Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Wearing" Twins: My Favorite Methods of Tandem Babywearing

"You've got your hands full!" This phrase is, bar none, the most common reaction from people when they see me out and about with our three girls ("Your poor husband!" is a close second). A mom grocery shopping with three kids under three is always going to attract some attention, but a mom grocery shopping while wearing two infants and pushing a toddler in a grocery cart gets a lot of attention.  She might even get her photo taken by strangers once or twice a week (no joke).  Unlike some twin moms, I don't mind the attention that our twins bring. Instead of getting annoyed with this very common (and understandable) reaction, I always smile back, raise my arms up in the air while my babies sit all cozied up on my hips in their ring slings and say "Well, technically, I am hands-free".  Then we all have a good little chuckle.

I have written pretty frequently about my love of "wearing" our babies.  When Isla was born I was gifted a Moby Wrap by a very good friend and that single gesture literally changed my life and the way I would child-rear.  Prior to that moment, I had never even heard the term "babywearing".  Sure, I'd seen the popular "baby bjorn" (a carrier which, by the waydoes not render the same baby wearing benefits as other carriers and wraps) but other than that, I knew nothing about it.  Once I learned how to use my Moby Wrap, I was obsessed and wore Isla all snuggled up on my chest for approximately four months non-stop.  Ever since, I have been a huge advocate of "baby wearing" and all goodness that it promotes between mother and child.

The benefits of baby wearing are vast.  Babies who are worn regularly are shown to have positive "attachment" to their parents, they cry less, and are (in general) happier.  Baby wearing has been proven to help physical, cognitive and verbal development as well.  The list of "pros" goes on and it is my personal mission to help expose as many people to the beauty of baby wearing as I possibly can, because I truly see it as a gift and something that makes motherhood (particularly twin + toddler motherhood) so. much. easier. And, let's face it, I am totally down with anything that allows me to free my hands so that I can easily drink wine enjoy the park with our toddler.

When I found out we were pregnant with twins, I instantly began to research whether or not it was possible to wear two at once.  Knowing how wonderful it was to wear (and simultaneously bond with) Isla, I desperately wanted to be able to share the same experience with the twins.  I hit the world wide web looking for answers and I found it in the form of "tandem" baby wearing. I am happy to say that our twins have been held and carried almost as much as any singleton baby. This is a feat that I am super proud of but one that could not have been accomplished without the art of babywearing. Sure, I might be an inch shorter by the time our twins turn one, but it'll be an inch lost to gain a mile. Or something like that.

Anywho...

Turns out, there are lots of ways to wear twins (or two infants close in age) and I have tried many of them.  When I get "into" something I tend to go "all in" so I have accumulated no fewer than ten different carriers in which to wear our twins and Isla.  I will go through some of my favorite types of carriers and carries in this post.  Please note:  This is not a "how to" (but I will post links to articles and videos when appropriate) and you should baby wear at your own discretion, as some of these methods require some skill and if not done correctly can injure your baby.  Also, I am not a baby wearing pro and all the opinions about the carriers and best ages of them are my own. Always check with the manufacturer and do your own homework/research as well. In other words, please do not sue me. Thank you.

Okay, here goes...

The Moby (aka "stretchy") Wrap:  The Moby Wrap was the first wrap I ever owned so it
holds a very special place in my heart.  This awesome PDF illustrates the many ways to use this wrap. It is fantastic for one baby, particularly a very little baby - but it is also great for wearing newborn twins.  I tandem wore the girls in my Moby wrap using the "twin cradle carry" for the first three months and it was fantastic. Once both of them started to clock in at over ten pounds, however, I found it too much weight on my front to be comfortable and because of the stretchy nature of this wrap, after an hour or so the babies would get all slouchy and saggy.  (This is the same reason you should not use a stretchy wrap to wear twins in a front and back carry, fyi).  I also found all the fabric to be very hot in the summertime.  If you are having a winter baby, the Moby wrap is your friend!

Cost: $40-$50
Pros: A super snug fit, baby is very securely attached to momma, baby is almost instantly put into a coma-like slumber once settled.
Cons: It's a TON of fabric and can be intimidating to learn the wraps. Not great for summer time as it can get very hot, not easy to take a sleeping baby out of it without waking, with twins you are really limited to only a front carry.
Best age: I preferred my Moby for newborns up until 3/4 months (but really babies can be worn in a Moby much longer).

