Twinfant Tuesday: The Logistics of Feeding Two Infants

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My fraternal twin girls just turned five on Sunday.  Over the past week, as I do every birthday, I’ve done a lot of reflecting.  In thinking back to their infanthood, the complicated logistics of feeding are still very clear in my mind.  By now they’re fond memories…but at the time, I remember any new stage bringing about great stress.  Here are the highlights from our journey…

My twin girls, born at 34 weeks, came home after 10 days in the NICU.  While we don’t have family nearby, my husband is a teacher and he was able to take an extended leave to be home with me those first few weeks.

During that time, we generally each fed one baby.  (I would breastfeed a baby, then supplement with a bottle, and then pump…rinse and repeat, again and again and again.)  During those first few weeks, we were mostly waking the girls to feed them.  On the rare occasions when I had solo duty, I woke one baby (the faster eater) and fed her, and then fed the other baby immediately thereafter, trying to keep them on the same schedule as much as possible.

As my husband neared the end of his leave, I began to panic.  How would I ever feed both babies by myself?  Keeping the girls on the same schedule was a huge priority for me, and I knew the wake-one-baby-at-a-time method wouldn’t serve us long-term.

I reached out to the only other twin mom I knew at the time for some advice.  (Actually, I didn’t know her…she was the daughter of a former colleague who lived about 150 miles from me…but she was kind enough to take my phone call at random.)  She described how she bottle-fed her infant twins, who were about three months older than my girls.  She somehow held both babies in her lap, facing the same way, her arm wrapped around one of them from behind.

Mar4'09 036
Two Boppy pillows were a lifesaver at our house!

I couldn’t begin to imagine how I’d manage my girls in that fashion, but her advice encouraged me to try propping up the girls in different ways.  I remember the look of astonishment when my husband came home to find me feeding both girls…with a huge smile on my face, to boot!

This set-up worked for us for many months, until I started giving the girls bottles in their highchairs, probably around 7 or 8 months old.

Once I finally had bottle-feeding under my belt, I was feeling pretty good about myself…until the pediatrician told me it was time to start feeding the girls cereal.  WHAT??!!!  I **just** got comfortable with milk!!!  Can a twin mama get a break??!!!

I set the girls up for their first feeding, their highchairs side by side and the husband and the camera at the ready to capture what I knew would be the most adorable faces.  Their faces may have been adorable…but the MESS they made wasn’t.

Getting Ready for the First Feeding! 051709 (2)I quickly decided I would take to spoon-feeding the girls one at a time to curb as much of the MESS as possible.  That approach I never changed, although I did have to devise a system, as one of my babes wasn’t very patient once she learned how yummy those fruits and veggies were.

While I have since read about some twin mamas who adamantly rotated which baby was fed first, I never did.  I put Patient Baby in her swing and fed Anxious Baby first.  When Anxious Baby was finished, I could sometimes put her in the swing to feed Patient Baby.  There were times, though, when I would position Super-Anxious Baby in a bouncy seat at my feet.  I would wedge my foot under her and bounce and jiggle while I fed Patient Baby.  Once the spoon-feeding was complete, I would load both girls into their highchairs for bottles.

It was not until the girls graduated to finger foods, around 14 months, that I let them eat at the same time.  And I was right there in front of them…yes, to make sure they didn’t choke…but also to try to keep the smearing of avocado cubes in the hair at bay.

So…in looking back through the trials and triumphs of feeding two babies during that first year or so…I can’t say I had a consistent, or even judicious approach.  But I did manage to experiment to find a methodology that worked for us through the various stages.  It’s OK by me that the girls don’t read this post in a few years, though.  Unless they have twins themselves, may they never know that one was temporarily labeled Patient Baby, and one, Anxious Baby.

MandyE is mom to five-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

DSC_0761This picture was taken on the girls’ fifth birthday.  Yes, they’re still wearing bibs, as this mama still tries to avoid messes, when possible.  And yes, they’re still a mess…but in their partial defense, they requested homemade blueberry syrup for their French toast…and this mama just let them go to town.

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From the Archives: Saving on Food for Families with Multiples

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Food expenses can really add up. The Moms have talked about their approaches to saving on nutritious meals over the years.

Baby Food

Making your own baby food is one option to bring down costs.

  • Making Baby Food:  breaks down exactly how she fed her babies their first solids, including calculating her savings over store-bought food.
  • Homemade Baby Food:  talks about how she made homemade baby food work at home and at daycare. (Yes, I just referred to myself in the third person. Because I can.)

What’s your approach to saving on food?

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Homemade Baby Food

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This post on homemade baby food was previously published on my personal blog in April 2009. Still, I decided to commit the sin of republishing a stale post in the interest of this week’s theme of trimming the budget with multiples.

