Tuesday, February 21, 2017

4th Trimester Twin Essentials

The first few months of a baby's life are often referred to as the fourth trimester, when babies are still adjusting to the world outside the womb. While the newborn phase is filled with many wonderful moments, it is also incredibly hard at times for new parents. Newborns are challenging because they need a lot of help developing good sleeping and nursing habits. Because the world outside the womb can be overstimulating, newborn babies want to be held pretty much all of the time. Most days feel like all I do all day is feed, burp, change, hold/wear, and repeat, but I know this won't last forever.

Despite having been a parent for a few years already, when I found out I was pregnant with twins I felt overwhelmed. I had no idea how to breastfeed two at once or which items I would need for two babies. I scoured Pinterest for twin "must have" lists and inquired in my local multiples group about what I would need. Now after almost three months as a twin mom, I've developed my own list of twin essentials for the newborn period. These are the items that are my favorites, the ones that we have found to be the most useful in our household. While a lot of these lists are floating around the internet, everyone's seems to be different because (surprise!) every baby is different. 


Miracle Swaddles - Amazon.com, $29.95
My sister gave me a few miracle swaddles as hand-me-downs when Asher was born and when we found out we were having twins, we bought a few more. These are the best. They are easy to use and keep babies' arms swaddled nice and tight. My boys always sleep better at night when we swaddle in these. They are slightly stretchy and fairly lightweight so are good in all seasons if you layer properly underneath. We have four of these and it's the worst when all four are dirty at bedtime because my little houdinis can wiggle their way out of most other swaddles. 

Hudson Baby Muslin Blankets - Cookieskids.com - $16.99
I bought a bunch of the Aden and Anais swaddle blankets when Asher was born and they were a lifesaver. You can use them for swaddling thanks to the extra large design, but also as a burp cloth, nursing cover, play mat, background for photos, you name it! They hold up really well over time and get softer with every wash. However, I've learned the second time around that it's not completely necessary to go with the most expensive blankets. You can get high quality muslin blankets for a lot less. I got the exact three pack of Hudson Baby ones that I linked above at Marshalls. The constellation blanket is my favorite by far!

Zip-Front One-Pieces - Oldnavy.com - $13.00

With twins, quick diaper changes in the night are even more necessary than they were with one baby. I could care less about putting them in adorable sleep clothes because by the time they get up in the morning, they are covered in spit up and/or poop most of the time anyway. I don't even know why they make pajamas for babies with all those snaps. Have you tried doing snaps in the middle of the nigh when you haven't slept in days? Trust me, you don't want to. Do yourself a favor and buy pajamas with a zipper.

Sleeper Gowns - Carters.com - $13.99

These sleeper gowns were ideal in the hospital and the first few weeks when we were adjusting to our new life as the parents of twin newborns plus a toddler. It makes diaper changes simple and we were changing more than 25 diapers a day between our three boys, so easy was essential.

Nature Melody App - iTunes.com - FREE

Sure, you can go buy an expensive white noise machine or one of those sleep sheep. Or you can download this app for free on one of your devices and play it while your babies sleep. If you're like us, and your babies are also your roommates, you may even end up sleeping better too. We tried a bunch of different white noise apps when Asher was born and this one is my favorite. The sounds are calming and there is a good variety to choose from. A bonus to having this on your phone is you always have white noise available to your babies no matter where you are; I've put it on in the car, the stroller, while babywearing, you name it.


Twin Z Pillow - Twinznursingpillow.com - $99.99
I was pretty sure I wouldn't need or like this pillow because I loved the single My Brest Friend pillow when I was breastfeeding Asher. Reviews were mixed, so I didn't purchase it initially. However, when we got home from the hospital, I quickly realized that the My Brest Friend Twin pillow that I purchased wouldn't work for all tandem nursing situations. I use the Twin Z for nursing on the couch and in bed because it provides better back support and is more comfortable. In bed, I prefer to prop a pillow under the front to get the babies a little closer to me. This pillow has to be one of my most frequently used baby products and I would absolutely recommend it to any twin mom planning to tandem nurse. It's also great for propping up two babies for bottle feeding and tummy time. Plus, big brother loves to lounge in it, too.

My Brest Friend Twin Nursing Pillow - Amazon.com - $62.68
I struggled with this pillow at first because of the removable back support. Once I took it off, I was able to get the pillow closer to my body and it made nursing much easier. I keep this pillow in the babies' nursery and use it when I put them to bed. It's much easier than the Twin Z to use in a rocker/glider because I can just pop it off and carry my sleeping baby to his bed when I'm done nursing. Because this is so useful at bedtime, I do think it's very helpful to have both the Twin Z and the Brest Friend Twin pillows. I spend so much time breastfeeding my babies that these are the kind of purchases I could never regret.

