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So you are thinking about taking a trip to Aulani with you baby (or babies if you are a lucky twin mom like me!).  You’ll find everything you need to know before you RIIIGHT here.

Planning

Planning a trip with a baby is tough! First, they change all the time.  How do you even know what baby’s personality will be like? What will she be interested in? What will she be capable of – walking? Sitting up? Who knows.  Second, it’s really hard to figure out what babies need on vacation. It’s not as if they are going to get excited, or even be able to do an epic water slide, or enjoy a fun luau or themed meal.  However, even though some babies are great travelers, and can handle anything their parents can handle, some need to get out and explore a bit more. 

Disney really knows what it’s doing when it comes to creating resorts for families.  Aulani has things to do for every age group and interest, from infants to grandparents and everyone in between.  You’ll be able to relax knowing that you’ll find something for your child, at any age, has something to do there.  

Taking a vacation to Hawaii Aulani was a great choice for us when our twins were babies, because, coming from the Pacific Northwest, it’s a relatively short flight- about 6 hours direct, and the closest winter/spring destination with warm weather (though, unfortunately, not GUARANTEED warm weather).

The view from our room- we stayed in a poolside Deluxe Studio and loved our view!

Getting There

After a 6 hour flight with an infant, or two, you are going to be ready to begin your vacation! It’s about a 30 minute drive from the airport.  My family likes to get out of the resort and explore the island a bit when we visit, so we prefer to rent a car. However, the daily parking fees at Aulani are high, and you certainly don’t NEED a car to enjoy your trip.  The resort also offers a shuttle to and from the airport for a very reasonable fee.   

If you do choose to rent a car, and you can manage it, make a quick stop at the Target in Kapolei, on your way out to Aulani.  You can pick up snacks, milk, diapers, and any other items you might need on your trip. It’ll end up saving you a lot of money, and you’ll be able to get exactly what you want.   

You’ll be thrilled to see that your vacation truly does begin the moment you get out of your car or shuttle.  You’ll be greeted by friendly staff members and a glass of refreshing fruit flavored water, and given a beautiful floral lei for the ladies and kukui nut lei for men.  Babies and kids even get a fun necklace! The resort has a small kids play area near the check-in counter, so you can let your baby wiggle around or at least check out the beautiful views while you wait for your room. 

Rooms/Suites

Aulani has many different options for rooms and suites.  And honestly, all are great! Standard rooms at Aulani are stylish and modern.  They have bathtubs, mini fridges, and enough floor space for two pack’n’plays and still have some floor space left to play.  The large balconies give a bit of extra space to spread out, and are a lifesaver for drying swimwear and towels. For a small splurge, check out the Deluxe Studio rooms.  They are very similar to standard rooms, but they have a small kitchen area with an extra sink, counter space, and a microwave. Families with babies will love having this space for washing bottles, and just storing extra baby stuff.  

The villas are, of course, fantastic.  If villas are an option for you, do it! They feature large, well appointed kitchens, and lots of extra space to relax. How great is it to cook a few of your meals on vacation?  Or, if you want a vacation from cooking, you have plenty of space to eat takeout pizza in your room.  

For all rooms or suites, you’ll find that Disney does a great job of providing everything you need.  At Aulani, you can borrow pack’n’plays (two if you have twins!), bed rails, bottle warmers, diaper genies, high chairs, etc. 

Excuse our mess- boys were SOOO happy to finally make it to Aulani

Best Baby-friendly Activities

Aulani is truly an all-ages resort.  Babies are not forgotten and you’ll have a blast letting your little one explore the resort, and perhaps experience a few firsts.  Our favorite baby-centered activities at Aulani are:

The Beach

Aulani Beach with babies
The beach was a hit for my twins! They MAY have eaten a fair amount of sand though OOPS!

You’ve flown 6+ hours for a beautiful Hawaiian beach, and, of course, the beach is going to be one of the highlights of your trip.  The beach at Aulani is beautiful, and is actually on a manmade lagoon. This expands the beach space, giving more wonderful sandy space, and protects the beach from the powerful Hawaii currents, making this area a bit more approachable for small children.  Aulani lends out beach toys free of charge, and provides plenty of chairs, so you can get comfortable and let your baby dig in, literally! 

One tip: not ALL babies love the beach. We are lucky enough to have a couple of beach loving boys. But several friends have had kiddos that HATED the beach as infants.  So, just maybe don’t plan on the beach being your ONLY activity and you’ll be fine.

Keiki Cove

The face that says "WHOA Mom- I got sprayed in the face!'. Also, how can someone with such a comically large head be so cute?!

The splash zone at Aulani is beautifully designed for children under 5 (though children of all ages are welcome), and I think really zeros in on the 12-18 month range.  It’s a small space, so parents will be able to easily keep their mobile, and quick babies in sight, and cruisers will be able to use the decorative wall to move around. Younger babies will still love sitting with their parents and watching the fun and unique water spray patterns.  And they’ll be able to participate in water play without being completely submerged, which might keep them warmer. This was our favorite activity when my twins were babies.  SO much fun!

Tip: For crawling babies, pick swimwear that covers knees. We love Swimzip suits. On days my kids were not wearing Swimzip, they had to bear crawl around to prevent scratches on their knees

Swimming!

pools at aulani
Ka Maka Grotto, the infinity pool. This picture was taken early in the morning before the pools opened.

