One of the most popular questions I get is: Will twins cry a lot?
The answer is yes. All newborns cry a lot. That is the only way they have to communicate with you. It is perfectly normal for your twins to cry.
Wet or messy diaper? Cry.
The challenge with twins is that you have two newborns in the house. So even if they both cry a normal amount for newborns, it feels like they cry a lot or that someone is always crying.
I noticed that often only one of our twins would be crying at a time. This, of course, is good news because you can then soothe that child without having to worry about the other. However, you will have plenty of days with both twins crying at the same time.
Crying is natural and your twins will cry a lot. What do you do when both of your babies are crying at the same time?
Here I share some tips from your fellow twin parents as well as what worked for us when our twins were little babies.
(RELATED: Check out the Dad's Guide to Twins Youtube channel for additional helpful twin tips and tricks videos.)
Why It Is OK for Your Twins to Cry
According to the Mayo Clinic, “on any given day, a newborn might cry for up to two hours — or even longer”
When you first get your twins home, it will seem like they are crying all the time.
You may be tempted to rush to soothe your babies. Take a moment and wait.
If you try to immediately soothe your twins every time they cry, you will wear yourself out and go crazy. It is natural for babies to cry. Don’t expect complete silence in your house with twins.
Initially, when your babies cry, you should assess why they are crying.
Over time you will learn to recognize the different types of cries.
Babies have their “I’m hungry” cry. Then there is the “I’m sleepy” or “I’m poopy” cry. Or even the “My arm is stuck in the crib slats” cry.
Listen to the cry, see why your baby is crying, then start to recognize the pattern.
(RELATED: Check out the Dad's Guide to Twins Youtube channel for additional helpful twin tips and tricks videos.)
You’ll soon find yourself jumping out of your chair and running to the “My arm is stuck” cry versus waiting a few seconds to see if the “I’m tired” cry stops since she is already in bed.
Is your baby crying? Relax. Take a breath and then take action.
Are your twins crying all the time? It might be colic. Talk to your pediatrician if you’re concerned.
Is It OK to Leave One Twin Crying While You Care For the Other?
It is perfectly fine to let one or both of your twins cry and help each of your babies one at a time. If they’re both crying, they’re both needing something. It’s not the end of the world if you have to take care of one baby and then take care of the next.
Learn to prioritize and triage which of your babies needs help the most. It could be the one that’s crying the loudest. It could be the one that you know needs the most attention. It could be the one that is closest to you.
There are many ways to triage and prioritize taking care of your twins. You may have a twin that is soothed very quickly so you take care of that baby first and then turn your attention to the other twin who may need a little more time to calm down.
With twins it is almost a necessity to do things one at a time. Don’t feel guilty about making a crying baby wait for his or her sibling.
Control Your Emotions
Don’t freak out when both your twins are crying at the same time. Don’t get upset or mad at your twins. They love you, they just can’t tell you that yet.
(RELATED: Still looking for the right twin gear? See my Twin Baby Gear Essentials.)
Take a deep breath and relax. It is not the end of the world.
The mighty powerful distraction technique works on all ages of children. If they’re crying over something, you distract them. If they want to do something and you don’t want them to do that, distract them. If they’re fighting with their sibling, distract them. Distraction can always be a solution.
If your twins are crying, it may be possible to distract them from whatever they’re sad about. Focus them on something that would make them happy.
It could be a change of venue. Move them from one room to another.
It could be a change of toys or a change of scenery.
It could be time to eat.
It could be who’s playing with them; a sibling instead of Mom or Dad. Any of these changes could help reduce the amount of crying.
How to Soothe Crying Twins
Before you can properly sooth your crying twins, find out and fix why they are crying. Is it time to eat? Are they tired? Do they need a diaper change? Are they hot? Cold?
Once you identify and fix the problem and they are still crying, you can move to the soothing stage…
One Powerful Method for Soothing a Crying Baby
One method that worked well for us to soothe our babies was the 5 “S” method discussed in Harvey Karp’s book The Happiest Baby on the Block.
We used a pacifier for our newborns or even a finger to suck on to help soothe their crying. Often, just a pacifier would calm our crying babies.
You’ll notice that the nurses at the hospital always swaddle up your babies in a tight little bundle. Swaddling helps keep your babies comfortable, warm, and under control. When our babies were crying, the first thing I’d always do (after the pacifier) was to swaddle them up. Swaddling helped control the flailing arms and legs that often accompanied crying sessions.
Side / Stomach
Pick up the baby in a football type hold with child’s body supported by your arm and his head resting in your hand. Make sure the baby is resting on his side or stomach.
Loudly, but not screaming, make a “shhhhh” sound like when you are telling someone to be quiet. Do so close to your baby. Remember, she just spend several months inside mommy’s tummy and heard the constant woosh-woosh of her mother’s heartbeat (as well as her sibling’s heart beat). It was loud in there! Recreating that ambient noise will relax your baby.
