Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Twinspin - The Gear

I wish someone would have handed me a list like this when I was expecting our girls. A list that answered the question...

What kind of gear do I need for twins?

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So. All you seasoned veterans out there - for the love of twin parent sanity, will you please chime in on this one? If you agree with some of these items, please say so. If you disagree, please say so. If I've forgotten something you couldn't live without, by all means, enlighten us!

And one other housekeeping note: if you have any friends or family expecting twins, go ahead and forward this to them. I have a couple items to give away.

Now for some background. While sorting through all our twin gear in Virginia (prior to our move), I pulled all our "doubles" and set them aside. Confident we were having only one baby - our fourth, Doug lifted the car seats off the storage room shelf and pushed them into a corner. "What if we had twins again?" he asked.

I laughed. And we promptly gave away all our "extras."

Never say never. After learning our fourth baby was really number(s) four and five, we had to procure doubles of everything all over again, including an infant double stroller (read further - it's available for the taking). Both times, we did a fair amount of borrowing. People were more than happy to loan their highchair, crib, or exer-saucer for a season, and it was much cheaper than buying everything. So my first word of advice would be, borrow when and where you can.

Here are my recommendations, in a loose chronological order of need.


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First things first. How will you feed your babies? Sometimes this question is solved for you. But if you choose to breast-feed, a twin nursing pillow (calico kitty print not included - we just got lucky) was a huge help.

As you can see, Ali (pictured above) spent quite a bit of time watching how it was done.

This pillow was the only thing that gave my babies sufficient support for tandem-feeding. As my babies grew, I had to stuff additional pillows here and there. The EZ pillow also comes with a back support but is currently unavailable on Amazon, so I linked to one that is very similar. For more info on breast-feeding twins, you can read my thoughts here.


If you do breast feed, it is inevitable that you will have to pump now and then. In five years of nursing babies, this has been my favorite pump. So small, it fits easily into a purse and runs on a battery that you rarely have to recharge. Pretty slick. I'm kind of shocked to see how much it's going for online. We got a deal through Doug's company. But buying used on Craigslist is also an option.


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Isn't this a sweet picture? (It's an advertisement.) You can see my boys snuggled in below.

I wouldn't have survived without two swings. Some Moms have done it with only one. It can be done. But with three other needy toddlers underfoot, I found two swings nearly essential. I would put my babes in the swing before nap times so they could get drowsy, then I would transfer them into their beds just before they dozed off. It also helped when both babies were crying and I only had arms for one.

Any kind of swing will work. I liked the Papasan because the cradle is deep, it tilts, and it pivots so baby can swing side to side or forward/backward. We used all positions - depending on the moment and how fussy our babies were.

(Walking through a living room with two babies swinging different directions does give you the sensation of being on a boat.)

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In the early days when our babies just slouched around and slept, these were perfect. (Sami and Ali above. Spencer and Gordy below.) These chairs prop a baby up at just the right angle so I used them to bottle-feed (one bottle in each hand), and spoon-feed when my kids were still too small for a high-chair. The seats play music and vibrate, but they don't bounce. A bouncy chair will work well too.

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The uses for a Boppy are endless. I used them behind my back while nursing, tucked under a baby's head, to hold a baby still while I changed one baby's diaper. I also kept them on the bed (where I nursed) to prop babies when I finished nursing. Since I supplemented with formula, I also used Boppies for bottle-feeding. You have definitely arrived somewhere grand when your babies finally hold their own bottles!

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Important note. Buy a naked Boppy with slipcovers so you can wash the covers. I tried washing an actual Boppy and it came out of the washer feeling like it had been shot through with golf balls.

Double Strollers

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There are lots of options in this arena. I'll just share with you what we used and liked.

We loved this double infant stroller (Baby Trend Snap n Go) by Peg Perego. It adjusts to fit any car seat, maneuvers fairly easily in tight places (although it is long). And has lots of carry space underneath.

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We gave away our first one so this is our second Snap n Go. Unfortunately, I only took it out twice. Getting all five of my kids outside the house just didn't happen like I thought it would, then suddenly it was winter. So the stroller is in excellent shape and I'd love for it to go to a good home. Do you know someone who lives local that could use it?