The Ring Sling:  This is, right now, my numero uno preferred way to wear the girls.  I have Lite-on-Shoulder Baby Sling which are super affordable (some ring slings can cost upwards of $100) and they are, as the name suggests, light and easy.  I seriously LOVE the ease of use and convenience of them.  Most of the other methods of baby wearing I mention here usually lull the girls into a pretty deep sleep because I use the chest-facing positions which limit the view and provide closeness to mamas heart and chest (natural sleep aids), so when I don't want the girls to fall fast asleep (say, right after a two hour nap) I will pop them in the ring slings and we'll take a walk or go grocery shopping.  They get the benefit of stimulation but still have the closeness of mama.  When the babies are on me they are almost always content and hardly ever cry or make a peep.  We can go about our business happily and with no fuss and drama (as opposed to in a stroller where one or both are usually fussing at any given time).

Cost: $30-$100 depending on material, retailer and/or if you DIY
Pros: Very easy to get on and off, good for when you want babies to stay awake a bit (but they will happily fall asleep eventually if tired in these slings), these pack very small and are super easy to keep in a purse or diaper bag for when you need them. Good for summer as the material is light and breathable.
Cons: When wearing two, after an hour or two you will feel it. Not my favorite way to carry sleeping twins (I prefer the wearer-facing position on the chest for sleep).  When wearing two, you are definitely a 'wide load' (not, however, as wide and bulky as a double stroller). Sometimes it can be tricky to get the "seat" right if you are just starting out.
Best age: I prefer the ring slings when a baby has good neck strength and is a little bit more "sturdy", so from 3 or 4 months on.

The Woven (aka "not-stretchy") Wrap:  Many "hardcore" baby wearers swear by the woven wrap because they are so incredibly versatile. There are many different kinds but I have a size seven Didymos Wrap which is the size most recommended for tandem wearing. A woven wrap is similar to the Moby wrap, but it does not stretch and so it can be used for a whole host of carries that a Moby can't, like front and back carries (whereby one baby is strapped on your front and one strapped on your back) which are for sure the most comfortable way to wear twins, but also the most complicated.  If I am alone and need both babies to go to sleep and for whatever reason can't put them in their crib, I love this wrap because both zonk out after about five minutes.  The downside of using this wrap for the front and back carry is that if the baby on the back wants out, you must rouse the baby on the front as well.  The other downside is that you can't really see the baby on the back so I have been known to ask, "Hey, can you tell me if this baby is sleeping?" to the grocery store checkout clerk or a random passerby.  I have also resorted to taking awkward selfies with my iPhone in order to see the baby in the back as well.

Cost: $70-$250 depending on material, size and brand.
Pros: Most comfortable, balanced way to carry twins. Very versatile (many different types of carries can be done using these wraps)
Cons: Twin front and back carries are the most tricky and require the most skill, like the Moby, these consist of a LOT of fabric and can be very warm, not typically an "easy in/easy out" type of carrier.
Best age: Newborns to toddlers, depending on the type of carry

The Soft Structured Carrier:  I have five of these.  Two Ergo Performance Carrier, two Mei Tai Carriers and one Tula Toddler Carrier (for Isla).  These are great and super easy once your babies are sturdy enough for them. I have just started using these with the twins (one ergo on front, one ergo on back) and man, is it a breeze and SO much more comfortable for longer walkds than a tandem hip carry.  While I do prefer the closeness that the wraps and ring slings provide, as the twins get bigger these will be the standard way I wear them.  The carrier we used most with Isla on the boat was, hands down, the Ergo.

Cost: $40-$130 depending on brand/type
Pros: Super easy to get on and off, comfortable to wear, offers the most balanced way to wear twins.
Cons: Slightly bulkier than the ring slings, can get warm.
Best age: (in my opinion) 6 months to toddlers (you can wear younger babies in these using an infant insert but I prefer the snuggliness of the wraps to these for tiny babies)

The Baby K'Tan Breeze:  I am a big fan of the Baby K'tan Breeze.  I don't know of any other mom's who use these, but they are very light (great for hot climates or summer babies) and super easy to use (unlike the wraps, which take some practice) but still provide the same front cradle carry like the Moby or woven.  I have two of these carriers, one for each baby and I have tandem worn them on the front by shifting one baby to my left and the other to my right.  While this did work, it was pretty difficult to execute and very exhausting to have almost thirty pounds of baby hanging at my front so Scott and I use these carriers independently when we can each wear a baby and we want them to sleep. They are great to travel with when you want to pack light.

