Before I had my twins, baby routines seemed like an abstract concept. Like a map for a country I’d never visited. I knew they existed, but if I saw one of these timetables, my eyes would skim over it, like they do a broadsheet’s financial pages.
Then the babies landed.
I had no idea if I’d be one of those mums who couldn’t ever leave the house between midday and three, or if I’d just bumble through. If I’d thought about it harder, I’d probably have plumped for the second. I’m a bumbler at heart. But when D was born underweight, didn’t take to breastfeeding, and was dropping grams by the hour, we got put onto a strict three-hour feeding timetable.
This meant that, as it took at least an hour to feed and change both babies (breastfeeding was slooow, and D had take cat sips of expressed milk or formula from a doll-sized cup), we only had two hours until the next round of milk and nappies. Round the clock. This might sound like a right bind, but actually it was kind of liberating. I had a rigid framework to work around, and it made some sense of this formless, foreign, new experience. 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm, 11pm, 2am, 5am became my touchstones. Out of hospital, we had to continue the same timetable, moving to four-hourly feeds a few weeks later, when both babies had gained the weight they needed.
And so moving to a timetable for day-to-day life seemed natural, easy, and perfect for our babies. They thrived on it; it seemed that if they knew they’d be fed at a certain time, they didn’t panic. They knew it was coming. I wasn’t stressed, they were happy. Of course, if they were really hungry and cried between feeds, I’d make sure they were fed. But that really very, very rarely happened.
We established a schedule that felt natural and right, I took my lead from A and D; they had a nap at the same time each morning, so I started putting them down to sleep then. We stuck to the four-hourly feeds for a good while, even through the night. I figured that I’d rather wake the babies up and feed and change them at the same time each night than be woken unexpectedly by their hungry cries. And they pretty much never woke up between night feeds (I am totally aware of how lucky I was about that! Sorry). They were also great sleepers; perhaps sharing a cot helped – they’d never wake up and feel lonely, and were early to sleep through. Perhaps this is a huge bonus in having twins.
I did look at Gina Ford’s routines, and they weren’t a million miles away from mine; I guess she took her cues from what babies do naturally too. In my opinion, she’s a bit too rigid, and overly concerned about washing babies, but, with a bit of tweaking towards what really works for, you, could be a good place to start. My routine at 2-4 months, for example went something like: 8am feed and change, 10am nap, 12pm feed and change, 2-4pm nap, 4pm feed and change, 5-6pm nap, 8pm feed, change, sometimes a bath and bed, 12am feed and change, 4am feed and change if needed.
I know there is huge debate about whether to timetable or not, and I completely see each side’s point of view. But this worked for us. Maybe it’s a twin thing – with one baby, things might be different. But perhaps not. I’d love to know your experiences in the comments below.