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