.
Throughout my pregnancy, I did lots reading to prepare as much as I could for the twins’ arrival. One day I was persuaded by the no routine, baby-led approach to sleeping and feeding. The next, I was won over to the idea of implementing a fairly strict routine.
I was pretty terrified by the whole prospect of managing two babies on my own!
When the boys arrived and we finally brought them home, I soon realised that you can do all the reading in the world but when you have twin babies both screaming for food, cuddles or their nappy to be changed, I reckon most people (like me) just wing it in the early days.
That worked well enough when they were very young but as the boys got bigger, they weren’t as happy to wait to be fed when they got hungry and one would be getting upset as I fed his brother. So I tried to move to more of a structured routine in an attempt to pre-empt what they needed before they got upset.
Most parents find that they work out their own little routine but I found it really useful to read up on how what worked well for other people. So that’s why I’m sharing what’s worked well for us. These are the routines that we fell into:
Newborn to 4 months routine
At this stage we only focused on a feeding routine. The babies slept when and if they wanted around the feeds. I kept the double pram with carrycots in our kitchen/living-room and they napped in the pram throughout the day. I woke them up if they were sleeping at a daytime or evening feed time. This is a bit controversial. For some, the idea of waking a sleeping baby is unthinkable. But with twins, you have to find what works for you and stick with it.
Our feed-times were
• Day-time: 7am, 10am, 1pm and 4pm during the day
• Evening: We cluster fed every two hours at 6pm, 8pm and the last feed at 10pm
• Night-time: I fed on demand at night-time.
Up until 12 weeks, this usually meant a feed at 1am and 4am. By about 12 weeks, they were managing to sleep through the night with only one night-time feed. My larger twin slept through the night from about 16 weeks and his brother slept through from about 20 weeks.
It’s always hard to know how much milk to offer and there’s not a stack of guidance available. I didn’t find the guides on the milk cartons terribly helpful. I generally worked to 2.5fl oz per lb. So when my babies weighed 5 lbs, I would aim to feed them a minimum of 12.5 oz over the course of the day.
Best case scenario is that you have two adults for each feed-time! In the first few weeks, I had a lot of help and often had a spare pair of hands to help with a feed. However, fairly quickly I had to get used to managing on my own during the day. I never really attempted to tandem feed because I wanted to get that 1:1 bonding time with each of my babies throughout the day. I would just place one baby on the play gym, positioned so they could see me whilst I fed and burped his brother.
If the baby on the play gym wasn’t happy and I couldn’t calm them with my singing (poor baby!) or a dummy, then I sometimes split the feeds. I would feed half a bottle to baby 1 then I’d swap babies and do the same for baby 2. Then repeat to finish off both feeds. One of my twins (I’ll not say who!) generally always needed to be fed first – he just wasn’t happy to lie and kick once he saw a bottle! Don’t feel bad if this is same with you – they will both get fed and it just makes it easier if you feed the fussier baby first!
I should also mention that my boys were bottle fed (breast milk + formula) from the outset. The combination of a 10 week early delivery, weeks of tube-feeding, long stays in neonatal and heart-surgery meant that my plans to breastfeed were thwarted from the outset. I’ll keep the breast/bottle trauma for another post!
Thankfully I did have quite a lot of help in those first few months – mainly from my mum but also from an army of sisters, friends, aunties and cousins! The more help you can line up, the better!
4 months to 6 months routine
At around 4 months, the boys had stopped napping so easily in the pram and had started to fall asleep only when we went out for a walk. This wasn’t great for me as I needed some time in the house, when the twins were sleeping so that I could wash bottles, clothes and most importantly grab a cup of tea! So I introduced a morning sleep time, when I purposefully put them down for a nap. It took quite a few attempts to get it working and sometimes they’d be asleep in their bouncer seats before I managed to get them into their cots!
• Morning: 8:30am to 9:30am – I put them into their cots for a nap
• Afternoon: I just let them have a nap in the pram when we went for a walk
At 4 months, I started to stretch out their feed-times, so they were taking bigger but less frequent feeds.
Our feed times were:
• Day-time: 7am, 10:30am, 1:30pm and 4:30pm
• Evening: 6:30pm
• Night-time: I fed on demand at night-time. My larger twin slept through the night from about 16 weeks and his brother slept through from about 20 weeks.
Knowing when to stop night-tIme feeds can be difficult. We stopped when we realised that it was simply a ‘comfort-suck.’ They’d have a few mouthfuls and then they were happy to settle back to sleep. When this happened, we simply gave them a dummy and they settled back to sleep. And that was the end of night feeding!
6 months to 10 months routine
With twins, you will spend a lot of your day feeding. But when you introduce weaning into the routine, you’ll start to wonder when you managed to fit anything else into your day! On top of what already seems like a mountain of jobs, you now need to make baby purees, clean up the mess and still feed the babies 4 bottles a day, each! Madness.
We’ve now managed to get into a routine that works for us all (well, most days anyway!). The boys are eating well and getting a good amount of sleep. We’ve had a few ‘bad’ weeks of sleep recently but that’s mostly been down to chest infections and teeth pushing through..
This is how are day looks with bottles, spoon feeds and naps
Bottle Feeds: 7am, 11am, 3pm, 6:30pm
Spoon Feeds: 8am, 12pm, 4:30/5pm
Nap-times: 9:15am – 10:15am, 12:45pm – 2:00pm
Bed-time at 7:15pm
There’s not a heck of a lot of time for much else!
The nap times are a bit erratic sometimes. Occasionally, they’ll sleep a bit longer in the morning and then not want an afternoon nap. I keep to the routines as much as possible and flex them a bit when we have outings and appointments etc.
11 months onwards
The boys are now 11 months and over the last few weeks, our routine has evolved again as they have become more interested in their solid meals and less interested in their bottles. I’ve dropped one of their morning feeds and adjusted their nap times to suit.
This is how are day now looks with bottles, spoon feeds and naps
Spoon Feeds: 7am, 12pm, 4:30/5pm
Bottle Feeds: 9am, 2pm, 6:30pm
Nap-times: 9:30am – 11:00am, 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Bed-time at 7:15pm
The twins are currently 11 months old so I’ll update this post as our routines evolve. I think the next change will probably be to drop the morning sleep and increase the afternoon sleep. Although this may not happen for another few months!
Our twins were 10 weeks premature so you may find that your babies move though these routines a little quicker.
Do you prefer to have a routine or go with a baby-led approach? Any tips much appreciated, go on, leave a comment!
I’m linking up with #MarvMondays and #coolmumclub