Our friend, Dr. Maryellen Smith, recently published this on Yahoo! Voices. Do you have tips to share? What works and what does not work for your family?

When the Children Are All the Same Age, There Are Some Things You Should Think About

Do you have a friend who has twins, triplets or more? Is it time for a gift? My Triplets are now all graduated from high school. I have some tips that I would like to share. Some of them are relatively self-explanatory. Others may need a little back story.

Things that work differently

If the gift is something like a baby swing or high chair, please make sure that the mechanisms work the same. Parents are sleep deprived the entire first year of life or beyond with all those lovely children. There were lots of words that my children really didn’t need to learn while I was trying to figure out which high chair I was trying to work. Ditto for their car seats, baby swings, and cribs. Parents may not know this at first. Looking back, I would have returned things to have three that worked exactly the same.

Number of items

When the babies are small, the number of certain things does not necessarily need to be the same as the number of children. As they become aware of themselves and others, this does become important. It is not fun to be breaking up fights all the time over toys. I’m still not sure about the time my brother gave my  boys trucks that all made such lovely noise: one was a fire truck, one was an ambulance and one was a police car. They didn’t fight because there were three vehicles, but I removed batteries periodically. Perhaps they should have come with ear mufflers for mom and dad.

What belongs to who?

You can ask the parents if they have a way of telling which child belongs to which toy. When we could, we color coded. Mr. Impatient* was red, Tall Guy was green and Three Speed was blue. They each got a stuffed animal at a craft fair that was their color, their sippy cups were in their colors, etc. When this wasn’t possible, I learned to get out the trusty permanent marker. I used their first initial on their shoes, the tags in the back of clothing that matched but wasn’t the same size, etc.

We also got a lovely gift of stacking cups. One set for each child. This is great for motor skills when they are little. The only problem we had was that all the cups didn’t stack the same color wise. Even though blue was the outside color, the next one was not necessarily red. At the end of the day or at nap time, I would sit and try to put together 30 stacking cups. It didn’t take me long to get out that handy dandy permanent marker. The first letters my children learned were the first initials of their names. This was not the first or the last of my brilliant solutions born out of desperation.

I’m not suggesting you spend three times as much money. Take what you would have spent on one child and divide it by three. The kids just want to see you and have a good time. Good gifts at my house are things like books, puzzles, trains or cars. Just so everyone had one to play with.


When the kids are smaller, it’s nice not to have too many little parts that are necessary to make something work. Some days it is hard enough to just keep track of three children! In fact, some days, I think I lost parts of my brain! Oh, well, I guess I didn’t need all of it, anyway. I thought I would probably find it when I was finished cleaning up the family room. The boys are 19, and I’m still looking.

*I have nicknamed my children for my writing to “protect the guilty”. :

Tall Guy is the tallest of the three. He started calling me “short woman” as soon as he was taller than I am.

Mr. Impatient is my autistic son. He doesn’t wait well.

Three Speed has a touch of ADD. He has three speeds: Slow, slower and ‘look, there’s a bunny’.

They get confused about which one they are. It’s their turn. We were confused about who was who the first few days after they were born.