Aulani heats its pools to approximately 85°F, which isn’t exactly exactly bathwater, but it’s a huge improvement over most Hawaiian pools, which are only heated by the sun and stay around 75°F.  Babies get cold so quickly in the pool, so having warmer water allows you to spend more than 5 minutes in the pool.  

The largest pool at Aulani, Waikolohe Pool, has a great zero entry for littles, and is sizable enough for families with babies to find a quiet spot free from splashes of bigger kids. The resort also holds Disney Pool Parties at the Waikolohe.  Though babies are too young to really participate, they’ll enjoy the show.  

The gorgeous infinity edge pool, Ka Maka Grotto, of course, has beautiful views from the infinity edge.  It also has some fun caves with sculptures of little animals built into the wall for babies and kids to enjoy.  

The lazy river, Waikolohe River, was the warmest of all the pools, in my experience, and was a big hit for my twin babies.  They could sit in my or my husband’s lap and ride around, checking out the sights, including lots of beautiful flowers and foliage, little menehune (mythical, mischievous people in Hawaiian culture), and bridges to float under, and caves to float through.  

Chairs are aplenty in the pool area at Aulani.  And the staff doesn’t mess around when it comes to pool chair policy.  The rules are that empty chairs are ‘saved’ for one hour. Staff comes around, and marks unoccupied chairs by folding towels.  If no one has come to claim the spot in an hour, they’ll remove the towel (and take other items to a holding area), freeing up the chair.  So don’t plan on parking everything in a spot all day while you are out exploring. But, if you are visiting with a young child, you know you’ll be back every 30 minutes for sunscreen, snacks, diapers, whatever, so it likely won’t be an issue.  Overall, I LOVED the chair policy. I was free to move from place to place and could USUALLY find a chair in a convenient spot, since no one was holding chairs all day.  

Tip: Aulani provides life jackets, and like most resorts, has some restrictions on what guests can bring into pools. Check out their rules here to ensure you don’t pack something you won’t be able to use. 

Rainbow Reef

Aulani is home to a private snorkeling saltwater lagoon called Rainbow Reef.  Ok, a snorkeling lagoon doesn’t SOUND like it’d be of any interest to an infant, but hear me out.  This lagoon has a great viewing window perfect for littles to check out. Even the tiniest babies will appreciate the colorful fish and beautiful turquoise water.  Plus, it’s pretty amazing to see snorkelers in the water with the fish. An older baby might even recognize Dory and Nemo in the lagoon!

We spent a lot of time watching these beautiful fish

Koi Pond

Aulani also has a great Koi pond that was a huge hit for my babies.  They loved just sitting and watching the giant fish every time we walked by.

Tip: The ‘Olelo Room is right next to the koi pond, so grab a table right next to the koi pond so your baby will be occupied while you grab a quick drink or appetizer.  

Beach Trails

Hawaiian breeze on his toes
He loved to stick his feet in the air and feel the ocean breeze on his toes

An awesome paved trail follows the beach from Aulani about a mile to Ko Olina Beach Park.  It’s a super nice little walking trail with beautiful views and Hawaiian breezes along the way.  Whenever my twin babies would get a little bit overwhelmed, or needed a nap, this trail was the perfect break for all of us.  Doing stroller naps on the beach trails is perfect for both baby and parents!

Dining

PB&J with ears! So cute!

Options for dining at Aulani are many, and for families with babies, it’s pretty nice to avoid getting in the car to go out for dinner.  The dining options vary from ultra casual to elegant, and all but the pool bar are kid-friendly! For older babies who are eating more solid food, its nice to see that Aulani follows the Disney nutritional guidelines, and generally included a fruit and a vegetable with each meal.  If your kiddos are like my kids, they won’t actually eat those things, but I like to continue to put it in front of them anyway LOL!

Our go-to restaurant at Aulani with littles is the Ulu Cafe because it’s ultra casual and you can take everything to go.  My twins have also been super wiggly so we prefer to go eat at the beach, or in our room so we don’t have to worry about keeping them still.  Breakfast at Ulu is especially great with a large selection of hot and cold meals. My favorite is the acai bowl, but breakfast sandwiches are also excellent.  Ulu cafe also offers poke bowls, sandwiches, snacks, and pizza.  

Makahiki is best known for its Character Breakfast, which is a must-do activity, even for babies.  The breakfast features miscellaneous Disney characters, songs, and tons of fun activities. Babies may not be able to participate in everything, but it’s still a fun experience and a great breakfast.  But be sure to book early! Character breakfast is extremely popular and sells out early. Makahiki offers buffet style dining, which is nice with little people who may not enjoy sitting still a restaurant for extended periods.  

Ama ‘Ama is Aulani’s star restaurant with a menu that changes frequently based on what is in season and has a beach-side ambiance.  The restaurant is kid-friendly and has a great kids menu but meals are served and meant to be enjoyed at a slower pace, which of course is tough with babies.  So give it a try, if you are up for it. OR, use one of Aulani’s quality kid sitters. OR, wait until you baby falls asleep, and enjoy a nice meal while your babe naps! 

Aulani drinks
While the babies stroller-nap, mom and dad get fruity Hawaiian drinks!

Overall, Is it Worth Going with a Baby?