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This is the fabulous, almost all-terrain BOB Jogging Stroller. Sorry I don't have a better picture but you can link to the specs. It's pretty pricey. My suggestion? If you have an outdoor retailer near you (like REI) that sells the BOB, wait for their annual sale, then purchase. Or buy used.

But here's why we love it. When we only had three kiddos, the girls rode in the seats and Eliza perched herself on the front. Not a safe system for actual jogging, but it saved the day when walking long distances.

Actual jogging with two toddlers is insanely hard, especially if you live anywhere with hills. I only did it a handful of times. But we take our BOB hiking, on dirt roads, over grassy areas - pretty much everywhere. It turns on a dime. The seats recline for naps, it has great shade, foot support, and it is hands-down our favorite double stroller.

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But there's one hang-up with the BOB. It's still rather large when collapsed. It fits easily into the back of our mini-van, but makes it hard to pack things around it. And it isn't small enough to pass through the x-ray machines at the airport. So we had to find a second double stroller that was compatible for travel. We use the Twin Triumph Maclaren.

The Maclaren folds down so neat and tidy. It fits easily onto the airport conveyer belt, slides into the back or middle seat of our car nicely and we love it because it's so compact. The seats do recline, with foot supports for your little ones. I bought mine used from a mom of triplets.

Also important: If a Mothers of Multiples Organization is successful and active where you are, I would get involved as soon as you can - simply for purchasing used items and clothes. The MOMs group I worked with in Virginia was a wonderful place to network.


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When your babies are small, front carriers are so helpful. Especially when hiking or going places that aren't stroller-accessible. We toured the Biltmore (behind us) with Eliza in a Kelty pack and the girls in Baby Bjorns.


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I was introduced to this novelty WAY too late. I wish I'd known about it sooner. Ergo Baby beats the awkward, heavy Kelty pack any day. This ingenious contraption straps a baby onto your back as if you are carrying them piggy-back. They're right next to you - which I love - and it's half the weight of a large pack. If necessary, you can carry a second child in your arms for a short distance. Ergo Baby fits easily into a suitcase and is perfect for negotiating crowded spaces like markets, shops, special events. It doesn't offer pockets for extra carry space, but a fanny pack or tie-on pocket can remedy the problem.

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It also comes with a hood that can be strapped over the baby's head once they fall asleep.

After packing one of my boys in our Kelty, then packing Gordon in the Ergo Baby Carrier (which belongs to my friend Kara), I felt like running, jumping and doing a few ballet leaps. It is SO comfortable. And cheaper than the Kelty frame pack. I can't shout this from the rooftops loud enough! Ergo Baby is the way to go.


These also saved me. A bit of controversy has hummed around these - for placing babies on tables. You do have to be careful. I tried not to leave my babes unattended and we never had any trouble. You can tell when your child is outgrowing them and starting to twist out. That's when they are no longer safe to use.

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As for the trays, not worth the money at all. I tried them for a bit, but they popped off easily and at this stage, my kids weren't advanced enough to pick up food off the tray anyhow. I would say, ditch the trays.

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(I love these two pictures. Spencer watching Gordon chew on the bug toy and my girls holding hands.)

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When it comes to spoon-feeding and enhancement of cervical musculature, the Bumbo is excellent. Our babies loved feeling a part of things and watching what was going on.


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I think we used every brand of exer-saucer out there. We still don't own one - we always borrowed - but these fall into the "saving grace" category too. I'm afraid I might crawl under a rock some day if some higher being, who keeps track of life statistics, tells me how many hours my children spent in exer-saucers. It would be a lot. But I'm not sure I could have done it any other way.

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I still laugh over this clip. One day Spencer was so tired, even the exer-saucer couldn't keep him awake.

High Chairs and/or Booster Seats

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We've also used a number of different high chairs. Easiest to clean? Peg Perego. Rolls most easily? Peg Perego. But I suspect this assessment is highly subjective. Of course, any chair will do.

My tip? Keep booster seats in the car during the high chair season. This way we could feed our boys at family parties, picnics, parks, or anywhere else we wanted them contained during a meal.

