Having twins is an experience like no other. Beyond the obvious worries that couples expecting twins might have: double the stuff, double the expense, double the loss of sleep… the logistical complexities that arise throughout your day-to-day routine with twins are hard to appreciate or predict. It isn’t until two nursing infants have just fallen asleep in your arms that you realize you have no idea how you’re going to move them to their cribs. This happened over and over for me in the first few weeks and months. “Wait, how do I do that with two?” became my mantra.
Bathing two infants is one of the most logistically challenging activities to figure out. I remember scouring Facebook groups and my other twin mom friends for tips on how to survive bath time with two newborns, and then later two toddlers. What follows is a compilation of the advice I found to be most helpful.
Divide and Conquer
Ideally, in many scenarios with twins, you’ll have some help. Two babies to two caregivers is the optimum ratio. If you are lucky enough to have a partner, friend, grandparent, etc. available to help, bath time with twins really isn’t much different than if you had one baby, and this is an excellent time for one-on-one time with each twin, regardless of which parent is giving the bath. You can do it one of two ways: one parent bathes one of the twins while the other parent spends some time with the other twin—playing, reading, tummy time, etc., then switch. Or, if you are short on time, both parents can bathe each twin at the same time, either in a second tub in another bathroom or in the kitchen sink using a sink insert.
Doing It Alone
While it’s ideal to have an extra set of hands when you have two babies, there are going to be some times when you are on your own. This is when maneuvering through life with twins is the trickiest. Bath time can be especially stressful on your own because of the safety concerns of having your babies in and around water, and the fact that your attention will need to be split between two of them. Here are a few ideas you can try to get both babies bathed smoothly and safely when you’re going solo:
Create a Docking Station
This is an area in your bathroom where you will keep the baby who is not yet being bathed, or when you’re done with one and finishing up with the other. This is a great opportunity to get in some tummy time, so make a pallet with bath towels or a blanket, and bring along a few favorite toys and maybe a boppy or two. If you are bathing one twin at a time, the other twin can hang out on the docking station and practice some head control. If your babies aren’t especially keen on tummy time, or if they are so little you just feel a little awkward about putting them on the floor, bring two bouncers into your bathroom and station them there instead. The Table for Two or the Twin Z Pillow also work great for this. Be aware of the fact that once your babies are older and more mobile, you’ll need to childproof your whole bathroom, because they’ll be less likely to just hang out in one spot while you’re bathing or finishing up with their twin. If you have an older child, enlist them to keep the waiting baby company. If your older child is especially adept at caretaking, have them dry off, diaper, and/or dress the waiting baby for you—this is a great time for them to feel needed and to bond with their baby brothers or sisters.
Bathtub or Kitchen Sink?
Both have advantages and disadvantages. The sink has the advantage of not requiring you to bend over to bathe your babies. The downside is that since your docking station needs to be on the floor, it will no longer be within arm’s reach. You will also need to keep your station far enough away that you won’t accidentally step on the waiting baby while you are moving around with the other baby.
If you are using the tub, chances are you are kneeling or sitting, and the other baby can be kept close to you while you bathe the other. However, kneeling over a bathtub to bathe your babies can be tough on your knees and back. Consider getting a memory foam bath mat to kneel on, or a short chair (a toddler chair or a small step stool can work great for this). It’s my personal opinion that the bathtub is the better place to bathe your twins, despite the ergonomic concerns. You generally have more space in the bathroom, and in most situations, space is a precious commodity with twins.
Be Prepared Before the Bath
You should have everything you need for after the bath already waiting for you in your bathroom or kitchen, near your docking station. Gather up towels, diapers, diaper cream, lotion, baby toothbrush, pajamas, or anything else you need, and put them near your docking station. It’s much easier to get everything done right there at your station in the bathroom or kitchen than it is to make multiple trips to and from another room to get supplies or move the babies around after their bath.
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One at a Time or at the Same Time?
