My Story

The chronicle of the journey from infertility, to miscarriage, to finally raising twin girls born in June 2012.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Year Gear

I've been asked to do a gear round up from a new mommy expecting twins (congratulations!) so this post is going to be a monster.  This is also a good read for anyone looking for a baby shower gift as I'll try to list things that others won't think to get for the new parents.

Disclaimers - I'm just one mommy sharing her experiences.  My needs are likely different from yours.  I'll do what I can to talk about things in such a way to help you decide if what worked for me will work for you.  I also try to favor things that will have a purpose long after the baby stage.  I'm a major homebody, rarely leave the house, so that's a factor in my various opinions.

I have an Amazon Affiliate account (haven't made a penny from it as of yet) and 90% of the shopping I do is via Amazon.  So I'm going to use that account to link to the various products where I can, not necessarily because that's the best place to purchase the item, but because it's the easiest way to show you the item and other peoples opinions on them.  If you decide to purchase from Amazon, going through my links to do so will drop a few pennies into my pockets.

Ok, here goes.

Things you'll want that you won't be prompted to buy from baby registry suggestion lists

A deep freezer
I don't think I've ever heard anyone in any life situation regret purchasing a chest freezer of some sort.  With a baby or two on the way, you'll likely want one for all those freezer meals you prep or have brought to you by kind family members.  If you're pumping, you'll want one for milk storage.  When the kiddos get older, bags of veggies from Costco, home made purees, etc will fill this thing.  It will save you money in the long run as a family when you're able to eat filet mignon by purchasing and freezing from Costco for the same price as a Big Mac.

1 year of Costco membership
A good place to buy furniture, bulk frozen foods, gear, etc.  Since Costco wipes are the best wipes ever, you'll want to be able to buy those.  Costco diapers work just fine too.

As much money for a night nurse as you can get
A good nights sleep will solve more of your problems than any gear you can buy.  If it's a choice between having someone take care of the kids for a full 8 hours or buying $200 worth of doo-dads to try to make your life easier, go for the 8 hours.

Amazon Prime Membership
You're not going to have much time to get to the store and by the time you do, you'll have forgotten a lot of what you wanted to get.  If you have a prime membership, you can sit down and order it and it will be on your doorstep much faster.  The free shipping on gear and furniture will more than pay for it.

Black out shades for the nursery
Darkness makes sleep easier.

Things where brand isn't all that important

Here are the things that most of us spend our pregnancies meticulously comparing but in the end, one really is like any other.  Basically, get the one that appeals to you and doesn't have any major red flags in the reviews.

Changing table
I don't see any reason to buy a specific changing table.  We got dressers from IKEA that are the right height and will be furniture for the girls probably for most of their lives.

We opted for DaVinci Emily 4 in 1 Convertable Crib with Toddler Rail, White  in hopes that it will serve them for years.  We only bought one to start and got a second crib from my brother just as we were needing to separate the girls.  One thing to be aware of - there have been a lot of recalls and safety guideline changes in the last 2 years.  The hand-me-downs you may receive are likely no longer compliant and it's actually illegal to sell those cribs or give them away.  Triple check any cribs you may be offered to be sure that they are still ok to use.

Glider/Rocking chair
You'll want two (assuming you have a partner/spouse who intends to do the same amount of parenting that you do).  Go to craigs list for this.  Be sure to sit and rock in it before spending your money.  We didn't and the one we got from craigs list squeaks.

Pack and Play
Again, most of these are all the same.  We got one similar to this Graco one as a hand me down that worked just fine as the girls bed for the first couple of months.  I liked having a raised bed for the first couple of months so I didn't have to put them on the floor during the birth recovery period.  Ours also had a changing table attachment which we never really used, but if you take the kiddos to other peoples houses, the changing table attachment will come in very handy and might be worth having.

Swings and Bouncy seats 
For what it's worth, I liked the kind with the bucket style seat.  I think it helped make the babies feel cozy and swaddled.  Start out with this Fisher-Price SpaceSaver Swing and Seat  and then get others according to what you like and don't like about it.  We had a larger one that also swung side to side and one of my girls really liked that but it took up a ton of floor space.

Jumpers and Exersaucers
We couldn't use the jumpers because we didn't have any door frames that you can hang them from.  Once the girls were able to sit up, they were in the exersaucers A LOT.  Definitely worth buying.  One thing to look out for when buying used - I got a hand me down EvenFlo exersaucer with a few toys missing.  The cost of replacing the toys was more than if I had just purchased a fully stocked one at a consignment store.

Play mats / Tummy time mats
Again, they're pretty much all the same.  Most have at least one mirror and dangle things over your kids faces.  Get what appeals to you.

Specific Recommendations

High Chairs
I don't like standard high chairs.  I don't know why, I just have an aversion to them.

I started out buying the The First Years Deluxe Reclining Feeding Seat.  It's really good for that period of time when the babies are still mostly just drinking from bottles for their meals but experimenting with solids.  It reclines back for bottle feeding and takes all of three seconds to then sit them up straight for solids.  If you have family meals at a proper table, or if you take your kids to other peoples houses for meals (like Thanksgiving at Grandma's), this is a good choice.

