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So you are expecting twins? Congratulations! How are you doing? I hope you’re keeping well. I hope you’re here in a state of calmness. But it’s okay if you are not. Being pregnant with twins is scary. Are you perhaps worried, squinting at lists on the internet at four in the morning when you can’t sleep because the kids are fighting each other in your uterus and then your brain starts working and you need to do something to get ready because god knows you don’t know what you’re doing and you get googling and are led, perhaps, here, hoping for some sane suggestions? Suggestions that don’t involve shelling out over a hundred dollars for what looks like a normal backpack but is somehow better for babies because it has more pockets? Well, I hope I can help.
Spoiler alert: I don’t really get designer nappy bags. I just used a normal back-pack? It was fine? (Don’t even talk to me about handbag style nappy bags. I don’t have enough hands as it is) I am not an Instagram mum. I don’t need things to be flash. I mean, my house is literally full of holes. We also don’t have a lot of money and I need the things I buy to be worth it. So here’s what was truly worth it for us.
Or Vitaplan. Whichever you prefer. Chocolate, obviously. I used to have it when I felt peckish between my second afternoon tea and dinner. That’s not a joke. Trust me, you’ll get why you’re so hungry all the time once you see both kids… and the placentas… oh and also the umbilical cords. Do you know the amount of blood in your body has increased by up to 60%? You have to make all of that out of something.
I suppose you could make something similar to Complan out of chia seeds and nut butters and protein powders etc etc but you are pregnant and have earned the right to just like do things the easy way sometimes.
2. Chest freezer
This is is seriously up there with the best shopping decisions I’ve ever made. My parents treated us to one around the time I stopped working (couldn’t handle it anymore at 26 weeks but I did have a pretty physical job) and I spent the remainder of my pregnancy filling it. Once the kids were born we didn’t need to cook a dinner for the first four months of their lives! It was an absolute life-saver. Evenings with two newborns can be rough, ease the pressure wherever you can.
The best thing about getting a chest freezer is that if people hear that you are stocking up because you’re pregnant with twins then sometimes they will want to put things in it for you. I was totally unprepared for this and it was wonderful. What amazing kindness. It was the most unexpected people, too. Barnaby’s boss sent us lasagnes. My mum and dad’s downstairs neighbour made bolognaise, as did a good friend, while another friend who has kids of her own to worry about made us pasta bake. You may notice that there is definitely a theme to the kind of food that we were gifted but Barns and I are dedicated pasta fans so we couldn’t believe our luck.
3. One of those belt thing that holds your belly up
My husband has just informed me that these are called “maternity belts”. Oh, I suppose that does make sense.
Anyway, my auntie treated me to one of these and I wore it all. the. time. It’s basically wet-suit material and Velcro. It gave me a weird hump if I wore it under my clothes and looked like a kid’s imitation of a wrestling championship belt if I wore it on the outside but I still wore it everywhere. Why? It really helped with the feeling that my tummy was about to split open and all my guts were going to fall out at any second. And back aches and stuff, too, I guess.
4. Twin breastfeeding pillow
This was indeed useful for breastfeeding but even handier for bottle feeding and so I’d recommend it to anyone regardless of which manner you intend to feed your children. It’s one of those things that becomes a part of the furniture and then when it finally gets ripped after years of intensive usage you’re like? How? Are we supposed to cope without it??? It’s okay though, my mother-in-law sewed it up. We got a handmade one from a nice lady on Facebook.
5. Proper bottles
Our first tries with the bottle were all those round teat ones you get in the hospital or the supermarket, and frankly we were in despair. So much leakage! So much wind! How on earth were we going to survive months of this?! We’re melodramatic but it was seriously problematic. Then salvation came in the form of a family member suggesting we try Mam bottles. You can get them at Farmers, Baby City, etc. They were so much easier for our tiny wee bubbies and feeding became less of a dreadful chore for all of us. I hear good things about other bottles but we never needed to try a different brand.
It’s a good idea buy a few of these before the children are born. Leaving the hospital will seem a lot less scary if you’ve got bottles, formula, and a sterilising system (that you already understand) waiting for you at home. Some people do exclusively breastfeed twins, it’s true, and I wouldn’t want to put anybody off who’s really committed to trying but wow, that would be hard, and I would never expect it of anyone. I didn’t even slightly expect it of myself. There are good reasons it’s not very common.
6. A jug and a whisk for making formula
OH MY GOD, WHY DIDN’T WE GET THESE SOONER? We made up SO MUCH formula using the absolutely tedious and time-consuming method of gently swirling scoops in bottles. What a waste of life! I mean, I know you need to do this in the very early days when babies can’t handle the smallest amount of bacteria but we didn’t get the jug until they were seven months old. That is four entire months longer than we needed to wait. It made a huge difference to our life. Suddenly, boom! A whole day’s formula made up in less than five minutes, all sitting in the fridge ready to be chucked into bottles the second the kids got hungry.
You know what the very best thing was though? Even better than the convenience? Turns out the whisk incorporates less air into the formula than the in-bottle-swishing does and so overnight burping the kids became a thing of the past! Amazing!
You don’t need one of those special formula making jugs. A regular Sistema one or similar from the supermarket will do. Just make sure it seals shut, and that you take all the moving parts apart when you clean it so it’s properly hygenic. If you don’t have a whisk you could even use a fork.
