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Raising multiple babies

6-minute read

Life with multiple babies involves a lot of planning. It can be hard work, but once you are in a feeding and sleeping routine, things will start to get easier.

Take one day at a time, work as a team with your partner or support person, accept help and look after yourself.

Preparing your home for triplets or more

The more planning you do before your babies are born, the better. While you are pregnant, it's a good idea to anticipate potential stress by simplifying your lifestyle and organising the house and your finances.

Each baby will need their own cot and car seat. There are prams available for multiple babies, and a baby sling or pouch can help you carry more than one baby at once. You could also consider buying a change table and baby bath, but these are not essential.

Make sure all the baby equipment you buy complies with Australian standards, including any second-hand equipment you may be given. For more information on safe baby equipment, visit Product Safety Australia.

You will need a good supply of nappies — about 6 to 8 nappies per day for each baby. Make sure you have plenty of clothes so you always have some spare. You'll need baby suits, cotton singlets, cardigans, bootees or socks, muslin wraps and blankets.

To help with the costs of raising multiple babies, the Australian Government pays a Multiple Birth Allowance for families who receive Family Tax Benefit Part A. For more information, visit Services Australia.

It's a good idea to set up your home so you have easy access to spare clothes, nappies, wipes and feeding equipment in the rooms where you will spend time with the babies.

Speak to other parents of multiples for tips on what has worked for them by joining a support group through the Australian Multiple Birth Association.

Multiple babies and sleep

Even if your babies shared a cot in hospital, it's safest for them to have their own sleeping place to sleep at home.

If you do sometimes need to put 2 or more babies in one cot, place them on their backs, head to head at opposite ends of the cot and monitor them closely. Do not use bedding. Your babies should not share a cot once they can move around.

Putting your babies to bed at the same time will encourage them to develop similar sleep patterns.

Always follow safe sleeping guidelines by placing the babies on their back, keeping their head and face uncovered, and having a safe sleep environment. For more information on safe sleeping visit Red Nose.

Your babies' individual sleep patterns depend on their weight, not their age. They will start sleeping through the night when they are ready. Encourage night-time sleeping with a calm, quiet environment, and a consistent routine.

Going out with triplets or more

It can take a lot of planning to go out with multiple babies. Before you leave your home, make sure you are organised and have a good supply of nappies, wipes, changes of clothes, and bottles and formula if you are using them.

You might find it easier to travel with one baby in a sling or pouch and the others in a pram or stroller. Plan your route and try short outings at first.

Your multiple babies as they grow

Even if it’s hard to tell your babies apart at first, in a few days you will start to recognise them as individuals. As they grow, they will develop their own personalities.

Multiple children often have a special bond, but it’s important to encourage them to have their own friends and interests and to spend time apart from each other.

Try not to compare them with each other and remember to celebrate their individual achievements.

Multiple babies are more likely to be born prematurely (early), so have a higher risk of health issues or disability. Having a child with disabilities brings its own unique rewards and challenges. Read more about parenting a child with disabilities.

Older siblings and multiple babies

Having multiple babies affects the entire family, including older children. You can help prevent potential sibling rivalry by explaining the changes to your older children in advance and involving them in the care of the babies.

Make sure you spend individual time with your other children. It's normal if they take a while to get used to the new family unit.

Try to treat all your children as individuals. Don’t feel obliged to dress them the same. You could refer to each child by name rather than 'the triplets' or 'the quads'.

Postnatal depression after multiple births

Parents of multiples are at much higher risk of exhaustion, relationship stress and postnatal depression and anxiety than parents of single babies. Fathers can also experience paternal depression after the birth of children.

If you have feelings of being down, inadequate, anxious, are having trouble sleeping, or find yourself worrying excessively about the babies, you may have postnatal depression. There is plenty of help available from these trusted resources:

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2022

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