Advice for parents of triplets, vol. 1

January 30, 2010 at 10:47 pm 11 comments

I thought it might be nice to usher in the era of 50,000+ hits here at Sax & Sons with something of at least slight substance. I am no expert on parenting, I just play one on this blog (and not really). But I do have 14+ months of triplet co-parenting under my belt, and I’m just the sort of person I might have wished to connect with, oh, say, fifteen months ago. I’ve been meaning to do a post of this sort for a while, and I might as well just do it – here it is.

I’ll number these because that’s how I generally roll, but the order is the order in which they occur to me.

1. Nothing is more important than getting your babies sleeping early in the game. Have them sleep in a crib from the moment you get them home, and try early on to establish regular naps and bedtime rituals. With Big Al, I continue to swear by Mark Weissbluth’s sleep books – but there are others too. Each day I believe a little bit more that a well rested child is a happy child (AND, potentially, has well rested parents).

2. Don’t panic.

3. Early on, everyone will tell you to ask for help; it’s a good idea. But ask for specific help. The best things are: food, laundry, cleaning up, and food.

4. Dads – you have to help, and help a LOT. Whether that help boils down to a 50/50 division of labor (probably rare), or some other ratio will depend upon your life and work situation, but if you had any illusion that you’re not really a diaper-changing sort of guy, drop it now.

5. Never skimp on diapers. Get the best (whatever you judge them to be), and change them often. I cannot imagine cloth diapers working out for any length of time.

6. No matter how often you change those diapers, diaper rash may crop up from time to time. Use Weleda diaper cream to cure it.

7. When you get to the stage where your kids are taking regular naps (and make sure you get there), clean up the play/kids area entirely after every nap. I’m a slob and my own workspace is generally a disaster, but adopting this methodology from Big A. has been extremely gratifying.

8. If you read other triplet blogs and maybe Triplet connection, you’ll come to expect people in public to make crude or repetitive comments. Our experience is that it’s not as bad as people say. You’ll hear “you’ve got your hands full” every time you go out though. Try not to get annoyed. Most people genuinely wish you well, and are amazed to be confronted by a triplet stroller, or three identical (or similar) looking babies. Try not to adopt a snobby or annoyed attitude about it. I was ready for people to be outright pigs, and that just hasn’t been the case.

9. It is ideal to have your three babies sleep on the same floor as you sleep and live. Apartment or ranch living is ideal early on. (Big apartment, though).

10. It is good to attempt to breast feed for as long as you can, but essential to be kind to yourself considering the reality of your situation. Hospital lactation consultants may make you feel morally bankrupt for even considering using formula, but you should know that many, many triplet families have to sooner or later. Some time or other you will be confronted with literature that makes you feel inadequate for not breast feeding. Just throw it away. [This is no diss on breast feeding, or the heroic mothers who manage to breast feed multiples for any length of time; just an acknowledgment that the pendulum has swung far in the direction of belittling and vilifying non-breast feeding mothers.]

11. Dr. Sears’ books, relevant and helpful as they may be for singleton parents, are probably not for you. [You don’t need to read about the serious damage a C-section does to the mother-baby bond, for instance; and it is impractical to imagine you’ll sleep in the same bed with your entire litter]

12. Just a theory: expose your kids to as wide a variety of foods as possible. Stick with your pediatrician’s advice about when to give what (no eggs till 9 months, no nuts or shellfish till 1 year, said ours), and avoid choking hazards, but help them to develop a broad palate. At 14+ months our boys eat everything under the sun – though most people assure us that won’t last.

13. At some point you may conclude that any kind of long distance traveling w/ triplets is hopeless. It is doable, but exacts such a cost in exhaustion and achyness that it becomes ideal to invite visitors to come to you instead.

14. If you ARE exclusively giving your babies breast milk for any length of time, pumping and bottle feeding enable dads to participate in the process. Moms need to be able to sleep or get out of the house once in a while.

15. When searching out a pediatrician, be sure to find an office who is willing to accommodate three babies at once, and be sure that you like the nursing staff, and that they return calls promptly. You will be calling the doctor two to three times as often as singleton parents.

16. Do the math and accept early on that it is simply impossible to respond to everyone’s cry immediately all the time. Do the best you can.

17. Dads – you may sometimes feel that your contribution to the endeavor of parenting is slighted by, say, strangers on the street. Invariably they will look toward your wife or partner and say, “how do you do it?” or give a knowing glance that you, in your paranoid way, may take to mean “obviously HE’S not worth much.” I have two comments on this. 1) No matter what you do, it won’t equal carrying three babies inside of you. Ever. Just remember that. 2) I think in general there’s been an odd backlash against active participation by dads in our society. Just about every parenting book you read takes it for granted that dads play a secondary and vastly diminished role in caregiving. Expect to see, and see often, headings like: “Dad can help too!” or “What can Dad do?” Basically, at every turn, fathers are encouraged to be less involved and less capable – it is simply assumed of them. You, though, are a triplet dad, and don’t get to play that role. Nor should you want to.

