If you are bottle feeding, here is how you feed three babies at one time. Another post will be about breastfeeding.
To get ready for any feeding, I had the following equipment:
- Pitcher of formula with a large batch of formula mixed for the day
- Multiple clean bottles (in our case, I had 3 different colored bottles so that I could monitor how much each baby ate easily)
- boppy pillows and a place to put the babies after feedings were done (like a bouncy seat, swing, car seat, etc.)
- Burp cloths and bibs
- Bottle warmer (this is a personal preference and is not necessary)
In the beginning, most triplets are premature and likely will need extra care and attention while feeding. Many preemies have reflux, which means that the baby will need to be closely watched and likely burped a few times during a feeding to help reduce discomfort from gas and reflux. To feed newborn triplets, you have to have a system in place. (Remember, I’m Type A?) First, it really helps to record the last time the babies were fed. It also helps to keep the babies on the same feeding schedule. Mine came home on a 3 hour feeding schedule from the hospital. That helped me know that if the babies were fed over 2 hours ago and and one or all are starting to act fussy, it’s likely hunger. If your babies come home from the hospital with you, you can still put them on a schedule easily. You just start feeding all three from the get-go, and you start recording the last time they were fed so that you start the next feeding at the 3 hour mark. When they are newborns, it’s very hard to go longer between feedings than a 3 hour stretch.
If you are alone and need to feed all three babies, I suggest setting a time for the 2 hour mark so you can start preparing bottles and noticing hunger cues from the babies. Once the 2 hour mark is up, if they haven’t started crying, you can start pouring formula in bottles, getting the bottle warmers on, and arranging bibs and burp cloths. You should change and feed the baby that is starting to act uncomfortable or hungry first. The other babies hopefully will sleep while you feed the first. While the first baby is being fed, you should watch for cues from the other two babies for hunger. Once the first baby is fed and burped, you move on to the next baby that seems to be the most uncomfortable. If you aren’t alone and at least one person is there to help, you would take the 2 babies that seem the most hungry. If only one baby is acting hungry, I suggest changing and feeding all three babies in close succession. That allows the babies to get on the same schedule and allows you to have a break in between feedings. It also simplifies the process so that you aren’t constantly keeping track of who you last fed or changed. Record the time you begin feeding the first baby so that if a baby gets fussy, you can see if it could be hunger or something else based upon the last time you fed them. You will be surprised how quickly you forget what time you fed them last— the best bet is to write it down. The recording doesn’t have to be fancy. It can simply list the time and whether the babies had a wet or poopy diaper. You can list other details such as how much a baby ate or who ate first, but those details may not matter. The first baby who ate may not be the one acting hungry for the next feed, but that should not matter. Whoever is hungry dictates when the next feed begins for all three babies.
Once the babies become more efficient eaters, it was a lifesaver for me to prop my babies in a double boppy (I used the TwinZ double boppy) so I could feed 2 at a time and then feed one child solo after the first two were done. I held both bottles for the babies and was constantly monitoring them while I fed them. The moment one of the babies started grunting or acting uncomfortable because of gas, I would stop feeding both and burp both. Again, that eliminated any question on who was fed longer or burped. Once the first two were fed and burped, even if the third was not acting hungry, I would change diapers and feed the third.
Older infant stage
By 6 months adjusted, one of my triplets could hold his bottle on his own. All three babies were also more efficient eaters and didn’t need to be burped every couple of ounces into a bottle. They could all eat the entire bottle and then be burped once. To feed them alone, I would prop the baby who could hold his bottle in a boppy next to me, and then I would hold the bottles for the other two. Once everyone was done, I would burp once everyone was done. By this time, it took the babies about 6 minutes to eat their bottle and another 5-7 minutes to burp each. That means that for one baby, an entire bottle feeding took only 15 minutes. This is not bad, considering the length of time it took as preemies!
By 9 months adjusted, all three of my triplets could hold their bottles. I still propped them in boppies to eat because it seemed to be more comfortable for them, and I would watch them the entire time they drank. Sometimes one would need their hands repositioned so they weren’t sucking just air. One could get tired and need me to hold the bottle. But for the most part, by 9 months adjusted, feeding became a much more relaxed endeavor. In fact, my boy triplet hardly needs to be burped anymore because he will finish his bottle, put it aside, start crawling, and burp almost instantly after moving to crawl. It’s great! By 9 months adjusted, our reflux issues have almost disappeared, so in addition to not needing to be burped in between feedings, we don’t have a lot of spitup occurring after a feeding.
I hope this post gives you hope about feeding. Yes, at the beginning, it seems like all you are doing is feeding babies. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not too far away. Next detailed post…. solid foods!