The Most Used 1st Year Stuff (or what to register for if you’re a minimalist)

After the initial shock of being told I was having multiples wore off, one the first things that scared me was the sheer amount of stuff that two babies would require!  You see, I’m a minimalist.  I really dislike stuff.  If it’s not going to be used daily, then I consider it clutter.  I also had a limited budget and I knew the few ladies coming to my shower(s) also had limited budgets.  So when I registered for the stuff, I was always asking myself: Is this a need or a want?  After having survived the first year with my sanity still in place (barely), I thought I would let other expecting moms know just what you minimally need for the first year.  These are the items I used everyday.  The items that I would buy for others. I’m not including clothing in this list because you’re going to get more than enough of that even if you don’t ask for it!

The First Four Months
The first four months leave you tired and in survival mode.  Tears are common (from the babies and the parents) and soon the days fall into an endless monotony of rountine.  But routine is good, and before you know it routine has produced sleep.

  •  A couple books that you might want to read before the twins arrive, but will be equally useful after they arrive: Oh Yes You Can Breastfeed Twins! and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins.  I actually haven’t read either of these, but the table of contents on the first book looks like I could have written it myself and the second book has been recommended to me by many many twin moms.  I’ll probably buy it for the next child (hopefully in the single version)
  •  Medela Pump in Style: If you plan to nurse at all, a good pump is a must.  36-38 weekers are notorious for having weak sucks and poor latches.  I was given a Medela Pump in Style to use.  I used it every single day for 3 months.  I never would have breast fed these babies without it.  Instead of the Pump in Style, you could rent a hospital grade pump.  Also, check to see if your insurance covers a pump rental or purchase.  You might be surprised.
  • Breastflow or Dr. Browns or Medela, I don’t think it really matters the type. I used them all.  The Breastflow were great in the beginning because they limited nipple confusion and made the babies have to work to get milk. The Medela and Dr. Browns were great because I could pump directly into them. I had 12 bottles total.  I washed every evening and then filled them all with the days pumped milk. 
  • Twin Nursing Pillow.  I used the EZ2 Nurse/Double Blessings Pillow (this print hides everything).  The brand new Brest Friend Twin looks even more amazing.  Get one. I have used mine every single day for 378 days now.  I could not have nursed successfully without it.
  • Burp Cloths and Bibs: I went for the cheap flat folds and the huge bib packs.  They will save you from doing laundry every ten minutes.
  • Blankets. I took quite a few from the hospital.  For swaddling, I loved the stretchy thermal type.  And my girls spent hours and hours on the floor on quilts or blankets that others had given to me. I didn’t own a bouncy, but bright colored quilts and lots of tummy time served that effect for me.
  • Graco SnugRides.  There are better seats of your twins are earlier than 36 weeks and less than 5lbs but I loved these.  They needed a blanket added to the headrest in the early days.  However, they’re relatively inexpensive and both of mine are currently lent out to friends who are also loving on them. I bought neutral colors so that I or friends, could use them again within their 3 year time span for whatever gender.
  • Graco SnugGlider. This is the other reason to get the Snug Rides.  Instead of 2 giant full sized swings that cost about $100 a piece for an item only used for about 4 months, I bought two Graco SnugGliders.  They were portable and I took them and the babies to a couple baby showers.  They folded up really small, so I could put them up when I needed to.  They were perfect when the babies were tired before you had packed up everything to go out and run errands.  I popped the girls in their seat and put them in the SnugGliders about 20 minutes before I left so that I had perfect sleeping babies during the car ride.  I also couldn’t have lived without these months 2-3 during the crazy evening fussy hours.
  • Double Snap and Go.  I never would have gotten out without this stroller.  You just pop the carseats (and their sleeping cargo) right in and go.  Loved it.  I bought mine off Craigslist (and sold it there too!), and they float around the Mom’s of Multiples club consignment sales like sweet little prizes.  Look for your best deals there!
  • 4 Cases of Newborn Diapers. You won’t believe the rate you go through these.  I started cloth diapering at 2 months and before then I had gone through at least 4 cases of these.  That’s almost 1000 diapers in 8 weeks.  No lie. By the time we were out of the Pampers Swaddlers, the girls were big enough for cloth diapers.
  • Cloth Diapers.  As I mentioned, the rate that you go through diapers is astounding.  It can add up to about $2000 in a year (or more!).  I registered for 36 Bum Genius One Size 3.0. These diapers start at 8lbs and grow with them until they are potty trained.  I spent about $500 worth of gift cards on these diapers.  I’ve saved approximately $1500 already.  Totally worth the initial expense.  However, save yourself from accidents like this, and go for the newer Bum Genius One Size 4.0 with SNAPS not applix 😉 Trust me on that one!
  • 2 Cribs.  While my babies slept in one crib until 4 months, some multiples hate sleeping together.  A pack n play or cosleeper or bassinet in your room might be nice, but if your babies are sleeping together it’s easy enough to set up one crib in your room and one crib in theirs so that you can save money and still have that babies in your room convenience. 
    • 2 sets of sheets for each crib are about all you need.  I have so many sheets!
  • Changing station.  A changing table might be nice, but if it’s not in your budget, opt for a basket with room for all your diapering essentials.  I did a lot of diaper changing on a blanket on the floor.
  • Totally not needed, but would be nice things for the first 4 months:
    • Toys.  Mine were more interested in the patterns on the quilts or the large movements of people walking around.  Eventually we hung some toys on a clothes drying rack for them to look at/play with.  So I’d go with the bare minimum: a few chain links and a couple hanging toys.
    • Bouncy chairs.  They might be nice (especially if you bottle feed), but I got away with never using one.
    • A playmat.  We had the opportunity to borrow this one from a friend when the girls were about 6 months old.  They were a little old for it then, but probably would have loved it.  However, they loved their toys on clothes hanging rack just as much… so again this is totally optional!
    • Baby Monitor. Some of you whose nursery is far away from your bedroom will need this.  However, if your bedrooms are adjacent to one another, you will not need this at night.  Momma ears hear every breath and snort on the baby monitor.  Without one, you’ll just hear cries.  You’ll get more sleep.  Most of the time during the day I can hear them all over my tri-split level house without it too.  
    • A baby wearing device.  We had a pair of Moby Wraps.  We used them to take the girls on walks and occasionally I wore both of the girls at the same time to work on dinner or just to snuggle and read a book.  They also came in handy after the 2 month shots when the girls cried the whole time we were supposed to be eating dinner.  🙂

