Finding out that you are having twins or more can be both exciting and daunting. The thought of caring for two or more newborn babies can be overwhelming, but having two or more babies at the same time can be a very special and unique experience.
Fraternal Twins (non-identical): Fraternal twins develop in an individual sac and have their own placenta. They can be of a different
gender and will look no more alike than any other siblings.
Identical Twins: Identical twins share the same DNA, are always of the same gender, and will look exactly alike. They may develop in their own sacs with their own placenta, or they will have their own sac and share a placenta, or they may share both a placenta and a sac.
Triplets : 3 Babies
Quadruplets (quads) : 4 Babies
Quintuplets (quints) : 5 Babies
Sextuplets : 6 Babies
Septuplets : 7 Babies
Octuplets : 8 Babies
Nonuplets : 9 Babies
Multiples may be all identical, all non-identical, or a mix of identical and non-identical. They babies may be of the same or different gender.
The equipment needed for twins and multiples is the same as for a single baby. You won't need two or more of everything but there will be some items each baby needs individually:
• 6 bottles for each baby if you are bottle feeding (breast or formula milk).
• A car seat for each baby.
• A cot or moses basket for each baby.
• Double/triple prams - suitable from birth.
• Coat, jacket, snow suit, hats, shoes.
• Beaker or trainer cups when weaning.
• Bath supports for older babies.
• Highchairs / feeding chair / booster seats for meals.
• 2 or more baby carriers or slings (one for each parent/carer). Some companies sell twin carriers for up to 6 months of age.
It is easier and safer to bathe newborns separately in a baby bath. This is also an opportunity for individual bonding time with each baby.
As the babies grow they can be bathed together, in a full size bath, using bath supports (one for each baby).
All babies must be supervised at all times when in the bath, or anywhere near water, even when in bath supports. If you are bathing more than two older babies at once it may be beneficial to have help with the supervision.
Feeding & Sleep
Every baby has individual feeding and sleeping requirements and twins and multiples are no different. Getting into a routine as soon as
possible can be very useful in keeping up with the needs of each baby. For example, the babies may feed and sleep at different times.
Caring for two or more babies can be exhausting so make sure you have some time to yourself and ask for help if you need it.
During the first few weeks it can be useful to write down when each baby:
• sleeps (and for how long).
• feeds (and how much).
• has nappy changes (and whether they are wet or soiled nappies)
• is given medication or creams.
This can help you keep track of each baby, especially if you have other people helping with their care.
Should Twins & Multiples Be Dressed The Same?
Twins and multiples should be seen as individual people first, twins and multiples second.
A lot of parents with twins or multiples, especially if they are identical or of the same gender, like to dress them exactly alike every day: same clothes, shoes, coats, and hairstyles. While this can be very cute, especially when they are young, identical dressing should be kept for special occasions, such as weddings, parties, outings, holidays, family photos.
Dressing twins or multiples exactly alike does not give the children a sense of individuality. It can also be confusing for family, friends, or carers who may not know the twins/multiples as well as the parents do, leading to the children becoming frustrated if they have to continually correct people as to who they are.
Dressing the children alike can also be very expensive and it can be time consuming to make sure they both/all have the exact same outfit to wear every day.
Having the same items of clothing and shoes, but in different colours, might be a good compromise. This makes the children match in appearance but also gives them a sense of individuality.
Twins and multiples have a strong bond, and will face all their major life milestones at the same time, but research has shown that twins and multiples that are treated as individuals from birth develop a better self identity and self image, have more confidence, develop their own individual preferences, social circles, and independent lives than those that are always dressed the same, treated the same, and referred to as 'The twins' or 'The triplets'. The latter can have issues with self identity and self image, find it hard to make their own choices, lack confidence, and struggle to develop friendships and relationships that are separate to that of their twin or multiple.
Development Of Twins & Multiples
The overall development and progress of twins and multiples will essentially be the same as individual children. However, twins and
multiples are more likely to be born early, and at a lower birth weight, so this should be taken into consideration when reaching various
Having two or more small babies or toddlers can be very demanding and tiring for a parent or carer, and it can be difficult to give them individual attention. However, try not to worry about this aspect as the twins or multiples will learn and progress by doing group activities with each other: games, stories, singing, and outings. They will also learn to co-operate and share together.
Spending time with each child individually, and them spending time apart from each other, can also be very beneficial for the babies/children (as it is for children who have a few siblings). Going on a one-to-one outing to the park or swimming pool, with a parent, grandparent, family member or carer, can not only benefit the child emotionally, but highlight their individual likes, dislikes, and things they enjoy and are good at.
Even though twins and multiples are exactly the same age, and may be of the same gender or look alike, they may not grow and develop at the same rate. One may start doing things a while before the other/s i.e. walking, talking, becoming toilet trained, and sleeping through the night. The twins and multiples may also vary quite a lot in their behaviour and emotional developmental needs. One may be more emotional or clingy than the other/s and have a greater need for their comfort object. They may also need it for longer. One may be more confident, strong willed, independent, and able to make friends easier, and one may be more of a fussy eater or light sleeper than the other/s. This is all part of their individual personality and development rate.
If you are worried about the development of one or more of your twins or multiples please speak to your Health Visitor or G.P about your concerns.