Being the mama to twins or triplets may make life twice—or thrice!—as nice, but that's not always true when it comes to feeding time. You have all those baby hands squishing, sloshing, tossing, and basically doing anything but eating, and all you want is nutritious food in those growing bellies.
"I have to laugh because I jokingly say I've given advice on feeding multiples for 20 years, but living it is oh, so very different!" says Marilyn Tanner-Blasiar, a dietitian based in St. Louis, Missouri, who's a spokesperson for the American Dietetics Association and the mother of three, including toddler twins. She and other moms share their tricks on giving twins, triplets, and more good meals without throwing in the dish towel.
First, A Reality Check
"Feeding multiples is really not twice as much work, as you might think," Tanner-Blasiar says. "I mean, you already have to feed one baby, so you need to have food ready. It's like giving a bath: you draw the water once and put both kids in at the same time!"
Buy Yourself Some Time
Get the kids seated, give them some toys, then prep the food. "For dinner, I put the kids in their chairs and start with finger foods, like bread, a bit of pasta, and toddler-friendly crackers, to take the edge off their hunger. Then my husband or I finish cooking the rest of our dinner," says Tanner-Blasiar. "Once it's time for actual dinner, they'll get a second wind, eat some of what we're having, and play in their chairs for a bit while me and my husband actually get a chance to eat something!"
Try Helpful Seating Arrangements
"For feeding my twins, I have the high chairs side by side," says Chelsea Gladden, a mother of four in San Diego who blogs at Breezy Mama. "I pull up a stool, sit down, and spoon feed one and then the other, moving back and forth. I'm actually a fairly impatient person so it works out perfectly for me, because as one gets the food down, I'm concentrating on getting food in the other ... then starting again. My girls are just at the age where they are starting to be able to hand feed themselves, too—phew!"
Remember, Kids "Feed" Off Each Other
Multiples tend to influence each other in a big way, and mealtime is no exception. "Andrew will watch Adam. If Adam eats it, then Adam will try it," says Tanner-Blasiar. You can call attention to what the "eating" twin is doing by first saying to him, "Mmm, isn't this good?" and then turning to your other twin and saying, "Look what he's trying!" It helps if you down some, too (sorry).
Model Good Habits
"As a toddler, my son, Ellis, started rejecting his food and turned picky," recalls Deirdre Pizzoferato, a dietitian and mother of three in South Glasonbury, Connecticut, who writes The Nutrition Nanny. "His twin brother, Jack, was always the opposite—he'd eat just about anything, and still does! My goal was for him to learn to accept having it on his plate while he watched the rest of us eat it. Modeling healthy habits is crucial—you have to 'walk the walk.' After a while, Ellis got used to seeing us eat certain foods, and he started trying them, too."