There’s a reason that a set of multiples’ first birthday is more a celebration for their family. The first year of a baby’s life is incredibly hard for parents, and with multiples, it’s, well, multiplied! Many new parents feel overwhelmed and exhausted, and wonder when they’ll get a decent night’s sleep again. If you’ve found yourself thinking these same thoughts, don’t worry – you are not alone.
So when will things start to settle down? When will raising multiples get easier? When, oh when, does everything start to feel normal? Normal is a relative term, and it means different things for different people, so it’s impossible to pick a specific date that things will become ‘normal’. But we can definitely help give you some milestones that you can look forward to.
Survival mode: the first 3 to 4 months
Most parents find that the first 3 to 4 months with twins or higher order multiples are the hardest. This is when the caregivers are getting the least amount of sleep, learning to adjust, and are still figuring out what works best for them. It’s pretty rare for anything about the first 3 to 4 months with multiples to feel normal – some parents even refer to themselves as being in ‘survival mode’ during this chunk of time. Things will probably take a little longer to settle down.
Sleep mode: 5 to 11 months
Here’s when the babies usually start sleeping through the night, and you know what that means – parents can sleep through the night, too! This drastically improves moods and stress levels, and as a result some parents of multiples report that around this time, things start to get a little easier. Plus, a baby might start walking at around 10 months, meaning your little ones might get a little more mobile, which gives your arms a break!
Of course, not every baby is the same, and many families take a little longer. It’s totally normal if things still seem off-balance for you at this point.
Fun mode: 1 to 2 years
For most other parents, this is when things really start to feel like they’re falling into place. The children are slightly less demanding and can fall asleep more or less on their own. They can probably hold their own cups, say one-syllable words, and eat some adult food, as well as make baby friendships with each other and other 1- to 2-year-olds. Their personalities really begin to show through a little more, and it’s around the 1- to 2-year mark that many parents start to really feel like this is the life they love.
Caring for multiple babies is hard, and it doesn’t make sense right away. It’s a skill that needs to be honed through trial and error, error, and more errors. And truthfully, even other parents who haven’t raised multiples won’t really understand what you’re going through when you talk about how you stayed up all night taking care of the babies. So if you find yourself constantly wondering when things will get easier, this might be a sign that you need to take some time to relax and center yourself.
Parents of twins and triplets agree that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the never-ending workload. Pacing yourself will make things much easier. Here are some techniques that they suggest.
- Ask for help: Consider asking a friend or family member to come over a few times a week to help with your little ones. Even if they stay for just an hour or so, you’ll get a chance to do some laundry, take a nap, or just relax.
- Take time for yourself. Have a partner, family member, or friend watch the kids while you step out of the house and move around for a while. Having a change of scenery and being in a different environment can really help you clear your head and re-focus.
- Do your best to be organized: Babies require a lot of supplies, so try to make sure you always have things like back-up diapers and wipes on hand.
- Stay on schedule: Keep bedtime and feeding routines and times pretty strict. Not only does this make things easier, but it helps you in the future when you’re trying to sleep train.
- Communicate: If something isn’t going right, or you’re feeling off or overwhelmed, do not be afraid to talk to a partner, friend, family member, or healthcare provider – or all of them! It can seem as though you’re in this alone sometimes, which is why it’s important to lean on your support system.
Everyone’s experience raising multiples is different. You might end up finding that this time is extremely easy for you! However things go, remember to use your support system whenever necessary, and the importance of taking time for yourself.
Speaking of time, it goes by fast these first two years! Whenever possible, try to enjoy moment. Remind yourself that this too shall pass, and soon enough you’ll be looking back on these days as though they were ancient history!
- “Baby Sleep: What you should know about infant sleep patterns.” Office of Child Development. University of Pittsburgh. Web.
- “Learning, Playing, and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation. January 2015. Web.