Parenting Twins

Parenting twins is not the same as parenting two children who are close in age but who aren't twins, whatever other people may tell you.

Both are challenging but they are very different experiences. 

parenting twinsMy wonderful husband and gorgeous sons

If you're having twins, you'll probably be keen to read everything you can about what to expect and what you can do to help ensure a healthy pregnancy and two settled, healthy babies.

There are loads of books about parenting twins around but some are not that helpful, to be blunt.

So how do you find the best books about having twins and raising twins?

I've read quite a number of books over the years and have reviewed the best ones on this page.

Our twin sons are now 17 years old (that's them in the photo above) and my husband and I look back on the baby and toddler years with mixed feelings.

There's pride and love, of course, plus loads of joy and delight but there are also liberal doses of amazement that we actually survived!

Of course, parenting twins is loads of fun but it can also be very difficult - to put it mildly - to manage the needs of two babies or toddlers at once.

Choosing a stroller, giving birth, breastfeeding, managing sleep schedules, sleeping yourself ... the list of things that get more complex and more physically difficult with two goes on.


The Best Books About Parenting Twins

There is lots of information about every aspect of parenting twins on the internet, including loads of books about parenting twins.

Most of the books you'll come across do a pretty good job of covering the basics, some in more detail than others.

They usually cover things like:

  • how twins are conceived
  • twin pregnancy
  • equipment needs
  • pregnancy complications
  • the birth
  • prematurity
  • pregnancy complications
  • support
  • sleeping issues
  • routines
  • safety
  • are your twins identical or fraternal?
  • managing breast-feeding and/or bottle-feeding
  • getting out and about with your babies

Some also go on to look at the pre-school years and issues surrounding starting school, specifically the same class vs different classes decision.

These books are often expensive so look for them at your local library first.

Organisations such as the Australian Multiple Birth Association generally have libraries full of these sorts of books and it's free to use them so this is also a good place to look.

Check out as many books as you can find while you're pregnant and perhaps buy the one which seems most useful.

If you'd like to buy a book or two, The Book Depository has a wide selection and offers free postage anywhere in the world.

Book shops tend not to stock many books about parenting twins, although they can order books in for you if you know which ones you want.

Whether you buy or borrow the books you're interested in, I hope the list of books on this page will help you decide which ones to look for. 


Twins

This is a new book, published in 2012 by DK Publishing and I've just finished reading it.

It's a general "I'm having twins" book which covers all the basics I've listed above, with gorgeous photos and lots of good advice.

If you've just heard the good news, this would be a good first book to buy to get you through the pregnancy and the first year of your babies' lives.

You'll probably want to buy other books too but this is definitely a great place to start. The format makes it really easy to read and the info is very up-to-date.

Highly recommended! 


Emotionally Healthy Twins: A New Philosophy for Parenting Two Unique Individuals

This book was not around when my twins were born. I wish it had been because it's a wonderful book written from the unique perspective of a woman who is a twin herself, a mother of twins and a psychotherapist.

Most books about twins focus on the pregnancy-feeding-sleeping aspects of the first year or so. This book is different and, I think, unique in that it focuses on the emotional and mental well-being of twins.

Friedman outlines seven basic concepts for raising twins, and then applies them to each phase of parenting, beginning with pregnancy and concluding with issues pertaining to adult twins. 


A Contented House with Twins

Gina Ford is a UK maternity nurse who has looked after hundreds of newborn babies, including many sets of twins.

Her approach to newborn baby care focuses on establishing and maintaining sleeping and feeding routines, on the principle that this makes babies feel secure and happy. Her methods are also designed to ensure parents get enough sleep and that they become confident in caring for their babies.

This book was written in conjunction with a twin mum - Alice Beer - who employed Gina to care for her twin daughters. Gina's recommendations are interspersed with examples from Alice's experiences using Gina's methods.

It seems that parents are divided on Gina Ford's approach. Some people swear by it, saying it helped them stay sane and turned their babies into relaxed, happy little people they could enjoy.

Other parents seem either to find her approach too regimented and joyless or to have turned themselves inside out trying to follow her routines, only to feel like failures when their babies didn't conform.

Gina Ford wasn't writing books when my babies were born so I have no personal experience either way.

Having said that, trying to manage newborn twins without some kind of routine is a recipe for disaster for most people. Having some sort of routine, however loose and fluid it may be, helps us predict what we'll be doing next, cuts down on stress and helps us feel that our lives haven't spun completely out of control.

The big plus with this book is that it is based on Gina Ford's experience with lots of sets of twins. Other books I've read have been written by mothers of twins or by parenting experts with limited or no experience of twins. Gina's ideas are based on practical experience.

Even if the routines seem too regimented for you, you may like to try them out and see how you go. If they work, great, if they don't there may still be some tips you can use.

In summary, this is a great, easy-to-read book which covers all the basics.

Chapters include:

  • Preparing for Twins
  • After the Birth
  • Feeding Twins in the First Year
  • Understanding Your Babies' Sleep
  • Common Problems in the First Few Months
  • Establishing a Routine

There are also recommended, detailed routines for twins at 2-4 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 6-8 weeks and so on.


Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins

Sleep is a really big issue when you have twins. Much more so than if you have only one baby.

Getting your babies into some sort of semi-reliable sleeping pattern helps them know what to expect from day to day so they become calmer, fall asleep more easily and are happier babies simply because they're getting the sleep they need.

This means, of course, that you and your partner will get more sleep and are therefore more likely to be happy and relaxed and able to enjoy your twins, rather than just dragging yourselves through each day in a sleep-deprived haze.

Our babies were not good sleepers and my husband and I were completely clueless about how to manage the whole sleeping thing. At the time, the only books around dealt with single babies and I often felt like throwing them against the wall and shouting "yes but that only works with ONE baby" so this book and the one reviewed above are very welcome.

I'd suggest buying both books before you have your babies, reading them and then taking some time to digest the suggestions before you bring your babies home. This will give you some ideas about what to expect in terms of sleep and how you might go about gently creating some sort of sleep routine for your family. 


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