When I was looking for information about this, I found lots of information about weaning generally but very few tips which would help parents of multiples specifically. All the information on the Weaning Centre website relates to twins, triplets and other multiples but the more babies you have in front of you, the more challenging weaning can be. It’s messy enough with one!
So, with some help from some parent experts, I have put together a few tips specifically for parents with multiples.
Here are my 10 tips:
1. Get EVERYTHING you need together
Spoons, bowls, food, bibs, wipes…. (don’t forget the food).
2. Have spares within reach (your reach!)
Babies often throw things on the floor so spare spoons or cups within reach are helpful. You don’t want to have to keep rushing to the next room to get things. It’s important to watch your little ones whilst they are eating.
3. Invest in washable wipes
Weaning is messy but with more babies you will get more mess. Disposable wipes will cost a small fortune and they are often not as effective at removing mess as washable ones – not to mention the environmental impact. Washable wipes are great for weaning and beyond.
4. Look out for the signs your babies are ready to wean individually
It may be that one is ready before another. It’s ok to start one at a time. Check out the infographic below from the ebook which shows the signs. Remember, if your babies were born early, they will be working on an adjusted age so seek advice from your health visitor.
5. Prepare for them to be different
They might have very different tastes. Even identical twins can have different food preferences. Offer the same foods at the same time but don’t add any pressure to eat it. Pressure can include doing the ‘aeroplane trick’, saying things like ‘you liked it last time’ or ‘your brother liked it’, and force feeding.
They may also have different appetites so offer the food and let them decide how much and let them as for more if they want it.
Multiples may also have different speeds at which they eat. If they are close enough to steal each other’s food, the slower eater might not get a chance to eat what they want. It is also harder for you to see how much each baby has eaten.
Saying all this, have the same mealtimes for your multiples. It can be tempting to give them individual attention with separate mealtimes but this creates a pattern and food is a social thing for them to get used to. Children aged 1 plus will be having snacks too so that’s 5 feeding times a day. That’s enough! If you are doing food at different times for different children you will never leave the kitchen.
6. If you are spoon feeding, give one baby a finger food whilst you spoon feed the other
Giving a mixture is great for development but it also keeps both babies occupied at the same time. If you are only spoon feeding, give one spoonful to one and then one to the other. Make sure you use different spoons and different food pots for hygiene purposes.
7. Position the high chairs near each other
This way your little ones can interact. Don’t put them too close so they can make each other messy or steal each other’s food though. I wouldn’t recommend one on either side of you either as you can’t watch them both as easily. So, position them next to each other but not within arm’s reach of each other. The easiest way to do this is to have highchairs with trays rather than using the table as a tray initially.
8. Sit and talk to them
It can be easy to be running round doing things but having time interacting with children when they are eating can reduce fussiness so start that habit early and sit with them. The ultimate aim is to have family meal times.
9. Never leave them unattended in the high chair
This applies to all babies but when you have multiples you may need to deal with one whilst another one is eating. For example if one has an explosive nappy in the middle of the meal, take the other one out of their highchair whilst you are dealing with it – unless you can continue to watch them both.
You need to keep watching them in case they choke. Sometimes parents of multiples can be more concerned about choking because of having to watch more than one baby. Enrol on a first aid course or watch videos online about what to do and practise getting your baby out of the high chair. If you aren’t able to go to a course, practice the choking drill on a doll at home.
And if you have an older child or children to watch at the same time, try to have their meals together or have them near to you when you are feeding your multiples. Here are some example activities – playing playdough at the table, reading a book sitting near the table or playing with a box of toys out of the way of food being thrown.
10. Invite a friend round for the early days of weaning
It will help calm you down and will give you an extra pair of hands. If you have a partner, introduce solids at a time your partner is around – preferably before early afternoon so your baby has a chance to process the food. Having someone to help you clear up after a feeding session is also helpful – even if it is just to watch the babies whilst you sort out the mess!
And where you do you get further tips?
Tips about batch cooking and planning meals around what you are eating also apply to multiples and will make life easier. Avoiding too many pre prepared foods will save you money and will also reduce fussiness later on as they will be used to the foods you normally eat. There are also lots of other articles on the website including ones about equipment and foods to avoid as well as food psychology and nutrition articles.
Have fun on the weaning journey.
Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and should not replace individual medical advice.