Meet a How Do You Do It? author

Christine Kenny

Christine is a first time mommy to two beautiful 17 month old twin boys that have recently started walking and are now running in all directions. She's wife to her high-school sweetheart - the man of her dreams and also a full-time software/web developer in the financial industry. She mostly blogs about their experiences with the twins in their daily lives adding some tips and tricks they learnt along the way.

Twinfant Tuesday: Sleep Training Twins

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Training one’s baby to sleep through the night can be one of the most challenging aspects of parenting a newborn. With twins, this gets even harder as there are twice as many babies to change, feed, burp, and tuck into bed every night. Also, you can’t just close the door and quietly sneak through the house wearing only socks knowing that only a loud sound will wake your baby, because with twins you’ll always encounter that classic problem of one baby waking the other.

Though there’s really no way to get your little ones to sleep through the night before 2 to 3 months of age (at that age they will still require 3-4 hourly feeds), it’s a good idea to get prepared and put yourself into routine for when sleep training is required. Even with a couple of bumps along the road and the odd teething nightmares, we managed to have our twins sleeping through the night (08:30 pm – 07:30 am) from 3 months of age.

Here’s a list of the things we did.

The Nursery

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For the first few weeks the boys shared a bassinet in our room, but as soon as they started waking each other by either moaning or slight movement, we moved them each to their own crib in their nursery with a baby monitor so we could hear whenever they awoke. This already made a huge impact on their quality of sleep. Our own movements and sounds were no longer waking them and neither were they bothering each other.

We also placed heavy curtains in the room to block out any early morning sunlight, which helped them sleep a little longer in the mornings. Not only did it help at night-time, but also naptime during the day. The twins soon learned that a darker room was meant for sleeping and would fall asleep quite easily as soon as we lay them in their cots.

As far as sound went, we had two choices; a white-noise machine or music. Having grown up with music surrounding me, it was the obvious choice to find some soothing classical pieces that the boys would fall asleep to each night. A white-noise machine would probably have worked equally as well.

The music helped the twins in two ways:

Firstly, it provided a steady and soothing background sound that blocked out other noises – car doors, dogs barking, thunderstorms – that might have woken them.

Secondly, we only ever played their classical music at bedtime, signalling to the boys that it’s time to sleep.

Swaddling was one of our go-to things for the twins as newborns. It was our only safe way of providing them with a blanket for warmth and replicating the comfort of the womb.

There are many different ways of swaddling a baby and also some truly amazing products for swaddling like The Miracle Blanket , Aden + Anais muslin swaddling blankets and Swaddle Blanket by JJ Cole, but if like us your budget seems to have shot through the roof, opt for some breathable  receiving blankets and a good swaddling method.

The Bedtime Routine

Babies tend to thrive on routine. It gives them a way of mentally preparing for what comes next. Following the same steps, in the same order at around the same time each night allows you to form a habit thereby easily remembering what to prepare ahead of time. It also provides a series of cues to your little ones stating that it is time for bed.

A nice warm bath – Some parents opt to only bath their babies every second night or so, and I won’t lie, there has been some nights where I simply gave mine a little rub down as well. For us this made a huge difference in the twin’s quality of sleep. They never slept as deep and long if we skipped the bath and would always wake up a couple of times on those nights. So for our bedtime routine, a nice warm bath is a definite must.

Relaxing massage – When putting lotion on our babies, we always gave them a little body massage. It doesn’t have to include essential oils and a massage class (even though that would probably be even more beneficial), but just rubbing their little arms, torso, legs and feet with a slight pressure and a bit more meaning warms them back up and relaxes their limbs.

Soft Pajamas and a Clean Diaper – Dressing each twin in comfortable, soft  and breathable pajamas as well as a clean diaper will allow them to sleep more comfortably.

Full Tummy – Whether your little ones are still only breast or bottle-fed and whether they are already eating solids, always make sure they have their last bottle just before they go to bed. This will allow them to sleep longer and more soundly. Some babies might not like this, but warm milk also has a positive effect on your baby’s sleep.

Bedtime Story – For the first couple of months this turned out to be more counterproductive than anything else as the twins would fall asleep drinking their last bottle of milk and would then wake up as I started reading. However, from about 8 months we were able to include a bedtime story in our routine while the boys were drinking their milk and would then quite easily get tucked in and go to sleep.

