If you’ve decided to bottle feed your infant twins (with either formula or breast milk), you’ll need to figure out how to conquer the logistics of bottle feeding two babies and often, how to bottle feed twins by yourself.
As a parent, you won’t always have a pair of helping hands around to assist with feeding time.
After unsuccessfully trying to breastfeed our newborn twins, we quickly moved to bottle feeding. At first, my wife pumped and we filled bottles with breast milk. After several weeks of this, we switched to formula feeding.
As a father, I enjoyed the opportunity to bottle feed my twin girls because it gave me a chance to be more involved with them each day.
How many bottles do you need for twins?
You’ll want 8-16 bottles so that you can make it through at least half the day (if not the whole day) without having to wash bottles.
Bottles come in various sizes like 4 oz, 8o z, 9 oz, 11 oz, etc. If you want to save money, buy a larger size. You’ll need it eventually, and you can still use it for newborns with the right nipple and without filling it up all the way.
Even if your twins will be breastfed, it will be helpful to have bottles so Mom can pump milk and feed them later (or have someone else feed them). Which types of bottles for twins will be best for you? There are several different options to consider.
There are no specific bottles just for twins as you’ll need one bottle per baby. The best bottles for twins comes down to what actually works for your babies. This may require that you try a few different brands. We used Avent bottles. Dr. Brown’s bottles are also highly rated.
Hands-Free bottles are a clever invention that makes feeding time easier. Models like the Podee Baby Bottle or the Tinukim Hands-Free Baby Bottle make it easy for your twins to drink without you having to hold up the heavy bottles.
Remember that while these hands-free bottles help your twins feed more easily, they still need your assistance and supervision! Don’t leave your babies unattended with bottles propped in their mouths.
Preparing the Bottles for Twins
You’ll get so good at preparing bottles that you’ll be able to hold one baby with one arm and make a bottle with the other.
Make sure you don’t give your babies scalding hot formula or milk to drink.
The microwave is notorious for unevenly heating liquids and can give your twins an unpleasant surprise.
When we had to reheat breast milk that was stored in the freezer, we’d warm a large cup of water in the microwave, then take that out and let the bag of milk sit in the water for a few minutes to warm up. This gave us a more even warming without any super-hot surprises.
For formula, we kept a pitcher of water on the counter at room temperature that we used for mixing up the formula. Room temperature water worked great and our girls did fine with it.
If we were thinking ahead, we’d pre-fill powdered formula in the bottles at the beginning of the day or before bed (to make nighttime feedings easier).
When it came time to feed, we just added the right amount of water, screwed on the nipple, swirled or gave it a good shake, and then sat down to feed the twins.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Holding and Supporting Twins During Feeding
When bottle-feeding twins at the same time, you can use a large crescent-shaped nursing pillow that wraps around your abdomen, to help support the weight of both babies while you feed them simultaneously. Pillows like the Twin Z Pillow work well for both twins.
If using a nursing pillow around your abdomen isn’t your cup of tea, another alternative is to procure two and place each twin in their own nursing pillow with the pillow supporting their head, neck, and upper back and their bodies resting in the U-space of the pillow. Sit down on the floor, put a twin on either side of you, and hold the bottles for your hungry babies.
Another variation for tandem bottle feeding twins is to use bouncy seats instead of pillows. We most often used two bouncy seats that we’d lay each girl in at an incline. We’d have them a few feet apart, both facing the same direction. My wife or I could then sit between them on the ground, with our back against the sofa, facing the twins.
We’d then hold one bottle with each hand and feed the girls at the same time. Make sure you have some arm support, like a pillow or find a way to rest on the bouncy seat, otherwise, you’ll get really tired, really fast juggling twin bottles and babies.
Definitely use something to support you and the twins. Try bouncy seats, a Table for Two, pillows, etc. to find what is comfortable and works for you.
Take Turns Feeding the Twins
You don’t have to feed your twins at the same exact time. If you must, take turns. Remember that one secret to your sanity is to handle each twin one at a time.
Don’t assume that you have to do everything by yourself.
My wife and I found it easiest to each hold and feed a baby whenever I was home. Of course, this means you need two adults to feed two babies. This will only work for you if you have another set of helping hands at home.
I highly recommend that you recruit some helpers (family, friends, etc.) to stay with you and take turns feeding during the night, especially during the first month of newborns.
As They Grow
Once your twins are sitting up and starting to crawl, they may not be interested in their bouncy seats anymore, for any reason. By this point, it is also easier to lift and position them, so try sitting them on each of your legs, their back to your front. As they cuddle into you, pop the bottles in their mouths. Not only do you get cuddle time, but now your arms don’t lose feeling by the end of a feed.
Different Bottles for Different Twins
What if your twins have different formula for allergy or nutritional reasons? You’ll need to keep the bottles straight of which ones belong to which twin.