Cost: about $60
Pros: Light and super easy to get on and off, great for when you want baby to sleep, great for hot climates or summer months.
Cons: They don't feel as "secure" as the wraps, can't really adjust the fit, and you are pretty limited to the types of carries.  You also must make sure you get the right size which can be tricky. And while you CAN wear two smaller babies at once it is not easy nor pretty, and probably not recommended (I have just done it out of desperation).
Best age: 2-3 months and up since the fit isn't as snug.

So...if you are keeping track, that is twelve carriers for our kiddos.  Kinda crazy, I know.  But anyone who is into baby wearing will tell you it's an addiction.  Kind of like tattoos.  Or not.  Either way, once you start - you're not going to want to stop. It's healthy, convenient and a fantastic way to travel with the littles (by boat or plane or just out and about), way, way easier than carting a stroller (have you seen the size of twin strollers?!)  Wear those babies and you, too, will quickly see first hand the advantages and benefits. Happy bonding :)

Some notes on Babywearing:
  • Your baby might resist babywearing at first. This is normal. Some fussiness and crying does NOT mean you should give up and that they won't ever like it. Practice makes perfect. With all our babies, there were tears at first - but as soon as I started moving (sometimes I had to walk around the block) they settled and each time it got easier. Now, they get excited when they see me putting on the carriers they love it THAT much.
  • Many of these wraps and soft structured carriers can be used together. For example, you can wear one baby on your front in a Moby wrap and then have a baby on your back in an Ergo. There are many combinations that can be made with different carriers for tandem wearing!
  • Dad's (and others) can wear babies too! When we go out on "family walks" I often prefer to ditch the stroller and have Scott wear one of the twins on his front, Isla on his back and then I will wear the other twin. Super easy and fun - not only is it a good work out for mom and dad, but it promotes bonding and development for baby!
  • When wrapping, the tighter the better. It will feel strange and too tight at first, but remember how compact those babies were in the womb? That's the type of closeness you want. A snug fit is much better (and safer) than a loose one.
  • There are MANY more types of baby carries and carriers out there! Everyone has their favorite carries and carriers and what has worked for me may or may not work for you. Many communities have programs where you can rent baby wraps and carriers to see if you like them before you buy them so look for baby wearing groups near you.
Resources:
Babywearing 101:  Probably the best downloadable PDF illustrating MANY carries and carriers.
Babywearing Tips and Tricks:  A nice Pinterest board dedicated to all things babywearing!
Wrap Your Baby: A page dedicated to wrapping twins. Ideas and Videos included.
Babywearing International: Non-profit dedicated to promoting babywearing.
Choosing a Baby Carrier: A small explanation of the types of carriers.
Slings, Wraps and other Carriers - Where, How and Why: Article by one of my faves, Kelly mom.
Soft Structured Carrier Comparison Chart - This. Is. Awesome. And shows all the different types of soft structured carriers.

25 comments:

Maggie Moo said...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! I knew I could count on you to shed some light on baby wearing for me! I was already leaning toward Ring Sling and am psyched now that I know that's what you were using. I'll also get a Moby for when they are newborns...

Thanks again! You're a lifesaver!

Carly Zaniboni said...

Great post, wish I had this info before little Crew was born. I love my ergo because I can breastfeed on the go without flashing my boob to everyone. You and your bubs are looking super cute.

Christel Astin said...

Fantastic post for new parents. Hands down! We still use our Hugamonkey sling for Riley, 3 while ashore provisioning, hopping on the safari van, etc...it literally can be balled up and thrown into a canvas bag.
If we meet up down there, we will give you one of ours. We don't think we will be using it this season, :(
Enjoy those early precious moments! Great post!

http://www.amazon.com/Hugamonkey-Outdoor-Comfort-Newborn-Carrier/dp/B002BN53TW

Lisa E said...

Thank you so much for this post. It is so helpful. I am expecting twin boys at the end of the year at which point our first little boy will be 2.5 years old. i think i found your blog by googling "twins + toddler HELP". Thanks again!

Robin S said...

Great post. Wish I would have read this when my twins were younger. I did share the link with my MoMs groups as I know it will be helpful to some of the new MoMs there.