Things are bound to change and get a bit chaotic when it comes to bedtime, so if there’s a spouse or an extra set of hands around, take advantage of that.

The Knitty Gritty

Once you’ve got your nursery and bedtime routine set, it’s time to get to the actual sleep training. I’ve never been a big fan of the cry-it-out method and it breaks my heart every time I hear one of my babies cry. So due to that I could never let my kids cry for hours and possibly fall asleep thinking I deserted them. What worked for us was tucking them in, saying goodnight, closing the door and then waiting a couple of minutes. If they were struggling to settle, we would go in quietly and without talking, re-tuck them, reinsert pacifiers if necessary and then leave the room again. Thereafter we stretched the period between going into their room by an extra five minutes each time, until they fell asleep. It took a couple of weeks for both us and the twins to get used to this, but in the end they managed to fall asleep by themselves with maybe one or two “visits” from mommy or daddy.

This way, your little ones learn that you are always there to settle them, but you also give them a chance to settle themselves by extending the period in-between each “visit”. The key factor is to get your babies to fall asleep by themselves without you rocking them, swinging them or any of those other wonderful methods of making babies sleep.

What if one baby starts crying?

We used to be so scared of one baby waking the other that we would dash into the room, scoop up the crying baby and sneak back out, only to have the other one wake up anyway. Little did we realise that it was actually the sudden absence of the crying brother that woke the other. Twins almost immediately become accustomed to each other’s movements and crying and even find it comforting knowing the other twin is near. It was only once we realised what we were doing and waited a while before rushing in that we found that the sleeping baby never even woke from the crying and that by giving the crying baby that tiny little bit of extra time, he learned to self-sooth and fell right back asleep.

What if both babies start crying?

This scenario can be tough on any mommy or daddy, especially when there is no spouse or extra set of hands around. We found that the best way to handle this was to replicate the bedtime tuck-in routine by going in, reassuring each one, tucking them back up and then leaving the room. This is not really something you can try for the first few months as your babies still need regular feeds and would be waking up because of that fact. However, once you have them sleeping through the night or onto 6-hourly feeds, this is a good way of reassuring them and getting them to fall asleep by themselves again.

The Bottom Line

Setting the stage, following a good bedtime routine and knowing what to do in the case of your little one’s not settling are all methods you can use to sleep train your twins. We used all three methods and it worked wonders. I do however realise that each set of twins are different and that all the above might not work out, so in that case, find what works for your twins and follow that as a routine. If you have one really bad sleeper, place his crib closest to the door so you can sneak him out without causing the other baby to wake. If reading makes them more active, skip the story, you can always read to them at another time of day. If you find another means of relaxing your babies other than a massage, then use that. The point is, sticking to a routine that your twins will come to expect and accept.

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Toddler Thursday: 5 Things Moms of Boys Must Do

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Even though I’ve never had a little girl, and things like tea parties, flower necklaces and pretty pink dresses are not part of my day to day life, I’m sure there are things that a mommy of girls simply must do, get used to, or prepare for.

Being a mommy of only boys however, means that my list differs a little. Gone are the pretty dresses and cute little teacups and in its place we have mud-stained jeans and monster trucks. Here’s a list of the things that moms of boys must love, prepare for and simply accept if you have the privilege of only having boys in your life.

1. You must love bath time.

By “bath time” I don’t mean you sitting in a luxurious, warm, lavender-scented tub with candles and a glass of rose’. I mean you must love giving baths, because boys require a lot of them. You must love sitting on a soaked towel, receiving drenching splashes every few minutes whilst laughing yourself silly at the funny sounds your kids can make by blowing air into their toys or pouring water all over each other. You must love the smell of bubble-gum scented bubble bath on the floor, the curtains, your clothing, and the new set of clean towels and outfits you just took out for them.

Twins Bath

2. You must think farts are funny.

Why you may ask? Boys think farts are funny: period. The way you handle that will determine your stress levels. If you try to get them to stop laughing about it, it will only make things worse. They might actually end up laughing in spite of you. If you laugh with them, you’ll all benefit. Right now I have no control over my little one’s inappropriate timing when it comes to letting out a fart, but I’m sure once they are older, I could stress the fact that there are appropriate and inappropriate times to letting one “rip”.

