Managing Multiples

First Year

twins

You've emerged from the postpartum fog ready to tackle the first year. It may take six weeks or more to establish a routine as you decipher which baby needs what, and when. "Parents worry about not giving enough attention to one baby or the other," Hall says. "If one baby wants to be held constantly and the other doesn't, they feel guilty spending more time with the needier baby." But, Hall adds, your babies will let you know what they need. If you're holding your laid-back baby for feedings and interacting with him when you change his diaper, Bowers says, then you probably don't have to worry. Still, you want to get to know both babies, and there's only so much time in a day, right? Accept help, Hall says. "The first words out of a new parent's mouth should be, 'Yes, please.'" And be specific. When a neighbor asks to help, say, "How about Tuesday from 9 to 11?" Have him wash dishes and prepare bottles so you'll have more time with your babies.

Once they're mobile, two babies speed-crawling in different directions can be scary, Hall says. As one gets into the cat food, the other is behind you tipping over the trash. Have a safe place -- a playpen or bouncy seats -- where the babies can play while you're making dinner. Hire any caregivers before the babies crawl so they'll gradually get used to the kids' increased mobility.

Life with twins on the move isn't pure mayhem -- the first year holds doubly exciting firsts: smiles, laughs, steps, and words. It's tempting to compare your twins' developmental time lines, especially when one twin walks at 11 months and the other at 14. But there's a wide range of normal, and children develop at different rates. Carve out some individual time with each child, and you just might notice your "late" walker is a genius at building block towers when her brother isn't walking rings around her.

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