Multiples: The Safety Factor

When multiples first start to crawl, walk and run, it's simply their safety, both in and out of the house, that takes precedence. In the home, you need to create a safe play zone, partly because two, three or four small people might pack a combined weight of 100 pounds. Add that to the determination of toddlers, and it's time to bolt the dresser to the wall or remove it from the room, says Janet Bleyl of Stockton, Calif., founder and president of The Triplet Connection, a support organization for parents of triplets and higher-order multiples, and mother of ten, including 16-year-old triplet boys.

Then there's the perilous sharing of ideas. Angela Delaney, mother of two-year-old twins, Rebecca and Benjamin, says it hadn't occurred to Benjamin to climb out of his crib until he saw his sister do it. "After three months, he did it, too," says Delaney, of Peoria, Ill. "The problem is that he falls and conks his head."

Even when collaboration isn't at work, the sheer commotion of multiples running through a house presents its own hazards. "There's a tremendous interaction effect that causes them to accidentally knock each other down, pull hair and grab from each other," says Herbert Collier, Ph.D., a child and family psychologist and author of The Psychology of Twins: A Practical Handbook for Parents of Multiples (Twins Magazine). "And there's a perpetual need to be on top of things as a parent, to be scanning all the time."

Moving around in the outside world with multiples is even more challenging and works best when consistent routines are in place, says Collier, also the father and grandfather of twins. Even getting two-year-old triplets across the street requires strictly enforced guidelines and weeks of practice.

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