This is probably the first thing you need to decide and the answer will depend on your goals and your confidence level. Are you short on time in the evenings and super confident about bathing an infant safely? If so, then go for bathing both at once. If you have a large enough tub, you can fit in two bath slings. If you’ve decided to use the kitchen sink, you can use one side for each baby with sink inserts. It is important that if you are going to bathe both at once, that you remember the golden rule of bath safety: never, ever leave a baby unattended in the bathtub or sink. If you are concerned about your ability to keep your attention on both babies at the same time while you’re bathing them (and yes, this can be tricky, especially if you’re tired—and you have twins so, you’re going to be tired), then I suggest playing it safe and bathing one at a time. If you’re confident about bathing both at once, then when you finish bathing one baby, keep that baby in the tub or sink until you finish with the other baby. You should never take one baby out and do diapering, lotioning, dressing, etc. at your docking station while the other baby is still in the tub—you’ll need to take them out at the same time, wrap them in towels, and put them in their bouncers or lay them on the pallet. Then finish up with one at a time once they’re both out of the tub and secure at the docking station.
What to do with Super Tiny Babies?
One of things that can make twins a little trickier than singletons is that most baby gear is made for “average” sized babies, and newborn twins are often smaller than average. My smallest twin was about 4.5 lbs when we brought him home, and bathing him in an infant tub seemed somewhat reckless—I might as well have just put him in the adult tub to swim around! Luckily we had been gifted not only an infant tub, but also some bath sponges. These are baby-sized flat sponges that you can lay your baby on while you bathe her in the tub; they are meant to be used in lieu of an infant tub. I found that using the bath sponges inside of the infant tub gave my little guys much more support and stability, and there was the added advantage of laying them on something soft, rather than just the hard plastic of the infant tub alone.
Bathing Mobile Twins and Twin Toddlers
I wanted to have a huge party to celebrate the moment when my twins were sitting up and moving around on their own. My life got exponentially easier when I didn’t have two floppy-headed babies to carry around everywhere, one at a time. Bath time also got a lot easier. I was suddenly able to bathe them both at the same time without any gear and without a lot of the worry. If your older babies are new to sitting up and still a little wobbly, only fill the tub up a couple of inches. The less water, the better—they might be able to sit up, but they’re clumsy and will likely knock each other over (twin babies and toddlers knock each other over A LOT). Some of my twin mom friends suggested “shrinking” the tub and limiting their movements by using a laundry basket inside the tub. This is a great idea if they’re still new to sitting up and fall over frequently. At this stage, since the bathtub is usually filled with toys anyway, when bath time is over, you can drain the tub completely and then take one twin out and diaper him and dress him while the other stays in the tub and continues to play—just give him a towel if he gets cold!
Are the Mechanics of Bathing Twins Different than Bathing Singletons?
The answer is no. Infant twins really don’t require anything different than singletons when it comes to the actual bath part. They still only need one bath every few days (you can even put your twins on a rotating bath schedule so that you are only bathing one baby in a given night); and just like with singletons, use a mild, tear-free soap or shampoo that is made especially for babies. Make sure your bath water is warm, but not hot, get a soft cover for the faucet (especially when they are sitting up), and don’t overfill the bathtub.
Hopefully if you’ve been a little worried about how you will manage bath time with two babies, you now have a few things you can try, or modify to your needs. The important thing is that you find something that works for your family and your schedule, and that maintains your sanity. As long as everyone is safe and happy, there is no wrong way to get through any part of your daily routine with twins. Be prepared to get a little creative and do some troubleshooting, and you’re sure to end the day with two clean, happy babies. There might even be a little time left over to fit in your own bath or shower!
About the author
Brooke Dubansky, PhD is TLC’s Dallas associate and the mother of 2 year old twin boys, who may or may not be identical. She is a fraternal twin herself, and so she assumed her twins would also be fraternal, but now has her doubts since no one can seem to tell them apart. She earned a PhD in Anatomy from Louisiana State University and is a certified Histotechnologist. She has an educational interest in breast anatomy and lactation, among other healthcare related topics. You can reach Brooke at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on our Dallas services.