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Parenting Twins

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Troubleshooting Breastfeeding Twins

Is is possible to breastfeed twins? Yes! It is possible to breastfeed twins.

Will I have enough milk? You should do, it is produced on a supply and demand basis

What if my milk doesn’t ‘come in’?

•Some mums take 3-5 days for their milk to come in.
•Talk to your midwife about it.
•Make sure they are latched on properly.
•Drink plenty and breastfeed little and often.
•Contact your local lactation advisor,
•Ask your local twins club if they have a lactation consultant or a mum of twins who would be able to help you.
•However some mums find they simply can’t breastfeed for whatever reason. If this is the case with you, please don’t beat yourself up about it. x

My breasts are sore, what shall I do? Firstly make sure that you’re latching them on properly. Ask your midwife/health visitor to help check your positioning.

You can buy soothing nipple creams, try putting damp warm or cool flannels over your breasts, use nipple shields to protect your nipples.

My breasts are sore, red, swollen and I have a temperature.If you have red, swollen breasts, nipple discharge (other than breast milk or colostrum ) a feeling of hardness in the breasts, raised temperature or other flu like symptoms please see your GP urgently as you might have mastitis.

Further Information and Help :
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers  Helpline 08444 122 949
La Leche League  Call 0845 120 2918
World Health Organisation report 
NHS Breast feeding Website
Breastfeeding Network

 

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Tips for Breastfeeding Twins

Is it possible to breastfeed twins and triplets? Yes. It is possible to breastfeed twins and triplets. Many mothers of twins breastfeed their twins or triplets exclusively and thoroughly enjoy doing so.

If you would like to try breastfeeding tell your midwife – she will show you how to breastfeed.

Your Midwife will also be able to help you with positioning of your babies and ensure that they are latched on and feeding well. She may also be able to put you in touch with your local breastfeeding group or lactation adviser. Mums at your local twins club should also be able to offer help and support.

Benefits of Breastfeeding Twins

•It passes on some of your immunity,
•It is quicker – no bottles to clean and sterilise unless of course you are offering some of your expressed breast milk
•It helps you get back to your pre-pregnancy shape more quickly
•It’s free
•Where ever you happen to be you have a feed there ready and waiting for you, dispensing at the right temperature.
•Is easier to digest than formula
•Less chance of them catching a tummy bug
•The babies are less likely to be constipated
•It is thought to help protect them from obesity, chest infections, ear infections, child onset diabetes, eczema and asthma
•It helps to protect you from breast and ovarian cancers and from developing weak bones in later life.
Will I have enough milk to feed twins/triplets?  Your body produces milk on a supply and demand basis, so the greater the demand for milk, the more milk is produced. Once breastfeeding is established you should have no need to worry about whether or not you have enough milk to go round.
I have small breasts – does this mean I won’t be able to breastfeed twins? Small breast size should not affect your bodies ability to produce breast milk.

I had a caesarean does this mean my milk won’t come in? Milk production is sparked off by the hormones oestrogen and progesterone dropping after the placenta is removed so having a caesarean should have no bearing on milk production. Once the oestrogen and progesterone levels have dropped, prolactin and oxytocin are released which allows the breasts to release milk.

What equipment do I need to breastfeed twins? Really all you need is yourself and your twins! However there are some things you can buy that can make breastfeeding more comfortable. Some mums find that a large V shaped pillow  or specially designed breastfeeding pillow to support the babies really helps, or having several pillows stacked up under both babies so that they are at the right height to latch on properly.

At least a couple of good well supporting nursing bras are also a must. Make sure you get properly measured for this so it offers maximum support and is comfortable.

Breast pads are very useful for mopping up any leakage’s from your breasts, you can either buy reusable cloth ones or disposable paper ones.

If you are going to exclusively breastfeed you will need to consider what you are going to do when you go out without your babies. If you are going to express breast milk you will need a breast pump (unless you choose to express by hand). You can either use a single breast pump or buy a special breast pump which pumps milk from both breasts at once. The choice is up to you. Both work efficiently.

If you are going to offer breast milk indirectly you will need to work out whether you would prefer to offer milk using cups or  bottles and buy either the cups or bottles and of course a bottle brush and sterilizer.

A note book is a really good idea so you can jot down who has been fed and for how long.
Having a bouncy chair to pop one twin in can also be a great help.

Some mums have found that a loose fitting t-shirt allows them the discretion needed to breastfeed twins. Having a button down shirt doesn’t really work so effectively for twins.

When will I be able to breast feed my twins for the first time? If your twins are good birth weights and not very premature, you will be able to put them to the breast soon after birth. Usually this is in their first alert or wide-awake time which normally happens in the first 30-90 minutes after the birth.
How will I know how to breastfeed my twins? Your midwife will show you how to position the babies and how to get them latched on properly. If she doesn’t show you how, then ask her to show you.

Breastfeeding, the first few days after birth. For around the first 2-3 days your body will produce a special substance called colostrum. This is a yellowy colour and made up of water, protein and minerals and is exactly what your baby needs. It also contains vital antibodies which can help protect him/her from infection. Between days three and four after birth your body will stop producing colostrum and start producing milk.

Establishing Breastfeeding with Twins. In the first few days it is a good idea to give your babies short but frequent feeds. This helps your milk come in  as breast milk is made on a supply and demand basis, so the greater the demand the greater the supply! It also allows them to get used the sucking action, enables them to feed before they are so hungry that they are too tired to manage it and enables your breasts to get used to the idea of having two babies suckling from them too.

How do you Breast feed Twins?
First Get Comfortable When you breast feed you will need either a large comfy chair, or sofa or even a double bed. It can help to have access to either the tv or some relaxing music  to listen to whilst you feed. Some mums have an audio book on the go, others watch dvd’s or a programme on the tv.