Holly K. Turfitt said...

Thank you so much! I am so excited to try out the ring slings with the girls and an Ergo with Thomas (just made 2yo.)
You're amazing!

Susan said...

The benefits of baby wearing are pretty much "iffy" aren't they? Lots of anecdotal narrative but little actual studies, no? Kind of like a new wave Dr. Spock...no real evidence.

curran said...

Great post, very informative. My lady and I are contemplating having kids and taking them out to to Sea. This info is relevant!


Cheers!

http://alize-captainslog.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Would love to hear what you think about the Twingaroo Twin Carrier!!

Shannon said...

SO helpful, thank you! I'm taking my 4-month-old to babysit my friend's 6-month-old thnis weekend and this will come very much in handy should both of them decide that only walking and holding will do. I wear my baby and my friend wears hers, but neither of us has any experience with tandem wearing and our friends that do have done baby-and-toddler, so the toddler's on the back, which is not helpful. Thanks again!

P.s. Your girls have SUCH beautiful names! Isla is one of my favorites, Haven is just lovely and perfect, and Mira is the name I've called my best friend for half of my life and is very dear to me as such.

Piggyback Rider said...

Wow! cute and lovely twins. Your post helps with mom's out there with cute twins. Having an adventure with toddlers? Try Piggyback Rider standing child carrier and you'll sure enjoy your adventure. :)

Leslie said...

With the lite on shoulder sling the position you mentioned, the wearer-facing position on chest. Is that position with the same carrier?

Jessica Goldstein said...

Thanks for sharing all this info! Have you ever tried 2 Ergos in hip carries? I'm so nervous about putting 1 of my twins on my back and happen to have 2 Ergos.

Joy Jackson said...

Hey! I'm prego with twins and am looking into different carriers. I am a bit confused how you got them in those different positions, particularly with the ring sling. Did you use two slings or one? Thanks!

Deanna Sellars said...

What a great post! I am so glad I found this. We are expecting twins and I have three other children, one being a toddler. I have a Moby and was so close to buying an Ergo with my toddler. I loved wearing her close and she is so much happier because of it. I am so excited that there is hope to wearing two!!!

Madeline said...

We love the Twinagroo! Still use it now for our 2year old twins. Didn't try the baby wrapping as i was too worried about the babies not being positioned properly.

Janine.K said...

Thanks for sharing these - we went to an expecting twins class with Twin Love Concierge recently and they told us our tandem babywearing options which was awesome and quite a few that you have mentioned here...great to see photos of them! thanks again!!

A. Kay Blog Design said...

This is awesome. Long story short...I have twin 7 year olds and never wore them. Had my daughter 18 months ago and wear her all the time. We just found out we are having spontaneous twins... AGAIN. I really want to wear these babies, so this post is bookmarked and pinned! Thanks!

Rachel-Ann Thompson said...

Currently expecting twins. You answered so many of my questions. Thank you. Great post

Rose said...

All great suggestions for new moms! And yes- a swing of some sort can be a lifesaver especially when you end up with a little one who gets fussy often. And burp cloths! Buy ALL the burp cloths, lol. ;)

Rasal Khan said...

nice style

marta said...

Just expressed, Baby Wearing is the demonstration of conveying or holding your infant or youngster near your body utilizing a delicate organized child bearer or fabric sling. Utilizing a child transporter makes it much simpler for folks to convey and hold their infant while doing basic ordinary undertakings. The act of child wearing is hundreds of years old, and today's infant bearer plans have advanced from the notable outlines from the past.

Nicole B said...

I love this blog! It's fantastic! The name is really interesting and beautiful and the contain is great! Congratulations :D (i don't speak english very well, hope that everything i wrote is correct

Jim said...

Tiny toddlers should have a sound sleep for at least 10-14 hours a day. I have twin daughters, so buying double stroller has proved to be truly helpful for me as I can easily carry them while I go for shopping, without disturbing my babies. I am enjoying motherhood without compromising with my desire to visit several places of my choice, as I can carry my kids in a stroller conveniently.

Amanda Cantu said...

Hello! I have boy/ girl twins. My boy is about 3-4lbs heavier than my girl. I have been wanting to tandem wear since they were born but for some reason I just haven't. They are 5 months. Do you think its took late to start? Also, because the size difference, which carries would you suggest for each?

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