Feeding one baby can feel like a daunting task. Feeding two babies can feel just plain overwhelming.
While there is a learning curve to feeding twins, whether by bottles or breastfeeding, with a little practice, feedings can become very routine.
What is the best way to feed twins? The best way to feed your twins is to stick to the phrase “fed is best.” There is no one correct way to feed twins. While some parents prefer to feed twins separately, most agree that feeding them together is easier. The double football hold and nursing pillows can make for a smoother process.
Breastfeeding, exclusively pumping, formula-feeding, or any combination of those all have their own pros and cons. As long as you are feeding your babies when they need to eat, you are doing a great job.
Breastfeeding twins is something that most parents of multiples will attempt. It can prove challenging for many reasons, but it can also be a wonderful experience.
Is It Harder To Breastfeed Twins?
Breastfeeding twins can be more difficult in the beginning as you have an extra person in the nursing equation. Nursing takes some time to establish a rhythm, and that is doubly true with two babies trying to nurse at the same time.
There are many tips and tricks from mothers of multiples who have gone before you that may be helpful, so it is recommended to seek out those resources.
Breastfeeding Twins Milk Supply
Milk supply is ruled by “supply and demand.” A mother’s body will produce the milk her babies need. As breastfeeding two babies requires more milk, a mother’s body will produce more to meet the demand.
There are also many things mothers can do, such as drinking Mother’s Milk Tea, to try and boost their milk supply should it wane.
What Percentage of Twin Moms Breastfeed?
Two different studies reported on these rates. One study showed that 40% of twins were breastfed in the first six months compared to 52% of singletons.
A different study reported much lower percentages. This study claims that 25% of twins were breastfed, and it went down to 14% for triplets or higher multiples.
How To Breastfeed Twins at the Same Time
Breastfeeding twins at the same time is called tandem feeding. Once babies get the routine of latching and drinking, tandem nursing can make a mother’s life so much easier. As with anything new, establishing a system can help set you and your babies up for success.
Breastfeeding Twin Positions
The most popular tandem feeding position is called the double football hold. In this position, the babies’ heads are held by the mother, and their bodies are angled around the mother’s side with their feet by the mother’s hips or back.
This position allows babies to lie comfortably and not overlap each other in any way. There are several pillows (I personally recommend the Twin Z) on the market that make this position more comfortable for everyone.
Some mothers prefer to lie on their backs and let babies rest on their stomachs as they feed. It will be trial and error to find what works best for you and your babies.
Breastfeeding Twin Exhaustion
Some mothers might try to feed one twin at a time. As newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours, this could mean that a mom is nursing around the clock.
Once latching is established and babies are comfortable nursing, tandem feeding will help ease the exhaustion many mothers may feel.
You will be tired enough caring for two babies, so save yourself some exhaustion if you are trying to breastfeed exclusively.
When To Stop Breastfeeding Twins
Breastfeeding twins is a demanding task, and there is a reason many moms do not choose this method to feed their babies.
If your mental health is suffering due to postpartum depression or exhaustion and feeding your baby is no longer a good bonding opportunity for you and the babies, it’s time to consider an alternative.
If your milk supply is dropping and babies are not getting enough to eat, it’s time to stop or supplement.
Also, if breastfeeding both babies is taking over an hour and you find yourself having to combination-feed them with breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, you might want to stop. Remember that fed is best.
Many moms of multiples choose to bottle-feed their babies from the start. They may choose to use either pumped breast milk or formula to bottle-feed.
Can Twins Share a Bottle?
It is not recommended for twins to share a bottle. Sharing a bottle can spread germs between the babies.
Sharing also complicates measuring how much each baby is drinking and if they are getting enough to eat. It might be tempting to allow twins to share, but the cons outweigh the pros here.
Bottle-Feeding Twins at the Same Time
Just as tandem nursing saves moms time and energy, so does tandem bottle-feeding. Aim to get your twins on the same schedule and feed at the same time.
Nursing pillows, such as the Boppy or the Twin Z pillow can simplify tandem bottle feeding.
