Irish Twins: Tips for Raising Them (2023)

If you give birth to children who are at most 12 months apart, they’re sometimes called “Irish twins.” It can be challenging to raise children with an age gap under a year, so it’s important to understand each child’s needs.

The term “Irish twins” refers to one mother having two children who were born 12 months or less apart. It originated in the 1800s as a way to poke fun at Irish Catholic immigrant families who didn’t have access to birth control.

Irish Catholic immigrant communities would often have many siblings who were very close in age. Since they were relatively new to the United States, and lived in cramped living conditions with little resources, other people would speak poorly of Irish immigrants.

The use of Irish twins was meant to look down on the people and accuse them of having poor self-control, little education, and no access to health resources like birth control. The term is still used today, but many would agree that it’s not appropriate and is steeped in disrespect.

Regardless of what term they use to describe it, some women choose to have their children very close in age. Several celebrities, like Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Tori Spelling, and Heidi Klum, have Irish twins.

Parenting is filled with challenges no matter what age your children are. If your children are very close in age, they are often going through the same developmental milestones one after the other. Here are some tips on how to raise children with a 12 month or less age gap.

This is particularly important when the children are very young. Babies and toddlers need a lot of attention. One person may not be able to tend to each child’s needs effectively, especially if both need someone at the same time. Having help will make sure the children get what they need and you don’t get burnt out.

Having a regular routine is extremely helpful for keeping things organized. Babies and toddlers will benefit from a regular schedule, and so will young children.

Sleeping and eating are very important in the early years. Establishing a healthy routine will help you meet the children’s needs and allow them to know what to expect.

It may be very tempting to expect the younger child to develop at the same rate as the older sibling. But remember, they’re separate individuals. Everyone grows and develops differently, and children born within 12 months of each other are no exception.

“Because they are close in age, don’t assume they are going to grow at the same pace mentally and physically. Accept their differences from the get-go. In fact, enjoy their differences,” Dr. Hollman advises.

Allow each child to have separate activities that give them a break from each other.

For example, one child might want to have a sleepover with a friend without their sibling tagging along. That’s OK. Arrange for the sibling to do another fun activity during that time. Explain that it’s normal and healthy for the kids to want to their own space, including a separate social circle outside of the home or each other.

“Competition may be a big challenge if their skills are developing differently. If that’s the case, have separate talks with each as they grow about how they are individuals. They need to know that just because they are close in age it doesn’t mean they should be the same. You take pride in each as they are. They need to know that so they can also take pride in themselves,” says Dr. Hollman.

According to Dr. Hollman, “Some kids close in age team up and become there for each other, which helps mom and dad tremendously, yet also may give you the feeling of being on the outside. If that’s the case, don’t feel rebuffed, enjoy their close bonding.”

It’s important to have your own relationship with each child. Although they’re close in age, they may have totally different personalities.

Schedule one-on-one time with each child in addition to family bonding time. Use this time to let the kids explore and share with you their individual interests.

“You don’t have to give equal amounts of attention to each kid. Surprising? That’s because each child may need different amounts and kinds of attention. Remember they are individuals. Listen and learn what they need and do your best to give what’s called for,” says Dr. Hollman.

People may give you lots of recommendations, but at the end of the day, you know your kids best. Pay attention to their personalities. Does one child like more alone time? Are they OK with sharing attention at social events, or do they want to branch off?

Knowing how each child reacts to different situations can help you make parenting decisions, like whether or not they should be in the same class at school, or if each child should go to a different summer camp.

Dr. Hollman says, “Once in grade school, you’ll get all kinds of advice about keeping them in different classes. Their birthdays may work to put them in different grades, but often enough that doesn’t happen. There’s no one rule that‘s best for all. Think of your kids in particular. They may function best knowing the other is nearby. They may develop their independence by being in different rooms. Think of your specific kids, not some unproven rule.”

While parenting is challenging, it’s also very rewarding. Remember that nobody is perfect. As long as you’re trying your hardest to make a happy, healthy environment for your kids, don’t worry if there are dishes in the sink or toys all over the living room floor.

“So much of the stress with this comes from feeling like everything is just too crazy! But that is how childhood is meant to be — messy, chaotic, and crazy!” says Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, child psychologist, mother of two, and author of “Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up.”