The biggest questions out there – is it worth it? It really depends.  There are a lot of things to consider regarding your priorities, plans and perspective.  For example:

  • Are you planning to use the pools, splash zone, etc? Or are you just interested in going to the beach?
  • Do you like the idea of being in a large resort, where you don’t HAVE to leave?
  • Do you want to take your child to Aulani just once and want to time it JUST right to maximize the experience? Or are you looking for a great/the best spot to take your baby on vacation?
This face definitely goes in the PROs list!

Pros

  • Aulani has more for babies to do than most other resorts.  If you know you want to go to a resort with babies, it’s definitely a great option.
  • A larger resort means you don’t HAVE to get packed up and strapped into the car 100 times a day, or EVER during your vacation.  You can easily stay onsite and walk everywhere.  
  • Dining options are baby-friendly and close by
  • From the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii is the closest truly tropical destination, with only about a 6 hour flight.  Travel to Hawaii is totally doable even with an infant

Cons

  • It’s definitely not cheap.  If you primarily want to go to the beach, it’s probably not worth the extra expense.  All beaches in Hawaii are free, so you can get access to great beaches without paying Aulani prices.  You are paying for Aulani/Disney amenities.  
  • Children under 3 cannot use the Aulani kids club, Aunty’s Beach House
  • Aulani is about 30 minutes from Honolulu, so visiting the city isn’t super easy
  • Many of the activities and events are designed for older kids

For my family, traveling to Aulani with babies was absolutely worth it.  I loved that babies aren’t just an afterthought at Aulani. This was one of the only resorts out there that I felt was really designed for them, as babies.  As we approached my twins’ 1st birthday, I wanted to take them somewhere truly baby-centric, where they wouldn’t just be stuck in a stroller or a babycarrier, and I felt like we found it at Aulani.  We even planned a trip to the same resort one year later!

Updated 2/27/20

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As a twin mom, managing daily life JUST AT HOME can seem impossible. Getting out and doing anything out of the house can feel like a pipe dream. Between JUST carrying the two babies, all the stuff you need to lug around, and nap and feeding limitations, no one blames you for not wanting to get out. But once you get the hang of it, it’s not so bad. In fact, going out with your infant twins can even be FUN!

In the early days of twin-mom life, I was a slave to the clock, always on a three-hour feeding schedule. But, groceries had to be purchased, errands had to be run, and we wanted to be able to get out with family and friends on occasion, so I figured out how to make the logistics of twins out work for me.

First brewery visit- LOVED it!

For breastfeeding twin moms, feeding away from home can be pretty intimidating. As far as I can tell, tandem-feeding while away from home is basically impossible. Feeding them individually just TAKES SO LONG. For your first couple of short outings, I’d recommend taking it easy on yourself and go out in between feedings. Of course, you can’t really schedule when they will be hungry, but you do usually have a pretty good idea. Plan ahead and try to get things packed up BEFORE you feed them. As soon as you finish nursing, you’ll be good to go (except the inevitable spit-up clean up, or last-minute diaper change). This at least gets you out the door, and used to the idea outings with your twins. By the time my twins were a month or two old, I felt confident (ish) and wanting more, so we started venturing out a bit further.

First trip to Canada (which is really only 1 hour away)

The Gear

Double carriers?

I’m pretty well known in my family as an over-researcher. So, as expected, I researched the crap out of all the options for twin baby carriers. The double carriers SEEMED like a slam dunk, but as I dug into more, most are really only for small babies, and are not extremely well designed. Comfort is pretty lacking, and as babies get older and heavier, double carriers just won’t work anymore.

Single carriers, are much more comfortable, versatile, and can for infants babies and kids as old as 2 years (or older). PLUS, if you DO happen to have help, you can easily have a spouse or family member share the load and carry one of the babies. When you don’t have help, you can even stack two, one front and one back, and comfortably carry BOTH infants. OR, I put both infants in one carrier when they were very small (though I had to be paying close attention to them).

Two Ergobabies

Structured Carriers

Ergobaby 360, when used with the infant insert works for babies 7 lbs all the way up to 45 lbs, and allows you to front carry facing in or out, back carry, or side carry you infant. I also highly recommend the LILLEBaby for an even more comfortable experience while babywearing.

Having two baby carriers, rather than one meant I spent a little bit more upfront, but I was able to use the baby carriers for years instead of just a couple of months. They gave me the versatility and comfort I was looking for and we used them ALL THE TIME. I know many twin moms buy a double carrier, try it twice, NOT love it, and get rid of it.

Ring Slings

Another great option is ring slings. They are soft, breathable, and work great even for a tiny sleeping baby. However, you’ll want to be really carefully about their positioning and making sure their airway is not compressed. I could comfortably wear both babies for about 4 months. After that, I could continue to comfortably carry one baby (or uncomfortably carry both) for pretty much as long as they’d let me.

In my experience, ring slings didn’t feel as secure as structured carriers- especially when I was wearing two. They loosen up, and can sway a bit- I certainly wouldn’t be out jogging in them. But they are lightweight and easy to put on. Even if you don’t have help, you can just put both ring slings on- one on each side withOUT babies, then take a seat and carefully position your babies, one at a time. Then you are free to wash dishes, straighten up, eat a meal (maybe still standing up since babies LOVE that motion) with your hands-free! It’s a game-changer in those earlier days!

The best part about these ring slings is that they are affordable! After having twins, and watching every cost double, you’ll be stoked to see the price on these guys! Sure they ARE high-end ring slings, and I’m sure they are amazing, but we loved our budget buys! Plus, they were in perfect condition once we were ready to pass them along.