A large V shaped cushion is also really good for supporting babies on especially if you have a caesarean section in that you want to take as much pressure as possible off your abdomen. If you don’t have a V shaped cushion you could use some extra pillows stacked up so that your babies mouths are at the same height as your breasts.
Have a drink before you start breast feeding and one after you finish. It’s also a good idea to pop to the loo before you start too.At first you may need some help to pick the babies up and to place them in the correct position for breast feeding, but after a while you will be able to pick them up and latch them on without any help.

It can help for you to have a bouncy chair to hand for you to put one of the babies in should you need to for whatever reason. Sometimes one baby needs a little extra time on the breast so you could pop him/her into the baby bouncer whilst you finish off the other twin.

Relax! The more relaxed you are about breast feeding, the more milk is going to be produced. This is because the hormone Oxytocin is released more readily if you are relaxed. Having some calming or soothing music on in the background whilst you feed can help you relax.

What breastfeeding position should I use to feed my twins? How you hold your babies depends on what suits you. There are three main ways used by mums of twins.

The first is often called the rugby ball hold as it looks similar to the way you would hold a rugby ball. The babies heads are supported by mum’s hands, their bodies are supported by pillows and their feet are tucked under mums arms.

The second and third ways have the babies bodies to the front of mum, one method has both babies feet laying the same way both supported by pillows and the other method has the babies criss-crossed in front of the mother, again supported by pillows.

Which ever method you use is fine, experiment until you find one that suits you. As long as the babies mouths are positioned correctly so they latch on properly, you are comfortable and they are comfortable then they will be fine.

You need to get your babies to take into their mouth a good amount of nipple and the darker surrounding area and form a good seal round it. You should be able to see your babies suckling properly.

How can I tell if they’re latched on properly?If you are worried about whether your babies are latched on properly, ask your midwife to double check how you latch your babies on. Sometimes a little guidance from a midwife or trained lactation consultant can make a huge difference to a mothers experience of breastfeeding.

How long should I allow them to suckle for? As long as they need is the general recommendation. At first babies (particularly small ones) need a small amount of milk at a time at very frequent intervals. Some babies finish a feed in around 10-20 minutes, others especially newborns can take a while longer. A baby who has had enough may move his or her head away from the breast.

Should I swap breasts midway through the feed? There is no need to swap breasts midway through a feed as each breast is more than capable of providing what your twins need each time. You may swap breasts so that each twin has a different breast to drink from each feed, although some twin mums prefer to offer each twin the same breast at each feed. If you find one has a stronger sucking action than the other you might feel more comfortable allowing that twin to start on the opposite breast to their last feed, but really whatever works for you and your individual twins is absolutely fine.

What if they fall asleep on the breast? Newborn babies often do this, especially in the early days. If you feel that they haven’t had enough milk for this feed you could wake them up a bit by changing their nappies and then seeing if they want a little more milk. If you think they have had enough to drink then that’s fine let them sleep, put them gently into their bouncy chair or cot.
A lot of baby experts think that it’s a bad idea to let them fall asleep on the breast but sometimes babies just do fall asleep on the breast it seems a bit silly waking them up again if they have finished their milk and are full. However if they haven’t been fed for a while and you know they need a feed, you will have to wake them up to feed them.

However, if they seem unsettled after a feed it would be worth investigating if there is any other cause for their fretfulness. They can sometimes need something else such as winding, a cuddle, they may be bored, or over stimulated or tired, or may be wet or dirty, or too hot or too cold. Listening to the pitch of their cries can help as often they use a different tone of cry for different things, which given time you will be able to translate – at least some of the time!

How will I know that they are getting enough milk? You know that you are letting them suckle for long enough if they seem content after a feed. Your breasts should feel also emptier after a feed. After the first few days your babies should be having at least 6-8 wet nappies a day and look healthy and content. After the first few weeks your babies should be gaining weight at a steady pace.

Should you find that your babies are not settling well even after a full feed, are still showing signs of hunger, or are not gaining weight or do not have at least 6-8 wet nappies a day your babies may need longer on the breast. If you find that they are falling asleep or look a little tired midway through the feed it is fine to have a few minutes break, maybe change their nappies or perhaps put one in their bouncy chair for a few minutes whilst you finish the other twins feed. You can then finish the second twins feed once the first one has finished theirs. You will soon see what works for your babies.

If your babies fontanelle’s (soft spots on their heads) have a dip or a bulge, this can mean your babies are dehydrated or not well, so contact your GP.

If your breasts are sore during or after a feed you may need to make slight adjustments when latching your babies on to get them correctly positioned. Once your breasts are used to being used for breastfeeding, it should not be uncomfortable to breastfeed.

If you are at all worried about breastfeeding your babies contact your health visitor for advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, that is what they are there for.

How long between feeds? This depends on the individual babies – and can vary from day to day. Babies go through growth spurts and hungry days and days when they just need a little comfort. It makes sense to feed them at least every 3 to 4 hours during the day, more often if they are hungry. Some babies like to cluster feed. This is where they have several feeds in fairly quick succession often with a longer gap at the end. This happens especially in the evenings or when having a growth spurt.
See what works for each of your babies and feed them on demand. Don’t worry about not having enough milk, your body automatically produces milk when your babies need it, and the more you feed the more milk you will produce.

If you find that they just won’t settle at all or they look unwell or have a temperature contact your GP or health visitor for advice.

However if you are fairly certain that they are full and they still don’t seem to want to settle down or are crying even after a full feed then check that they are not
•Dirty or wet
•Full of wind
•Too hot or cold
•In need of a cuddle
•Bored
•Tired
•Over stimulated

If you feel they are not well then contact your GP for advice.

If you are worried they are not feeding often enough then contact your GP or Health Visitor
What about night feeds?For the first weeks your babies will need to be fed round the clock at least every 3-4 hours. They may go longer during the night after the first 2-3 months when they are able to take more milk on board at each feed during the day.