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We recently transitioned our boys to booster seats at the table. And I am SO glad to be done with high chair trays. Cleaning trays is my least favorite household duty, and after four years, I am glad to see them go.

Amazon Mom for Diapers

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Notice anything wrong with this picture? I came home to find one of our cute baby sitters had put the girls' diapers on backwards. Made me laugh.

So I used Diapers.com for a while, then a friend turned me onto Amazon Mom. It beats any retailer's price by a landslide if you sign up for Amazon Mom's "Subscribe and Save" program. You can get a 30% discount on your favorite brand and shipping is free. The other perk (for those of you who buy all your books on Amazon, like me) is that as long as you're using the program, you qualify for free two-day shipping on almost everything else offered at Amazon. Pretty darn sweet.

And one last offering. I have a couple bins of twin boy clothes I would love to give away. Size 0-2. Do you know anyone local who could use them?

Phew... That's a lot of stuff.

When it comes down to it, parents have been raising twins since the beginning of time (did Adam and Eve have twins? Hmmmm.) and most of them would probably laugh (or gawk) at our excess of goods.

You can do twins with as little or as much gear as you want. But that's our story.

What gear have you found to be essential?

22 comments:

  1. My must haves were two bouncy chairs, two bumbos, the double snap n go stroller, and two booster seats. We don't use high chairs at all - we just keep the booster seats strapped onto two of our kitchen chairs, and they tuck nicely under the counter. No bulky high chairs in the way. I love it. And we just throw them in the car if we're going somewhere we will need them.

    Believe it or not, I never could get used to the nursing pillow. It just didn't work for me. So I used half a dozen pillows to build a feeding trough instead. :) It worked great.

    Bonnie

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  2. I told my sister about this post and she would LOVE to get her hands on some twin boy clothes for 12 - 24 month. Her boys are growing faster than she can keep up with! You are so sweet to take the time to post all of this.

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  3. Second on the swings - they were a lifesaver for the days I felt overwhelmed. We had a hand crank one plus 2 electric ones.

    We loved our podee bottles (even tho they were a pain to clean)

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  4. What an amazing list! I have a girlfriend who is 22 weeks along with identical twin boys. They are #4 and #5 in her family. She is excited and a little overwhelmed. She would love the littler clothes and the stroller if they are available.

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  5. What a great post, Cath! So much wisdom here to share. I adored seeing all the pictures of you and your twins at different stages. That first picture of you pregnant with your girls is so lovely.

    The Ergo baby carrier was amazing. I mostly used mine in the hip-carrying position, and it was so comfortable. Yes, two swings saved me those first few months. Like Bonnie said, the EZ nursing pillow never worked for me very well. The first few months I just nursed them separately (thanks to their amazing ability to chug the milk down quickly...how many newborns are done after 10 minutes of nursing? that saved me.). Then, after that, I just used a bunch of couch cushions to prop them up around me.

    The one book I'd recommend (I know that's not exactly "gear"): "Ready or Not...Here We Come" by Elizabeth Lyons. She has a sequel for the toddler years too. She is hilarious!

    Thanks for sharing your ideas here! Two sets of twins....that doesn't happen very often. I laughed about "never say never" with your last pregnancy.

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  6. We have two sisters in our neighborhood who are expecting twins. For both it will be children #3 and #4. If you don't get a taker on your stroller, let me know and I'll come pick it up. Keep posting!

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  7. Spencer just peeked over my shoulder as I was reading this and said (and I'm sure you would agree), "I think an 11 year old big brother would have been helpful as well." He said this in all seriousness. It was too sweet not to mention:)

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  8. Bonnie - Thanks for your list of "must haves." In hindsight, going straight to the boosters is actually a great idea. We didn't have enough chairs (still don't), so I've been squatting on a stool for meals. Silly. Need to get two more chairs soon. But the boys were ready. And you're not the only one who couldn't make the nursing pillow work. Thanks for your perspective. "half a dozen pillows to build a feeding trough" - still chuckling over that one.

    Melinda - will you have your sister (or you) email me at cath.wildnprecious@gmail.com? Then we'll figure out how to get these clothes to you/her. Glad she can use them!