Double Strollers

When you have twins, a double stroller is DEFINITELY a requirement. But WHICH double stroller is a complicated issue. Here’s how I see it; car seat/stroller systems are sort of the master of all trades, master of none in the double stroller world. Generally, they are adequate for infants. But as your twins get older, they are less than. They are also not great on trails, or for travel. One important exception is the Baby Jogger City Select, which is a legit do-everything, AMAZING stroller with a price tag that matches. But if you don’t have the budget for the City Select, and are looking for a stroller that works as long as your kids need a stroller, we like the Graco Ready2Grow system.

However, for many of us, there really is not perfect stroller. The best stroller for an infant just ISN’T the best stroller for a toddler, so you are going to need more than one double stroller.

Difficult to see, but they are in their Joovy Twin Roo at the doctor’s office

The Joovy Twin Roo + frame is a perfect stroller for those who want to wait to buy their DREAM stroller. Or for those who want to buy exactly the stroller than want without worrying about clicking in a car seat for one (OR TWO, in this case) tiny infants. The Twin Roo+ is fairly inexpensive, small (for a double stroller) and use to use. It’s simple a frame to click your car seats into. It’s not fancy, but it gets you where you need to go while your twins are tiny. We LOVED It. Another plus- frame strollers like the Twin Roo are generally easy to find on the used market for an even LOWER price. I highly recommend a frame stroller for your twins.

As your twins get older, your double stroller needs change. But getting a wonderful double stroller that you absolutely love is always a great idea. If you are a family that loves getting out on trails, uneven pavenment, or anywhere a little less stroller friendly, the Bob Duallie is absolute heaven. They say ‘nothing pushes like a Bob’ and it’s absolutely true. It’s totally comfortable for parents and kids, flexible, and you’ll be able to use it forever, if you need to. Resale on it is amazing as well because these strollers are so popular, and for good reason.

Another stroller we LOVE for families who love to travel is the MacLaren Twin Triumph. It’s the lightest double stroller out there, and it has lots of great storage and features as well. It pops open in 2 seconds flat, and folds up quick and easy (and SMALL) as well. And it’s sturdy enough to survive gate checking it at the airport.

Logistics of Grocery shopping:

The first thing I really HAD to figure out how to manage with my twins was grocery shopping. After my husband went back to work and my mom flew back home, groceries, I still had to keep up with the grocery shopping. And I’ll admit- It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to manage the grocery store with two infants.

The cart…

So here it is: in my opinion, the best set up is to have one baby in his/her car seat at the bottom of the cart and one baby riding in the Ergobaby, or another baby carrier. Both of my twins loved riding in the baby carrier. So, I’d chose the less happy baby for the carrier. The happiest baby would generally be willing to ride in the car seat. I often loosened the car seat straps and gave him a little toy. Plus, the being in the cart meant WAY more sights to take in for entertainment.

Having a car seat in the cart definitely makes grocery shopping when you need a LOT of things more difficult. There were certainly times when I started piling up groceries on top of my infant. BUT it’s definitely easier to have a car seat IN the shopping car than trying to haul a stroller through the grocery store along WITH a cart.

The sights and sounds!

You’ll also want to keep in mind- for a tiny infant, a grocery shopping adventure is a HUGE stimulating activity. They are going to come home pretty tired and perhaps a little bit overstimulated and overwhelmed. You’ll definitely want to plan to have some quiet time after grocery shopping with your very small twins.

Truly the easiest time to get out with your twins, even if you are as HUGE as I was 🤣

Doctors Appointments, or Anywhere Stroller Friendly

So once you’ve picked out your twin stroller, it’s time to start using it! Even if you were a babywearing maniac with previous singleton babies, you are probably going to end up relying on your stroller a lot more than you expect. So pull that thing out, practice opening it and closing it because once it’s time, you’ll want to move FAST.

I started using out frame stroller on probably day THREE after my twins were born for their first doctor’s appointment. The frame strollers are super convenient and allow you to AVOID carrying two car seats. The little snap-in mechanism is quick and secure, so your babies will be safe and comfortable. And you can get in and out of the car RELATIVELY quickly. I loved that I could sit down and have access to them to comfort or adjust them as needed.

Going out to Dinner:

Taking babies out to a restaurant is SURPRISING easier than going with toddlers or preschoolers (maybe even older kids?). If you have infant twins, go out to dinner right away! You’ll regret it if you don’t do it when they are little.

So give it a try. Pack your babies in their car seats with pacifiers, and bottles, and one or two toys. Choose a restaurant that has a bit of elbow room. You’ll want to have plenty of space for a stroller, or just space for car seats nearby on the floor or in a chair. I’d also recommend one with at least a LITTLE bit of background noise. You’ll be able to relax if your baby isn’t the only one in a restaurant making noise.

Napping while out to dinner

For an infant, everything is a huge sensory activity, so going to a restaurant is enough to entertain them without a whole lot from you. For my babies, I could often rock their car seats and get them to go to sleep. Or just hang out with us and take in the views. Because infants sleep so much, and often go to sleep so early, we had tons of luck with just taking them early evening and letting them sleep the entire time. You’ll get to know your babies’ routine, but bringing a sleeping infant is basically a date night- ha! Once or twice, one or both kids weren’t happy in the car seat and needed to get out. The structured carriers were great to get them out but still leave your hands free to eat.