3. You must prepare for chaos at all times

Whether it’s their entire toy collection lying on your 1.25 x 2.2 lounge carpet, the kitchen sink filled with plates, spoons, sippy-cups and bowls in all the colours of the rainbow or the aftermath of a nuclear bomb that hit their bedroom, boys are messy. It doesn’t matter how many times you pick up all the toys, sort them accordingly and place them in their respective bags/boxes, as soon as you turn your back they WILL take that box and turn it upside down. Resigning yourself to the fact that they are having fun and that the chaos is not life threatening could save you a lot of time and even help you enjoy their craziness a bit.

Boys Chaos

4. You must rethink your “safety” standards

You know those mommies who religiously sterilize their baby’s bottles and pacifiers, run behind their toddler with hand wipes and gasps loudly every time her little angel takes a fall. Well I used to be one of those mommies or at least that was the plan. With boys, you can’t be one of those mommies. Boys are rough and will always be rough. They jump off things, drive into things, run over things and climb up things. They taste dirt, grass, old food, papers and basically anything they find goes straight to their mouths just out of curiosity. They try to run or drive their scooters faster than the other and with multiple boys; you’ll even have to break up a full blown fist to fist fight every so often. The best thing to do for your own sanity is to stock up on some Band-Aids and look the other way every now and then.

Twins Sea

5. You must be prepared for a constant battle of wills.

Just like girls, boys are strong-willed, yet unlike girls they will easily start a war just to have things their way. Whether you have multiples or boy siblings, be prepared for constant fighting. It could be over the same toy, who gets to sit on mommy or daddy’s lap, or even just getting in each other’s way that could start a battle between the two. My “go to” thing in a situation like this is DISTRACTION. It doesn’t matter what you do; make a funny sound, point out something, or pull a funny face, just distract them as quick as possible.

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Labour Bag Essentials – For Twins

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I originally posted this on my own blog after finally finding all my lists and lists of baby notes I made when I was pregnant. I decided to document this list in the hopes that it might be useful to other mommies out there. 

With twins, your chances of going into premature labour rises considerably. So once you reach the seven-month milestone, it might be a good idea to pack your hospital bag and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice. Here’s a list of the items you will need before, during and after delivery for both you and your newborn babies.

Paperwork

Get a file together with written dividers, giving you quick access to the exact paperwork you need This will not only make it fast and easy for you, but also for your partner while you have your hands full with the babies. Paperwork could include any or all of the following;

files

  • Your Id book
  • Hospital Registration Forms
  • Medical Aid card
  • Medical Aid Pre-authorization papers
  • Medical Aid Beneficiary addition papers for both babies
  • Multiple copies of your birthing plan
  • A page with your baby’s names and correct spelling
  • List of people to call

Also leave space for any paperwork you receive from the doctors, hospital, specialists, etc. This could include bills, prescriptions, birth certificates, etc.

Entertainment

This is not only for the hours you will spend in-between feedings and not being able to sleep but also for your partner’s sanity while you rest or feed your little ones. Remember to include chargers for all electronic devices even if they claim to last for days.

entertainment

  • Phone
  • Camera
  • IPad / E-Reader
  • Magazines
  • Novels
  • Baby/Parenting Books

Soothing Items

We all have those specific items that no matter what’s going on, will just take us to our happy place. Take things that will sooth you in the event of both a natural and a C-section birth.

soothing

  • Music
  • Your Favourite Snacks and Drinks
  • A picture of your kids at home (if applicable)
  • Lip Balm
  • Your favourite scented lotion
  • A soft pillow from home

Mommy’s Toiletries

With all the changes in your life, the best thing to do is to make yourself feel as comfortable as possible. Pack mini-versions of all your toiletries to save space, as you will only need a couple of days’ worth. Think of all the toiletries you use on a daily basis.

mommy toiletries

  • Facecloth
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Shower Gel and Soap
  • Hairbrush, Hair Elastics and Clips
  • Lotion, Face cream, Hand cream
  • Deodorant and Underarm
  • Contact Lenses, Spectacles and Contact solution
  • Sanitary Pads for after the delivery
  • Nipple Cream and Disposable Breast Pads
  • Nail file
  • Hair dryer
  • An extra towel
  • A clock/watch to time contractions (and later for timing breastfeeding sessions)
  • Important medication, especially if you have a serious condition (make sure you inform/alert your doctor and the hospital staff)

Mommy’s Hospital clothes

The maternity ward is definitely not a fashion show, so this is the one time where you can put comfort first. Your body will be sore from both natural birth or C-section birth and the looser and lighter the clothing, the better.