Four to Six Months 
4-6 months is about the same as the first few months with two key differences:  they sleep more at night and they’re more alert during the day.  Most people also begin solids around this time too.  So I’ll add a few things to the primary list.

  • Fisher Price Booster Chairs.  I started solids at 6 months and my girls still weren’t sitting unsupported, but the tray offered them enough support to sit for their 10 minute meal once a day.  There are other more padded or reclined options, but none of them turn into booster seats for your 2-3 year old at this inexpensive price.  And because most of the others are padded, you can’t just take the whole thing outside and hose it down when it gets filthy!  I actually put my girls right on the tabletop in these so that I only have to wipe down the table (I know the instructions say not to do this, but it works for me.)  We have the orange one listed above, but for an extra 8 dollars the tray cover and tray insert are totally worth it!
  • Sleeved waterproof bibs.  We got some of these for their first birthday and I wish we had gotten them when we started solids.  They’re annoying to put on, but they save me a load of laundry a week because I can just rinse them and hang to dry after each meal!
  • Spoons.  I prefer these Munchkin ones because they have long handles.  Long handles are great when you’re sitting in between two babies and aren’t at the optimal angle to reach them both at the same time!
  • Cups.  We have two types in our house: straw cups (which they learn to used infinitely faster) and spouted sippy cups (which take forever for them to learn to used if they’re breast fed since they don’t understand the tip the cup back motion).
  • Food Processor.  My girls are big eaters.  They could have easily downed 3-5 baby food jars at one sitting.  I couldn’t afford that at $.50+ a jar of food so I made all of my own.  My food processor was a super cheap one.  It did the job well.
  • Kitchen Shears. A necessity for when they move on to self feeding.  Chops things up in half the time as a knife.
  • Toys.  Some form of entertainment is necessary at this age.  Hanging toys, and chain lengths are favorites to look at and chew respectively.  Exersaucers, Jumperoos, Jump Ups are totally optional (and if you get one go consignment/craigslist route). We literally used our yard sale/hand me down Exersaucers from 4-7 months about once a day.  It kind of replaced our swings as the fussy time entertainment center so I could cook a meal.  After they started crawling, mine hated them!

