Having twins is a wonderful experience but it brings with it a few special challenges – such as what to do when they’re both crying at once!
No easy answers
Let’s say at the outset that there’s no single easy answer to this one. When your twins are both wailing at the same time, your head is likely to spin and there’s no sure-fire way to avoid that!
The key message is not to feel inadequate. Two babies crying at the same time is a tough load for anyone.
However, you’ll cope.
Debunking some myths
Firstly, let’s demolish the notion that twins cry more than singletons. There is no evidence to support that at all. Each child probably will cry at the average level for a baby of their age.
Of course, that means you’ll still have roughly double the crying load to deal with.
Secondly, there isn’t much if any evidence to suggest that one twin crying automatically triggers the other to join in. A lot depends upon the reason for the crying, with a normal cry for food or a nappy change not necessarily having any effect on the other. Of course, if one is frightened or alarmed, their crying may be more of a signal to trigger their twin to join in.
Finally, it’s not the case that they’ll always cry together. One might be bawling their head off directly alongside the other who is sound asleep.
What happens when they do cry together?
The first thing is, you’ll need to prioritise unless you have someone else around to help.
This isn’t an easy thing to do but you might be able to sense that the need of one is more urgent by:
- listening to the pitch and intensity of the crying. It may tell you a lot about what is bothering each of the twins;
- look for contorted faces. A baby suffering pain from, say, colic might have a significantly more distorted facial expression than their twin who is simply crying for attention due to a bad dream (though this is not an infallible guide);
- nappy smells – a very good way of indicating that one should perhaps get priority over the other;
- quickly check both for temperatures and give priority accordingly;
- try to give some immediate reassurance to both by simply touching and stroking them with each hand. If one half-quietens but the other doesn’t, it might indicate where the priority is;
- if nothing is obviously wrong, try putting them side-by-side. They spent a lot of time like that and they may give each other comfort (but don’t allow them to sleep in the same cot or bed overnight as there is some evidence this increases the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – SIDS).
Most people with twins quickly learn to cope however, don’t try and be superhuman.
The workload with twins can be massive and particularly so if one or both of them happen to be babies that cry a lot.
The easiest way to cope with a situation where you’re becoming exhausted is to ask for help from family, friends or your local authorities.