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Make a list of all the safe places your twins have fallen asleep for easy reference and when you’re low on ideas.
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It’s Playtime! How to Entertain Twins Throughout the First Year
The day is looming. With dad going back to work, you’re wondering how to handle twins alone. Or maybe your mom’s extended stay has come to an end, and she’s headed for home. Just as you were getting used to caring for newborn twins, you now need to learn how to handle twins alone.
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Once your twins are a year old, they’ll probably already be saying a few words. This is a great time to focus on early language learning and object recognition. Gather up several toys (balls are easiest to start with) that are the same but different colors and sizes. Next, place your twins in the middle of the balls and tell them what the name of the toy is. Let them look and pick up all of the balls, and ask them what they are. Say the name of the toy over and over, and ask them to repeat you. Encourage them to hide and find the ball. You could also take this opportunity to practice numbers and counting. Once they have gotten the idea of what a ball is, show them two toys. Hold the ball in one hand and another small, similar toy, such as a block, in the other hand. Ask them which one is the ball. These activities encourage listening and communication, object recognition, memory skills and thinking. Great toys for this age include: Ride-a-long toys, such as the V-Tech Alphabet Train, rocking horses or giraffes, like this one from Fisher Price, and building blocks.
Steffany Duke is a blogger at Spit and Sparkles, where she shares her adventures of raising boy/girl twins as a stay-at-home mom. She is an ovarian cancer survivor, former journalist and political junkie. She loves crafting, finding great coupon deals and pretending how to bake. You can also find her on Facebook, twitter and instagram.
Before my twins could put themselves to sleep, I was a ping-pong ball bouncing between putting the both of them to nap. Experiment with different ways for your twins to nap, including:
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Here are some ideas for purposeful play with your twins throughout the first year:
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With a singleton, you can get by with following your baby’s cues much more than with twins. Two babies means putting them on the same schedule as much as possible, because if you don’t then you will never get a break. Be prepared that it will take you a while to get them synched up, but the point is to keep trying and eventually a pattern will emerge.
There’s no greater joy than seeing your twins smile and laugh, whether it’s at you or with you! Playtime for babies is not only fun for you both, but it’s how they develop and learn. Your babies staring at your face may not seem like a learning opportunity, but it can be. With purposeful play, you can encourage early learning through ordinary activities.
That was me after my twins’ arrival. I considered myself lucky—my husband used all his paternity leave so he was home a few weeks when the twins were born. Still, he had to go back to work while my maternity leave continued. My mom stayed with us soon after, but after a while, even she had to go home as well. The many visitors that came when the twins were born were now dwindling down.
Sensory play with discovery bottles is a great make-at-home activity that will provide hours (okay, minutes) of fun! Grab a few empty drink bottles and fill them with small balls, confetti/sequins, buttons, colored rice, water/glitter or anything else you can think of. Put them and your twins down in the middle of the room with no other toys around for distractions, and let them “discover.” They’ll learn cause and effect, colors, sounds and shapes. Great toys for this age include: Sensory balls like these from Nubby, board books, stuffed animals, and your wooden spoons and measuring cups!
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Learn the ins and outs of your stroller and how to fold and unfold it before you venture out on your own (I speak from experience!) A baby carrier or two will also be a huge help.
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Nina Garcia is a mom to three boys—a six-year-old and two-year-old twins. She blogs about parenting at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she’s learning about being mom and raising twins. For more tips on how to sleep train twins, get her guide, How to Sleep Train Twins.
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Be sure to check with your pediatrician before starting any sleep training plan to determine if your babies are old enough (no earlier than 3 months old) and have gained enough weight.
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Worried that your babies will fuss if you’re not holding them? Alternate holding and floor time with both twins. Sit on the floor near a play area where you can set one twin down on a blanket, infant seat, or mat while you hold the other one. Once the baby on the floor starts to fuss, put the one in your arms down and carry the crying baby.
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You’ll use your double stroller for everything. Even getting the twins to the car required a double stroller when I was alone. Not just for a leisurely stroll, your double stroller serves as your extra arms. You’ll need something to carry both babies when needed.
Purposeful play is focused play. It’s spending one-on-one, or in our cases, one-on-two time, with our children and teaching them instead of just letting them play. It’s as simple as describing your facial features to them during one of their endless gazes at your nose and mouth, or playing peek-a-boo, patty cake and hide-and-seek. It’s been said so many times that babies are sponges, so what better way to foster their education than to make every day games and activities more meaningful?
