Adjusting to Another Child
Growing up with siblings can help children see another person’s point of view. Siblings imitate and interact with each other, which helps them learn how to relate with both peers and adults.
To help a child adjust to a new baby (or a new foster or adopted child):
- When you find out you or your partner is pregnant, talk to your child about pregnancy and the future sibling.
- If she is going to be moved to her own bedroom when the baby is born, prepare her and the room before the baby comes.
- If you have friends with babies, bring your child with you to visit.
- Purchase or borrow children’s books from the library about babies and siblings.
- Give your child a doll to play with and teach him how to properly hold a baby.
- After the baby is born, spend quality time with the other child.
Raising more than one child:
- Ask for help.
- Get the rest you need, whenever possible.
- Eat well-balanced meals. This is even more important if you are breastfeeding.
- Set a routine and stick with it as much as you can.
- Set priorities. Babies don’t need baths every day. Housework can usually wait.
- Keep a chart on feedings, dirty diapers, and possible medications.
- When cooking, double your recipe and freeze the extra for a time you don’t have energy to cook.
- Understand it is just fine for babies to cry for a short time while you gather supplies, care for another child, or take care of other quick concerns.
- If you’re doing something for one child, consider doing it for another child at the same time (such as changing diapers or feeding)
- Take care of yourself. Your children need you to be as healthy and happy as you can be!
All children are unique, even if they grow up in the same family or are born at the same time.
How to help your children be their own people:
- Refer to them by their given names as much as possible.
- Avoid dressing them similarly, especially as they get older.
- Give them separate toys when possible.
- Provide them with personal space for clothing and other storage as much possible.
- Allow them to spend time apart.
- Encourage them to develop their own interests and hobbies.
- Avoid comparing developmental milestones and accomplishments of your children, such as walking, first words, and toilet training. Don’t pressure the later developing child.
To prevent sibling rivalry:
- Spend regular one-on-one time with each child to show you value each child.
- Allow each child to express herself in her own way. Enjoy your children’s differences.
- Never compare the children to each other.
- Be fair with the chores and discipline, according to the children’s ages and abilities.
- Help your children learn to communicate during times when they are not fighting. This can help them work out future conflicts peacefully.
If sibling rivalry is occurring:
- Set up family meetings so the family can address issues. Allow each family member to share interests and events that occurred that week. Be sure to include encouragement for each family member.
- Purchase or borrow books from the library about sibling rivalry and sibling cooperation.
- Listen to each child and understand that your children will be different from each other. Let them know that you care about each child’s interests and issues.
- Set ground rules and tell your children about the consequences for breaking the rules. For example, you can set a rule about sharing toys: If your children fight over who gets to play with a certain toy, the toy will go into time out until the conflict is resolved.
Preparing and Caring for Twins
If you are expecting multiples, you may feel joyful – but also nervous about what to do after the babies are born.
To prepare for having multiple babies:
- Arrange extra help. Taking care of multiples is challenging, so gather all the support you can. Family members, relatives, or friends can help you to meet the needs of your babies.
- Think about how you will feed your babies. You can learn tips on the Mayo Clinic website about how to breastfeed multiples. To learn more about breastfeeding, see the Breastfeeding page on our website. Also, bottle feeding with formula – or a combination of breastfeeding and formula – may be what is right for you and your family.
- Prepare yourself financially. You can begin preparing a budget before your babies arrive. If you work and will be taking unpaid leave after your babies are born, you can take preparation measures.
- Read information about multiples, support groups, financial help, and caring for multiples. Knowing possible challenges can prepare you for what is ahead. Our website has great information on parenting children age 0 through 3. You can also visit Twins Pregnancy and Beyond for lists of organizations, informational websites, clubs, and blogs.
- Connect with other families of multiples. You can learn tips from them.
- Involve your partner if you have one. Having someone to share information with will be very helpful. If you are a single parent, consider involving a family member or close friend.
Feeding might be the most time consuming part of taking care of multiples. Breastfeeding is recommended for at least the first 6 months of life. Good support and information can help if you feel overwhelmed. For some families, bottle feeding with formula may be necessary. Do what’s right for you and your family.
If you are considering breastfeeding:
- Learn about how to nurse multiples. If one baby wakes to eat, you may need to wake the other so you can feed them at the same time. Search for a registered lactation consultant in your area or ask your healthcare provider.
- Pump and store your breastmilk if you have excess.
- Consider bottle feeding if you are not producing enough milk or to decrease your stress level. If you’ve stored breastmilk, your partner or a support person can bottle feed the babies with breastmilk, and you can get some extra sleep or time for yourself.
- Keep track of feedings and dirty diapers by making a bulletin board, using a notebook, or an app on your smartphone. These details are important, especially if your babies are born premature, you are tracking their weight gain, or if one or both babies gets sick. One of the first things your health care provider will ask is how much your babies are eating and how many dirty diapers they have.
- Get all the supplies ready ahead of time.
- Help one baby at a time.
- Arrange some extra help from a partner or other supportive person.
- Make this a bonding time for you and your babies.
Helping multiple babies sleep:
- Use separate cribs for each baby.
- Help your babies sleep at the same time.
- If one of your babies is calmer, help that baby sleep first.
- Swaddle your babies; this may help them to calm down.
- Establish a quiet and soothing bedtime routine.
- Always use safe sleep practices
- Know that helping multiple babies sleep can take some practice.