Necessity is often the mother of invention, but for mothers, invention becomes a necessity. It is that necessity that took me down the path of tandem babywearing with multiples.
I found myself with two carriers, three babies, and no option for using our quad stroller where we were going. I slipped one baby into the Moby Wrap, the second clung to my back in a soft structured carrier, the third I clutched to my hip, while the fourth (big sister) held my hand. Off we went to explore underground caves.
We were a sight! People saw the one baby riding in the front and the one on my hip, but by the time they realized another was on my back their jaws were hitting the ground. The kids and I had a blast (even if mommy was sore and exhausted by the end of the day).
Tandem babywearing can be done. And not just by parents of multiples. It is possible to wear more than one kiddo at a time, even (and especially) when they are of varying ages. I know. I’m a mama of two singletons and a set of triplets. It isn’t always easy, but it can be done.
My oldest baby was a singleton and we loved wearing her. We had our Moby Wap and a soft structured carrier, and it was great. Out and about, we were able to get around more easily. When we were home, I was able to get things accomplished while cuddling at the same time.
But with triplets, it’s not quite the same.
When our trio was tiny I felt less than comfortable having two of them in my Moby Wrap at the same time when I was up and around. Usually, I’d have two in the wrap and hold the third while I sat on the couch. It was the only way that allowed me to cuddle all of them when they needed it at once.
As they got older it was a bit easier to wear two at once, but still kind of impossible with three (mommy only has two sides). When they were big enough to hold up their heads and support themselves, I would put one in a front carrier, one in a back carrier, and hold the third (or put them in a stroller). Occasionally, the two year old would go on my back and a baby on the front. Big sister still needed cuddles, too!
Babywearing became a definite workout as the kids grew. Your fitness level and physical strength will be the main determining factors in how able you are to babywear with multiples, and for how long. I don’t suggest popping two 18-month-olds in carriers and spending five hours hiking around in an underground cavern for your first tandem babywearing expedition. Your body will not thank you (don’t ask me how I know).
As you work to find your own comfort level with babywearing multiples, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Borrow carriers from whomever you can to find the ones that work for you. Some baby/parenting stores offer rental programs so that you can find what you like without the expensive trial and error. (Click here for more ideas on determining what baby carrier will work best for you.)
Ask babywearers you know (whether parents of singletons or multiples) what types of carriers they like, and what is more comfortable for them physically (how it feels on them) as well as personally (how they feel about baby in it). Not every parent is comfortable with every kind of carrier, regardless of whether they have 1, 2, or more babies. (I never felt comfortable with slings.)
Babies will tell you what they like and don’t like. Not every baby likes to be worn (some of mine haven’t) and not every baby likes every kind of carrier. There was more than one time that I wore one baby in a Moby (they liked to be cuddled close) and the other in a backpack (they liked to stretch out more and didn’t like the added heat from my body).
It takes time to get used to babywearing, whether you’re tandem carrying multiples or just wearing one baby. At first I was not very adept at getting babies in and out of carriers, but eventually it became very second nature. Ask someone to help you, or practice over a bed or other soft surface, until you feel comfortable doing it on your own.
Everyone’s experience is different; what one parent likes another may not. Until you give yourself a a chance to experience different carriers with different babies and in different environments, you won’t know if babywearing is for you or not.
Smile. Trust me. When tandem babywearing, you will get a wide variety of reactions. There are people who will be genuinely impressed and others who are less than positive. It goes with the territory of having more than one child, especially more than one at a time. A smile will go a long way toward making the impression you give a positive one.
Never fear, mamas: you can do this. Practice makes perfect. Figure out what carriers work best for you and your little ones, and babywear your multiples with joy.
Jessica M. White lives in upstate NY, married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to 5 kids (including triplets). She is the author of several books that are still in her head and will remain there until she has a bit more time. For now, she writes at JessicaMWhite.com, where she shares about the awesome work God is doing in her life as she raises 5 littles close in age, while being a wife and a daughter of the King.