Gear for Babies and Twins, Part 2: For Them

All pregnant ladies want to know: What are the must-haves for babies? When expecting twins, that question is a little more daunting, because two babies are more daunting and more complicated! I’ve put together a list of the things that we use and like. Hope it will be helpful to anyone else expecting, no matter how many. 🙂

My list got really long, so I broke it into three parts. I’ll update this post with links to the others once they’re up.

Previously:

Pregnancy Must Haves

Part 1: For You

On to Part 2: For the Babies. We have kept things pretty basic, I think, more focused on survival and real needs instead of fancy extras.

(When you’re ready: Part 3: For the House)

Burp cloths:
Gerber Folding Diapers are by far the best burp cloths. Very absorbent, big, and cheap. Get A LOT of them. Can’t have too many. So get more than you think you’ll need; you’ll use them. (And be careful, there are different types/names but the packages look the same. Flatfold is a big giant square. Then there’s birdseye, and there’s a third name too. You want the thicker prefold ones–I still don’t know which is which.)

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Bibs:

You need a lot of them. No, even more than that. Really, A LOT. Two babies + 6-8 feedings per day + spit up tendencies = the need for a large bib (and burp cloth!) supply and frequent laundry. aden + anais muslin bibs are by far the best bibs we have. Also very absorbent and big, but not cheap. They have three snaps on the neck, so they’ll adjust in size as the babies do, meaning they’ll probably last all year, so they’re worth the price. Get as many as you can afford. We have two sets and just got another set. I just recently learned about their extra large burpy bibs too. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen or heard about them before!

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Diapers:

We liked Pampers Swaddlers the best (and they wore them in the hospital). We’re now using the Costco diapers and they’re working well. The box of 210 diapers lasts us about two weeks now. When they were much littler and pooing all the time, we went through boxes of 200+ in a week or so.

Carrier/sling/wrap:

I know babywearing is a hallmark of attachment parenting, but I think it’s sensible for everyone, regardless of your philosophy. Having two babies means it’s even more important to be able to hold one baby hands-free. So many ways it’s helpful: carry the one who’s being cranky; alternate holding them so they’re off their heads (flat head has got to be more prevalent with twins, who can’t both be carried at the same time all day); put one in to go to sleep; carry one and put the other in the shopping cart; two of you can carry them on walks without dealing with stroller hassle. We used carriers when we took our four-week-olds to the neighborhood holiday party–it meant we could eat and we also didn’t have to worry about other people trying to touch the babies!

If you’re new parents like us, it can’t hurt to try lots of different carriers to figure out which one you and your babies like best and that works best for you. I’ve mentioned large-scale consignment stores and multiple clubs before–carriers are a perfect thing to look for there. We have two Ergos with infant inserts (both of those came from craigslist), a Baby Bjorn (multiples club sale), a Moby wrap (craigslist), and three slings (multiples club sale and classifieds).

The sling we have is no longer being made new, so there’s no website or anything. You might be able to find one on ebay or craigslist though. It’s called Kangaroo Korner, and it’s a pouch. Super easy to put on (tying a Moby is a pain!), super quick to get the baby in, and both babies LOVE it. This is our magic bullet for crying babies. It does hurt my back, though I think it’s worth it!  Plus they’re so cute with just their head sticking out. Sweet babies.

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The Baby Bjorn is a good one too, once you know how to buckle the thing on (our nanny had to show me! but it’s super simple and fast once you know how it works). Babies stay awake in there much easier than in the sling, so we use that one during the day now to carry a baby for awhile. Plus, a baby can face forward in this one, which I’ve tried once or twice, and I have a feeling both our babies are going to be really into that very soon.

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There are lots more options for carriers and wraps, so read up and visit a store where you can try them on. There are also babywearing groups you can join to learn about the different options and that will loan you a wrap or carrier to try out. Bear in mind that all babies are different, and some are very particular about what they do and don’t like. Our babies seem to be pretty easy going and like everything so far.

Nosefrida

Babies get a lot of crap in their noses. It is SO SATISFYING to get stuff out of their tiny noses, but obviously it’s pretty difficult. I read about this snotsucker device on a blog awhile ago and ordered it to help get the gunk out easier. Sure enough, it works and it’s still very satisfying.