How you deal with the night feeds is up to you and your babies. Some twins naturally wake at similar times so it makes sense in this case to feed both together if you feel confident to do this, or one after the other if you prefer to feed them individually.

Should your twins not usually wake up for feeds at a similar time  and they are of an age where they still need a night feed or if they are for whatever reason likely to wake up hungry during the night, it makes sense to wake the second twin up when you have finished feeding the first one, otherwise you are likely to climb back into bed just when the second twin wake ups! If you are used to breastfeeding them both together then it is fine to wake the other twin up and feed them both together.

Whatever you do, it is important that night times are deadly boring for your twins. This means no bright lights, no talking unless absolutely necessary, no playing. Having a night light bulb in a table lamp in a far corner will provide enough light for you to see what you’re doing without making your babies be any more wide awake than strictly necessary. A dimmer switch on an over head light can also provide sufficient light, especially if you only put it on its very first click.

Will they both suck at the same rate? You may find that one twin likes breast feeding and gets a good sucking action right from day one and gets satisfied quickly where his/her twin may take a while longer to finish each feed. It is possible to work to the needs of each twin, you will get more adept at getting yourself comfortable and being able to put one twin safely down whilst you finish off the other twin.
It takes practice to get it right Breast feeding can take a little while to become accustomed to, especially if your twins are your first children. However you will quickly get into the rhythm of picking your babies up, getting ready for feeding and getting comfortable.

Feeding newborn twins  Do I have to feed them together? NO! You don’t HAVE to feed them both together. Sometimes it is very nice to be able to simply feed them one at a time. This way you can give them a proper cuddle as you feed them. That said, it is useful to  have the skill to feed them both at the same time especially when time is at a premium or for night feeds.

Is there anything else I should consider when breastfeeding twins? It is important to eat a healthy diet and to drink plenty. Always have a drink before and after feeding. Eat little and often and think carefully about what you are eating, eating foods that are nutritious is better than eating lots of fatty, sugary snacks that are full of empty calories. You will need to have around 800-1000 extra calories  per day for twins.

I am breastfeeding twins but have been given medication, is it safe?  The best way to check this is to talk to your pharmacist or GP. Always mention to your GP or Pharmacist that you are breastfeeding to be on the safe side. This also goes for natural, herbal and homeopathic remedies. Whilst many medicines are now safe for use for breastfeeding it is always wise to double check. Check the instructions in the box and if you are in any doubt, check with your GP or the pharmacist.

What happens when you are out and about? Many places are now breast feeding friendly and will offer you a comfortable place to breastfeed discreetly. It is possible to breastfeed discreetly with twins especially if you wear a baggy top or maybe a poncho or wrap if it is cold. You could breastfeed each individually when you are out but this takes longer than if you are able to feed them together. If you prefer to do them individually this is absolutely fine.

Should you go out for some time on your own, you will need to have either left a couple of bottles or cup of expressed milk in the fridge. Expressing does not take very long when you know how to do it properly. If you need help learning to express contact your midwife or health visitor, or a lactation consultant for help.

Expressed breast milk is able to be stored for up to 5 days in a refrigerator if at a temperature of 4oc or lower, or up to 6 months in the freezer. All the containers you use must be sterile. Defrost your milk in the refrigerator and warm in a jug until it is warm but not too hot. Discard any left over breast milk after each feed it does not keep after being warmed up.

Some mums offer a bottle of formula as an alternative to expressed breast milk whilst they are out.
How can I wean my babies from Breastfeeding onto a bottle/ beaker.If they are under 16 weeks old, you will need to offer them either a cup, or from a bottle. Put the expressed breast milk or formula into the bottle and if possible allow someone else to give them it!  If they are 16 weeks+ you could try weaning them straight onto a beaker, it might help to offer them a different drink like well diluted fruit juice or water from the beaker until they’re used to drinking from the beaker. Then add your expressed breast milk to it or formula depending on what you’re hoping to give them. It can help if you let another adult (for instance Dad!) offer the milk to them in the beaker, as they might decide they want your milk direct from you if they smell you!

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Teenage Twins

How can I help my teenagers through their teenage years?
You can do this by being there as a guide for them, not to judge or criticize them or to tell them what they need to do for every step of the way, but to be there as a point of reference should they need you to help them. Avoid using the ‘you mustn’t do that’ approach, as it never stops them from doing *whatever* it simply makes them not talk to you about it. If you can talk to them about things you can help them make sensible choices.

Talk to them about situations that might be happening to other people in their lives (like their classmate who is already doing *whatever*) If they can have a conversation with you about what might happen if that person continues with that particular behaviour, it is giving them the skills needed to navigate their way through their own lives, but in a non-judgemental way.
Setting clear boundaries is also key, they need to know what is and isn’t acceptable, and what behaviour you expect. If you ask them to be in for a certain time and they are late (without a good reason) then a consequence is needed. This could be ‘grounding’ them, i.e. not allowing them out or removal of privileges such as using their Xbox, PS3, computer, mobile (cell) phone etc.
They also need to know how to do things for themselves, such as how to operate the washing machine, tumble drier and iron, how to cook, how to store food correctly, budgeting, cleaning etc.
It also helps if you can provide them with regular, healthy meals, and a quiet place to study.
If at all possible give them separate rooms, so that they can study in peace, or equally play their music, games or musical instrument without directly disturbing their twin.
Help them organize their time so that they have time to study and complete homework to a suitable standard, as well as see friends, take part in sport, and find time to relax. They also need to take responsibility for organizing their school books, doing homework on time, having the correct kit for P.E., taking their musical instruments to school on the right day and practising them between lessons, and having their Food Technology ingredients on the correct day.
Understand that they not only need to learn to be separate from their parents, they also need to learn to be separate from their twin. Unless they are going to get places at the same University to study the same subject (which does happen!) or get jobs in the same company on the same floor (which also does happen!)  they are going to need to know who they are and what they want to do in life. For some twins this can be a real problem! They can be so used to doing whatever it is that their twin wants to do that they can’t be separate without feeling very lost or lonely. Some twins have put what they needed or wanted to do to one side just so that they can have the comfort of having their twin there for them. It is important that each twin reaches out for what they most value in life.
They may wish to experiment with new styles of dressing/ hairstyles which is very normal.
It is also very possible that they might not develop physically at the same rate. The slower one will catch up in good time, but it is vital to quash any teasing from either twin about their rate of development.