This is especially important in the middle of the night when you’re sleep-deprived, or when you have somebody over to help you.
One thing that you can do is you can buy different types of bottles. For example, you can buy Evenflo bottles for one baby, and Avent bottles for the other baby. In that case, at a glance, it’s easy to tell right away which bottle is for which twin.
You can also try different colored bottles if you prefer one type of bottle to differentiate between your two bottles for each twin.
If you’re stuck with the same types of bottles for your twins (maybe you got them as gifts on your twin babies’ registry or you already have a supply of bottles), you can modify those temporarily, or even semi-permanently. There’s always a Sharpie or other permanent marker that you can write the initial of the twin around the edge of the bottle. That’ll eventually wash off as you’re scrubbing your bottles, but it may work for a few rounds, at least.
Alternatively, take some masking tape and put it on the outside of the bottle with the name of the child and the type of formula, to help distinguish those, as well. Just remove the tape before washing.
Bottle-Feeding Twins: Middle of the Night Tips
The middle of the night twin feedings are generally heralded when one of your babies starts crying. This jars you from your slumber and pulls you out of your warm bed. You may even find yourself sitting on the edge of your bed trying to figure out what is the next thing you are supposed to do.
Because of the bewildering stupor that you will likely experience during night feedings, you need to have everything ready before you go to bed.
Before you go to bed, lay out burp cloths, bottles, formula, and a container of water.
When your babies start crying for food, they want food and they want it now. The longer you take, the louder the cries and the more frustrated you will get, especially when you’re sleepy.
We’d have bottles and nipples ready on the kitchen counter next to the formula canister and the feeding log. The bottles would have the water already pre-measured and ready to add the formula to. Dump, shake, and go!
For water, we filled up a Tupperware-style water bottle with a flip top lid and kept it on the counter. The big advantage of this was that the bottle was always room temperature and ready for immediately feeding the baby. No, your babies don’t need warm milk, so save yourself some time and frustration by going the room temperature route.
As with many things when it comes to twins, you’ll find yourself making choices–and sacrifices–constantly. In this case, you’ll probably weigh the benefits of being organized (especially if it doesn’t come naturally) against a few minutes of extra sleep. Do yourself a favor, prepare when you are awake so you can sleep walk through the process quickly and thus quickly return to bed.
Bottle Feeding Twins Tips from Your Fellow Twin Parents
Laura – “Using a formula mixer like Dr. Brown’s or a large tea mixer has seriously cut down on our prep time. We mix the formula the night before and prep all the bottles we have sterilized and store them in the fridge until mealtime. We also invested in two electric bottle warmers which we preferred over soaking in hot water. When it is time for mealtime all we have to do is pop them in the warmer and go.”
Tonya – “We put a ponytail holder around one of the bottles so that we always knew which one was which.”
Russell – “We use a salad dressing mixer bottle to mix 2 at once and then pore right in the bottle”
Roxanne – “We treated ourselves to the Baby Brezza – DREAM COME TRUE!!! Wish we had had it from the beginning but boy have we gotten our money’s worth!!”
Matt – “The Baby Brezza was the best thing we got! We kind of threw it on our baby registry as a joke but someone bought it for us and we can’t ever thank them enough! It saved time was so easy to use and clean.”
Kait – “Because our twins usually get hungry within an hour of each other, we set up blender bottles with the right amount of (room temp) water already in them, and pre-measure the formula powder in small Tupperware containers so at night just dump the powder in the bottle, shake and pour. No clumps or double bottle shaking.”
Aimee – “I’d measure out all the water and powder needed for an entire day’s bottles in a big bowl, then use an immersion blender to get the lumps of powder out. Pour it into bottles and all set. (Of course, I was scooping something like 32 scoops of powder per bowl at one point, but…) We also used an electric warmer when the bottles got bigger – it started taking too long with the water method once they were drinking more than 3-4 ounces at a time. I got a box of pre-measured packs of powder from my pediatrician’s office and I saved those for when we’d be out at mealtime. That way I could just bring a bottle of spring water and empty bottles (less prone to leaks in the bag!).”
Kim – “I would like to add…most pediatricians recommend using no fluoride, purified bottled water to mix formula if your tap water supply contains fluoride. If your water supply does not contain fluoride (you can get a report from your water department), ask the pediatrician about how to handle the water before feeding to your baby.”
All That Matters
How you feed your twins, where they eat, who feeds them, and the timing of everything doesn’t really matter. The most important thing is that your twins do eat and get the nourishment your pediatrician has outlined.
Try different methods and styles to see what works best for you and your family.
You won’t be holding bottles out at arms’ length forever. The twins will eventually be able to hold their own bottles, which my wife tells me was one of the happiest days of her life.
You’ll find more detailed tips on feeding your twins in Chapter Four of my book, the Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins.
Picture by helenmoverland