Contributed by Karen Baker, postpartum doula with First Daze & Nightzzz and mother of teenage twins
As a mother of twins, I can attest how quickly parents of multiples learn how helpful an extra set of arms would be. We hear over and over, practice makes perfect. One way you’ll get plenty of practice juggling your babies is during bathtime. When mine were newborns, I couldn’t imagine being left alone with them for even an hour, much less bathing them by myself. However, I found that by diving into bath time (pun intended), I got suprisingly adept at juggling what felt like slippery little octopuses in and out of the tub. Bathtime became my favorite time of day. My sweet babies loved it, too, and smelled deliciously clean afterward. Now as a postpartum doula, I have bathed countless sets of twins over the last eight years, and it is still one of my favorite doula activities. Fear not moms and dads of multiples: You can do this, too!
Fellow parents of multiples are already learning a key ingredient of twin, triplet or more parenting: planning ahead. As my wise father-in-law says, follow the 5 Ps: Prior planning prevents poor performance. Before bringing your adorable little octopuses to the bathroom, gather all items needed: bath sponge for newborns, towels, washcloths and head to toe bath wash. Fill a sink or infant bathtub with warm water. With my twins, I placed a bounce chair in the bathroom along with pacis and toys for the baby waiting their turn. I also brought in fresh diapers and PJs to have everything at arm’s reach.
If both parents are home, or you have helpful visitors, you can opt to bathe one baby at a time while they keep the other company. But if you find yourself often alone with the babies at bath time like I did, bring them into the bath space (I have bathed babies using an infant tub in a kitchen sink or on a kitchen counter, but I used the bathroom for mine). I would have one of my babies relax in a bounce chair nearby so I had easy access to both babies. Of course, never leave any baby unattended at bathtime. I undressed and began bathing baby #1 while keeping baby #2 occupied with my singing or with toys or a paci. No doubt, sometimes trying to bathe two babies was chaotic! A benefit of the 5 Ps and the set up mentioned above is, once I finished bathing the first baby, I moved to the second without having to leave the room. I diapered and dressed my bathed baby and undressed the next, while draining and refilling the tub with fresh bath water. Baby #1 then got a turn in the bounce chair.
Bath time can be done as a family activity when both parents are home by bathing the newborns together in the tub. Place infant bath sponges (some of our doulas’ favorite bath aid) side by side in the bathtub, add a couple of inches of warm water, wrap babies in soft hooded towels, and place them next to each other on the sponges. Each parent leans over the tub tending to their bathing beauty.
As your babies get older, bathtime together gets easier. Once mine could sit unassisted, bathtime became splash time! Bathing together became the norm.
The moments after bathtime with my young babies became the best part of being a twin parent: Snuggling in the nursery with my arms full of babies and sweetness. This was truly my favorite time of day. And though I enjoyed those snuggles, I found alternating bath days with a lotion massage every other day was more manageable and gentler on delicate baby skin.
You have several options for bathtime with your babies - either as a team or on your own. And though it may seem overwhelming at first, as with all multiple-related activities, keep at it and soon you will have mastered the art of bathing multiples.
What tips for bathing your multiples can you share?