Twins are an undeniably exciting addition. Behind the adorable matching outfits and double strollers, though, is a lot of work and worry. The first year can feel like a giant mystery, even if you're not a first-time parent. While every baby and set of twins are unique, there are a few things parents of infant twins can probably expect from the first twelve months.

When They're Born

Delivering twins is never completely predictable. Unexpected complications can occur in late pregnancy, from twin to twin transfusion syndrome to early labor. Premature birth is more common. If the twins are in different amniotic sacs, one water can break before the other. Twins can even be born days or weeks apart.

As long as the parents are meeting with their doctor and things look okay, there's no reason to panic. While creating the birth plan, however, it's good to leave room for surprises.

twin newborns swaddled in a basket


When They're (Probably) Identical

There is a lot of conventional wisdom on how to tell whether twins are identical or fraternal. Identical twins tend to share a placenta, while fraternals usually have separate amniotic sacs. People may examine the babies for identical features. While these can be hints, none of them is a sure way to tell whether twins are identical.

Some identical twins have different placentas or look different due to small changes that occurred during pregnancy. Fraternal twins can look identical, especially in the first year of life. The only way to know for sure is a DNA test.

newborn twins lying together


When Parents Are Overwhelmed

Research suggests parents of twins are more vulnerable to mental health challenges, postpartum depression, and anxiety. At any point in the first year, either parent can experience severe mood swings, uncontrollable crying, difficulty bonding with the baby, fear, anger, and even thoughts of suicide.

Postpartum symptoms do not mean someone is a bad parent or that they don't love their babies. There are treatments that can help, so it is important to share any symptoms or feelings with a doctor.

exhausted parents with newborn twins


When They're Eating

It is possible most of the time to feed two babies at once, but that doesn't make it easy. New parents might rely on lactation consultants in the hospital and may need to master feeding each baby separately first. Bottle feeding can be a valuable resource because it allows the work to be shared between parents or caregivers.

For those who are breastfeeding twins, special pillows can help support the babies while they eat. Another tip is to alternate breasts to ensure both infants are getting enough milk.

new mother feeding baby twins


When Parents Need Help

Newborn twins require roughly 150 diaper changes and over 100 feedings every week. For the first few months, parents may be caught in a blur trying to meet the competing needs of two babies.

If parents have family or friends that can help or can afford a nanny, it's a good idea to arrange regular support. There are also twin parent clubs that can provide advice and help.

parents holding and nursing twin babies


When They're Sleeping

Placing twins in a cot together for the first few months can help regulate their body temperatures and sleep patterns. This can also allow them to stay in the same bedroom as their parents more easily. It is recommended infants sleep in the same room as parents for the first six months if possible.

newborn twins sleeping in hospital bassinet


When Strangers Coo Over Them

Twins can attract a lot of attention. While that can be fun, some parents may become overwhelmed by comments and questions. An even bigger concern is strangers who try to touch the babies. Asking people to step back, buying a sign for the stroller or sanitizing the babies' hands after the interaction can help keep them safe from illness.

couple outside with baby twins in stroller


When They're Playing

Many twin parents dream of their babies being best friends and playing together. Twins at around six months to a year may notice one another, babble, or reach out, but they're more likely to play side by side than together until they're older. This is called parallel play and it's a natural part of development for siblings and unrelated infants alike.

one year old twins playing together


When They're Talking

From a young age, a parent of twins may notice they're mimicking each other's babbles. Twins may begin to use words, gestures, and sounds unique to them as they approach their first birthdays. This can develop into cryptophasia, a private language between twins that others don't understand.

This made-up language might concern some parents, but most twins develop perfectly fine language skills later on. Speak with a pediatrician if you are concerned.

infant twins talking to one another


When They're Competing

While long delays are a concern, parents shouldn't worry if one twin masters walking, rolling over, talking, or crawling before their sibling. It's typical for twins to hit milestones at different times, even if they're identical.

Many parents of twins find that one child can inspire the other. A baby may be more determined to crawl if they see their twin zooming around the living room.

twins one is standing the other is not walking yet


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