Twins and how to help them both develop optimally

There's a school of thought that says we should separate twins, keep them in different classes, or otherwise create distance between them. But no research clearly shows that this approach is better for the children.

We often wish siblings would play together more, learn to get on and have a more loving relationship. Overall it's good for twins to be treated like other siblings. They can get a lot of joy out of one another, and always have a friend close by.

Twins are both siblings and individuals, and they may well fight or go through a bad period. At times like these, it's good to put a bit of distance between them, just as you would with relationships between ordinary siblings, friends or other children and parents.

Alone time with parents
Twins often get less alone time with their parents than other children do. It's good to bear this in mind, and give them a bit more space with one or both parents at times.

Simply going for a walk, playing a game for a while or baking something together with a parent and without the other twin can be a special experience. As well as an opportunity for you to hear and hang out with your children individually.

Separate individuals
A pair of twins may be very alike, but it's also important to view them as the individuals they are. All children need to be treated and seen as the individuals they are, with all their differences, similarities, thoughts and needs. And everyone needs to be treated with empathy.

Siblings of twins
If your twins have older siblings, it's a good idea to involve them from the outset. Let them join in, help look after and spend time with the twins. For one thing, breastfeeding mums need help while breastfeeding. For another, it's good for siblings to be in contact with each other. Twins can create a very close bond, and it's good for other siblings to be involved and important to them as well right from the outset.

It's also helpful if a tired parent can get several siblings to calm down together, for example, before bedtime. When the twins are a few months old, they can join in and listen to a goodnight story with their elder sibling. It can be a cosy time – and with any luck, all three children will fall asleep.

About twins
Between 1 and 3 percent of all births are twins. Of those, around a third each are identical twins, fraternal twins of the same gender and fraternal twins of different genders.
When two eggs are fertilised by two sperm cells, these turn into fraternal twins. In these cases, the twins have different genetic material because different eggs from the mother joined with different sperm from the father. In principle, fraternal twins are no more alike than ordinary siblings are.

Identical twins develop from an egg fertilised by a single sperm, which later splits. The two children have identical genetic material and are very alike. In Sweden, we generally say that about 33 percent of all twins who are born are identical and 70 percent are fraternal. As the average age of women giving birth goes up, so does the proportion of fraternal twins.

The proportion of twin births varies extensively in different populations. Asian people give birth to fewer twins than westerners, whereas the rate is much higher among Black people. We don't know why the fertilised egg splits and creates identical twins. In genetic terms, identical twins are completely alike, and yet they still differ in physical and mental terms. This must be caused by something else, which is where we think the environment plays a part.

Read more about twins
Breastfeeding twins
Expecting twins

An error occured, please try again later.