One Womb, One Space Bubble

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Categories Behavior, Infants, Parenting Twins

People always ask if my 7-month-old boys are aware of each other. I think they are imagining cute conversations, sharing toys, or indications that they miss each other when apart. (None of that happens.) In reality, I’m struck by how UNaware they are of each other – they occupy the same space without appearing to know it’s another person there beside them.

Granted, seven-month-old folks don’t have much of a sense of personal space to begin with, but my boys seem to have no barrier between themselves whatsoever. Like little magnets, they tend to gravitate into the same 6 inches of space. They’ll snatch toys, gnaw on the same thing at the same time, climb over each other, and chew on each other’s hands and feet. They are really interested in faces, and will grab ears, eyes, and noses.

Sometimes it’s really sweet. M is getting some fuzzy hair on top, which R loves to stroke. Other times I cringe at the force they use, but the recipient doesn’t seem to mind or even notice. And then there are the times when R grabs M’s face in order to pull up to standing, or M kicks R in the head while I’m trying to give them both a bottle. The resulting cry is indignant, hurt, or angry. I’m just starting to see a bit of jealousy when one is closer to me – the other starts to fuss and scramble up Mount Mom and before you know it, I’m on the bottom of the sobbing dog pile.

When I see these interactions, I feel like I’m looking into the future. Siblings generally have very physical relationships; I do with my brother and sister. Two active boys, equally matched in size and energy, are sure to even more so. How do I want to respond to their physical interactions when they are toddlers, young children, teens? How can I encourage them to be gentle and respectful when they play?

Like all things twinny, it’s an added dimension to navigate. I’ve got to attend to the sibling relationship at the same time as I figure out how to be a mom. How much should I intervene vs let them work it out for themselves? Will they be just like any brothers, who happen to be on par developmentally? Or is there something to growing in the same womb that makes them comfortable sharing space in a way that I just can’t understand?

I’d like to implement a policy of “if it doesn’t bother them, it shouldn’t bother me” (unless it’s clearly dangerous, of course). If they are content to suck on each other’s fingers (ew. ew ew ew), then I let them. And honestly, most of their interactions fall into this category. But when it does hurt, I redirect the offender to another location or a toy and comfort the hurt one. Later on, redirection will be replaced by warnings, time outs, and apologies – and lots of practice communicating their own boundaries. Of course, making sure they do have space (even when they don’t know how to ask for it) is an important part of getting along for all siblings.

There are all my “best-laid plans!” I’m sure I’ll get a few curveballs from my guys anyway. :) How do you involve yourself in your twins’ interactions?

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RebeccaD has 8 month old fraternal twin boys, R and M. She’s a teacher-turned-SAHM in San Francisco who loves dance, quilting, and geeking out over DIY projects. Having twins is challenging her perfectionism in the best possible way.

4 thoughts on “One Womb, One Space Bubble”

  1. My twins are three now, though girls, and ideally I have them work it out between the two of them. But, I do have to play referee quite a bit. Since I never know “who started it” I either take the object away (if they are fighting over something and just can’t seem to share) or ask them to share and take turns. My girls are actually amazingly good at taking turns. I try to emphasize how sharing makes them and the other person feel good, how we need to ask our sister for something if we want what they have (as opposed to just taking it from them), and more.

    But at 7 months, they’re probably pretty good doing whatever to each other. Good luck.

  2. Last night, my almost-7-year-olds wanted to sleep in the same bed. This morning, J told me that she want to her own bed because, “we couldn’t work it out.” M said, “J wouldn’t stop tickling me.” It doesn’t end. :)

  3. Interesting question. I’m curious about what everyone does too, though I’m pretty sure playing ref isn’t something I’ll be good at. More likely, everyone will get a time out, and the toy (or whatever the object causing the fight may have been) will be confiscated. That should teach them not to “tattle” on each other too. I know that’s how my mom did it.
    Having 3 all close in age also means that hopefully no one will have an unfair size advantage! Duke it out and leave Mama alone!

  4. The best parenting advice I ever got was “Its not a problem until it becomes a problem” and I totally live by that. When mine were little and wanted to suck on each other, I figured it was fine as long as sister didn’t mind. And now, if they want to lay on each other and wrestle, its fine with me until someone starts screaming. They’re not 3 yet but I am *attempting* to teach them that when someone says “no” it means no. If everyone isn’t having fun, its time for a new activity. Thankfully so far they don’t want to sleep together- I can’t see that going well!

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