    Knit1,Knit2 - swings were savers for you too! Never tried the podee feeding system. It probably would have come in handy. Anyone else use podee?

    Fairies... - I think this is you Darci. Will you (or your friend) email me at cath.wildnprecious@gmail.com? And we'll work out the details on getting her the stroller. That's wonderful news! And kind of you to look out for her.

    Anne Marie - Glad to know you loved the Ergo Baby carrier as well. Isn't it divine? I didn't know you could also wear it on the side. Does it work as a front carrier too? And what a great book recommendation. I wish I'd known you when I was scouring the bookstore for something that would help prepare me rather than traumatize me. Thanks for enlightening us. xo

    Cris - I will let you know about the clothes and stroller. Are your neighbors expecting girls, boys, one of each? And sweet Spencer. An 11 year old brother would be THE BEST. He couldn't be more right. Is he available? ;)

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  9. Cath, yes, the Ergo can work as a front carrier although your little one has to face in. It never quite worked for me in that position. I thought the Baby Bjorn was far superior for the first 9 months or so. How I miss those days of snuggling little ones close to me!

    You can feel really proud of all these years of feeding, diapering, and carrying so many little ones! What a miracle. Truly. xo

    Anne Marie

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  10. Those are all definitely must haves. I loved my snap n go stroller and could never have survived without boppy's. I will be so thrilled when the babies can finally hold their own bottles! That will definitely be a momentous occasion. This list seriously needs to be handed out to all moms expecting twins...it definitely would have helped me to feel more prepared:). I can't ever imagine being at the stage where I can finally give things away. Your kiddies are growing up.

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  11. Catherine you got it all! Plus a few things I wish I had when mine were all little! Don't know how you find the time to do all you do...here are wonderful wishes coming across cyberspace to you! I did laugh at the jogging with 2 toddlers stuff...I just gave my double jogger away 2 weeks ago and my boys are almost 5. It was often to run with them or not run at all, so we all went. Pushing them made me strong but my runs were short and slow... :)

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  12. Terrific list! We have everything you listed, except the ergo; I also recommend one sling of some sort - you can use the sling for one baby and hold the other one for a limited amount of time. We borrowed lots of the big stuff which was wonderful. I highly recommend buying used wherever possible/practical.

    Also, we live in a very walkable area, to start with, but also in family housing on a college campus, so the BOB is our #1 indispensable item for my sanity and efficiency. I can't even take the trash out without a walk, so the stroller was/is a must. It pushes like a dream, and is the best jog stroller on the market. Worth every last dollar.

    One other item that it seems many parents don't consider: go with mini cribs. These are fabulous, real cribs (not 'portacribs') that also convert to twin beds if desired, but that take up much less space (a little more than half the size of a full crib). We'll make it in these until they're 2 or so, just like full-size ones.

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  13. Oh Catherine! The gear, the gear, the gear that comes with having twins! I feel like a babies r us outlet. We have 5 strollers, 3 of them doubles...I love my bob ironman the best. Funny thing is, we bought it when were expecting our first, thinking we were being smart and planning ahead for when #2 cam along. Little did we know that #3 would come along at the same time! I love my double blessings nursing pillow. It allowed me to nurse tandem and was fantastic. I found it at doubleblessings.com. My boys are still nursing...yep, I'm a cow. The bouncers and bumpos we no good for us. My boys are too active for the bumps and could wiggle out of them early on. I definitely use the portable chairs for going out to dinner- again, my boys wiggle out of the highchairs and restaurants and I'm a bit leery using them because they're so dirty...I highly recommend a minivan too! Haha. I have all three of my boys in the same row and it's awesome. Thanks for this post. Your kiddos are darling. Your niece Amanda has helped me a lot with babysitting this summer. We love the Arveseths and are so glad they didn't move! If you can't find anyone take your clothes, we'd love to have them!

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  14. awesome resource for moms....i passed this on to our brand new mommy. xox

    thanks catherine. xox

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  15. Thinking about all the stuff we acquired and then had to purge still makes me feel claustrophobic. I think you covered it perfectly.