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  • T-Shirts
  • Stretch Pants
  • Socks
  • Slippers
  • Flip-Flops for the shower
  • A Robe
  • Open-front pajamas for breastfeeding
  • Nursing Bra’s
  • Comfortable Underwear (High-waisted underwear in case of C-Section births)
  • Going home outfit
    • Keep it comfortable and pack a jacket and tekkies for incase.
    • You will still have a belly (it unfortunately doesn’t disappear overnight), so stick to your maternity wear.

Baby’s Toiletries

Most baby toiletries also come in convenient mini versions, so even though you might have an entire cupboard with huge 1litre bottles of baby shampoo at home, opt for the smaller versions in hospital to save space and make the trip to the nursery easier.

With twins, it’s only really the diapers, wipes and cotton balls that need to be doubled.

baby toiletries

  • +- 40 Diapers / per baby (2 large newborn packs)
    • With twins it’s important to pack both premature and newborn nappies due to the risk of premature labour.
  • 2 x Baby wipes (for sensitive skin)
  • Baby Bum Cream
  • 1 large pack Cotton Balls
  • Nail Clippers and/or Emery Board
  • Surgical Spirits (for navel care)
  • Mild Baby Soap
  • Baby Shampoo
  • Baby Powder
  • Baby Oil
  • Baby Lotion (preferably aqueous cream, fragrance free)
  • 4 or 5 baby towels (a hooded towel works best)
  • Petroleum jelly (to help remove meconium from baby’s bum)
  • 4 or more burp cloths
  • Infant colic drops
  • Infant saline nose drops

Baby’s Hospital Clothes and Gear

This is where packing for twins becomes a little different than packing for one baby.

So for those having only one baby, just halve what’s in this list.

baby clothing

  • 8 long-sleeved baby grows
  • 8 body vests (long- or short-sleeved according to season)
  • 8 pairs of baby socks (even in summer)
  • 2 beanies or warm baby hats (a baby can lose a lot of heat through his/her head)
  • 2 warm baby jackets or jerseys
  • 4 pre-mature long-sleeved baby grows
  • 4 pre-mature body vests (long- or short-sleeved according to season)
  • 6 receiving blankets
  • 2 warm baby blankets
  • 2 pacificiers/dummies (optional)
  • 2 newborn bottles + small tin of formula (even if you don’t plan to bottle feed, keep something ready as a backup)
  • Breast Pump and Accessories (if applicable)
  • Nursing Pillow
  • In case of planned bottle feeding
    • 4 or more bottles
    • 2 tins Formula
    • Bottle brush and detergent
    • Sterilizing equipment
    • Formula powder holder
    • Bibs
  • 2 Car Seats
    • Install the car seats before-hand, ensuring you know how to use them before placing baby in the seat.

Packing for your Partner

With all the hours of waiting and worrying about you and your newborn babies, it might be a nice touch to pack some essentials for your partner.

  • Toothbrush
  • Slippers
  • Extra Clothing (incase the babies mess on him)
  • Jacket
  • Snacks and Drinks
  • Money for the vending machine
  • Magazines
  • etc.

Nice to Have’s

These are certainly no necessary but might come in handy.

  • Spare cash and Change for vending machines, gift-store runs, etc.
  • Extra Bag for all those hospital goodies and gifts from family and friends
  • Journal and pen to jot down notes and questions for the doctors or to record feeding times and other details of your babies.

These items will help to make your hospital stay as comfortable as possible. Packing all the above items will also have you fully equipped for the first few days with your newborn babies. Some of these items could also be obtained from your hospital pharmacy, but do keep in mind that they run office hours before relying on that fact.

Each maternity ward have their own preferred list of necessities for you and your baby, so be sure to check with them before finalising your packing.

Christine is a first time mommy to two beautiful 17 month old twin boys that have recently started walking and are now running in all directions. She’s wife to her high-school sweetheart – the man of her dreams and also a full-time software/web developer in the financial industry.
She mostly blogs about their experiences with the twins in their daily lives adding some tips and tricks they learnt along the way.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Two Babies – One Pair of Hands

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In the “how to cope with twins” section of my brain lies quite a bit of information and personal advice that I wish I had known before my little angels made their entrance to the world.