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Continue to challenge yourself. You may not think you can take your twins out alone without another adult to help you. Maybe you don’t think you’re cut out to put two babies to nap multiple times a day. Whatever obstacle you face, meet it head on. You’ll come out of it feeling much more empowered and stronger than you ever thought.
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If you need to hold one baby, alternate so they both get “independent” play and arm time as well. This is also a good opportunity to practice tummy time on the floor.
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Break the silence! Talk to them, sing to them, and carry on conversations with yourself. You will feel very odd, but they will be entranced with your voice, and they won’t judge you on your singing capabilities. It’s so easy to get into a quiet routine and forget that babies are watching every move we make. Talking to them and describing your actions helps stimulate them, and encourages speech and communication. You could also break the silence by barking like a dog, mooing like a cow or making some other animal noise. It will surely grab their attention and cause you to have a good laugh at yourself! Great toys for this age include: toy mirrors, small hand toys like rattles, play mats like this Super Mat fit for two babies or more from Tiny Love, and mobiles such as the Fisher Price Discover n’ Grow Twinkling Lights Mobile.
Are you a new twin parent? Check out Natalie Diaz’s new book “What To Do When You’re Having Two: The Twin Survival Guide From Pregnancy Through the First Year”, available in stores now!
Nurse both at the same time. Using a nursing pillow for twins (I used the My Brest Friend Twin Deluxe), tandem feeding becomes much easier. First, place both twins on your bed, leaving space for you to sit in between.
Then, attach your nursing pillow to your waist and sit cross-legged in between the babies. Next, place one baby on the pillow football style and latch him on, then do the same for the other baby on the other side.
When your twins need to burp, carry one baby over your shoulder or even sit him on the pillow as he burps. When he’s done, set him down on the bed and do the same with the other baby. Twiniversity Tip: Another option, if you’re having difficulty with tandem feeding, is to breastfeed one baby on a single nursing pillow while bottle feeding the other at the same time.
Then at the next feeding switch who gets to breastfeed. Just make sure you’re alternating boobs for each baby so your breasts don’t become uneven. Bottle-feed both at the same time. My twins were both breastfed and bottle-fed.
During bottle-feeding, I’d put the twins in their infant seats. Then I’d hold the bottles up for them while they drank. As they got older, I encouraged them to hold their own bottles. Put them to sleep at the same time.
Keep your twins’ napping and sleeping schedules the same. Naps can be a juggle, especially when you try to find different ways to put the babies to sleep. Sometimes they’ll sleep together on a blanket on the floor.
Other times, you need to put one in the swing while the other is in the bassinet. Regardless, try your best to keep bedtimes and nap times the same for both babies.
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Being alone with twins means you don’t have another adult carrying one of them. The next best alternative to getting around? Using your double stroller.
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Introduce hide-and-seek to your twins. This can be played by you hiding and them finding you, or showing them how to hide from and find each other. Hiding underneath stuffed animals and asking your twins to come find you, will surely get their attention. When they get close, pop out, tickle them, and cue the laughter! You can also go a step farther and hide objects from them. For example, let them watch you hide a ball or bigger toy under a blanket. Ask them to find the toy. To begin, leave a bit of the toy poking out. As they get the hang of it, you can decrease the size of the objects you are hiding and completely cover them. Hide-and-seek teaches object permanence, cause and effect, problem-solving, and strengthens memory skills. Great toys for this age include: push toys such as the Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Musical Walker, shape sorters, colorful stacking cups like these from Babies R Us, and toy telephones.
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Thankfully, it all worked out. I somehow managed to survive those months alone with the twins (plus a three-year-old!) using these tips.
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This is a great age to introduce tickle fights and games like ‘I’m going to get you.’ They’re becoming more responsive to your silly animal sounds and horrible dance moves, so keep moving and talking, and encourage them to imitate you. Play peek-a-boo, patty cake and ‘this little piggy’ are perfect. Tummy time is most likely their favorite activity at this age, so you could lay down with them and read to them or encourage them to move around by placing objects just out of reach. Great toys for this age include: colorful teething rings, board books and squeaky toys.
Learning how to handle twins alone has been one of my biggest challenges to date. I felt exhausted and sleep-deprived from caring for two babies. Still, managing two babies alone has also been one of the most rewarding experiences. Just when I thought I couldn’t do it, circumstances forced me to do so and, to my surprise, I was able to do so with success.
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My life went back to normal once my twins knew how to put themselves to sleep. No more rocking, nursing or shushing to sleep for each baby and for each nap. I sleep trained my twins once they were old enough. I could finally put them down awake, knowing they’d fall asleep on their own without crying. They’d sleep 12 hours straight at night, and an hour and a half to two hours for each nap. Bliss!
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