A very messy baby.I made a lot, though not all, of our twins’ food when they first started solids.

I had nothing against jarred baby foods, but I wanted to provide M and J with fresh foods and more variety than I could get from the baby food shelves at the store. I started out using the jarred stuff, but soon realized that with two enormous baby appetites, it was far cheaper to make purées in larger quantities. At age 18 months, our twins averaged an even 12 lbs in weight, but could down the equivalent of three jars of baby food per meal, three times a day, each. That could easily have me spending over $100 per week on baby food.

The girls’ daycare didn’t start providing meals until kids started table foods, and was very accommodating of the frozen or fresh purées I’d bring in every day. It actually wasn’t that much work. Once M and J were exposed to a pretty large variety of foods, I’d simply leave half of each dish unpuréed, salt it, and eat it myself. I don’t think the girls were any better nourished than kids fed Gerber or Earth’s Best goodness, but it worked for us.

There were definitely folks who found my choice to minimize prepared baby food in the girls’ diet to be pretentious. Perhaps it was. One thing that raising identical twins who are far from identical has taught me is that there is no right way to parent.

When new and expectant mothers tell me that they’re considering it and ask how I made it work, I give them a list of my favourite tools. Here’s what goes in my baby shower gift for friends who’ve asked my advice on how to start making their own baby food:

  • Annabel Karmel‘s book, Top 100 Baby Purees. The recipes were good, but even more helpful to me was the idea that baby food didn’t have to be bland. Onions and garlic in baby food? Cinnamon in fruit purées? Why not? I didn’t introduce salt or refined sugar until after Jess and Mel’s first birthday, but used other more mature flavours with abandon. Note that Karmel is British and follows Great Ormond Street guidelines on introducing new foods to children, so the age guides don’t always correspond to the recommendations of the American medical establishment.
  • KidCo food mill. This produces food that corresponds to a Gerber Stage 2 texture. The mill comes apart completely and can be washed in the dishwasher. There are no sharp edges, which is a necessity for someone as clumsy as me. It’s perfect for taking to restaurants so that you can share your meal with your baby. You turn the mill upside down, pop in your food, insert the base and set it on the table. Then you push down gently while turning the handle, and the ground up food gets pushed up into the bowl at the top of the mill. You can feed baby straight from the mill, and then pack it up in its carrying case to take home and wash. It’s the perfect size for one child; I did have to refill it to get enough food for both girls.
  • Ikea flexible icecube trays. Unfortunately, Ikea no longer carries the triangular icecube trays for portions that fit perfectly in Ziplock sandwich bags. Whenever I made a new batch of baby food, I’d keep out enough for a couple of meals, and freeze the remainder. Once the cubes were solid, I’d pop them out and store them in the freezer in Ziplock bags labeled with the contents and date. Three to four fully defrosted cubes made a full meal for both J and M.

There are a few generic tools that I consider a necessity.

  • A good quality blender. This is how you get the smoothest purées for a first introduction to solid foods.
  • A full-scale food mill. I used a handcrank food mill that I still use for applesauce and apple-pear-sauce. When I first started to introduce texture in the girls’ food, I’d process half of each batch of food through the blender and half through the food mill and mix them back together. Once they were ready for chunkier foods, I switched to the food mill.
  • Small bowls with lids and, yes, baby food jars. You’ll want to transport baby food from time to time. Baby food comes in jars for a reason! They’re a great size and very sturdy. I reused baby food jars many many times. I also loved Gerber Bunch-a-Bowls with lids.

Do you have any other tips or recommendations for cutting food costs without compromising nutrition and taste? Please share!

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Foodie Friday: Foodie find of the week!

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One of the moms at HDYDI mentioned discovering nummy nums. Hmm. Nummy nums? This was not a product I’d heard of before, but she raved about them, so off I went to my trusty friend the internet to do some research. And, this is what I discovered!

A mom, in search of yummy, fresh baby food, created her own line of babyfood with six scrumptious flavors. Seriously, I want to eat this food! There is strawberry banana puree, sweet peas with potatoes and leek, roasted sweet potato puree, orzo pasta with bolognese sauce, broccoli, white cheddar & quinoa pilaf & mango vanilla puree. It helps that she was an instructor at a culinary school at the time—and explains why my homemade babyfood doesn’t turn out quite like this!

The babyfood is made fresh, then frozen in cubes (much like homemade babyfood) and can be thawed cube by cube as you need it. It’s not cheap, but certainly looks delicious! Check it out yourself at:

Has anyone else tried these? Comments to share with the rest of us? I’m a bit sad my guys are past the babyfood stage….they would be intrigued by these, but are much more into food they can eat with their little fingers. Pasta. Cheese cubes. Olives. Pears. Bananas.

Have a food tip for HDYDI moms? Write it in the comments

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