Should you keep teenage twins in the same class in high school?
The high school system tends to work so that the year group is divided into forms (some do this by ability and others do it by interests and who is likely to get on with who to create a community feel). Some schools use forms for pastoral care purposes only, and are not based on ability. In this instance you would have an opportunity to say to the school whether or not you want them putting in the same form. It can be nice particularly in Year 7 (first year) for twins to be together in form time, and then to be put in sets which meet their academic needs for the rest of the day. Once they have acclimatized to school life and reach year 8 they may feel comfortable to be in separate forms.
However if you or your twins feel strongly about being in separate classes from the start that is absolutely fine, just let the school know and see what they can do to accommodate this.
If your twins are well matched academically (both working at a similar level and neither being particularly brighter than the other) you may have the choice whether or not you keep your twins in the same classes for subjects. If they are not very well matched (one being distinctly more academic ‘brainier’ than the other) you will probably find that the school insists on separating them, and this is fine. They need to work at their own individual level.
At the end of the day you need to do whatever it is that feels right for you and your family.

Filling in Application forms for Twin School Admissions.
There should be a section on the application form to state any reasons you want your children to go to that particular school, it is worth mentioning in this section that you have twins (stating the other twins full name) and you want them in the same school (unless you would prefer they were separate) If you have sent your twins to school outside your normal school catchment area because you want your twins in separate classes it would be worth mentioning here too.
If you don’t get your twins into the school you prefer or only one gets into your first choice you have the right to appeal. State clearly your reasons for choosing the school and reiterate that you need both twins in the same school for logistical reasons (unless the two schools are next door to each other and dropping off and picking up are not going to cause too many problems.)
Should I send my teenage twins to separate SCHOOLS?
It is not unheard of for twins to go to separate high schools! Some do and absolutely love it. It is better to get two schools that suit the two individual twins needs, than to try to put one twin in a school that really doesn’t suit his/her personality at all!

What happens if one twin can go to Grammar school and the other one can’t?
Whilst traditional Grammar schools are now less common, there are still some in existence. These are where your child takes an entrance exam called the 11+. Only those who pass the exam will be offered a place. This can lead to a difficult situation if both take it, and only one passes or only one is academic enough to take the exam in the first place. What do you do? This really depends on your individual twins. It may be that they are happy to go to separate schools, or it may lead them to be very unhappy at the thought of being split up. The more academic one might feel happy that he/she is bright enough to get in, leaving the other one to feel deflated and unhappy.  At the end of the day you need to find a workable solution that is fair to everyone. This in itself is easier said than done. A compromise might be to get them both into a different (but equally good) school that accepts all academic levels. Or you might decide that the one that has got into Grammar should go, and the other one make the most of being at a different school.

Horrible hormones, homework, peer group pressure, of COURSE they’re going to be grumpy!
Teenage twins have several things to deal with, not only are their bodies starting to change and develop as they hit puberty, they also have extra homework and school responsibilities to handle, along with peer group pressure to try all kinds of new things (some of which you would prefer it if they didn’t try!) and hormones running riot. You will want them to keep their bedrooms at a reasonable standard of hygiene. You will find that they are naturally wanting to go to bed later on and sleep for longer in the mornings. This is because the teenage body clock is set differently to adults and children’s. There is no wonder that teenagers spend most of the time feeling grumpy.

Helping your twins go their own way in life

There are lots of opportunities for twins to make decisions about their futures during their teenage years. We need to guide them into making the right choices for them as individuals. It can be hard for each twin to decide what they (as individuals) want.
The first big decision they will have to make is what subjects to take for G.C.S.E (in the UK at least). Each twin needs to take subjects that interest them and that they are good at. This may or may not be the same subjects as their twin. They will do best at the subjects that grip them. Try to encourage them to follow their own preferences, not do the same subjects as their twin so that they can stay together.

University places and job applications can be the next big choice to be made. Again, encourage each of them to go in search of the job or course that inspires them rather than making a compromise to be with their twin.

Over their teenage years encourage them to develop their own individual style, and have their own friends. It is also ok for them to politely decline invites if they don’t want to go. This could be to parties, to a mutual friends house etc. It is ok for just one twin to go somewhere. In fact if they are confident to negotiate situations on their own this is a good thing as one day they are going to have to do this themselves without the support  of their twin. No matter how close your twins are it is a vital life skill for them to be able to do things on their own. It will seem strange for them at first when they go somewhere on their own but they will soon grow more used to it.

What happens when one twin develops physically sooner than the other?
This can happen! The best solution would be to reassure the twin who is not developing so quickly that it will be their turn soon. Also tell the other twin not to be unkind or tease them.  It can be hard for twin especially when one twin girl starts her period before her twin. They are not necessarily going to start at the same time. Make sure both twin daughters are prepared for their period starting by having sanitary towels in their school bag at all times.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about raising teenage twins please email sarah@twinsonline.org.uk or ask a question on the Facebook Page www.facebook.com/twinsonline if you prefer your question to be anonymous please send an Inbox on Facebook and request that your question is reposted anonymously.

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Tips for potty training twins

When should I start Potty Training my Twins? 

