Multiples

Must-have twin gear essentials

So you’ve just discovered that you’re expecting twins – you feel excited but nervous too! Here are some practical tips, and the  twin gear essentials you need to make life with two babies that bit more manageable.

Discovering you are pregnant with twins can make you feel a mixture of shock and elation. One the one hand, you are overjoyed at the prospect of having two gorgeous babies, but you might also be panicking about how you’ll cope. Try not to worry, we have rounded up some practical advice as well as some tried and tested tips from mothers of twins to help you prepare.

Bottle-feeding gear

According to the Irish Multiple Birth Association (IMBA), many parents of multiples who choose to bottlefeed recommend that you have two sterilisers (one electric and one microwave) and two kettles. The advantage of having two kettles is that you can keep one for bottles only and the other can be used for everything else.

Many parents have different techniques when it comes to preparing bottles. Since time is a major factor when bottle feeding multiples, the IMBA advises to just go with the method you find works for you. It is not recommended that parents make up formula in advance as this can allow bacteria to form in the milk.

twins bottle

Here is a practical method for preparing bottles:

  • Boil your kettle and leave the water to cool.
  • Sterilise the bottles, which can be up to 16 per day. These can be all sterilised at the same time if you have two sterilisers.
  • Pour the cooled boiled water into the bottles and secure the cap on the bottle.
  • Leave the bottles to one side.
  • Add in the scoops of formula as you need the bottles.

There is no need to heat the bottle – room temperature will suffice.

Don’t add in the formula after adding the water as the formula needs to be used within one hour of being mixed. This method is very handy for night feeds.

Twins breastfeeding cushion

According to Twins UK, a breastfeeding cushion is a great gift for a new mum who has decided to breastfeed her babies or who intends to bottle-feed them.

You will be able to feed your twins simultaneously (tandem nursing), comfortably and hands-free and friends and family can help out too with bottle-feeding.

A double breast pump

This piece of equipment will become a necessity if you intend to express breast milk for your twins. Mothers of multiples may find find that their milk supply is higher if they use a dual electric breast pump because it empties both breasts more completely than manual expression. In addition. Double pumping saves a lot of time rather than pumping one breast at a time.

A place to sleep

It’s recommended that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for the first six months, as this is known to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

According to The Irish Multiple Births Association, you will eventually require two cots but one will often suffice at the start. The association also recommends that if possible, parents should put a cot/travel cot/bassinette downstairs as well as upstairs. This will also save your legs when it comes to nap times.

It’s safe for newborns to share a sleep spot – they have just spent approximately nine months together in very tight quarters, they won’t object to sleeping in the same cot for a short while. Putting twins in the same cot can help them regulate their body temperatures and sleep cycles, and can soothe them and their twin.

If you put your twins in the same cot, follow the same safe sleeping advice as for a single baby. They should be placed on their backs with the tops of their heads facing one another and their feet at opposite ends of the cot, or side by side on their backs, with their feet at the foot of the cot. Use a single cot for co-bedding, but not a Moses basket, as it’ll be too small for two babies.

twin gear essentials

Clothes dryer

A clothes dryer can be a huge help as drying in the winter can be a long and tedious process. It can save on ironing as clothes come out of the dryer soft and ready to be folded away.

Prams and pushchairs

This is probably the most important piece of twin gear you will purchase. Take your time to make a decision and ask other parents of twins for their advice. You can opt for a twin pram or double pushchair.

Double pushchairs come in two basic configurations: tandem (or front/back. inline) where the seats are arranged in a line with one behind the other. In the other model, usually called ‘side-by-side’, the children sit next to each other generally facing the same direction from the same linear position.

Prams generally come facing towards you, but some models can be changed as the children grow to facing outwards.

Whether you choose a side-by-side or a tandem style depends on which type you find most manoeuvrable, and the width of your front door.

Twins UK recommends that parents consider the following factors before making the purchase:

Your lifestyle: Consider how you will actually use this equipment and focus on the reality of your family life.

Ask yourself: How often will you use it? Where will you use it? Indoor shopping malls, leisure centres? Outdoor trips to local shops, parks or further afield ? Where do you live ? Do you live in an apartment or house? Do you have steps up to your door? Do you have enough storage space ? Do you have a car ? Do you have a garage? Do you travel often? Will you need to store it in your car or do you rely on public transportation? How big is the double when folded up? Will it fit in your vehicle? How big is it when unfolded? Will it fit on pavements. through doorways. down store aisles? You may want to measure your doorways before you buy to ensure it will at least fit through your doors.

Newborn prams must fully recline. For newborn twins, it is important to have fully reclining seats. Carrycot options on some models are available and this can make a cosy environment for newborn twins.

Test it first: You wouldn’t buy a car without bringing it for a test drive, the same applies to buying a pram or buggy for twins. The best way to determine whether a double will operate comfortably is to physically push it around and test it out.

Two car seats

Each baby will need a car seat for coming home from hospital. It might be a good idea to consider car seats that are compatible with a particular double stroller, which can save you on a lot of space in your car boot.

When choosing a new child car seat, make sure that it fits in your car and is suitable for the height and weight of your child. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines on each car seat. Make sure you get advice from a child car seat expert retailer or an RSA child car seat expert. Some retailers know more than others about suitable options of child car seats. An expert will be able to advise you on which type of car seat is suitable for your child’s height and weight.

You should also choose a retailer who can expertly fit the child car seat into your car to make sure it is a suitable match. They should show you how the child car seat should be fitted into your car. See www.rsa.ie for more details.

If you have a premature or low birth-weight baby, ask the hospital to assess if it is safe for the baby to travel in a baby seat before you are discharged. If you are in any doubt at all about your child travelling in the car, consult the hospital or your GP for further advice.

Also, remember that the recommended time a baby should spend in a car seat should be no more than two hours. so you should bear this in mind when considering a travel system option.

Twin gear essentials

“A good double or triple buggy that suits your lifestyle is vital. I would recommend investing in a large play mat and some bouncer chairs or baby swing chairs. Some parents sit facing two bouncer chairs in order to bottle feed two babies at the same time.

If bottle feeding, it can be very useful to have two sterilisers, as you will be sterilising at least a dozen bottles a day in the early months.

You will need two cots – babies often share one cot in the beginning and sometimes parents have one cot downstairs and one upstairs.

I would recommend having two decently- sized baskets, one downstairs and one upstairs, so that you don’t have to leave the babies to search for nappies or clean clothes during the day, or carry the babies up and downstairs every time they need a change – there will be a lot of changes in the early days.”

  • Lorraine McCarthy is a mother of twins and chairperson of the IMBA

More like this:

Tips on breastfeeding twins
Help I’m expecting twins!
Best baby travel products 2016

Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.

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Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

A
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.