But here's the piece of gear that every twin mom who has ever visited my house asks about.  My twin feeding table!!!  Here's another place to buy it.  I adore this piece of furniture!  It's so much easier to clean up than a standard high chair because you're wiping down a flat surface.  I hacked it a little bit by adding foam noodles to the edges (to prevent bottles and stuff from rolling off the edge) and I made a fake tray with duct tape to reduce the amount of food that lands in their laps or on the floor.  I cut paper plates in half and then tuck the flat edge under the lip of the seat to hold their food in place.  Of course, no system is perfect.

Rock n Plays
I've never used them, but I've heard a lot of twin mommies swear by rock n plays.  Good for travel, for feeding, for babies with reflux issues, etc.  For the first 6 months, these will likely be life savers.  I probably would have gotten these for myself if I had not had so many other hand me downs of things I could strap my kids to.  If I had it to do all over again, I would have bought these before a crib, swing, bouncy seat, etc.

Your kids are going to like what it is they're going to like and you're simply not going to know what that is until you're there.  My hospital starts babies on the Dr. Brown's bottles and we found those to be the best for Teeny Tiny because she did this tongue thing and all over bottle nipples were too mushy for her.  Middie Biddie did better with the Playtex Drop In Nursers because she had a wider, flatter latch.  Don't bother with the smaller sizes.  Yes, it seems ridiculous to put 1oz of milk in an 8oz bottle, but you'll need those larger ones eventually so you may as well get them from the start.

Start with those two brands on your registry and then figure out from there what your babies prefer.  The Dr. Browns fit directly onto Medela pumps and are much easier to clean than the Medela milk storage bottles.  So even if they aren't right for your baby, you'll still get use out of them.  The Drop in nursers are great because you only have to wash the nipple which will drastically reduce your dishwashing time, and if you're out and about, you can always get more at any grocery or drugstore in a pinch.

This really depends on your personal needs.  Everybody starts with the Baby Trend Universal Double Snap-N-Go Stroller Frame and from there they figure out what they want and don't want in a stroller.  Get it on craigslist and sell it back when you're done with it.  From what I've seen, most twin moms end up preferring a side by side stroller.

I went with the Maclaren Twin Techno Stroller.  But I don't jog or go over any rough terrain.  It's kind of a pain to open, but it's a good stroller for shopping and stuff.  The others I see most recommended are the
Baby Jogger City Mini GT Double Stroller and the BOB Sport Utility Duallie Stroller.  I'll take the joggers word for it that these are best because I ain't going jogging to test them out for myself.

Car Seats
Trust me, no matter how much shopping you do, you're probably going to come back to the Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base.  Main reason - it's the easiest car seat on the market, period.  Another reason - it's also the smallest infant car seat on the market and because of that fact, we were able to put off buying a new car for a full year, and I was driving a two door!  Yet another reason - If you have preemies, this is the car seat they are most likely going to pass the car seat test in at the hospital so you can take them home.  Teeny Tiny passed at 3lbs 15oz.  If you don't trust me and want to keep shopping, one note -  the weight limits on car seats are bullshit.  Today, I weighed Teeny Tiny and she's at 20lbs but probably outgrew the height on this within the last month.  I have yet to see any baby still properly fit in their infant seat within 5lbs of the weight limit.

I'm paranoid so I needed breathing monitors.  For twins, you want Snuza Halo Baby Movement Monitor.  Most false alarms were due to the diaper not being on tight enough.

For a nursery monitor, I recommend the Motorola Video Baby Monitor and Two Cameras.  I tried an audio only monitor and it sucked, could hear through the walls better than I could hear through the monitor so I got this in a fit of frustration and have been glad I did ever since.  The visual and sound qualities are both high, I can control the camera from the parent monitor, I can go outside and this is still within range, and now that the girls are older, I'm able to just sing through the monitor when one wakes up and it settles her back down.  Ok, I know some people feel like if they have a video monitor, they'll never be able to stop looking at it and it will stress them out more.  Consider this - once the girls were older and well passed the initial sleep training stage, Middie Biddie was having trouble sleeping and we often had to let her redo the cry it out method.  One night when she was starting her usual crying, we looked in on her through the monitor and saw that her leg had gotten stuck between the crib slats and she really was in distress.  If we didn't have the monitor, we would have let her "cry it out" even though she actually needed us.  I intend to use this thing until the girls go to college.

At first, you're probably looking for swaddles. HALO SleepSack  is very popular and it's popular for a reason, it's easy and it works.  There are always a ton of these at the consignment stores.  I keep buying larger sizes of sleep sacks (without the swaddle portion) because babies can't climb out of cribs when wearing them.  They can't toss a leg over the rail.

I also liked the Loving Baby Swaddle Blanket because you just tie it in a knot at the chest which is intuitive and easy.

For that weird period of time when the babies are bursting out of swaddles, but still want that tightness to be comfortable, get the Merlin Magic Sleepsuits.  They're totally awesome.  Middie Biddie would just kind of lie in place like a little starfish in hers, but Teeny Tiny was able to move around, practice crawling and all that stuff.

Ok, there are a billion other things I could talk about, I really could go on forever.  But I've been writing this post for a month now, never getting it finished and I need to consider it finished at some point.  Now is as good a time as any.

If you have questions about anything I've missed, please leave them in the comments and I'll respond there.


  1. I'll have to keep all these things in mind.

  2. You did an excellent job with the list! We were fortunate to already have block out shades on our windows, plus a tint on the windows as well to make the room darker. I realize now how it makes the room that much more inviting for our son to go to sleep in :)


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