So here are a couple of the things that I remember truly stood out.

Two Babies. Two Hands

Breastfeeding twins:

Forget all those cute little pillows when it comes to twins. They only take more space in an area that’s already cramped and uncomfortable. Try the “football hold”, so that you’ve basically got a head in each hand and their bodies under your armpits. You will definitely need someone on hand to pass you each baby as it’s almost impossible to comfortably get to that position without help. But don’t worry, soon enough you will be more used to handling them. Of course you can choose to feed each baby separately, but always bear in mind that each feed will therefore be twice as long and if you have to express in between it will be pretty much like feeding quadruplets.

Bottle-feeding twins:

The best place to sit is on the floor, back to the couch/wall, with a baby facing you on either side. You can place them in bouncy chairs or car seats, as long as they are propped up a bit. Make sure you have everything you need (bibs, muslins ,etc) before you start feeding them. The last thing you need is to start feeding and realize that you have to spend the next half hour or so watching the credits of a movie that just ended. It’s quite likely that this process will be a bit messy at first and you haven’t got a spare hand to catch the dribbles. Try using a muslin or even a cloth diaper if nothing else is on hand around the baby’s front.

Burping twins:

With either method of feeding you will probably need to get some wind out of each twin after a feed. I would normally sit one as upright as possible while winding the other, and then swap. With me if one baby finished their bottle before the other I used a cloth nappy to keep the drinking baby’s bottle propped up while I winded the other, and then vice versa. It can be done; it just takes some patience and lots of practice.

Night times with twins:

So our biggest fear in the beginning was one baby waking the other up. We used to rush to their room at the smallest “peep”. Little did we know that this was actually making things more difficult, and that our little ones were starting to expect it. After a couple of nights of “tough-love”, we realized how quickly they learned to self-sooth. Thereafter I was always amazed how one baby was moaning away or having the time of his life talking to his mobile while the other was soundly sleeping. If mine both woke up at the same time it was more to do with them being in the same routine than anything. To get them into the same routine, you need to feed them at the same time, night and day. This means when one wakes up for a feed, you have to wake the other one as well. Really this is the biggest night time tip I can give: doing it together.

There are two babies, there are two parents – it has to be a team effort.

Picking up the twins:

There really aren’t that many times when you have to pick up both babies at once. Sometimes a little moaning is not necessarily a bad thing, and actually if you leap up and comfort them straight away they will get used to it and expect it every time. Twins need to get used to self-settling. When I needed to move around the house like for changing nappies, I simply placed one in his bouncy seat, carried him to the changing station and then brought the other. That way he wasn’t screaming away in another room. However, most times I could leave the one baby where he was, whether that be a camp cot, having tummy time on the floor or playing in his feeding chair and quickly change the other.

In the house with twins:

For us, it was very helpful to have specific places in the house where we could put the babies down. A camp cot in the lounge, our bed, bouncy chairs, etc. That way you can go about your business and still keep an eye on your little ones.

Transporting twins:

Carrying two car seats is not ideal, but this is pretty much how we got from the house to the car and from the car to wherever we were going in those early days.  I was able to do this up until about six months; thereafter my arms simply couldn’t carry both at the same time anymore. It’s also perfectly fine to leave one in the house while you take the other to the car. Just make sure you’ve got your house keys!

Twins and a Supermarket:

This can be a bit tricky. Always try finding the biggest parking space you see, otherwise opt for shopping centers that have “mommy with children” parking. We generally tried shopping together, that way one of us could push the kids in their pram and the other could push the trolley. Be aware that if your supermarket has one of those revolving gate entrances or exits, that a side-by-side twin pram will not fit through. I learned to bypass those shops whenever I had the twins.

Dealing with twins requires a sensible plan of attack, as well as the ability to change the plan when it’s no longer working for you. Always take a step back and look for a different way of doing things rather than getting stressed and angry when things go wrong. And remember, no matter how impossible it seems, there is always a way.

Christine is a first time mommy to two beautiful 17-month-old twin boys that have recently started walking and are now running in all directions. She’s wife to her high-school sweetheart – the man of her dreams and also a full-time software/web developer in the financial industry. They have two kitties, a very naughty Jack Russell and a home that is fast becoming too small.

Linked at

The Twinkle Diaries
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