Nicola Lawson shares her knowledge on carrying one - two - three babies!
The idea of transporting two babies at once can be daunting, and thoughts often turn quite quickly to the practicalities of having two. Parents of twins often feel like they are ruled out from using slings and carriers for their children, worrying that carrying two would be too heavy or cumbersome – and twin-specific carriers too complicated or expensive. Happily, this doesn’t have to be the case. The question isn’t how do you manage to carry both babies, but how on earth do you manage without carrying one or both babies?
So, here's the deal – we all carry our children, whether we use a carrying aid or not. A sling, carrier or carrying aid is designed to make that process easier – to distribute weight well, to meet your child’s needs to be held, and to free your hands. There are hundreds of carrying options out there, and the happy news is that having two babies means you have twice as many options for carrying.
Let’s start where parents of singletons start – with carrying one. In the first instance, using a well-fitted carrier for one of your babies can open up lots of options for you. When you are out and about, carrying one and pushing one gives you lots of practical configurations. If you have another adult with you, each of you carrying a baby gives lots of off-roading possibilities.
Placing one baby in an easy-to-use and well-fitted carrier can free your hands up to carry the other on your hip or shoulder, ideal for unloading babies on short trips at the pre-walking stage. When they are mobile, a carrier can become an essential piece of safety kit, holding one still whilst you concentrate on the other.
It’s absolutely possible, and can be comfortable for all of you. We know at the newborn stage babies have high touch needs, and that being close to an adult helps them to regulate their own body rhythms, as well as providing warmth and reassurance. When your babies are very new, there are plenty of soft carriers which can be adapted to carry two infants safely, upright on the front, on the adult’s chest. It can be a learning curve to get them in, but practice at handling babies is one thing you won’t be short of with two around. A well-fitted carrier will distribute the weight of your babies around your body, making their weight feel like it is a part of yours.
Carrying two babies on one adult can give you a ‘Take on the World’ type of feeling, and there is no need to give that up as they grow. When babies are too big to be carried alongside each other on the front, you can switch to either carrying one on each hip, or carrying one on your front and one on your back – again, spreading the weight effectively. There are many carriers out there which can be used effectively on the front or on the back, as babies grow, and a well-chosen combination of carriers can be worn two at once without overloading your frame. Selecting carriers which work well together means that you can also expand your choices by carrying just one of your children, or having one each on two adults. There are lots of options out there.
You might like the idea of a carrier designed for twins, and they can be brilliant tools, with all kinds of features such as built-in storage. Some will carry children of different ages, for example siblings close in age, and some are twin-specific. When choosing your twin carrier, consider if you are able to use it to carry a single baby safely, and if it splits to allow the ‘two babies on two adults’ configuration, for maximum flexibility.
Types of Carrier
Different carriers will suit different people, preferences and budgets. There are plenty of guides to different types out there online, but how does that apply when adapting a carrier for use for two babies?
There are more carriers out there than we can do justice to here, from meh dais to onbuhimo, framed backpacks to adjustable pouches. If you get a chance to try carriers on, take it. There is a network of sling and carrier help across the UK which offers support with slings and carriers, and many are free or low-cost to access. Personalised help and support is available at every stage – many areas have a local sling library, consultant or carrying educator who can help to get you started, keeping you comfortable and hands-free.
West Yorkshire Sling Library: http://wyslinglibrary.com
Site for finding sling libraries: http://www.slingpages.co.uk/
Adventures in twin slings: http://peekabooslings.co.uk/adventures-in-twinwearing
Twin wrapping: https://wrapyourbaby.com/wrapping-twins/
Nicola is the founder of the West Yorkshire Sling Library, one of the largest independent sling and carrier resources in the UK. She offers carrier training for peer supporters, parent support and health workers, and works with thousands of families each year.
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