Top Ten Mistakes Made by New Parents of Twins and Multiples

The first few months with twins or multiples can be a trying time for families. Juggling the care of several newborns is a round-the-clock job. Sleep deprivation adds to the physical strain while postpartum hormonal swings heighten out-of-control emotions. Even experienced parents can fall into these common traps when their twins, triplets or more are born. Avoid them, and you'll find that the first few months of caring for multiples is much more manageable.

1
Running Out of Supplies

Mistakes Made by New Parents of Twins
Mistakes Made by New Parents of Twins. Ulf Borjesson / Getty Images

With double the demand, baby supplies are consumed at a rapid rate. Stock up on the things you’ll use most: diapers, wipes, bottles and formula. An ample supply of onesies and light sleepers is invaluable. Keep items in their original packaging and hold onto receipts so that you can easily return the things that aren’t used. The clubs mentioned above hold annual sales; they are a fantastic opportunity to stock up on gently used clothes and equipment.

2
Not Napping

It may sound silly, but this advice is echoed repeatedly by nearly all parents of twins or more. It’s tempting to use the precious quiet time to get other things accomplished, but you have to remember your own rest requirements. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re exhausted. Sleep is a precious commodity, so take advantage of every opportunity.

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3
No Stroller or the Wrong Stroller

One of the trickiest aspects of managing multiples is logistics: getting anywhere becomes a nightmare when you’ve got more babies than hands. A good stroller makes it much easier. Some parents prefer a tandem (front/back) style for maneuverability in tight spaces, while others find that a side-by-side model is more comfortable for their babies. Specialized strollers for triplets, quads or more are also available. Although pricey, they are worth the investment.

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4
Confusing the Babies

How much did she eat? When’s the last time he had a wet diaper? Which baby are you anyway? Setting up an organized system for keepings things straight will ensure that everyone’s needs are met. Make a chart to track feeding times and amounts, diaper changes, medications and other important information. (Hint: if you're having trouble telling your multiples apart -- even if they're not identical! --a small dab of nail polish on one toe will help distinguish them.)

5
Mixing Up Priorities

Keep it simple. Let things go. Your focus during the first few months with multiple should be on your newly expanded family. It’s not the time to cook gourmet meals, do spring cleaning or learn a new hobby. Focus on caring for your new bundles of joy, and let the little things slide. You’ll have time to catch up on those other things a few months down the road when your multiples have established a schedule.

6
Hindering the Help

People love multiples, and they genuinely want to help. Take advantage of every offer. Delegate. Be specific. Let your eager helpers take care of meals, errands, care of other siblings, housework, yard work, laundry, shopping and all the details of life so that you can focus on priorities.

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7
Not Taking Time Out

Even though your identity has changed to encompass your new role as parent of multiples, you can’t afford to neglect your old self. It’s important to take time off every once in a while to focus on yourself and your spouse. Put a helpful relative, neighbor or even a teenage mother’s helper in charge of the babies for a few moments so that you can take a break. Soak in the tub, take a walk, or simply take a nap. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you’ll feel after even a short break.

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8
Becoming Isolated from Others

Meeting other parents of twins, triplets or more can be extremely reassuring and rewarding. Not only will they show you that life with multiples is do-able, they can give you solid advice on just how to do it. It’s crucial to establish a network of been-there, done-that veterans to call on in times of crisis. 

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9
Being Inflexible

A textbook approach doesn’t work with twins or multiples. Every family has different habits and needs and the “right” way is really whatever works best for you. As you establish a routine that includes your newest additions, be willing to try a variety of schedules, techniques and products. Remember that your multiples are individuals, and not a perfectly matched set. What works for one may not be appropriate for the other.

10
Losing Perspective

Keep things in perspective. No matter how bad things get, they are temporary. Babies grow up. They will start to sleep more and eat less often. It will become easier to take them out in public. With each passing day, you are one step closer to getting things under control. Savor the special moments of infancy: the sleepy snuggles, shy smiles and sweet smells of your babies. They will soon be only a treasured memory.

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What's the biggest mistake you made as a parent? Share your story and help new parents avoid making the same mistake.

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