Children should be at least 18 months of age and showing signs of readiness for potty training before you start. If your child is looking like they are ready sooner than this it is fine to train them earlier. But follow your child’s lead. Do NOT try to start them before they are ready.
If they are expressing an interest in using the loo or big girl/boy pants, buy them a potty each and lets get started!

What happens if just one twin is ready to get potty trained first? Potty train that twin, the other one will soon want to copy and will catch up! Certainly don’t hold one twin back or try to make one who is not ready try it.

Signs of readiness for potty training:
•Removing a wet or dirty nappy because they don’t like the feel of it
•Saying that they need a wee or a poo or that they have just done a wee or poo
•Wanting to use a potty, or toilet
•Using language correctly relating to going to the toilet
•Showing an interest in using a toilet
•Wanting to wear proper pants ‘like a big boy/girl’
•Being able to pull trousers and pants down on their own confidently
•Being able to go for a while without wetting or dirtying their nappy
•Hiding in corners or under a table when they need a poo

What equipment will I need? At first the main thing you will need is two potties. You could get a couple of spare ones to keep upstairs if you live in a house, but its not vital that you do this.

It is handy to buy some good disinfectant ready for mopping up spills as they will have plenty of accidents at first
. You might want to get a potty for emergencies when you’re out and about but again this isn’t essential.
As they get more confident you might like to buy a toilet trainer seat for the loo and a stepping stool for them to put their feet on.
It is possible to buy an integrated ‘family’ toilet seat which has a second, smaller seat which flips down when needed which can be a good idea.

At first you will be keeping your twins in either nappies or pull-ups overnight, but eventually you might like to buy a plastic sheet to go under their sheet to stop accidents seeping into the mattress.
You might want to buy a heap of cheap knickers/ pants as well. Get plenty as they will go through them very quickly at first. Supermarkets normally sell them very cheaply.

Some parents ‘downgrade’ to a cheaper, less absorbent nappy just before potty training, to help them recognise that they are wet, but again this is not essential.

Before you start potty training your twins ensure that they have a good healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, and have plenty  of fresh fruit and vegetables. This ensures it is as easy for them as possible.

When should I start potty training?When they seem ready! 
But not
•When mother-in-law is coming to stay, (unless you’re going to give her the task of training them of course!)
•When you’re attempting a house move,
• Before your next baby is born (!),
•Just before a big holiday etc. Choose your time wisely.

It also helps if you are all in good health too, it is no fun trying to persuade ill twins to try using a potty!
Some parents have taken a weeks annual leave and cracked on with potty training making sure that they didn’t have anything very spectacular to achieve that week.
Summer is usually a good time to start training, purely because you have less clothing to deal with anyway, and you can always let them have nappy free time in the garden (as long as it is not very sunny of course, don’t want them getting sunburn, ouch!)

How do I start potty training twins? Firstly buy the potties and anything else you need. It can help introducing potties slowly by letting them play with them, slowly moving on to them being put on the potty before they go in the bath etc. If they manage to do a wee or poo on the potty, give them lots of praise. It is fairly likely that to begin with they won’t always manage to do anything on the potty, which is fine, just take it away without making any comment.

Once they are familiar with using the potty at bath times you can introduce the potty more often throughout the day. Theoretically, the best time for sitting on the potty is about 20 minutes after meals, so perhaps incorporate a potty trip into your routine 20 minutes after breakfast, lunch and tea. If you offer them a drink throughout the day, again offering the potty shortly after can help.
Having some books for them to look at whilst they are sat on their potties can help them sit for long enough to let something happen!  Remember to teach them to wash their hands after using the potty (or at least use some hand sanitizer).

Instant Rewards. Some parents use a star chart or instant rewards system for using the potty. Twin parents might find it useful to have a joint star chart that they both contribute to, rather than having individual ones, but this depends on individual twins. Remember to reward effort not achievement! The thing to reward is the fact they attempted to sit on the potty, not that they actually did anything on the potty!


When you’re out and about with twins in the early stage of potty training. When you are out and about whilst you are in the first stages of potty training your twins, you might prefer to put your twins into either pull up’s or nappies, as until they properly master bowel and bladder control, they are likely to have accidents in the car, on the bus, etc.
If you want to be brave and go for the proper pants approach, make sure you take some carrier bags with you (for wet/soiled clothes) and a complete change of clothes each as sometimes wee can seep up through tee-shirts and soak the child through. You might want to line your car seats with a towel placed on a bin bag or other plastic, or a purpose made pad which can be machine washed.

At night time again you will probably put your twins into nappies or pull ups until they are more confident using the potty. Once you find that they are able to wake up to use the potty or loo, or are able to keep their nappies dry overnight, they can be taken out of pull ups or nappies and be nappy free at night too.

Putting a mattress protector under the sheet is a good idea until they are totally dry at night.

Do not limit their intake of drinks throughout the evening, instead offer a drink about an hour before bed, and then make sure that they have a wee just before they go to sleep. Some parents lift their children and put them on the loo just before they go to bed, but this is very much a matter of personal choice.
In order for them to gain confidence with potty training they need to be able to pull their own clothes up and down quickly so dressing them for success is vital.

Elasticated waisted clothes are fabulous for potty training, leggings or jogging bottoms are especially useful as they don’t involve fiddly zips and buttons.

Girls are better off without tights on until they get very confident using the potty, as it is a bit complicated trying to lift the skirt up and pull the tights down quickly when they probably haven’t had much warning about needing to go!

Eventually your children will be able to sense when they need to use the potty and this will be much easier, apart from when you’re out and about and they need to go NOW!
When you get to a new place ensure you work out where the nearest loo is, and make sure you get both of them to go try, whenever you take one to the loo, otherwise your life is going to be one continuous loo trip until they get older!!
It helps to take them for a wee just before you set off, when you arrive, and before you set off, as well as after drinks, snacks and lunch!