 Seven Months to a Year
Somewhere around 7 months your babies start sitting unsupported and moving through scooting and crawling.  Shortly after that they learn to pull to stand and cruise.  This motion makes some things more difficult (like leaving them in a room alone while you go potty!), but in the long run the babies are so much happier and begin to entertain themselves!  Most of the things for this age are toys and while everyday they clutter my house up, all of these are well loved (or well chewed) each day.

  • Usbourne Touchy Feely Books.  We have all of those linked and we check others out from the library.  My girls are fascinated with these books!  They can turn the pages on their own and always know right were the touchy spots are.  We’ve read most of the “That’s not my…” series, but there are other books like this one on Fairies or Farms or Trucks or Polar Bears.  Touchy books are so much fun for me and the girls. And all three of us get a kick out of reading them together.
  • Other books:  Bonyton Books and Eric Carle books are always huge successes.  We also love Good Night Moon, Good Night Gorrilla, and Time for Bed  as bedtime stories.  However, our ultimate favorite books are The Paper Bag Princess and The Pout Pout Fish.  Derek and I read those in chorus and the girls love it!
  • Mega Blocks.  They’re not into building with these yet, but they love to put them in the bag and take them out of the bag.  If the bag is unzipped you can almost bet that one of them is chewing on a Mega Block.
  • Stacking toy. So they still don’t know how to stack on this… but they love to take it apart and they love to press on the button to play music.  They fight over it.  Ours was a hand me down 🙂
  • John Deere Tractor.  I picked this up at a consignment sale for $5!  It was the best $5 I ever spent. The age on this is 3+, but that’s because of the small parts in the open seat farm set up thing.  Ours didn’t come with those parts so you can just save them for later.  This is the only push toy they will use.  It’s so sturdy and doesn’t roll away when they’re pulling on it to stand.  They’re a little short to ride on it yet, but it really is the best push toy for pre walkers ever!
  • Drum Set.  Our girls go nuts over this!  We waited to purchase it until their first birthday, but I wish we had gotten it around 7 months.  They love the bell, the eggs, the drum sticks, and the drum.  They cannot get enough of it!  Especially if we’re playing music with them.
  • Keyboard. We actually don’t have one of these, but a twin friend has one and when we visited my girls loved it!  All four of them just sat there and played the piano for a long time. They were perfectly content. I thought the idea was brilliant!
  • Balls.  The girls use these like exercise ball, rolling over them and laying on them. They’re inflated with a straw instead of a pump and I under-inflate them so that the girls can squeeze them to pick them up. We have a Nobbie one too and the texture is super exciting for them.
  • Cardboard boxes.  Save your carseat boxes or any other big boxes.  Cut holes out of them and make them into forts.  🙂 They crawli in our fort and have been obsessed with and empty short squatty computer monitor box since they first started to crawl.  They crawl up and over that short box like it’s a jungle gym.  Also in the jungle gym/fort category is a bean bag chair. The climb all over that thing and bounce on it.

I hope that helps with the age old what do you need for the first year of twins question. Those of you who have also experienced the first year (or parts of it!) feel free to add you must haves in the comments 🙂