When you are deep in the twin infant phase, constantly covered in baby puke/poop/milk, and getting hardly any time just for your self, it is such a luxury to get to go out and eat a nice meal and eating it while it’s still warm. Even if you wind up wearing a baby while doing it, it’s still a totally refreshing and not-as-hard-as-you-expect experience.

Bigger Outings:

Perhaps we were a little bit crazy, but once my twins were two months old, we started doing longer, sometimes all-day outings. At 4 months, we began traveling overnight, and out of state.

Young infants typically can nap anywhere and are able to fall asleep whenever they get tired enough. As they get a bit older, that changes and napping can become a LOT more difficult. So getting out when they are young is major win for a lot of reasons. Sometimes nap schedule will get a bit off when you are out all day. But, if you can relax and let it go, your babies will totally adjust and get the rest they need.

Heading out on overnights with your twin babies is a whole other topic, and you can read more about it here.

Breastfeeding on the go

At some point, you’ll feel ready to breastfeed away from home. And trust me- you totally can, even for twins!

When it comes figuring out how to feed babies for a day out, I made every mistake a twin mom can. I tried all kinds of ways- I even packed pumped breast milk with a cooler and bottles PLUS a breast pump since I wasn’t nursing. It was a totally disaster- a ton of gear to worry about and it definitely did not make things more convenient.

Don’t do this! Bringing too much gear is just a headache.

But eventually, I figured it out; the absolute easiest way to nurse them was to nurse in the structured carrier, one at a time. You’ll want to get started a couple of minutes before you expect them to be hungry since you can’t nurse them at the same time. You’d hate for one baby to be screaming with hunger before you’ve finished nursing the other baby.

Breastfeeding an infant in an Ergo, or another structured carrier, is a little bit tricky at first. It took me a few tries to really get the hang of it. I’d recommend watching this helpful video. Then you’ll want to give it a try at home, or somewhere you won’t be rushed or distracted. You’ll need to really loosen the straps and drop baby down low and it definitely feels a bit odd at first.

Babywearing is awesome for newborns and infants

Also, if you are shy about nursing in public, you’ll want to bring a cover the first time you try it. It’s totally possible to stay covered while nursing in an ErgoBaby, but it takes a little bit of practice. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll just need a couple of minutes to change babies then you are good to keep moving. It’s a GAME CHANGER

Tummy time away from home

Another big learning was that, when you are not at home, it’s really difficult to find a place where you’ll feel comfortable letting your babies get out of their carrier/car seat/stroller and just wiggle around. And for my babies, not getting that free movement time meant cranky babies. Babies just need that time to just move freely, at least every few hours.

So plan ahead. You’ll definitely want to pack a blanket or two, and make sure you have an idea where you can take a break. If the weather is ok, parks are a great option. If not, perhaps look for a mall or another indoor public area where you can spread out and make your babies a spot to relax.

For my twins, skipping that free movement time was a recipe for disaster. They’d remain cranky and very upset until they got an opportunity to move freely. Another mom failure – I did not plan to let them get out and move around, and couldn’t find anywhere where I feel I could allow them to move, and instead had to drive 2 hours home to the sound of two increasingly upset babies. Don’t do that- it’s not fun!

Looking at trees at the park

Ready to give it a try?

With a little bit of practice, a lot of guts, and a few amazing tricks up your sleeve, you can totally get out of the house with your twins. It can feel completely overwhelming in the beginning. But come on- twin parents are amazing! Plus, you will never regret taking a little adventure with your kiddos. And, once you’ve figured out the day trips, and are ready for more, check out our posts on travel and flying with infant twins.

Updated 10/13/19

In our area, there is a major shortage of childcare options so waitlists are extremely long, and prices are extremely high. Like many twin parents, started looking at the options and discovered that a nanny cost about the amount as two in daycare. Plus, having a nanny gives the additional benefits of allowing your brand new babies to stay at home where they will get more one on one time, and be exposed to fewer illnesses. And, of course, you won’t have to rush out the door every morning with two babies and the mountain of supplies they need for the day.   

Hiring Our First Nanny for our Twins

Unfortunately, I had to go back to work when my babies were only 12 weeks old. So my husband and I went on the hunt for a nanny to care for our children. After watching the horrible video the hospital made us watch about purple crying and shaken baby syndrome and seeing one too many horrible news stories, we were extremely nervous about making a hire. However, we were definitely not experts on childcare or hiring someone for childcare. We had NO idea what we were doing!

Our awesome nanny, Sara

However, despite our inexperience, we managed to hit the jackpot with our first nanny, Sara. Don’t get me wrong, we had our battles. I know she felt frustrated at us for not always being clear on expectations, and we didn’t agree with the way she handled every single thing.  But our kids adored her, and she adored them. She sent me tons of pictures at work, and always told us everything about their days. She brought up anything they, or she was struggling with and we worked through everything together as a team. She spent the time to get to know us, and gave us a chance to get to know her. She was our family’s nanny for 18 months and really became a part of the family in that time, and she still is today!

Round Two

Sara eventually had a baby of her own and decided not to stay with us as our nanny after giving birth.  As we started thinking about how to replace her, we felt much more qualified to hire a nanny than we were the first time.  We thought about what type of parenting style we’d want a future nanny to embody, and what other qualities we like to have in a nanny.  We felt confident. 

