Between the countless diaper changes, loads of laundry, and nonstop bottle washings and feedings, it can be a challenge to find time to actually get to know each of your babies. "Bonding isn't this magical moment that happens automatically with a baby's birth," says Shelly Vaziri Flais, M.D., author of the American Academy of Pediatrics' book Raising Twins: From Pregnancy to Preschool, and mom to 9-year-old twin boys. This is especially true for moms of multiples, who may be recovering from surgical births or caring for preterm infants who require extra care. Still, it's possible to strengthen the parent-baby bond with everyday tender loving care.
Cuddle up. Kangaroo care, in which a diapered baby is held on a parent's bare chest, is greatly encouraged in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). The skin-to-skin contact helps regulate a preemie's body temperature, breathing, and heart rate; lower pain and stress levels; and foster weight gain--while bringing parent and child closer. Full-term babies also benefit from this type of physical contact. "It's a great, simple way for any parent and baby to bond," Dr. Flais says.
Help in the NICU. If your babies are in the NICU, ask the nurses if you can hold the little ones during tube feedings or assist in other daily activities, such as sponge baths and diaper changes. You can softly sing, read stories, or talk to your infants while stroking their hands, feet, and heads.
Make the most of diaper changes. The changing table offers a lovely opportunity for Bonnie Montoya to squeeze in some one-on-one interaction with each of her 1-year-old twin daughters. "As I change each girl, I talk or sing to her and try to get her to laugh," says the mom from Boynton Beach, Florida.
Give your babies a rubdown. Infant massage can help your babies fuss less and sleep better. It's also one of the best ways to get close to your little ones. Use the time during a changing or before or after a bath to stroke baby's arms, legs, back and head. Learn proper infant massage techniques.
Stagger your babies' sleep schedules. Kirby Jones, of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, staggers her twin son and daughter's naptimes to give her uninterrupted moments with each baby. "When our daughter goes down for a nap, I spend that extra 30 minutes with our twin son. When she wakes up, I spend the extra time with her until her brother wakes up," Jones says.
Give Dad time, too. Joe Rawlinson, author of A Dad's Guide to Twins, bonded with each of his twin girls during bottle feedings and diaper changes. Brittany Frates, a mom to seven-month-old twin daughters and a twin herself, knows how important it is for twins to get one-on-one time with each parent. "I might take one of the girls with me on an errand while my husband gets alone time with her sibling," Frates says.
Talk to your doctor if you still feel disconnected from your babies after a couple of weeks. A lack of interest in your children can be a sign of postpartum depression, which requires treatment.