Several months ago, I led a meeting about babywearing for my multiples club. So much fun! I got to share my experiences and knowledge with about ten to fifteen other families with twins, all under a year and most under 4 months.
I think a lot of parents of twins think that wearing two babies in carriers is too complicated, too uncomfortable, or just not possible – that even if you put one in a carrier, you still have to use a stroller for the other, so why bother! It’s true, some aspects of babywearing are different with twins. I wore mine at different times and in general less often than my singleton, especially as they got older. But its still so worth it!
Babies love (and need!) to be held, and twins, unfortunately, don’t always get as much contact time due to the logistics of being a twin. This is one of the hardest parts of being a parent of newborn twins. Being in arms or in a carrier helps calm and comfort a baby, it helps them “get organized” with regards to sleep, feeding, digestion, breathing & temperature regulation. It helps them bond and connect with their caregivers. There are so many other great benefits to being physically connected to your newborn.
From the time my twins were newborns, my sanity and my back were saved by wearing two fussy crying screaming babies and calming them to sleep by bouncing them both – at the same time – on the yoga ball. I was able to walk my toddler to daycare up steps not navigable by my stroller, by wearing one of the twins on my back and one on my front. I was able to nurse my babies discreetly in stores, at the park, on a walk. Since I was pretty much nursing around the clock, if I wanted to go anywhere I was going to have to nurse one or both of them at some point during the outing.
Of course if there are two adults around, you can each wear a baby and ditch the giant double stroller. If you are by yourself, you can wear one baby and put the other in a more reasonably sized single stroller, avoiding SOME of the “twin sniffing” that can be an annoyance when you just want to get through your walk or finish your shopping without a conversation with every person you meet along the way. Another bonus of babywearing is that you can wear one baby (the fussy or sleepy one, generally) and then interact or play with baby number two (who also needs some lovin’, but is not as needy or demanding, perhaps!).
Anyway, back to the babywearing meeting. I started off by talking about the recent safety concerns. There was a lot in the news a few months ago about the safety of certain slings, and also a few things about babywearing and carriers in general. Below is a brief recap of what I addressed. Please note: I am not a doctor, nor do I consider myself an “expert” in carriers. I am a mom who has used carriers with my own kids. The information that follows is from my own experiences, gathered from speaking to knowledgable friends, and from reading online.
- The main carrier that was recalled in 2010 was the Infantino Sling Rider. From what I understand, this was due to several defects in the design – a plastic piece in it would break, and the carrier would drop, and, perhaps more importantly, the sling was too deep and “bag like” and the baby would not get enough oxygen. Do not use “bag style” slings; they are not safe.
- In any carrier, you want your baby “close enough to kiss“. They should not be hiding or slouching down under a lot of fabric. You should be able to see and touch your baby, they should be positioned high on your chest or back, not sagging down by your stomach or waist.
- In any carrier, avoid chin-to-chest curling. You should be able to fit two adult fingers in between the baby’s chest and chin. Tummy to tummy holds are ideal with firm support along the back to keep them from slouching. Cradle and other reclined positions are more challenging to do safely.
- Avoid having very young or at-risk infants pressing their faces hard into your chest or body. Turn their heads gently so that they can get air more easily. If you can hear your young baby’s breathing (and they are not otherwise stuffy or sick), something is not right; the baby is expending too much energy breathing. Try adjusting or repositioning.
- Babies at risk of having these problems are almost always newborns under 4 months of age. Low-birthweight twins, preemies, and babies with respiratory problems are at higher risk. Definitely something to keep in mind, especially since twins are more often affected by these things, but also note that once your child is older, has neck control and is able to move his head to the side on his own, there is much less risk – many of these things are no longer a concern.
Now, onward, to the fun stuff! Here are the questions I found I get asked most about babywearing twins, and my current answers.
What is your favorite carrier?
My all-time favorites for newborns and infants are ring slings, due to the infinite adjustability. Once you’ve used it a bit, you can get a baby in tight and comfortable in no time. They were easy for me to nurse in discreetly. My favorite ring slings are made by Sleeping Baby Productions, either made by her (Jan Andreas), or homemade using her pattern for the gathered shoulder.