Sara and the boys on her last day 🙁

The first nanny we hired no-showed us before she even started.  Our next three nannies lasted only a couple of months each, and the final straw – our last nanny was downright bad and we had to let her go because we were worried about our kids’ safety.  We were completely stressed out, unable to focus on our work, and we could see that our boys were not thriving because of the lack of consistency in their lives. We knew that something had to change. Even though we were ‘improving’ our process every time, we just couldn’t find what we were looking for.

I asked everyone I knew for advice. I did some major soul searching- and then some more soul searching. Making hiring decisions is always tough. And for a nanny, it’s even tougher. The person you chose will play a huge role in shaping the lives of your children, and so, of course, you will want this person to be PERFECT in every way, but NO ONE is perfect. But, after all my disappointments, frustrations, and just endless troubleshooting, I think I’ve finally figured it out- the trick to hiring a nanny that is not perfect but is perfect for your family.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Define your Job

Not all nannies and not all nanny jobs are the same, and it’s SUPER important to keep that in mind when defining your job and talking to applicants. Some parents will not allow their nanny to take children outside of the home, while others prefer that the nanny take kids out every day. Some parents are ok with unlimited screen time, others are completely screen-free. Some expect a nanny to simply supervise play, and some expect her/him to be actively playing with children all day. So, you’ll need to carefully and thoughtfully define exactly what you are looking for, for yourself and your future nanny. Some other questions to consider as you go through this process might be:

  1. Do you want to get frequent text messages and know everything about your children’s day? Or do you prefer not to be distracted while you are at work?
  2. Do you want your nanny to bring suggestions and advice on how to handle parenting struggles that come up? Or do you prefer to give directives and make decisions without your nanny’s help?
  3. Will you have meals, weekly schedule, and activities planned for your nanny and your children, or would you prefer to have your nanny handle finding and creating fun activities on her own?
  4. Are you expecting your nanny to take on any additional tasks, beyond watching your children, during their work hours? It is responsible to ask a nanny to help with cleaning up play areas, washing dishes created during the day, and helping with the kids’ laundry- but you’ll want to make this clear from the beginning.

I think most of us will agree that the top priority is finding someone who genuinely enjoys spending time with your children. You’ll want to think through any other qualities you’d want for your ideal nanny. Do you want someone fun and silly? Someone calming? Creative? Strict? Gentle? When you are parenting an infant, it’s hard to imagine all these parts of parenting, but before you know it your tiny infant will be running around the house FULL of personality, so you’ll want to at least attempt to anticipate what you’ll want for your child is they become a toddler and even a preschooler.

Adventures with our nanny

2. Set Expectations

I’ve had a hard tell telling my nanny my expectations, and an even harder time correcting something when I haven’t made my expectations clear. I feel like I’m being too demanding, and I always want to give my nanny the flexibility to relax a little bit on the rules if the day is particularly hard- I know that some days are just plain hard and I don’t want her getting frustrated and potentially losing her temper with my kids. However, if you are not able to set expectations, both you and your nanny will wind up frustrated.

For me, the best way to set expectations is to write them down. I created a bullet point list of expectations that I give to potential nannies before hiring so that we are all on the same page. I include Everything–parenting style with books we like, screen-time rules for nanny and children, communication expectations, what to do about any specific behaviors and what to do as new behavioral concerns come up, vacation and holiday policy and pay, etc. Having everything spelled out was great because it sets the nanny up for success.

Sitting in a Firetruck. More fun with the nanny

3. Interview Carefully

Choosing the right nanny for your family is a huge undertaking that can feel so overwhelming. But after TOO many rounds of interviews, we’ve found a system that works well.

  1. Post your job anywhere and everywhere you can, and let friends and family know you are looking. You never know where you’ll find your perfect nanny.
  2. Start with a quick phone call. We had TONS of applicants who weren’t actually available the hours we needed or weren’t willing to come to my house to watch the kids or something. With a quick phone call, I was able to work these things out without wasting too much time.
  3. Come up with great questions to ask during interviews. I felt situational questions like “What would you do if both kids had a toddler tantrum in a park” were very telling. Also, questions that give the applicant an opportunity to show their passion (or lack of) for the work, such as “what do you love most about being a nanny”. While you are interviewing, make sure you let your applicants open up so you can get to know them.
  4. Once you think you’ve found your nanny, run a quick background check.  Probably nothing will come up, but it’s nice to have that peace of mind. 
  5. BONUS STEP if this is something you are able to do: Have a previous, trusted nanny, or a friend or family member come do a test or training day/extra interview. In my experience, applicants were more willing to be honest with my previous nanny during this training day, than they were with me. For example, one applicant was afraid of my dogs, and although caring for the dogs was to be part of the job, she didn’t mention the fear and general dislike for dogs to me, but she did tell my previous nanny.

4. Bond with your Nanny

I think my biggest AHA moment has been realizing that people are motivated by relationships. This is true for all jobs, but when it comes to being a nanny, this job is SO much more emotional and requires so much more heart and care than most jobs, so a great nanny family and nanny will become like family. And think about it, if you are lucky enough to have a grandparent or a good friend that is able to watch your kids, there is a pretty good chance that person is highly invested in the long term wellbeing of your child, right? Why not create that relationship with your nanny as well? You’ve chosen your nanny because s/he has some great qualities or values that match your own, so likely you’ll be able to form a friendship with this person. Why not take the time to really get to know this person?

