Babywearing and Multiples
By LaRee Brown
While I'm far from an "expert" on babywearing or multiples, I wanted to share what I have found useful in the 5½ months since my twin daughters were born. I have found slings to be an absolute necessity! And, I have come to the conclusion that parents of multiples use slings differently than parents of singletons. I use slings to carry two babies at once. I don't often just put the babies in a sling so I can do housework; I find it awkward to sling both babies at once and I usually need to be entertaining both of them. Housework just doesn't get done until my husband is home or my mom comes over.
What slings do I need?I would recommend that parents of multiples have a comfortable, well fitted, pouch for each parent (ideally, 2 adjustable pouches that will both fit both parents, but this might not be feasible if the size difference between parents is too great) and 2 ring slings. If you are new to babywearing, I found the pouch to be an ideal "first sling" because it is so easy to use. When I tried using my ring sling the first few times, I was overwhelmed, babies got fussy, and I gave up. When I got my pouch, I was able to pop the baby in immediately and start wearing her. Once I was comfortable with the pouch, I found it much easier to figure out the ring sling. Now that I understand the ring sling, I find it more secure for some carries.
Uses for slingsEarly on, one of my main uses of slings was to deal with the evening "fussies". While my girls were not colicky, they did go through a phase where they tended to hit a point in the early evening where one or both of them was fussy, but not hungry. If my husband wasn't home from work yet, I would pop the happier baby in the pouch as soon as I saw the signs of this. I found the pouch essential for this because it doesn't require any adjustment and I had such a small window of time to get them moving before they were all-out screaming and I couldn't do anything with them -- there wasn't time to adjust a ring sling.
The baby in the pouch would be in the kangaroo carry (aka buddha carry) or cradle carry and I would lay the other baby over my arm in the "colic hold" (see Figure 1) then I would walk and walk . . . and walk. On nice evenings, I walked outside.
If I go to the grocery store (only if it's going to be a quick trip) or Wal-Mart alone with the twins, I put one in her car seat in the cart and the other in a sling. Sometimes I have to "trade babies" (which is kind of a challenge, but do-able) and a couple times I've ended up carrying one, slinging one and pushing the cart (also challenging but doable). But overall I've found this to be a good approach.
When they were tiny, I never found much use for double slinging. I found it much easier to have one in a sling and carry the other one. Now that they're getting heavier, and have the head control to use the hip carry, I'm more likely to use double hip carry (using 2 slings) if I need to carry both of them for any period of time.
Padded or unpadded?While padding in a ring sling is a matter of personal preference, I don't think it would work well to use a heavily padded sling to do the double hip carry. There would just be too much fabric. My ring slings are unpadded, but if you're partial to some padding, maybe try a lightly padded sling. Make sure that the padding won't prevent you from adjusting it really tight, since this is essential for doing the hip carry at an earlier age, which I find important with twins.
Other carriesI have carried both of my girls in the kangaroo carry in a pouch (adjusted to a larger size than I normally use, obviously). It's definitely NOT hands free, but is an option. I'm not sure I would be able to push a stroller or shopping cart while using this carry however. Other twin moms have had good success with a double tummy to tummy. I was able to do this once or twice when the babies were really tiny, but very quickly I found that this wasn't a comfortable carry for us. I have narrow shoulders, which may be part of the problem. I am able to carry them short distances (from the family room to the bedroom for example) without a sling in this position, but they just seemed too crowded and I felt too front heavy doing this with a sling.
Similarly, I was never able to figure out the "double cradle" that I've seen described some places where the 2 babies (very young babies) are kind of "stacked" in the sling laying down, this just didn't seem comfortable for any of us. But, something that I have learned in many aspects of parenting twins, including babywearing, is play around and figure out what works for you, even if it's not what any of the books tell you to do!
Related linksSee LaRee's sequel article Babywearing and Multiples Part 2 (older babies & toddlers).
Discuss all things to do with babywearing twins and multiples in our Wearing More Than One forum.