Other favorites of mine was a homemade K’Tan carrier (I assume the real thing would be just as good, or better!) and the Kangaroo Korner Adjustable Fleece pouch.
I also really love the Beco Butterfly – it spreads weight really well on two shoulders and your hips (especially important as the baby gets bigger), and the infant insert was KEY to my wearing two babies at once.
How do you wear two babies at once? Is there a carrier that can fit two babies?
I was never really able to wear two newborn babies in one carrier. There is at least one on the market that I know would be absolutely horrible on the back and not that great for the babies either — not worth it!
Some people have luck with wearing both in a stretchy carrier like the K’Tan or Moby (or any wrap for that matter) but I never was — my girls were too big and would smoosh and bonk against each other. I have heard of folks using one wrap with a baby on the front and one on the back when they are older, though!
I have also seen pictures of crisscrossing two babies in two stretchy pouches, or two ring slings. I prefer one baby on my back, one on my front, which means you need to wait until your babies have a bit of head control.
How young can you put a baby on your back? What kind of carrier can I use?
While I’ve seen videos of folks nimbly getting a newborn on their back in a wrap, that is waaaaay beyond my babywearing skillz! I waited until my babies were about 2.5 months, with decent head control (my twins were big full term babies, however) before trying a back carry with my Beco Butterfly. The Beco Butterfly has an “infant insert” that makes it really quite easy to get a young baby in and up safely. In the insert, they nestled down low and tight enough that I felt safe about their head not flopping around. I would put the baby in the carrier on the sofa or a chair, then put the carrier on my back, like a backpack. There must be other carriers that work for getting infants on your back, but I do not personally know of any!
What combinations of carriers can you use to wear two babies on front and back?
There are a bunch of carrier combinations that work with this! Hooray! It really depends on what carriers you have, how old your babies are, and what your preferences are. I have heard of using two mei tais, or a combo of a wrap (on the front) and a mei tai (on the back). You can do a mei tai on the front, and a soft structured carrier on the back. For older babies & toddlers, two soft structured carriers works well. Or, a wrap on the back, a structured carrier on the front. Or two wraps! The key with the combinations is to figure out how to keep the straps, buckles or knots from one carrier from bothering the baby on the other side. It can be tricky at first, but there is usually a way to work it!
I mostly wore my twins together when they were under 6 months – and not for long periods of time – so the stretchy/soft carriers in the front were great.
My favorite combination was Beco on my back, the K’tan Carrier on my front. Later, the Beco on my back, a ring sling on my front. I would put the front carrier on loosely without the baby, then put the baby in the Beco and on my back. Then I’d slip the second baby into the front carrier, tighten it up, and we’d be off. Once they were asleep, I could ease the Beco off my back onto the bed, and the baby would stay asleep. Then I could sloooooowly lower the front baby off and into her bed, and I’d be free. For a few minutes, anyway. . . .
I know folks who have tandem worn their twins as they have gotten older, into toddlerdom, but I will admit I have not, at least not often. I love the idea of this, but in reality, wearing two means I cannot carry my backpack diaper bag, nor can I assist or interact well with my preschooler. My girls learned early on to enjoy their stroller (unlike their big sis!) so more often than not these days (or especially when they were younger and walking less), I opt for the stroller. The stroller is a good option, too, sometimes. Its doesn’t have to be one or the other, all or nothing.
I do keep reminding myself that there are so many situations where putting one of my toddlers in a carrier might really help:
When we are shopping and there is only a regular cart – with one child seat, for example.
Or when one is having a rough time, fighting, biting, sick or just needing mama, and I am busy with chores around the house or with my other two kids.
Even my four year old adores being worn (and “babied”) in a carrier, and with the right carrier, it really is quite comfortable!
I forget – and need to keep reminding myself – that even at two and four years old, my babies are really still so young, needing the touch and closeness that babywearing can provide.
Do you have babywearing questions or advice?
Experience with wearing twins?
Suggestions for carriers for other twin parents to try out?
What combinations work best for you?
Please share in the comments.
You can find Kristin over at Intrepid Murmurings, where she writes and photographs her attempts to embrace motherhood, nurture creativity, and maintain sanity while raising twin toddlers and a preschooler.