Settle each baby in their pillow or side of the pillow, and start feeding the first baby with your nondominant hand. Once the first baby is latched on the bottle, begin feeding the other baby with your dominant hand.
How Many Bottles Will I Need for Twins?
This answer depends on how often you plan to do dishes. Babies eat 8-12 times a day in the beginning. That’s 16-24 bottles a day for twins!
I recommend purchasing 24 bottles when you’re expecting twins as some days go awry and dishes don’t get done quickly.
The most stressful times of early motherhood can be when your babies are hungry and the bottles are not ready fast enough.
Bottle Feeding Twins Schedule
Most pediatricians recommend that newborns eat every 3 hours. I cannot say this enough: feed your twins on the same schedule! This is especially true at night when sleep is precious.
As babies age and feedings are able to be spaced out, if one twin wakes after the 3-hour window, wake the other twin, and feed them at the same time. The same feeding schedule will make things much easier.
Pumping for Twins
Exclusively pumping for twins can be a good solution for mothers who want to feed their babies breastmilk but find breastfeeding twins challenging.
The goal with pumping would be to pump for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours. Many twin mothers find that multitasking while pumping is the best solution.
This can mean pumping while you bottle-feed your babies or as you wash and clean other bottles. Hands-free breast pumps have made pumping a much easier task.
You can boost your milk supply by drinking plenty of water and eating enough calories. Breastfeeding twins can burn up to 1,000 calories a day!
You need to make sure you are eating enough to keep producing milk. Massaging your breasts before and after pumping can also increase milk flow. If these things aren’t helping, you might want to consult a lactation specialist.
Combination Feeding Twins
Combination-feeding twins is using both bottles and breastfeeding to feed your twins. Many parents prefer to breastfeed during the day and then bottle-feed at night for maximized sleep.
Combination-feeding can also be feeding one twin at the breast while feeding the other with a bottle. The important thing to remember here is that it’s best if you try to feed at the same time on the same schedule.
If you combination-feed your twins, remember to pump even when twins bottle-feed to keep your supply up. Twins can be very different and have different feeding needs. Find what works best for your babies and yourself, and stick to it.
How To Feed Twins By Yourself
Establishing a routine here will be a sanity saver. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, have the pillows set up and ready to go before you start the feed.
Make sure you and the babies are in a comfortable position. If bottle-feeding, have the bottles ready to go as soon as the babies are in position.
Feeding Pillow for Twins
Modern inventions can make twin feeding times so much easier. The Twin Z pillow is probably the most well-known option for twin parents.
This pillow is in a W shape that wraps around the mother’s back. It has two separate sections that allow babies to be nestled comfortably against the mother for nursing in the football hold.
The Twin Z pillow can also be used to tandem bottle-feed as well.
The TwinGo Nurse & Lounge Pillow is another great pillow on the market. This pillow is adjustable to accommodate babies of any size up to one year. It can be raised higher or lower based on your preference.
The TwinGo is actually made up of two pillows that can be used together or separately. This versatility makes bottle-feeding or combination-feeding easier.
Should You Feed Twins at the Same Time?
Yes! You should absolutely feed twins at the same time. Feeding twins separately means that you would be spending most of your day feeding a baby, and there are other things that need to be done.
How Often Should You Feed Newborn Twins?
Newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours. For the sake of your sanity, set your newborn twins on a feeding schedule where they eat every 3 hours.
If only one twin is awake at feeding time, wake the other twin to feed at the same time. Many a mother have exhausted themselves by trying to feed twins at separate times.
Parents of twins have options when it comes to feeding their babies. Breastfeeding, combination-feeding, and bottle-feeding all accomplish the ultimate goal of nourishing infants.
However you choose to feed your twins, it will most likely feel overwhelming at first. Try to remember that there is not just one right way to feed twins, and allow your experience to be your own, free of guilt or pressure.
As a twin mom herself, Nikki is passionate about helping moms and twin parents learn how to manage their chaos better. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) practicing Marriage and Family Therapy.