Sat 26 Jun 2010
Can you feed twins at the same time?
- “Tandem Feeding” just means feeding both at the same time, this could be breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or a combination of those. But in most articles tandem feeding refers to breastfeeding more than one baby at a time.
- Sometimes one infant will have feeding issues or other medical problems that prevent that baby from breastfeeding, while the other baby may breastfeed like a champ.
- Sometimes moms will feed one baby and then immediately follow with the other because a helper is not available or for some reason tandem feeding doesn’t work out.
- Some families choose to breastfeed one baby while another adult bottle feeds the other baby — then with the next feeding, the babies are swapped. This gives both caregivers an additional opportunity to bond individually with each baby.
I’m having trouble getting the hang of tandem breast feeding – is it worth it?
As we said earlier, it doesn’t work out for everyone, so it is best to keep an open mind about how feeding will go. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work out for you. There are many circumstances that may prevent you from tandem breastfeeding. Only you can decide if it is worth it to continue attempting to tandem breast feed. Some of the benefits include:
- Tandem breast feeding can cut the feeding time almost in half
- Some moms report an added closeness between the babies as a result of tandem breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding saves on bottle washing and prep time
Tips for tandem breast feeding twins
- Practice with a lactation consultant present
- Until you get the hang of it, don’t attempt to tandem feed if you’re alone
- Use a helper to get the babies positioned and to help with burping
- Try to practice at least once a day
- Use pillows! Lots of them
- Use a double nursing pillow for resting the babies (these are horseshoe shaped, stiff foam pillows that will support two babies at the right level and position for breast feeding). Many twins moms recommend the EZ2Nurse pillow.
- You may need several pillows under the sides of the double nursing pillow
- Use a pillow behind mom’s back for support
- Try out different tandem breast feeding holds to determine which works best for you.
- One way that works well is the “football” or “clutch” hold. One baby tucked under your arm on each side with their legs sticking out towards the back of the chair.
- Another tandem position is to place the babies in front of you with their legs criss-crossing over each other.
- If one baby is better at breastfeeding than the other, get that baby settled first before adding the second baby
- Our article, How to Tandem Breastfeed Twins contains more great tips as well as a quick video to see how it’s done. Because seeing is believing. You can do it.
If I don’t tandem feed, how can I deal with two hungry, howling babies at the same time?
The trick here is to cue in to early hunger signals and begin feeding the hungrier baby before either baby gets too hungry. These early cues include:
- Finger or fist sucking
- Nuzzling into your arm or chest
- Opening and closing of the mouth or smacking
- Moving the head back and forth
If feeding is delayed so that the waiting baby is overly hungry, you can attempt delay or distraction techniques. These include:
- Use of pacifier
- Placing the baby in a bouncer or vibrator chair
- Offering your (clean) finger for the baby to suck
Twin Tandem Breast Feeding Best Practices
- Keep track (chart) your babies’ feeds (time started, which breast L/R)
- Switch your babies’ assigned breast with each feed
- Practice tandem feeding daily for the first several weeks before making any decisions to discontinue tandem feeds
- Watch for early hunger signs and begin feedings early
- Drink 8 – 12 glasses of water daily (too much or too little can impact milk supply).