Sway / Swinging
With the child’s head in your hand, you can gently sway the baby back and forth. Again, this is trying to mimic the experience in the womb where the baby was in constant motion as the mother moved about. There is comfort and familiarity in motion for the baby.
When we used the 5 “S” method on our crying babies it magically soothed them at least 90% of the time. Often our babies calmed down after only a few of the “S” steps.
Handling Two Crying Twins at Once
What happens when you have both twin babies crying at the same time? The method for soothing two crying babies at once is the same. The question becomes who gets soothed first.
If you have helpers around (which I highly recommend), each of you can soothe the twins at the same time using the steps above.
If you are home alone, you will have to pick which baby you soothe first. In this case, try swaddling each baby and then picking them both up and proceeding with the shushing and swinging phases as you carry both twins around the house. You will become a pro at carrying both twins at the same time.
Use All the Gear
Use your twin baby gear to your advantage (especially when you are alone with your twins). You need all the help you can get.
Use the bouncy seat, stroller, crib, baby-wearing sling, and all the gear you’ve stockpiled. This way you can hold one baby and have a machine soothing the other. While the gear “babysits” one twin, you can change the diaper or feed the other baby.
You’re not a bad parent if you put your kids in the bouncy seat or if you put them in a swing to help soothe them down.
You’re not a bad parent if you can’t get the twins to calm down just by holding them. Remember to use your baby gear to your advantage and give you the extra set of hands and time you need to calm everyone down.
Can Twins Ignore Each Other’s Cries?
Will twins learn to ignore the other’s cries or will it be an automatic family cry fest?
We were surprised to find that our girls didn’t really wake each other up. It didn’t really bother them when the other was crying.
The exception to this was when it was feeding time. If one would wake up and cry, the other would be hungry and wake up and realize, “Hey, maybe sister’s on to something, I think it’s time for food too!” Then they would both be crying.
We found that once our girls fell asleep, they were okay. However, sometimes they’d be able to keep each other up with their noise.
If you are having trouble with your twins waking each other up or disturbing each other with their cries, you can try putting them in different rooms to get them started sleeping, and transfer them into their crib later when the time is right.
You may also consider a white noise machine. While we didn’t have one of these in our home, I’ve heard very positive things about them helping twins stay asleep and not interfere with each other’s sleep pattern.
If one of your babies is screaming at the top of her lungs, you may see her brother or sister lying there peacefully. No problem whatsoever.
In other cases, you may see one trigger the other’s crying.
As a parent, you need to be observant of what’s happening with your twins and then you can adjust your habits, your patterns, or your schedule to help meet their individual needs.
Sometimes your babies they just want to be with you. They just want to be next to you. They feel secure, warm, and safe when they are right next to you.
Baby cuddles are awesome. Right? However, getting excited about cuddling with your kids when they are screaming is difficult. However, a good cuddle may just be the medicine that your twins need. Don’t look past cuddles as a solution to your children’s woes.
Block the Sound
The next tip is very practical and comes from the real-life twin parenting trenches. Sometimes your babies cry for what seems like forever. This starts to get in your head and wears you down.
I’ve talked with many parents who use earplugs. Yes, ear plugs like you’d wear when you’re using a chainsaw, doing yard work, or construction.
These earplugs block out the sounds that you don’t want to hear. And let’s face, you don’t want to hear the crying.
Baby screams can also produce some unhealthy decibel levels that physically hurt your ears. As such, it is perfectly fine to put in the earplugs when the crying gets out of hand.
Maybe you’re taking turns with your spouse and you need to sleep at night. Put in earplugs!
Maybe your babies are screaming loudly and you can’t get them to calm down. Put in the earplugs!
You can still keep an eye on them to make sure that they are fine. Put in earplugs and get an audio break.
When the crying and screaming gets to be too much, it is OK for you to take a break.
Put the babies in a safe location (like their cribs or a pack-n-play) and take a step out of the room.
Take a deep breath. You can relax a little bit before you jump back in and try to take care of them.
It’s OK for you to step away for a few moments when your babies are screaming their heads off and you’re not able to calm them down.
Otherwise, you’re going to run out of the energy you need to take care of your babies.
When all else fails, it is absolutely OK for you just to sit down and cry with your babies. Just let it all out. Have a big cry party.
As your children get older, they will see you crying and wonder, “hey, why is dad (or mom) crying? Maybe I should just calm down and they’ll feel better too.”
When your babies are really small infants, you’re full of emotions from sleep deprivation, recovering from a c-section, or even postpartum depression. Just let out your emotions and cry with your babies because it is overwhelming at times.
Use some of these tips we’ve talked about and it will make taking care of two crying babies a little bit easier.
If you’ve had some success getting your babies to calm down when they’re both crying, share in the comments what worked for you. This way, your fellow twin parents can learn from what’s working in your home.
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Picture by Jayashree B and TheGiantVermin