My Brest Friend Nursing Stool - Amazon.com - $24.99

Somehow I never knew these existed during the whole 20 months that I nursed Asher. When I started tandem feeding Silas and Ezra, I was always hunched forward on the couch trying to get closer to them. Finally, someone suggested a nursing stool. Why didn't I think of that? It is adjustable and sits at an angle, bringing my feet just a bit higher off the ground while raising their heads slightly to bring them closer to me.

Babyletto Tuba Glider - Amazon.com - $429.98
When setting up my twin nursery, I knew I wanted a rocking chair as it was an essential part of Asher's bedtime routine as a baby. The challenge was finding a chair that was large enough for my twin nursing pillow and wide enough to fit two babies in my arms as they got older. I ended up measuring my twin pillow and scouring the internet for hours trying to find the perfect "chair and a half" that didn't cost and arm and a leg. It was time well spent because this chair is perfect; I love the color and how it looks in our nursery too!

ZEEFO LED Nightlight - Amazon.com - $12.99

When Silas and Ezra wake up in the night, we don't turn on the lights when changing and feeding them in order to encourage them to go back to sleep quickly. This nightlight is the perfect amount of light to be able to see well but not bright enough to disturb the babies. It has a motion detector setting, which we actually don't use because we found it goes off rather quickly (like in the middle of changing a diaper.) However, it's perfect for what we need and you can't really beat the price! We ended up purchasing a second one for the nursery.

Total Baby App - iTunes.com - $4.99

I use this app mainly to track breastfeeding and growth. It has a lot of other features; you also can log sleep, diapers, pumping/bottle feeding, baths, and doctor visits. It's easy to track information for both twins, and even allows for timing two separate feeds at once. This helps me stay on top of which baby is on which side, as I alternate every time I nurse them. It also provides information about daily time spent nursing and average time per nursing session. This is helpful because I am able to notice when they aren't nursing as well when they are sick.

Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump - Amazon.com - $27.18

While I use my Medela Pump in Style mainly when I pump to replace a feed, I find that I actually prefer my manual pump at times when I'm just pumping to relieve pressure before or after a feed in the middle of the night. I did this occasionally to build a supply and I liked the manual design because I could control the pump speed better to mimic my babies. The manual pump is nice because there is no messing with plugs or noisy pumps in the middle of the night. I can do it right in bed without disturbing anyone. I also like having a manual pump that I can stick in my purse if I'm headed out and don't want to lug my electric pump.

Dr. Brown Bottles - Amazon.com - $22.98

Dr. Browns bottles are a good value and don't cause issues with gas like some other bottles. I don't mind that there are a lot of parts to clean because Silas and Ezra take bottles so infrequently. Thankfully, they have had no problem taking these bottles when offered. We use the premie nipples because they have a much slower flow, which prevents babies from preferring the bottle over breastfeeding.


Tula (with infant insert) - Tulababy.com - $149 (plus insert sold separately)
A Tula is a soft-structured canvas baby carrier that buckles at the back and waist. We started out with an Ergo when Asher was a baby, which we liked, but we ended up moving on to a Tula because it is more comfortable for me and Josh despite our different body types. The infant insert is superior to others we have tried well because it provides more structure and better head support for baby. While our print is discontinued, there are always an array of prints to choose from. We love this for walks around the neighborhood or long hikes. We used this carrier with Asher until he was two, when we upgraded to a toddler carrier, so you can definitely get a lot of use out of these, making them well worth the money.

Wrapsody Hybrid Wrap - Wrapsodybaby.com - $99
Hands down, when I reach for a carrier to wear one of my twins, this is my top choice. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love babywearing and have a zillion different wraps and baby carriers. The hybrid wrap is my top choice because it has a bit of stretch and is thin like a t-shirt, but is still extremely supportive. It can be used for single or tandem wrapping all the way through toddlerhood. Unlike a Moby or Boba, which are stretchier, it can be used for front, hip, or back carries. It comes in a bunch of beautiful patterns and is perfect for holding baby close without feeling bulky. I use this wrap multiple times every day and it continues to be both Ezra and Silas' favorite place to take a nap.