Being close with your nanny is a huge benefit for so many reasons. First, both you and your nanny will likely be so much happier working together as friends and able to enjoy each others company since you’ll likely be spending some time together. Second, it’s so much easier to talk to someone when you are friends. And there is SOOO much to discuss when it comes to raising young children. It’s nice to know what each other will do in a given situation, know each other’s philosophy on childcare, even if you don’t 100% agree, and to be able to have open, honest conversations about everything, but especially about your children. And honestly, over time, if you find a nanny that loves and cares for your children, you will likely wind up loving your nanny as a person.

So take your nanny out for coffee one day, or just take some time to chat in the morning before you leave for work, or in the evening. You won’t regret this the time you spend really getting to know this person that is SO important to your children.

More outings with our awesome nanny- preschool gym time.

5. Having a Great Nanny takes work!

Kids and their parents are constantly changing and growing, so ensuring that your nanny continues to be a great match for your family means you need to keep talking. As brand new parents, we really didn’t know who we were yet. We didn’t identify as any particular parenting style, and we didn’t have a lot of confidence in our abilities as parents. As time passes, we’ve learned a LOT. We’ve found our style and a bit of confidence that we might have some clue what we’re doing sometimes. And with a nanny, that means a lot of shifting roles, and a lot of discussions about decisions we’ve made, or new opinions we have. These discussions can be difficult but in the end, both the parent and the nanny are happier.

Another important thing we’ve learned is that we needed to let go of the reins a bit! Our instinct has always been to take the lead on anything related to the kids- come up with project ideas, meal ideas, sign up for activities and classes (if our nanny is open to taking the kids), etc. However, I recently realized that not only am I doing more work than I need to, I’m also taking away an opportunity for my nanny to feel valued and have a bit more job satisfaction. So I’ve learned its important to give your nanny projects. Give her/him responsibility for something, like potty training, or setting up a craft station for your kiddos. In the case of potty training, you can approval for methodology, or work together on it, but let her/him take the lead. For the craft station, let her think through which types of crafts your kids are capable of, and come up with a list of necessary supplies, within your budget. Nannies are often professionals who want to learn and grow, and these extra projects will give a great nanny a sense of accomplishment and show her/him that you trust her/him.

Having a nanny has many unexpected benefits, and hardships. We’ve learned a TON after having 6 nannies in just over 3 years, and I sincerely hope some of our tips can help you find the perfect person for your family, and put in the work together to keep that person perfect for the long run.

When we first found out we were having twins, I wasn’t… thrilled.  A big part of the reason was that I had imagined that, though travel would slow down, it would still be possible with one baby.  With two- out of the question, right? Maybe not. Traveling with infant twins isn’t easy, and it probably isn’t for everyone. But for us, it’s well worth the trouble.   

Cons

  • The babies are too young to remember any of it
  • Babies need a lot of stuff
  • Being away from home isn’t as comfortable or easy as just staying home
  • More exposure to illnesses
  • Your travel pace will be much slower

Pros

  • Even if the babies don’t remember, we remember it, and there is nothing like watching your kids enjoy something new
  • Maybe they won’t exactly remember the trip, but they will have this great time to bond with family, and they will remember it in their cells
  • Mom and dad have probably been cooped up in the house for months and need a change of scenery
  • Getting away from home and forgetting a thing or two teach parents and babies how to be a little bit more flexible
  • Traveling at a slower pace, as is required when traveling with small children, can actually make your vacation more enjoyable and more relaxing.  

Travel, even with our infants,  was a no brainer for us for several reasons.  The biggest thing, in those early years, is the fact that we have no family nearby, so getting to know aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents means traveling.  But also, travel so is important to us for a million reasons, and I feel strongly that one of the most important gifts I can give my children is the gift of perspective that only comes with travel and that the shared experiences we have traveling and taking family vacations will bring us a lifetime of happy memories.

So once our boys were about four months old, and we finally felt a little bit less afraid (they were premature and just so small), we started traveling.  Keep reading for some of the things we learned. Also, see our separate posts on flying with infant twins and for travel with twin toddlers.

Tip 1.  Just jump in.  

The younger your babies are, the more likely they are to be flexible about where they sleep, where they eat, etc.  It can be intimidating thinking about taking on something else when you are already exhausted, but sometimes a little family trip can really refresh you.

My babies loved they snow!

Tip 2.  Enjoy the things you can do and don’t dwell on those things you can’t.

There are a million things we simply cannot do now that we are traveling with young twins.  But there are also a million things we can do and experience in a whole new way- watching our boys’ wide eyes when they see a colorful school of fish or feeling the sand on their toes for the first time, or even just getting to witness the first time they meet someone important to you.

first trip with our twins!
Baby’s first trip!

Tip 3: Cosleep if you are comfortable with it

We are not a co-sleeping family (at least not on purpose), but we did feel comfortable with it once they were about 5 months old.  When traveling by plane, co-sleeping made things easier because we didn’t have to bring much extra for them. They didn’t move around a ton at that age, so we felt fairly comfortable having them in the middle of a hotel bed.  The best arrangement for us was to have two queen beds, and each parent slept with one baby.

Tip 4:  Replicate your twins sleep environment as much as possible.  

Hopefully, you are lucky enough to have twins that can just sleep anywhere, whenever they get tired.  Mine have never been like that. And we’ve found anything we can do to replicate our sleep situation at home helps them get to sleep faster.  We always stuck to our normal sleep routines, and whenever we could, did blackout curtains, white noise, and a room with a door.

