Expecting Twins? 10 Must-Have Items to Make Life Easier
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10 must-have essentials for twins, after the jump...
All those fussy frocks, button-down shirts and sweater vests may look cute on their hangers, but when you're expecting twins, forget it. In those first few crazy months, your children will never wear them. Stock up instead on simple onesies (for summer) and sleepers (for winter) -- my twins lived in them. My girls were June babies, so we had dozens of onesies on hand for the frequent changes; the result of spitting up, pooping or just general drooliness. Baby's Own are thrifty and 100% cotton, but I was also fond of the super-durable American Apparel version (plus their karate pants are awesome). As for sleepers, you can't go wrong with The Children's Place footed, zip sleepers, available in so many different colours and patterns it'll make your head spin.
2. Receiving Blankets
Before I got pregnant, I had no idea what a receiving blanket was. And the first time I was given a pack of these thin, flannel, pastel-coloured cotton rectangles, I thought, "what the heck am I going to do with these?" I soon found out. When it comes to helping your babies sleep, swaddling rules, and receiving blankets are the perfect size to keep an infant snug and cozy. They also come in handy to combat spit-ups, milk sprays and general liquid mayhem. Stock up on a bunch of 5-packs, as they are inexpensive and indispensable.
3. Bouncy chair/Rocker/Swing Combo
The most challenging thing I found about early twin-rearing is the lack of hands. Especially if you find yourself alone with two fussing infants, you'll need some help to soothe them without growing new appendages. There are scads of different products designed to contain your baby, but I found having one bouncy chair, one rocker and one swing worked beautifully. It gave the girls variety, and they soon found their respective preferred modes: Bridget liked the bouncy chair, while Sadie alternated between swing and rocker. And no, you don't have to buy them all. We got a hand-me-down bouncy chair and swing (talk to any friend with young kids -- it's an item everyone is eager to get rid of) and invested in the rocker.
4. Bottle Warmer and Grease Pencil
With twins, feeding time can be a toughie. Whether you are breast- or bottle-feeding, tackling two hungry mouths at once can be a challenge. I found using a bottle warmer to be a life-saver. My girls did a combo of bottle and breast, and I soon realized having a bottle warmer in the bedroom (and a mini-fridge -- not an essential, but very useful) was the quickest and easiest way to get a bottle ready at 3 a.m., when it's imperative to quickly soothe a crying twin before she wakes up her sister. The grease pencil is useful to keep track of how long breast milk or formula has been hanging around in the fridge or on the counter. Just record on the bottle when it was pumped/mixed so that when you're bleary-eyed in the wee hours, you don't have to try to recall when you bottled it.
5. Double Snap-N-Go
You will (most likely) eventually need to invest in a rough-and-tumble urban twin stroller (I went with a phil&teds) but off the top, I recommend a Snap-N-Go, an amazing invention for getting from Point A to Point B. Basically, it's a metal frame with wheels, into which you can snap two infant car seats. And it gets through pretty much any door, which is a plus.
6. Baby Carrier (x 2)
Some women swear by wraparound slings, but for me, simplicity came in the form of the Baby Bjorn. These handy devices keep your baby close to you, and in our case, were particularly useful when only singing, bouncing and walking would get Bridget to sleep. Having two is perfect when you and your partner (or any friend or family member) want to take a stroll without a bulky stroller. Plus, when your baby falls asleep in there with their little head nestled against your chest, it's pretty damn sweet.
7. One Diaper Bag, Size Large
When it comes to a diaper bag for twins, size is the key. You may covet your friend's funky zebra-patterned messenger bag, but you're going to be carting around a lot of stuff at any given time, and good looks just aren't going to cut it. I prefer a backpack style, for comfort's sake. My choice was the Baby Sherpa, which conveniently has two bottle compartments, a refrigerated zip section, a portable change pad and lots of nooks and crannies for everything else.
8. Calendula Cream
These days we are all concerned about what substances we're putting on our children's bodies, and it's a challenge to figure out how best to deal with the common skin woes of babies, like diaper rash. My cream of choice is calendula, and Weleda is my preferred brand. It's natural, it doesn't seem to sting one bit and it works like a charm to get rid of the rash. It's also good for minor scrapes and boo-boos. Weleda has a very mild scent, but you can get unscented versions, too.
9. White Board
I was mercilessly teased by friends for being too anal-retentive, but honestly, this works! I posted a daily schedule including feeding times and nap times as a flexible guide for my day. It may sound like overkill, but when you're only getting three good hours of sleep a night, visual cues can be a big help. I still keep a "trip list" on my white board that includes everything we need to bring for any sojourn (segmented into day trips, overnighters or long-term trips). It helps to eliminate those "Oh crap, I forgot the baby wipes!" moments. As well, once we started introducing solid food to the girls, I kept notes about who liked what and who spit up what, because it's harder than you think to remember which one was wild for peas, which one upchucked squash and which one refused carrot entirely.
You may be a supermom in the making, but when you've got twins on the way, you are going to need help. You may have always relished your independence, but be sure to get yourself an extra pair of arms (or more) in those first few months. I had someone with me pretty much all the time the first six weeks, which is probably what kept my sanity intact. Friends and family who are willing to make you a meal, throw in some laundry, rock a fussy baby for an hour or two, or give you a nice foot rub, could be the difference between frazzled and functioning. If you are on your own, talk to your local Public Health office, as they may be able to send over someone to guide you through the early challenges of twins, like feeding, bathing and sleep issues. And don't worry, in time, you'll be juggling kids like a champ.