How Do They Do It?
Readers share their best advice for surviving feedings, night wake-ups, and public outings.
When our triplets were babies, we bought three different mobiles and installed one above each crib. Then, whenever I needed to clean up around the house or check my e-mail, I would lay the babies down in their cribs and turn on the mobiles. After 10 minutes, I'd rotate the babies so they'd have a different mobile -- with new sights and sounds -- to capture their attention.
I found that making a large batch of formula -- rather than one bottle at a time -- was a huge time-saver. I simply mixed the powdered formula with water and put it in a covered pitcher in the fridge; it stayed good for 12 hours, which usually lasted me two or three feedings. [Most cans of powdered formula have instructions for how to safely mix larger amounts.]
Getting multiples on the same schedule isn't easy, but I recommend it if you want some sort of order in your day. I fed my twins every three hours for the first two weeks -- even if it meant waking them up. After two weeks, I let them sleep as long as they wanted, but if one woke up to eat, I woke up and fed the other. Pretty soon, they were naturally hungry -- and sleepy -- at the same time.
Remember that you don't have to do everything alike for each child; you can always adjust for their preferences as individuals. For example, my son wouldn't breastfeed; he just preferred the bottle. I thought that if I bottle-fed him, I should bottle-feed his twin sister and soon stopped nursing her. Now I totally regret it.
Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Don't feel pressured to tell every stranger you meet what life is like with multiples. When I'm out with my triplets, I use a technique I call the "talk and walk." I politely answer a question with a one-word response as I keep walking down the street. Trust me; once you have multiples, you won't have time to chat!
Work out a system with your spouse that allows you to get as much sleep as possible. For example, when our twins were born, my husband and I both got up for the middle-of-the-night feedings -- he fed one baby, I fed the other -- so that we were done quicker and could go back to bed. Then, for the early-morning feeding, at about 5 a.m., we took turns getting up and feeding both of them. That way, at least one of us had a few hours of uninterrupted zzz's.
Originally published in the February 2006 issue of Parents magazine.