As newborns, babies are fairly stationary, content to lie quietly in a crib or to be held in the loving arms of a caretaker. But after a few months, they begin to wiggle and writhe, to push up and roll over, and eventually to sit upright. Then things get really interesting for parents of multiples! It's one thing to take care of babies that stay in one place. When they start moving around -- generally in different directions! -- it takes a lot of energy to keep up. Life takes on a new dimension once your multiples get mobile.
Most babies start the process of scooting or crawling between six and ten months of age. However, some multiples may start later, especially if they experience developmental delays due to prematurity. The process generally begins once babies can sit upright without support. Your babies may begin to balance on their hands and knees, and then rock back and forth to propel themselves forward. Other babies don't do a traditional crawl. They may scoot along on their bottoms, using an arm to push forward or creep along the floor like a soldier. Still others never crawl at all, skipping this intermediary step altogether and going straight to upright walking.
Keep in mind that your multiples may have different approaches to mastering their mobility. There's no one right way to crawl; each of your babies will learn to move around in his own way and on her own time. If you're concerned, your medical caregiver can offer some guidance on your babies' progress.
This learning time can be an interesting period. Just when you thought that you were settling into a routine, you may notice deviations in the babies' sleeping and eating habits. They might even seem fussy or cranky. Just remember that they have a lot going on in their little lives. While your babies are working on their motor skills, they may be preoccupied with their task. Be patient, and give them plenty of time to practice their skills.
Up until now, you've had a great deal of control over your babies' environment, making it easy to keep them safe from harm. As they make a move toward independent mobility, they'll gain access to more potential dangers. It's time to increase your vigilance. This is a good time to identify and organized designated "safe spots" within your home; places where your babies can be contained and isolated from hazards and harm. You can create a safe space by blocking out a room with gates and lockable doors, or by using secure baby equipment like play pens or play yards. Designate a spot within all the major zones of your home: near the kitchen, bedrooms and main living area. You'll rely on these safe zones often throughout the day, when you need a bathroom break, are trying to prepare a meal, or when you need to attend to one baby while keeping the other out of trouble.
Mommies of Multiples Do:
- Recognize that mobile multiples are more vulnerable to hazards in the home, and maintain a safe and secure environment.
- Give their babies plenty of playtime on the floor to practice their crawling skills.
Mommies of Multiples Don't:
- Underestimate their crawling babies' ability to scoot out of range, often in opposite directions.
- Worry if their babies' crawling skills don't conform to a "typical" timeframe -- many mulitples experience delays.
- Turn their back on a mobile multiple in an unsafe space.
Excerpted from Mommy Rescue Guide: Twins Triplets and More by Pamela P. Fierro. Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2008, Adams Media. All rights reserved.