A remix of "Here Comes Santa Claus" is playing while a young mom holds her twins in her arms as she does a popular TikTok dance. They're in front of a decked out Christmas tree, dressed in matching holiday pajamas and smiling for the camera.
But this video isn't just for Alexis LaRue's family and close friends. Hundreds of thousands of avid followers will be watching it on TikTok.
Since March the St. Paul family has gone viral on TikTok. More than 950,000 people have followed LaRue and 8-month-old sisters Camila and Elena — to see their sweet smiles, matching outfits and dances with mom. LaRue and her fiancé Leo Mejia, who occasionally appears in the videos, often hold the twins up to the camera, the girls smiling and laughing.
"A lot of people are like, 'How are your babies so happy in all your videos?' and I'm like, 'It's so weird, but they really just love the camera. They love being able to look at themselves and they know when the camera's on, they know like 'it's go time,' " LaRue said.
In addition to LaRue's following on TikTok, she's garnered national media attention. As Minnesota's "tiny mom," she has appeared in local and national media, including a segment on the "Today" show.
Camila and Elena were born at 6.6 and 6.7 pounds respectively, and are now about 21 pounds and 2 feet, 5 inches tall. LaRue, who stands at just 5 foot 3 and 116 pounds, often holds more than a third of her weight in her arms easily, part of what has made her videos a hit.
LaRue, 22, always knew she wanted to be a mom and envisioned having two kids someday. But she never expected to have twins.
"It was really scary at first, but now I can't even imagine only having one baby, like that seems so weird," she said.
While she had long been on TikTok, she didn't start making videos of her own until she was pregnant with the twins.
At first, the videos didn't get a lot of traction until just a few months ago, when one special video hit the "For You" page, curated by TikTok algorithms. In the video, LaRue held up her twins close to the camera.
"It was one of them where I was trying to hold both of them like in one arm, and everyone's like, 'Oh my gosh, they're so big and you're so small,' " LaRue said.
That video currently has more than 64 million views.
"They're both PERFECT," one viewer commented. "Cuteness overload!" another wrote.
After that video became a hit, LaRue's been posting three videos a day, showing the girls during playtime, how Mom tells them apart, or how LaRue lets the babies pick their own outfits.
"When we're playing around, usually I'll just set the phone up and just record things that every other mom does, except I just record it and post it on TikTok," LaRue said. Videos are a mixture of dancing to trending music on the app and moments of daily life such as bath time, play time and dinner time.
Seeing how popular her videos have become has been surprising for LaRue, who wasn't expecting such a response.
"It's crazy to me because I just kind of posted videos like for fun, really. I didn't expect anything to come out of it," she said. "I think the craziest part is just that people are so interested in the babies and stuff, because I feel like we're just such an average family, besides being young and like having twins."
Mejia, 23, who grew up in St. Paul, said the experience has been exciting for the family.
"Alexis works very hard at home, and just making the videos makes her happy, so having the support and the fan base makes her happy, and that makes me happy," Mejia said.
LaRue, a stay-at-home mom, tries to treat TikTok and social media like a job, which, in a way, it is. The twins appear in videos dressed in clothes from Gerber or other brands and LaRue is represented by an agent in New York. Mejia works full-time as a cook.
LaRue and Mejia worked together for six months and had been dating for three months when she got pregnant. They have been together for nearly two years, and plan to get married when they can afford it, said LaRue.
In early November, the family got COVID-19, a surprise for them as they rarely go out. During that time, they only posted a handful of videos to let people know they had COVID. If they didn't, people would notice they're gone, she said. The family has since recovered.
Accent the positive
Day to day life as a young mom of two has come with its challenges, LaRue said.
"Honestly, I think that it [TikTok] helped me because I'm able to talk about problems that I have as a young mom of twins and other people can relate or they give me words of encouragement," she said.
But using the platform also means the family is subject to negative comments from viewers, some of whom question the size of the twins and ask if they're overweight or if LaRue is overfeeding them.
"There's nothing wrong with them; they're just really fast growers," she said. "I think it's important that the way that we support body positivity and adults, that we should do the same for babies. Babies come in all shapes and sizes."
She often makes humorous videos with some of the unkind comments as way to deflect them.
"When I first had my twins like I really struggled with my mental health. I was in a support group for other new moms and that really helped me kind of build up some tough skin," LaRue said. "I make videos like to respond to them because I'd rather make a joke to make it funny rather than get hurt over it."
Overall, the encouraging comments outweigh the negative ones, which is one of the reasons Minnesota's tiny mom plans to continue making videos on TikTok. If the girls don't want to do videos as they get older, LaRue said she won't insist on it. But for now, it's a fun way to document their lives.
"I just want to like spend as much time as I can with them. Because everyone's like, 'Oh, they grow up so fast.' And I don't want to miss out on anything," she said. "I just love being with them all the time. They're like my best friends."