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One of my twins isn’t developing as fast as his brother: cause for concern?
Q: I am a first-time mum to 9-month-old twin boys. When they were born they were only three minutes apart, but we are already seeing such a gap in the way they are developing. They were not premature or underweight. The one that was born first is so much more developed than the other as far as crawling, pulling himself up in the cot and on other furniture in our home. He is also trying to stand on his own and take baby steps. Our other son hasn’t even started crawling yet. He can sit on his own and reach for toys without falling over, and he babbles all the time. He acts like he is attempting to crawl but doesn’t quite get there. Should we be concerned about the gap between the two of them? If not, when is the time to be concerned?
A: I wouldn’t worry yet, but you are wise to be observant and aware of the disparity between your boys. It is too early to tell whether this disparity heralds a significant difference in their developmental potentials. From what you write, it sounds as though the main difference is in motor (or large muscle) development. Achievements in this area are not very good indicators of developmental speed. According to your description, the “slower” twin “babbles all the time.” This can actually be a better indicator of overall potential.

It is very important to give twins individual attention. It is easy to fall into a pattern of thinking and talking about “the twins” rather than “Bob and Jim” (to make up names for your boys). Find opportunities to do things separately with each boy, if only for 15 minutes a day. When your husband is at home and you need to go shopping, take just one of them with you, remembering to take the other the next time. In some of your individual sessions with the twin whose motor development lags behind his brother’s, put him on the floor on his tummy and place your hand against his feet as he kicks and thrusts. Put an appealing toy just out of reach. You may be surprised to find him reaching the toy. Another wonderful motor development game is to put him on the floor on his back, take his hands and slowly pull him to a sitting or standing position. Make up a name for the game and say it each time you pull him up. In my family we called it “Hum up, Queenie.” (Don’t ask me why.) Also, read books to both boys. There are many wonderful books for infants available at libraries and bookstores. Talk to your sons at every opportunity, as twins tend to lag a little behind singletons in speech development.

One more thing I should mention: I am the mother of twins, and I know what you’re going through. In my case, it was the first-born who was much slower in motor development. But he caught up and soon passed his sister. The same sort of thing could well happen with your boys.