For a successful trip out with two babies, some thinking ahead is required – sadly it’s goodbye to spontaneity for now! First you have to consider the logistics of getting to where you are going, then numerous other factors such as the amount of time you are going to be out of the house, the facilities where you are going, whether you’ll have any help, and of course what you need to take with you. Let’s face it, you’re never going to be able to travel light with baby twins in tow.
Here are a number of questions I had to answer to plan any trip out with the girls before they were weaned (a whole new set of challenges – will cover this in part 2):
- How long does it take to get there?
If the answer is longer than one hour, I knew it was likely that at least one of the girls would need feeding and mentally planned a few suitable places to stop along the way. I got good at feeding them in the car and so any quiet country lane, layby or supermarket carpark would do. I also religiously planned our trips out around the times they were likely to sleep: pre-weaning they were usually only awake for 1-2 hours at a time, followed by a nap of at least an hour (usually!). If you get to know your babies’ routines pretty well then you can predict what they will probably do. Both my girls slept extremely well in the car so I could usually rely on them sleeping most journeys at that age. I’ll be honest; I have never braved a bus or train journey with the girls so I can’t cover that!
- How am I going to get them from car to where I’m going?
If it was for a short walk for walking’s sake then I’d take them in the carrier; anything longer and I’d need my pram – I had a travel system (pram you can click car seats on to and also carrycots) to be able to transport them from pram to car and vice versa without waking – although they usually woke as soon as I turned the engine off! I believe new recommendations are to never leave your babies sleeping in their car seats – all I can say is that is going to make things considerably more difficult for twins mums to get out and about if their babies wake when being moved from car seat to carrycot. A pram that you can clip your bag onto without tipping it backwards is a great thing! Since switching to a lightweight pushchair this is the main thing I have missed. Pram toys (Lamaze toys are great and keep them engaged from newborn to at least one year old) are wonderful for entertaining babies. I also found a muslin cloth which smelt of me (used to mop up milk) were soothing for them when placed in the pram. Consider access – twin prams are not small and more rugged paths need sturdy wheels.
- Will I have anyone to help me?
You can’t and probably shouldn’t always rely on the generosity of strangers to help out if you get in a pickle while you’re out with the babies. That said, a lovely lady once helped me by holding one of the babies while struggling to put up a beach tent on a hot windy day!! If a family member can come with you, great, but I try not to let being alone with the babies stop me; the frustrating exception being our local beach which doesn’t have pram access: ok when I could carry the babies but impossible when they outgrew the carrier. I have recently put one in a front carrier and one in a backpack with bucket & spade and nappies squashed into the pocket!
- What facilities are where I’m going?
Are there baby changing facilities? If I’m going for a walk somewhere is there somewhere discreet and soft that I can change them? I have on many occasion changed the babies in the boot of the car! Feeding; is there somewhere I can feed them without feeling uncomfortable (I had to woman-up a bit and not be too self-conscious about feeding anywhere and everywhere). If formula-feeding or bottle feeding expressed milk- somewhere you can warm the bottle?
- What is the environment like where I’m going?
Sunny, windy, hot, cold, wet, noisy, bright etc are all things to consider when dressing the babies and packing my changing bag. However it is best to be prepared for all eventualities which leads me to…
- What to pack in the changing bag?
Nappies – my general rule is twice as many as I think I need: work out your average by keeping a nappy log at home for a couple of days – loads when newborn and less later on
Wipes, nappy bags, cream & fold-up changing mat
Sun hats, sunglasses & suncream (I love Jason’s suncream)
Spare vest, trousers and top for each – for the inevitable nappy explosions which always happen when out and about
Muslin cloths – for sick and catching milk!
Spare clothes for me – see above. One of my babies had bad reflux and could shower me from head to toe several times a day, it was impressive. White is a great colour for pre-weaning (and definitely not for post!)
Warm hats, mitts or gloves for colder weather, and a couple of blankets. Also a weather protection cream is great if it’s really cold or windy.
Raincover & pram toys for the pram
Snacks & drink for me
The great thing about breastfeeding is you don’t need to pack milk – it’s on tap! However, breast pads might be necessary in the early weeks until your supply stabilises (not always).
If very soon after birth then maternity pads & spare pants are a good shout (sorry if tmi!)
Calpol, teething powders or teething gel don’t take up much room and can turn a bad day into a bearable one!!
When you get home, congratulate yourself on getting out, unpack everything and replenish ready for the next trip! Phew!