If you are wondering, we heated it up a bit in the microwave. We didn’t make it super hot, just took the chill off a bit. I know you are not supposed to because apparently you can get “hot spots” but we tested it on ourselves first and our microwave didn’t seem to do that and like I said, we never made it warmer than room temperature anyway. Actually Barns quite often gave it to them cold out of the fridge, but he may be a sociopath so I’m not sure if you should follow his example.
7. Boon Grass
This is a flash drying rack for all your bottles, sippy cups, tiny spoons, etc, and what’s good about it is that it not only keeps all this nonsense hygienically upright, it keeps it out of the way so you can still fit your grown-up dishes in your normal dish rack.
8. Baby bouncers, play gyms
The thing about having two newborns is that if you are alone with them you always seem to be picking them up just to put them down again. The second your baby is calm and happy with a full belly and a clean bum, twinkling up at you all appealingly, you have to put her down because your other baby needs you and possibly has done for some time (If you aren’t squeaking “just a second darling I’m sorry I’m coming please just hold on a little longer” on repeat to a wailing infant who doesn’t understand while trying not to cry on your other baby as you change her out of the clean nappy you only just put her in that she has now pooed all over, do you even have multiples?). You need four hands and you don’t have them. It’s…I’m trying to keep the tone light-hearted here but it’s rough. If you have somewhere nice to put them, somewhere that makes them happy, it’s a tiny bit less rough.
A baby bouncer keeps your baby a bit upright supposedly so they can see you but we mostly had ours pointed out the ranch slider window because our newborns were totally obsessed with the tree out there. They definitely preferred watching it to looking at me all the time. It’s also handy if you’re not sure you’ve burped her properly and you don’t want her to puke.
Play gyms are wonderful! Babies love them. It’s just a soft mat with dangling toys above it. We had two but put the kids in the same one, head to head so they didn’t bother each other, and swapped to the other play gym every few days so they didn’t get bored.
These are pretty easy to find cheap at second hand shops or on trademe. If I were you, I wouldn’t bother with ones that vibrate or play music or rotate the toys or whatever. Babies are pretty easy to entertain (see above re tree) and you don’t need to be messing around with batteries all the time.
9. Moses baskets
If you spend any time on a multiples forum or facebook group, you’ll see some of the same questions come up over and over again. “What did your newborns sleep in?” is a real common one. There are people who advocate for pepe pods, there are frugal folk who suggest going straight into a cot. Personally, for first-time parents, I’d recommend flexibility. Every family is different. The nice thing about Moses baskets (or bassinets) is that they are portable so you have the freedom to experiment and find what works best for you. Want to try them both on your side of the bed? One next to you and one next to your partner? Both at the end of the bed? Take the Moses basket off the stand and try it in the bed? Try them in their own room? Take their beds into the living room with you during the day? You can easily do all of this.
The extra nice thing about Moses baskets is that they have handles and you can just pick them up with a baby inside them. Super useful if you’re trying to sneak the kids out of the room at 1 am without waking your partner. No awkwardly groping for the baby in the dark, clumsily supporting the neck whilst half asleep, then trying to find somewhere to put her in the lounge so you can go back for the other one. Just pick up both baskets and take them out quickly. Brilliant.
10. Car seats and a double pram
It’s kind of hilarious to me that these things get included on lists like these. I know I’m being rude, people are just trying to be helpful, but who doesn’t know they need a pram? You definitely need a double pram and you will literally not be allowed to leave the hospital with your children if you can’t prove you have car seats for them.
We didn’t buy these things – kind friends of family members gifted us ones that their kids had grown out of – obviously source them this way if you can! We’re very lucky and I know not everyone can. Also, I know they’re your precious infants but don’t fall into the trap of thinking they need everything to be new. Second-hand is better for your wallet and the planet and babies don’t care.
Our pram is a Baby Jogger City Mini double. It’s not a cool pram and it’s pretty clunky but I will say this for it: some of the cooler prams have a much smaller barrier between the kids and they can bother each other (I’ve seen it happen) but my two-and-a-half year olds still can’t reach each other with their arms. If only there was a wall between their legs as well…
BONUS CONTENT: Stuff to worry less about
It seems like a good idea to stock up on nappies whenever they are on special at the supermarket if you know you’re about to have a couple of babies anyway, but don’t go overboard! Some brands might not work for you. All babies are different. You don’t want to wind up stuck with piles of the brand that gives the kids dreadful nappy rash (I’m looking at you, Huggies) or somehow isn’t quite the right shape for your kids and leaks every time you use them (hey there, Treasures).
This really depends on the person but I was in pain for months after my c-section and carrying the kids in a front-pack never worked for me. I just took them everywhere in the pram and it mostly worked fine. There were a few doors we couldn’t get through, true, but only a few. My friend pushed her twins out her vagina and she used the twingo a fair bit though. YMMV.
The kids obviously need clothes! But what I mean is that you might not need to spend hundreds getting everything first-hand. First spread the word a bit, a lot of mums have a box of baby stuff in their closet that they keep meaning to pass on. If that doesn’t turn anything up, I’d check in with your local multiples club. Most clubs have a stash of decent quality second-hand stuff for members.
I hope that has helped! Wherever you are on your twin journey, good luck, and know that even opening up a list like this, disagreeing with everything I say, closing the tab in disgust, and feeling more confused than ever, is making a start on getting organised!