Moving from potty to loo.Some children are fine to go straight from potty to loo, whereas others find it more challenging. Having a stepping stool and child trainer seat can help this. When you teach your child to wipe themselves, you might want to buy them some moist toilet tissue, this makes it easier for them to get it right and the ones aimed at toddlers can be flushable (check first!)

Potty training twin boys! Boys need a potty with a deeper  front lip on it to stop them splashing everywhere. Make sure you let them choose one that is comfortable to sit on, they might need a slightly bigger one than a girl.
They might like standing at the loo to wee, like daddy, which is fine, just make sure you buy a pedestal mat to absorb the drips, as at first their aim might be a bit poor. Ensure they still sit on the potty after meals and before bed to see if they have a poo that needs to come out.
It can help if they do a poo at a similar time each day, as then you can introduce sitting on the potty around that time, to aid success and stop them feeling bored at the idea of sitting down for long!
If they are having problems aiming, you can buy ping pong balls and see if you can persuade them to wee on the ping pong ball. You can buy a special device which is similar, but more expensive than a ping pong ball. Or try buying a blue block for the loo to see if they can ‘turn it green’

Bladder control but not bowel? It is not unheard of for children to be in control of their bladders but not their bowels (or vice versa) It should come eventually, if you are concerned see your GP or Health Visitor for advice. or visit www.eric.org.uk They offer advice about all aspects of continence. Making sure that you offer them plenty of fruit or vegetables, along with plenty of drinks and exercise can help.

How long should potty training take? This depends on your child and both your twins might take a different length of time. It can take any length of time from a day to many months for them to become completely dry and clean day and night. The more ready they are when they start, the quicker it will be.
Recent research has suggested that leaving it until they are nearer 3 years old can make the process quicker, but as each child goes through on average 49 nappies a week each, this might not be a viable option for parents of twins!
Just take your time, try not to rush them, praise any successes, ignore politely any mishaps, and you will get there in the end.

Good Luck!

If you are having problems with potty training, get advice and help from your GP or Health Visitor. They are used to this kind of thing, so don’t feel embarrassed about it.

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How to survive the supermarket with twin toddlers

Supermarket Nightmares.

Take your children to the supermarket with you only when they are well fed, not tired, not ill, and are not thirsty! If you take them with you when they are tired, hungry, thirsty, or ill, you’re simply asking for trouble! In fact the best possible solution would be to do online shopping for groceries.

If you take them with you enlist their help looking for items, or counting things out etc. Keep them occupied and they shouldn’t run off so often. If they manage to get all the way round without running off, having a tantrum, etc offer them some kind of reward. It could be a snack in the coffee shop, a ride on a ride-on toy or an edible treat. Praise them whenever you catch them doing something you like, or behaving well.

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Should toddlers have an afternoon nap (or not)

Afternoon Nap or not?

This largely depends on your individual children. They may still need an afternoon sleep, or they might be fine to go without. If you find that they are sleeping too long in the afternoons and not wanting to settle or have a place at school nursery in the afternoons you might find that they need to have a shorter nap or skip one full stop. If they are cranky in the afternoon but finding it difficult to sleep at night, they might need a short nap. Sometimes sleep problems are caused by lack of sleep rather than having too much of it! (Yes I know it sounds a bit bizarre, but adults also get too tired to sleep!)

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How to get rid of Dummies, Binkies and Pacifiers

How to get rid of Dummies/Pacifiers/ Binkies
Whatever you call them they can be useful when your children are little, but there comes a time when having a dummy to suck on for comfort isn’t a good idea anymore.

How do you get rid of them without any fuss? Some parents wait until Christmas and leave the dummies out for Santa to take, in exchange for Christmas presents. Others have left them out for the Binky fairy to take at bedtime. Usually she leaves something as a token gift in exchanged. You could tie them to your tree if you have one, and let the fairies take them overnight. Other parents simply put them in the bin!

 

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Toddler Proofing your home!

‘We’ve toddler-proofed our home but they’re still getting in!’ (anon)

The first thing you should consider when your babies start toddling (which may be from as early as around 9 months!) is how to keep them safe. You can buy special baby safety equipment from good D.I.Y. stores, Baby supply stores, and off the internet.

Move anything that is within easy reach of your toddlers. This includes your:
•Dvd / BluRay collection,
•Ornaments,
•Cleaning products,
•Medicines including vitamin tablets and other supplements
•Loose food ingredients such as flour, cereals, sugar, rice, pasta etc.
•Washing powder and fabric conditioner
•Toilet rolls.
•Toiletries etc.
•Pens and crayons should also be put well out of reach as the more creative of twins can make wonderful works of art all over the walls, floor and furniture!
•Make sure you and any of your guests put handbags out of reach especially if they contain painkillers, or any easy to swallow items.
•Move nail varnish, nail varnish remover and make up right out of the way too.
•Buy plug socket covers so they can’t amuse themselves sticking forks and fingers into the plug sockets.
•A lock for cupboards can be very useful too.
•Buy baby gates for over the top and bottom of the stairs. Cook on the back rings if at all possible or buy a play pen to put them in whilst you’re cooking or  buy a baby gate for the kitchen door, so that they can’t try to pull things off the rings or burn themselves on a hot ring.
•Always put cups with hot drinks well out of reach (bear in mind that roving toddlers tend to try to pull themselves up on coffee tables too).
•It is possible to buy protectors for furniture so little ones can’t fall and bang their heads on things like tables etc too.
•Any furniture that is very tall should be strapped to the wall so if the twins try to pull themselves up on it they don’t pull the furniture on top of them.
•If you have a yale lock for your door, make sure you have a key somewhere accessible in case you get locked out!
•Buy window locks so that they can’t fall out of open windows.
•Buy fire guards to put round any open fires or wood burning stoves in winter

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Twin Toddlers

Twin Toddlers need routine! They need to know (roughly) what comes next! 