    One thing that I'd definitely say about stuff is that in the beginning what you need most is a helper! So if you're in a bind financially, use the money to fly a helper into town if necessary so you get sleep and extra support.

    Also, there's plenty of time to get things as you go if you can handle being that flexible as you go through all the nesting urges. My twins slept in the same pack-n-play bassinet until they were six weeks old and then in the same crib until they were five months old.

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  16. Annie - I'm so glad you shared here. Thank you! You're not too far away from those darlings holding their own bottle. It will come! And yes, they do grow up. In retrospect, it happens so quickly!

    Jen - Mom of two sets as well. Thanks for your sweet comment. I'm so impressed you ran with your babies! That is serious work! And I think it's amazing that your boys are 5 and you're at the point of passing on the stroller. Wow. Your family is beautiful!

    Lynn - "the BOB is our #1 indispensable item for my sanity and efficiency." I hear you. But even taking the trash out is a walk!? Bless you friend! And I love the idea of mini cribs. Didn't know they were out there. What a great idea for twin parents - especially if they convert to toddler beds. Thank you!

    Natty - "I feel like a babies r us outlet." Lol. Wiggly boys would add a whole new challenge to bouncers and bumbos. I get it. And is it not the automatic sliding doors that make minivans so celestial for twin moms?? I'm so glad you've had Amanda to help. Both those girls are great with little ones. And I'm so glad you told me who you were. I know exactly who you are. Jill gave me updates in the early days about how amazing you are! Keep it up. And I'll let you know about the clothes. How old are your boys now?

    Cristie - such a precious new grandbaby you have! xo

    Liz - What an excellent point. Ditto the need for a HELPER! Crucial. Definitely top of the list. And yes, for sure a good idea (when it comes to cash flow) to purchase as you go. Thank you!

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  17. Brooks and Britton are 13 months and Drake will be 3 in September. I think as they get older we are finding we need two of the same toys in some regards... ie their push toys and rocking chairs. It seems like no matter what they always want what their brother has! Also, did your twins (boys or girls- and I think it's so great that both sets are same sex) walk later than Eliza? Drake was walking by 11 months and these little fellas are everywhere but dont care about walking. Thanks!

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  18. Love your list! I wish I had known all the things you REALLY need the first time around. We too had gotten rid of one of everything because "what are the chances we will have another set!" Your stroller list is right on! My biggest piece of advice to future twin mama's don't be afraid to splurge on your double stroller. It is my lifeline to the "outside world". The easier it is to use, the easier it is for you to get out and do the things you need to do. I thought the snap and go was awesome and my Maclaren twin rocks! I did not splurge on the BOB, but a double jogger is great too. I did not have a great twin stroller the first time around and WOW, what a difference. We basically had all the same gear. I did get rid of my Peg highchairs the second time around. Our kitchen just could not handle two big highchairs. Once we outgrew the bumbos, we went straight to the boosters. Hope you are doing well!

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  19. EKW - Two sets allows us the perspective of doing it slightly different the second time, doesn't it? Can't believe you had to do the "round up two of everything all over again" like us! I'd love to know more of your story. I'm beginning to think skipping highchairs all together is the way to go. Wish I'd done that this time around (we just didn't have a big enough table!) Ditto the fact that a good double stroller is your lifeline to the "outside world." Amen friend!

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  20. Cath, all those pictures of darling babies are amazing! Can you believe all you're doing? You make me want to have twins. Love you.

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  21. Oh my gosh, these pictures just serve to remind me of how much WORK you have done (and are doing!) And I thought one at a time was hard!!! If I ever had twins, what I think I would need is YOU! :)
    (I love that picture of that baby half out of the swing...oops, I think that might have happened to me once!)

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  22. I just have to introduce you to the best stroller ever. It's the Baby Jogger City Select. It's tandem, but stadium seating. It carries two infant seats until they are big enough to go into the regular seats. Both seats can lie back. They can face forward, backward, toward or away from each other. There is also a rider board that one child can stand on once they're older. I can steer this thing with one hand and I do all of my shopping with it (except at Costco). My B/G twins are 19 months and I will only own one stroller. Love this amazing stroller. It's only been on the market since 2010.

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