There always seems to be a lively debate about whether you should and can breastfeed your twins or bottle feed them. The advances in infant formula have made it a pretty good substitute for breast milk but not a perfect replacement.
Breast milk is the ideal food of choice for your babies. However, that isn’t always an option based on your circumstances.
As a father of twins, what to feed your babies is more of a logistical question: how will you physically be able to feed two babies at the same time?
Benefits of Breastfeeding
With our first two kids, my wife breastfed and we were happy with that decision.
I think Dads should be big fans of breastfeeding. Why?
- You don’t have to do much. Unless your wife pumps milk to be served later, you aren’t going to be feeding any babies.
- You don’t have to buy baby formula and thus you save tons of cash
- You don’t have to wash out bottles and related supplies all the time
All this sounds great when you have a single baby. But what about twins?
Sorry guys, twins can be a game changer. As much as you’d love to reap the benefits described above, the decision on whether to breast- or bottlefeed twins is simple:
Do whatever your wife wants.
Breastfeeding Twins Option
Exclusively breastfeeding twins is not a simple feat. How do you feed them at the same time?
Getting two babies positioned, latched, and feeding all at the same time takes practice and a lot of patience. It will require that you and Mom work together as a team to be able to set the babies (and Mom) up for success in breastfeeding, especially once you go back to work or your help goes home.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Help your wife find a comfortable position in which to nurse. Offer an extra pillow to support her back. Bring her the babies, one at a time, and cheer her on as she gets each one started on a feed.
Talk to her while she nurses. Turn on some relaxing music if she finds that helpful. Pay her sincere compliments. She and her body are doing a really hard thing.
When the babies are done eating, help with the burping and changing. When the twins are settled, make sure Mom gets something to eat and drink. She’s going to need the extra reserves to keep her energy going and keep up with the demand of milk production. Always make sure she’s drinking water. She’ll need a lot of it!
This much coaching and helping won’t be required of you for long. Your babies will be quick learners and your wife will grow in her confidence because of your support. Before you know it, she’ll figure out a way to gather up the babies and feed them all by herself.
Breastfeeding is a physical and emotional burden, so I reiterate: only do this if your wife wants to.
Many twin Moms master breastfeeding twins and it works great.
Other times, like in our case, it just doesn’t work out (I’ll share that in a moment).
Have a Plan B
Be flexible and know that it is OK to change your mind. Don’t feel guilty or like a bad parent if it doesn’t work.
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
Do what is best for you, your family, and your twins regardless of what you see others doing or saying about the perfect way to feed your babies.
Bottlefeeding Twins Option
Formula feeding twins is a viable option for many twin families.
If you want to bottlefeed the twins, roll up your sleeves and prepare to get to work. You will become the master of making bottles with one hand while holding a baby with the other.
Save some money for formula ahead of your twins’ arrival (just in case), ask for it for baby gifts, and get some coupons and samples from your Pediatrician to help with the financial burden.
When we switched to bottle feeding, the first thing I noticed was that there was a lot of overhead in terms of preparing and cleaning all the supplies.
The biggest highlight was that bottle feeding gave me a chance (as a Dad) to hold my twin daughters while I fed them. It was a great bonding moment for Dad. (Yes, even bottle feeding twins in the middle of the night!)
With enough practice, you’ll be able to feed both twins simultaneously with bottles.
A Few Examples
Every set of twins is different and you’ll find that your family situation requires you to be flexible and focus on what is working for both Mom and the twins.
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
My wife wanted to breastfeed our twin girls but things didn’t go as planned. Breastfeeding just didn’t work out for our twins for a few reasons.
Our girls were born with short frenulums and had trouble latching on and getting a good suck. This made them frustrated and even more hungry. We weren’t able to get this diagnosed or resolved until they were a month old. During that time, we rented a pump from the hospital and supplemented the attempts at nursing with Mom’s milk in bottles.
When our girls were born, we already had two very active toddler boys. They constantly ran circles around my wife when she was trying to breastfeed. Or worse–they would wait until Mom sat down to breastfeed and would take off to wreak havoc in another part of the house while Mom was busy.
If my wife breastfed one girl at a time, she could effectively chase after the boys while feeding and keep them occupied in less nefarious activities. But then she’d be feeding babies all day long.
We wanted to keep the babies on the same schedule for our sanity, so after a lot of discussion and many tears (I got good at being the Kleenex box supplier), we came to the conclusion that what was best for the babies wasn’t best for the whole family.
All of these combined to make us switch to bottle feeding the twins.
Here are several other examples of twin families I’ve talked with about what worked for them:
- Bryan Clemons’ twins did a combination of breastfeeding and pumped breast milk fed via bottles. This lasted for about 3 months.
- Kevin Valudes’ twins started breastfeeding and then switched to bottle feeding after 2 months.
- Tom Treanor’s wife breastfed their twins exclusively for five months.
- Thomas Cohen had one twin who would breastfeed and the other that wouldn’t. This resulted in them both switching to bottle feeding.
- Devin Bowman’s twins took about two weeks to get the hang of breastfeeding. Mom breastfed them for 6 months before they started weaning off and moved to formula.
- Chris Titus’s twins were born premature and due to medical complications weren’t able to successfully breastfeed. They tried mixed feeding both formula and pumped breast milk but ultimately settled on formula exclusively within the twins’ first month.
As you can see, every one of these twin families had to change their feeding habits over time. Some parents had to change quickly, others got into a feeding rhythm and breastfeeding lasted longer.
Whatever works for your family is the right choice. Period.
Whatever your feeding choice, be prepared to help and support your wife.
If Mom carries the burden of breastfeeding, you need to be her assistant. Help her position babies, bring burp clothes, make sure she has plenty to drink, etc., until everyone gets the hang of it.
If you choose to bottlefeed, you’ll both have your fair share of feeds both night and day.
Either way, take heart. The twins won’t need help eating forever! In just a few months, they will be feeding themselves.
My wife reminds me that the day my girls were able to feed themselves was one of the happiest days in her life!
What has worked with feeding your twins? Share your experience in the comments below.