Weego Twin Carrier - Weego.com - $169
Because I had my heart set on wrapping my twins, I wasn't sure I would really like or use the Weego carrier. I purchased one secondhand from another twin mom, which seems to be the way to go with these. They do have a great resale value if you do purchase new. The Weego is extremely helpful in the early days because it is suitable for babies four pounds and up. It is easy for one person to get babies in and out and it doesn't have the steep learning curve that wrapping has in the early days. When both babies are crying and need to be soothed immediately, the Weego is the easy answer. While it is technically rated up to 33 pounds, I'm finding that it's getting heavy as my babies near 3 months old and approximately 24 combined pounds. Overall, this thing is a lifesaver and I highly recommend it to new twin parents. 

Baby Gear

The First Years Newborn to Toddler Tub - Amazon.com - $17.98

When Asher was a baby, we used one of those adorable blooming baths for his bath time and it worked well for us. We planned to use this with Silas and Ezra but quickly learned that it is not ideal for bathing two babies. By the time baby A had finished bath time, baby B was stuck with a cold, wet, limp flower mat. Not ideal. So we purchased one of the First Years newborn tubs on Amazon thanks to the reviews and I'm so glad we did. It fits right in our sink, and keeps newborns nice and snug in the hammock during bath time. We probably won't use it once they can sit up in bath seats, as we will be able to bathe them together, but for now this is perfect.

Munchkin Diaper Pail - Amazon.com - $64.99

I'm amazed that these diaper pails are always on the lists of baby items that you don't need to purchase. Seriously? What do you do with your dirty diapers? We have three of these around the house and they are completely necessary. Sure, there are more expensive, fancier options out there but this works great for us.

Baby Jogger City Select Double Stroller - Amazon.com - $699.94
This stroller has to be one of the best items we purchased for our twins to date. I knew I didn't want a side by side stroller because I've seen moms struggling to get those through doorways. While I heard great things about the snap and go strollers, I preferred the idea of just getting one stroller that I could use with carseats now and transition to the regular seats later. I love that it worked with our Britax carseats with a simple adapter. It's also perfect for us because I can wear one baby and swap out the carseat adapter for the regular seat for Asher to ride in. There are a ton of configurations for the seats and different add ons you can purchase separately. It is easy to fold/unfold and you can steer it with one hand, something I was never able to do with my single Britax stroller. We love everything about this stroller and look forward to using it more this spring!

Tiny Love Super Mat - Amazon.com - $35.99
The Tiny Love play mat is twice as large as the traditional ones, providing lots of room for two babies and even big brother for tummy time. We added this baby gym from IKEA and I like that we can take it away during tummy time, allowing for more room to move around and roll over. It's machine washable too.

Rock and Play - Amazon.com - $52.65
We actually have two rock and plays and they have so many uses. When we first brought Silas and Ezra home from the hospital, we realized there was no way they were going to sleep in the twin pack and play that we purchased. We ended up allowing them to sleep in rock and plays for almost a month before transitioning to the pack and play and I have zero regrets.

Rock and plays also come in handy when tandem nursing. I have one set up downstairs next to the couch and another one next to the glider in the nursery. I use it before/after breastfeeding when there isn't someone around to hand me one of the babies. Before nursing, I put one baby in the rock and play and hold the other baby while I adjust the nursing pillow with one hand. Then I settle the first baby on the pillow before reaching for the second twin. When I finish nursing, I reverse the process. We also often bring the rock and plays in the kitchen or dining room so the babies can sit with us while we eat. 

Graco Simple Sway Swing - Amazon.com - $79.99

I went mildly overboard buying baby devices when I found out we were having twins. I wanted to have a good variety because I wasn't sure what the babies would prefer. Turns out, despite having a bouncer, vibration seat, another swing, and a Mamaroo, both boys prefer the Graco Simple Sway Swing. True to it's name, this swing is nothing fancy. It vibrates and rocks from side to side and for some reason, they both love it over anything else. I alternate putting one baby in this swing and wearing the other during fussy periods throughout the day. I got this swing secondhand but would have gladly paid the price of a new Mamaroo for how much my guys love it.

Lily Jade Meggan Diaper Bag - Lily-jade.com - $365
I am completely obsessed with these incredible leather bags with removable organization inserts, tons of pockets, and a beautiful jade lining. They are just gorgeous and high quality, making this mom of three feel a little bit stylish despite the spit up in my hair. I actually have two of these bags: a smaller one, the "Elizabeth," for shorter trips, and the massive "Meggan" for longer adventures out of the house with all three kids. They are diaper bags that feel like handbags and I will never use anything else.

...And there you have it! What do you think of my list of 4th trimester twin essentials? Any items you would add or remove?

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