Some of you will be sending your children to a childminder or to day nursery so they will be used to being in a set routine from Monday to Friday anyway. It can help to loosely stick to their routine at weekends, so that they have their meals at roughly the same time, and any afternoon naps at a similar time.

If your children are not going to day nursery or a child minder it would be a good idea to have them in a routine so that they eat at similar times each day, take a nap at similar times and go out at the same sort of times each day.

Also having a night time routine that is also the same can help them settle better at night.
If you observe them carefully you should be able to work out when your toddlers are at their most alert, and when they like to sleep, and when they get hungry and fit their routine around this.

Do things your twins would find most challenging during the times that they are least tired and not hungry. If you wait until it’s almost meal time or nap time you’re setting yourself up for a tough time! If they’re happy and fed, and had a drink then they are likely to be in a better mood and cooperate more. It is a good idea to tell them what is coming next, even if they have no real concept of time.

Terrible two’s x 2!
Most parents find that their children become more challenging when they are around two, hence the term ‘terrible twos’. Don’t worry this is a normal part of their development and simply a phase that they go through. The best way of dealing with the terrible twos is to set clear boundaries. Make sure they always know what is acceptable and what isn’t. Then be consistent. If you laugh when they do *whatever* today, laugh again when they repeat the behaviour tomorrow. Don’t laugh at something today and then tell them off for it tomorrow or they will get confused.

Ignore  any behaviour that is only mildly unacceptable. Have a planned consequence for any behaviour that is very unacceptable, such as biting, fighting, hair pulling, pinching, spitting tantrums etc. Let them know that they will be going to the naughty step for a time out, or having something taken off them (or whatever) if they do the particular behaviour. The rule is they go to the naughty step for one minute per year of their life, up to a maximum of ten minutes. Should they refuse to go to the naughty step or leave before their allotted time is up, the time starts over again. Once time out is completed, they should then acknowledge why they were there  and apologise to you.

Often when children are badly behaved they want attention, and any kind of attention will do, they don’t care whether it is positive attention or negative attention. So the best way to avoid them constantly wanting your attention by doing naughty things is to praise them profusely for anything GOOD that they do. If they sit nicely, eat nicely, play nicely, share, etc, praise them. Praise them when they come back to you when you call them. Notice what they do that you’d like them to do again.

Give them positive feed back that they are behaving well, that you were really happy that they looked out for their friend earlier, or that they said ‘Please’ when they asked for a drink. If you would like to you can reinforce this by having an instant rewards jar (filled with cheap fun toys that you give out when someone does something nice). Star charts also work well, particularly if you have one that they share, rather than them having a competition.

If your toddlers are encountering a new situation for the first time, you will have to explain to them what is going to happen and how they should behave. Unfortunately they don’t come pre-programmed knowing how to behave at a place of worship, airport, another persons house, a restaurant, etc.
Make sure that you don’t have all your children’s toys out at once, put a couple of big boxes away for another day, so when they get bored of one set, you can swap over the boxes and have a whole ‘new’ set to play with. It also stops your living room/ play room / their bedrooms from getting very messy. Joining your local toy library can also be a great idea. Here you can borrow a toy each, usually for a small fee. They can have them to play with for a week or two and then take them back and get a new one. They sometimes hire bigger toys for parties and other events which is a real bonus.

It can also help if you keep your sentences very simple, often when faced with lots of words small children ‘switch off’! This particularly applies if you are trying to get them to do things. Ask them only to do one thing at a time.


A little time apart occasionally? 
It can be really good for twin toddlers to occasionally spend some time apart from each other.  This can be a simple thing like one twin going with mummy to collect a takeaway/ newspaper/ run an errand whilst the other one stays with Daddy/ Grandparent/ Trusted friend and does something else. It helps them to be able to be separate. If they do seem a little anxious at first, reassure them. It is quite common for twins to be a little anxious at first as they are so used to having their twin just there the whole time. Some twins go to nursery one day a week on their own, so they can have some quality one to one time with their parent. This can work well for some twins. However some do become quite stressed at first, so play this one by ear. If you find that they hate being separated you could simply do something in a different room one to one for a little while and build up slowly to going somewhere.

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Weaning Twins

What is Weaning?

Weaning is a gradual process where babies move from getting all their nourishment from milk to having solid food like other family members.

At first babies are offered bland, smooth, runny foods, gradually getting more lumpy and more tasty. Eventually you will be able to finely chop their food and offer them drinks from beakers.
It is really important not to rush the whole process, starting only when the individual child is ready to be weaned.

It is not a race – it may be that a friends child of a similar age is ready to be weaned earlier than your child, or it may be that you have a hungry baby who will need a little more food than your friends child.
It may be that one of your twins is ready to be weaned first or they may be ready at the same time.

When Shall I start Weaning my Twins?

Are my twins ready to be weaned? How will I know?
If your babies are nearly 26 weeks of age and showing the following symptoms they may be ready to be weaned.
If they are younger than 26 weeks  please consult your health visitor for advice. Also if your twins were premature it would be worthwhile speaking to your health team before weaning. Please note that the current WHO recommendation is for babies to be breastfed exclusively for the first 26 weeks of their lives.
There are a few indicators that your twins may be ready for weaning.

Please note that very young babies showing these symptoms should NOT be weaned early, in this instance please contact your health visitor or GP for guidance.

•May not settle contentedly after giving a full breast or bottle feed when the same amount had previously left them happy for 3 hours or more.
•May be hungry within 3 hours of last being fed
•May start waking after sleeping through
•May be gnawing on hands in hunger
•May start showing an interest in what other people are eating
•May have doubled their birth weight

What do I do if one twin is ready to be weaned and the other one isn’t?
If one appears ready and the other one isn’t just wean the one who is ready. The other one will soon catch up.

What equipment do I need to wean twins?