18. If your children are primarily healthy, don’t ever waste a moment feeling sorry for yourself. Your life with triplets will be radically different than your life without them was. The change is hard, but vastly more good than bad. Nobody signed up for triplets, but 14 months down the road, Alex and I cannot imagine life without all three of our boys. Each is unique, and brings us far more joy than frustration. Don’t allow yourself to become one of those parents who says to you, when they find out you have triplets, “sheesh, I thought one was bad enough.”

19. It is likely that your children will not be perfectly healthy in every way. Hopefully any health problems will be minor, as has fortunately been the case for us. Try to take each bump in the road as it comes, and seek the advice and counsel of those who have strived before you.

20. For sheer funniness, bathe them all together as soon as you can. For us it was about a year (as soon as you get rid of the plastic inflatable duck bathtub).

21. Cheerios are your friend.


Entry filed under: advice, update. Tags: , , , .

Pancake breakfast! 50,000 maniacs

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Deb & David  |  January 31, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Wow! Your next project: writing a triplet book! Alex’s exhibition was great. Still dreaming about it. Dan, you may know these musicians at WPU, up for Grammys:WPU music program garners 3 Grammy nods, including one for Lady Gaga’s co-producer!
    xo, Deb

  • 2. Michele S  |  January 31, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Bravo, fellow triplet parent. You nailed it and this is coming from the mom of six year olds. Keep up the good work!

  • 3. Kristin  |  January 31, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    By the way, cloth diapers work out great. They save you SO MUCH money and are not really much more difficult to use than disposable diapers. I use all in one or pocket diapers which are just as easy to put on as disposable. I only spent $1200 on diapers that will last all 3 of my triplets from birth through potty-trained! That is CHEAP! Do some research on what it’ll cost you to have all 3 in diapers from birth to potty-trained and you will agree. 🙂

  • 4. shnootre  |  January 31, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Deb and Dave – hmm…we’ll see about that! That’s great about the WPU grammy noms – I’ve always known it was a great jazz prog.

    Thanks Michele.

    Kristin – thanks for your comment, and I’m hopeful others will consider it when considering my advice. There is no argument that it’s the most cost effective path, and more power to you for having made it work!


  • 5. Shira  |  February 1, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    as for people making comments…my husband was all ready to defend my honor (as it were) re: people touching my belly/making comments when I was pregnant (and we commuted together – by train – so, well, there were more opps than for most). And seriously, just about never happened. We had heard all sorts of stories, but nah – people were mostly nice, and mostly helpful when I was pregnant…

  • 6. Deanna  |  February 2, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I just found your blog through another multiples blog, and I just had to say I love this list! Thankfully, I have a hands-on husband who is an amazing dad to our twins, and you give good advice on what to expect from a dad’s point of view. Oh, and our girls have just started bathing together recently, and it is so much fun!!

  • 7. Deana  |  February 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Well written. I’ll have to show my husband your blog as he enjoys writing as well and is quite whitty with the pen (keyboard). We have 5 month old triplet boys (2 identical). The last 4 months are pretty foggy now. I wish I had blogged my experiences and thoughts while we were in the trenches. Keep writing!

    • 8. shnootre  |  February 4, 2010 at 10:49 pm

      Hey – nice to hear from you here Shira, as well as Deanna and Deana! Like to get the thumbs up from moms AND dads in the trenches!

  • 9. Jenny  |  February 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Really enjoyed your list, Dan. I agree re: Dr. Sears. Though there’s good stuff there, I came to realize after a while feeling guilty that it’s a lot of judgement, judgement, judgement. As a mom of twins, I also agree that getting a regular sleep schedule going is one of the best things parents can do.

  • 10. shnootre  |  February 9, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Honestly, I think I went easy on Dr. Sears. What I loathe most about his The Baby Book is the absolute disdain he seems to have for fathers. They are non entities in his view – incapable of raising children, bottle feeding, etc. The all-important mother-child bond is sacred (and, according to him, very easy to screw up), but the father-child bond matters not. A lot of books offend in this way, but his are the worst. I recall slamming the book down in anger more than is normal for me.

  • 11. Janne Tolonen  |  February 16, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Hey there my Super hero bro’ ! 😉
    Long time no hear.. 😦

    Good to here you knew about the Weleda cream! They also make a great shampoo/washing cream lotion… which works wonders on Sanni’s and Emmi’s atopic skin! + it does’t sting their eyes!


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