How do you feed two babies at the same time when you only have two hands? The logistics of meeting the needs of two same-age children is one of the biggest challenges for parents of twins. Many manage by having help. But there are times when there is only one parent, and both babies need to be fed at the same time. Many families find that life is much easier when they keep their babies on a similar schedule, and identical twins, especially, often have similar metabolisms that make them hungry at the same time. It can be extremely efficient to feed both babies at the same time.
Bottle Feeding Twins
Families who choose to use bottles for feeding their twins have the benefit of extra hands; Mom is not the only source of food, as she is when breastfeeding. Dad, grandparents, a nanny, or other helpers can participate in the feeding process. However, there are many times when it is necessary for one person to feed both babies at the same time, and that is when it is handy to have a strategy. It takes some practice, but it can be very manageable to feed two babies at the same time.
Whether you use formula or pumped breastmilk in the bottles, your tactics for feeding twins may vary depending on their age and size. Just like in breastfeeding, positioning is important. Younger babies require support for their necks and heads. While the intimacy of close physical contact is an added benefit during feeding, it may work best to use bouncy seats or infant carriers to position the babies during the feeding. A nursing pillow, such as those sold by The Twin Z Company or Double Blessings are also a good option. You can use them emulate the positions recommended for nursing. Older babies have more physical control of their heads and limbs, and may even be able to hold the bottle without assistance. They can be arranged on a bed, a sofa, or even on the floor with pillows and blankets. (Just be sure that they are protected from falling if they roll around.)
However, initially, I recommend bouncy seats or infant carriers, such as those used with car seats. In these seats, the babies' heads are positioned properly above their bellies, and the babies are secure and comfortable. Use a rolled up towel or other insert for smaller babies who require more head support. Make sure the seats are in a safe spot, with plenty of room but at a height that is comfortable for you. You can put them on a counter or table and stand to feed the babies, on a bed or sofa and kneel in front of them, or on the floor and sit to feed them. In the picture above, Mom sits on the floor between the babies in two bouncy seats. I like this method because it reduces the risks of falls, puts everything in easy reach, and gives her a supportive backrest as she leans back against the sofa. Everyone is comfortable and relaxed for the feeding session.
To start a feeding session, get the babies set up in their seats. They will be comfortable and safe, and you can focus on assembling the bottles. Arrange everything you'll need within arms' reach: babies, bibs, bottles, and burp cloths for cleaning up messes. Pull the babies in close so that you can comfortably hold the bottles at their mouths. Tuck a burp cloth or rag under each chin or on each chest, so that it will be close by. Start with your less dominant hand first; if you are right-handed, give the baby on your left the first bottle so that your capable hand is free to help. Once the first baby is "plugged in," start feeding the second baby. Even if you are not ambidextrous, you will eventually become adept at managing both bottles at the same time.
While feeding, use lots of eye contact and even your voice to communicate with the babies. Alternate your attention between each child to ensure that they are feeding correctly, with the bottles flowing correctly. If you have to stop to wipe up spills or spit up, stop feeding both babies; you'll just make more of a mess if you try to multitask.
Tip: Prepare bottles in advance so that they are ready for feeding time. You can even prepare a whole day's worth and keep them at the ready in the refrigerator. Alternate the position of the babies so that they take turns feeding on both sides; this encourages their visual and cognitive development.