•Some soft spoons
•A couple of soft spouted beakers
•Some small bowls. We found that ones with a lip on them made them a lot easier to hold
•If you are planning on making your own purrees you will need a hand blender, mouli, or liquidizer, and some ice cube trays or small pots to store prepared food in.
•It would also help if you had a plastic mat or old towel to go on the floor and a couple of bibs with arms for your twins.
•It is probably easier for you to offer them their food with them sitting in something to let you have your hands free. You can either use a bouncy chair if it is a fairly upright one, or a car seat or a high chair, or even sat up in their side by side buggy.

What is a good first food for my babies?
Many mums use baby rice as a first food. You can buy packets of baby rice at supermarkets, good food stores and chemists.

It is always really important to follow the directions on the packet. Never add any baby rice (or anything else) to a milk feed in a bottle.

The nice thing about baby rice is that it is fairly bland tasting and if you mix it with a little breast or formula milk it will taste fairly familiar to your baby. You can also make it nice and runny so it is easy for your baby to eat.

How do I start weaning my twins?
Firstly ensure that you choose a really good time of day to start – different families have different “good” times of the day. A mid morning, or lunchtime or mid afternoon feed might be a good time to start weaning.
Sterilize a couple of small pots. If you use babies bottles you can sterilize the lids and use those at first.

Give your twins half of their breast or bottle feed as you would normally do. Give their backs a gentle rub to get any wind up and then offer them a tiny amount of baby rice made really runny using some of your babies usual milk (or a small amount of cooled boiled water if you prefer) You will only need a really small amount of baby rice to begin with. Your babies will probably only want a teaspoon of baby rice or two at the first attempt. That is absolutely fine. Finish off the breast or bottle feed as usual.

For the rest of the first day give them milk feeds as usual.
The next day do the same again, offering a couple of teaspoons of baby rice at one meal.

How much baby rice should I give my babies at first?
At first they will need probably only a couple of teaspoonsful but all babies are slightly different so you will have to use your judgement as to how much each of your individual babies need.
Aim to slowly build up the quantities given.

One bowl and spoon or two bowls and two spoons?
I know that some mums do use just the one bowl and spoon, finding it easier. However for hygiene reasons it may be better to use two bowls and two spoons.
Also if you use two bowls and two spoons you will be able to gauge how much each baby has had where as it will not be as clear if you use just the one bowl and spoon.
When your babies are a little older you might want to offer them a spoon each. If you dip the spoon into their food they will occasionally get some in their mouths and this is the first step to them feeding themselves.
If you have someone to help you you can feed them both at the same time, but if not you will have to decide whether to feed one twin or triplet first and then the other(s) or to feed them each one spoonful at a time.

Introducing new tastes to your baby
Once your babies have got used to taking baby rice you can start to introduce different tastes.
Try at first giving a little cooked pureed apple or pear or a little raw pureed banana. Carrot or sweet potato cooked and pureed is also a popular choice with mums as a first taste.
If the consistency is too thick you can make it runnier by simply adding a little of their usual milk to it
Be patient with your baby, it can often take a while for a baby to like a particular taste.
Gradually increase the amount of food you are giving at each meal according to your babies appetites. Ensure they still get a good quantity of breast or formula milk. Babies should have around a pint or 500-600 ml of milk a day even when weaned.

If you are weaning your twins between 17 and 26 weeks of age avoid

•Citrus fruits
•Gluten
•Shellfish (not before 12 months)
•Nuts (not before 12 months)
•Honey (not before 12 months)
•Meat
•Dairy
•fish
•egg
When your babies are around 6-9 months old
Once your babies are 6-9 months old you can introduce pasta, bread, meat, dairy products, cooked eggs, and some fish.

When your babies are 6 months + it is fine to stop boiling tap water unless of course you are on holiday abroad or if there is a problem with your water supply. In this case it is still best to boil it.

Also at 6 months + you are able to use cows milk in cooking.

It is always a good idea to avoid salt and sugar in cooking if possible. Watch out for foods which also have a high salt content such as soy sauce, and ready made stock unless you buy the sort especially designed for babies.

Moving on to Family Food
As your babies get older they will be able to begin having their food mashed rather than pureed. It is a vital skill to be able to chew food but can take a little while to learn.

Introduce finger foods. Once your babies are around 7 or 8 months old you can begin to introduce finger foods. Finger foods can be anything that can be picked up and eaten using fingers.
At first your baby may chew on the food or attempt to suck it, don’t worry they will soon get the hang of it. You could offer a slice of toast cut into soldiers or a chunk of cheese, or a piece of bread. Small sandwiches can be made with soft fillings.
Ensure you stay with your babies when eating especially when introducing finger foods as there is always a  danger of choking.
By 12 months old your babies are likely to be eating similar food to the family and having it chopped up for them. They will still need around a pint of formula milk or breast feeds each day as well as a mid morning and mid afternoon healthy snack to keep their energy levels up.

Dropping a night feed. 
Once your babies are eating around 3 meals a day and are having plenty of daytime drinks you will probably find that they you will be able to drop a night feed. If you find they wake up and want to be fed, try to work out whether they are hungry or whether they are just needing comfort. Obviously if they are hungry they need a night feed so feed them.

If they do wake up hungry it may be worth trying to adjust the amount of food they eat in the daytime to prevent them being hungry in the night. Try offering them a slightly larger portion at tea time, or give them supper or a late night bottle / breast feed before YOU go to bed so that that you are not woken up in the night.

If they are waking up in the night wanting a bottle or breast feed and you think they are not hungry you could try offering them a bottle of milk but with less formula powder than usual (dropping one scoop of formula powder per night until it is just boring plain water) That often deters them from midnight meanderings! Never leave a bottle in your child’s cot.

If you have any questions about weaning contact your health visitor or GP for advice
You can also post a question or send a PM on Facebook www.facebook.com/twinsonline

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