Irish Twins: Tips for Raising Them? ›

Risks Of Having Children Less Than A Year Apart

As per the WHO, having Irish twins poses some health risks such as: Infant, neonatal, and perinatal mortality (4). Low body weight at birth and disproportionate smaller body size. Premature delivery.

What are the challenges of having Irish twins? ›

Risks Of Having Children Less Than A Year Apart

As per the WHO, having Irish twins poses some health risks such as: Infant, neonatal, and perinatal mortality (4). Low body weight at birth and disproportionate smaller body size. Premature delivery.

Are Irish twins a high risk pregnancy? ›

In some cases, back-to-back pregnancies can increase the risk of preterm birth, uterine rupture and other potential complications, according to the Mayo Clinic.

What do you need to know about Irish twins? ›

Although the term “Irish Twins” is commonly used, it is not really correct. Babies born within a year of each other are not twins, and they do not have to be Irish. The term originated in the 19th Century as an offensive reference to the fact that Irish families tended to have many children and give birth frequently.

Do Irish twins have a special connection? ›

Irish twins share a strong bonding. They have an unbreakable friendship since they tend to do everything together and even share everything. They may have the same circle of friends, enjoy the same activities, and generally live a similar lifestyle as they grow older, just the way real twins do.

How hard is it to raise Irish twins? ›

No Self-Time. It becomes difficult to find time for oneself while parenting Irish twins. Why? Well, it will be highly unlikely for your little ones to have the same schedule for their daily activities such as sleeping, their midnight feedings or nightmares, and so on.

How long do you carry Irish twins? ›

The term “Irish twins” refers to siblings who are born within 12 months of one another. This is especially true for children born in the same calendar year, or children who would be in the same grade of school.

What is the riskiest type of twins? ›

Monochorionic-diamniotic twins are identical twins that share a placenta but each develops in their own separate amniotic sac. This is the most common type. Monochorionic-monoamniotic twins are identical twins that share both a placenta and an amniotic sac. This is the rarest and highest risk form of twin pregnancies.

What are Dutch twins? ›

The Dutch Twins are Kit and Kat, 5 years old and not yet big enough to be called by their real names, Christopher and Katrina. They live in a typical Dutch household, around the turn of the last century. The book follows their day-to-day adventures and accidental mishaps.

How do you take care of Irish twins? ›

The best tip for mothers of Irish Twins is this….

Corralling. Soon, you'll have a toddler and a crawler and you'll want to keep them contained. Independent play time is a great way to get some alone time (for them and you!) but when they're out and about, keep them contained.

Are Irish twins in the same grade? ›

While the typical definition of Irish twins is two children spaced 12 or fewer months apart, people do sometimes use the term more loosely to include children born 13, 14, or more months apart, particularly if the children end up in the same grade in school.

What is another name for Irish twins? ›

One writer in the 19th-century even called Irish women “excellent brood wives.” The stereotype may well be Protestant in origin, as Irish twins are also called Catholic twins—the Irish traditionally being Catholic and birth control historically forbidden.

Is it OK to have babies 14 months apart? ›

For most women, it's best to wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again. This means your baby will be at least 1½ years old before you get pregnant with another baby. This much time gives your body time to fully recover from your last pregnancy before it's ready for your next pregnancy.

What is the relationship between Irish twins and siblings? ›

Irish twins are sibling children born within a year of one another to the same parents, but it's an offensive phrase with a troubling background. So Irish twins aren't actually twins at all, they're children close in age, but the results of different pregnancies.

How many Irish twins are born each year? ›

Multiple Births in Ireland
Twin births2,5752,363
Higher Order9679
Twinning rate (per 1,000 maternities)17.418.8

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Arline Emard IV

Last Updated: 06/01/2024

Views: 5369

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Arline Emard IV

Birthday: 1996-07-10

Address: 8912 Hintz Shore, West Louie, AZ 69363-0747

Phone: +13454700762376

Job: Administration Technician

Hobby: Paintball, Horseback riding, Cycling, Running, Macrame, Playing musical instruments, Soapmaking

Introduction: My name is Arline Emard IV, I am a cheerful, gorgeous, colorful, joyous, excited, super, inquisitive person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.