If our hotel could provide two pack n plays, we’d definitely take it.  But we didn’t find the availability of two to be reliable. We tried all kinds of travel bassinets, pack n plays, etc., and found that they were not for us- too expensive, too bulky, and not something that we could use for very long, and when buying two, we just didn’t find worthwhile.  

I guess they didn’t love this hotel room?
  • Blackout curtains are almost a guarantee at hotels, but if you are staying at a VRBO, or a friend or relatives’ house, there is a pretty low likelihood of having them.  Bring a cheap plastic shower curtain you can tape or pin up to block out some of the light
  • We use a white noise machine at home, but a tablet we’d be bringing anyway does the trick.  There are 8+ hour Youtube videos or white noise apps you can download.
  • Being able to stay in a 1+ bedroom suite, or VRBO is such a luxury when your kids are tiny.  Infants sleep a lot, and it’s so nice to be able to able to do your own thing while they sleep.  Plus, lots of kids have trouble falling asleep when they see their parents. However, that wasn’t always possible for us.  We could sometimes head out to a balcony with the door cracked, or just hang out quietly and in the dark until we were ready for bed.

Tip 5 Travel light

Pick up diapers and wipes at your destination, or order them ahead of time to be delivered, and bring only what you really need.  Your twin nursing pillow might be amazing but it’s not absolutely necessary for a week away- a few pillows are a decent substitute. As much as it feels like you are moving out every time you leave the house, you really can get by with much less than you expect.

I’d recommend

  • Clothes for a couple of days- plan on 2-3 outfits per day per child
  • A lightweight blanket
  • A heavier blanket for them to lie down on
  • Swaddle if you are using them
  • One lovey per child
  • Extra pacifiers and clips
  • If you bottle-feed, enough to last you through the night, plus a bottle brush.  
  • Your baby carrier/s of choice
  • A couple of small toys/teethers
  • Baby butt cream of choice.  
  • Any medicine you might need- Baby Tylenol or Motrin, gas drops, etc.
  • Baby lotion and soap
  • Some kind of a lightweight stroller (maybe just a single)

Tip 6:  Don’t forget about baths

Otteroos are awesome!

Baths on vacation are something that is easy to forget about.  You can certain opt to just do a sponge bath or attempt to hold your slippery infants one at a time in the shower.  We tried the slippery shower situation once- it was terrifying to me. My go-to solution was Otteroos. They definitely look strange and not everyone is comfortable with them, but they do comply with US safety standards.  As long as you are in the room and watching them, I feel that they are perfectly safe. Other pluses- they are inflatable and fold up really small, and then allow you to give your infant an enjoyable bath in any bathtub. Plus my kids LOVED them

Tip 7: If you are breastfeeding, learn how to breastfeed in your carrier.  

When we are at home, I tandem nursed. But in public- no thank you.  I have to be pretty much topless and looking like a milking cow. No one wants to see that. And if you try to sit down to nurse individually, you’ll end up doing nothing else.  Nursing in the carrier meant we could carry on with our day instead of planning around our nursing breaks.

Though infants generally are pretty ok with being in a carrier or a stroller, we found it was best to plan on giving them some time to get out and wiggle around every few hours.  Maybe you stop back at your hotel and let them do some tummy time on the bed. Maybe you put a blanket in the grass at a park so they can look at the leaves. Whatever it is, make a plan because it can be difficult to find somewhere you feel comfortable putting your twins down and letting them touch things.  

Tip 8:  Babywear, but also maybe bring a stroller?  

Babywearing was a lifesaver for travel for us.  It’s so convenient, no stopping to get the baby whatever they need, and no limitations to where you can go because of a huge stroller.  

Cheap but functional single stroller

But some babies don’t love it, and some parents don’t love it.  And some babies and parents get hot in there and just want a break after babywearing all day, or maybe your babies can nap in their stroller and you can eat a meal without two babies touching you for once.   Also, when you have two, at least unless you are a superhero mom, you kinda need two adults when you are babywearing. I never really got the wearing two at a time thing down. I don’t know how you awesome mamas do it.  Anyway, having a stroller can really help.

We love our MacLaren lightweight double stroller because it’s fully reclinable, has a nice big sunshade, and it is easy to fold up.  Another option we only came up with accidentally was to just bring or buy a single, super cheap (like $10) umbrella stroller.  I used it when we tagged along on my husband’s work trip, so I was alone sometimes during the day. When you usually are pushing around a massive double stroller, even a super cheapo single feels GLORIOUS.   I was totally comfortable and could get around really easily with just the single stroller, and my bigger twin was pretty happy to have that extra breeze in the stroller.

Tip 9. Don’t forget, you are all on vacation.  

While you probably don’t want to let your regular schedule go out the window completely, accept that your babies are not going to be eager to nap with all the excitement.  They may skip a few naps, or at least delay them. They may not eat as well, and they may want to try some new, fun, but less than healthy foods, just like you.

Tip 10. Take tons of pictures.

Really, has anyone ever wished they had taken fewer pictures? And little video clips- those are even better. They change so fast at this age, and you’ll be capturing a ‘first’ almost every time you take a photo

Matching Daddy at their first wedding!

As tricky as travel with your twin infants may seem, it is doable with if you just take it easy on yourself.  And nothing beats these early memories. I will never forget the way they looked in their baby suits for their first wedding, or the strange pride I felt seeing them happy and thriving in outside of their ‘normal’ environment in our sunny hotel room.  You can do this!

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