Calendula oil

The babies’ legs started getting super dry a few weeks ago. Our nanny mentioned calendula oil as a good skin moisturizer. I got some of the oil but next time I would probably get some calendula-infused lotion, which might be easier to dispense and would make me less oily when applying it. It hasn’t cured the scaliness (I’m wondering if it’s the baby soap that’s drying them out), but it has definitely helped.

Clothes

Some bodysuits. Zip-up footies and snap footies (zips are easier, but the snaps mean faster diaper changes). Swaddling blankets like SwaddleMe, the Miracle Blanket, and HALO SleepSacks.

In Conclusion

If you are going to have twins, keep the ‘stuff’ to a minimum. Babies themselves don’t need much!

 

Continued!

Part 1: For You

Part 3: For the House

Note: These are Amazon affiliate links. I only feature products that we have used and loved.

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Gear for Babies and Twins, Part 1: For you

All pregnant ladies want to know: What are the must-haves for babies? When expecting twins, that question is a little more daunting, because two babies are more daunting and more complicated! I’ve put together a list of the things that we use and like. Hope it will be helpful to anyone else expecting, no matter how many. 🙂

My list got really long, so I broke it into three parts.

Pregnancy Must Haves

Part 2: For the Babies

Part 3: For the House

Part One: Things to help you, the parents

Willing partner

This is hands-down the most important element to surviving twins, in my limited and biased opinion. And by partner, I don’t necessarily mean a spouse or romantic partner, just a second person who cares about your babies and is there to be a completely equal caretaker for them. I’ve had plenty of issues and exhaustion and mental fatigue over the last four months, but if I hadn’t had a partner in baby-wrangling…I honestly don’t know how I would have survived. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be doing very well emotionally or even physically. It was a huge help to me as I healed from the c-section–to have a second person available to help with baby tasks or chores that I wasn’t physically able to do for that first month.

Two of us meant that we were able to stagger a feeding/sleeping schedule so we both got at least some rest. It meant that there were two people to feed two babies, and when we each did one solo feeding a day, it was much more tolerable knowing that there would be help for all the others. When both babies are crying and/or want to be held, one person can’t hold or console them both, so that extra set of hands is not optional. It means that both of us have been able to take a shower every day (except for when we forget to, occasionally), and fairly frequently we could take naps during the day (when we were both not working).

Also, we are–I am–lucky that my husband has the option to work from home. So when I’m home hanging out with babies and Andy’s upstairs working, it makes a big difference to know that just in case both babies start freaking out, he’s nearby if I end up needing some help. Clearly, I know this is unusual and plenty of partners are working outside the home and therefore unavailable during the day. In that case, it’s really my hope that those partners are doing as much as they can while they are home.

In general, having a support system is crucial. Having support inside your own house 24/7 is critical to making a difficult, tiring, confusing, bizarre time that much less difficult and tiring.

Time

Take the most time off that you and your partner possibly can. Obviously this is a luxury and a privilege and not something that is a choice for most people. Due to family-friendly leave policies of my husband’s company, we had seven weeks of just us and babies. I count us very lucky. We hunkered down at home and had lots of quality time as a new family, as we got to know our babies and got to know ourselves as parents of said babies. It was incredible to not have to worry about anything non-baby-related for that time. We were so overwhelmed already and work was completely out of our mental radar.

A baby tracking app

We use Baby Connect (but there are plenty of others to choose from). It tracks diapers, bottles, nursing time, sleeping, height/weight, and more. Recently a baby group leader scoffed at baby tracker apps, especially for babies that weren’t brand new. She obviously never lived with twins! It’s really handy to look at the day’s bottle totals (to adjust amounts if needed), or to see when one baby last had a dirty diaper (or to see how many they’ve had in one day). The height/weight functions not only list what you enter, but show them on growth charts. This particular app allows sharing/syncing with other people/devices, which is handy.

I forget everything anyway, and with the craziness of two babies’ needs, it’s almost impossible to keep track of everything in my head! Basically, a baby tracker app makes it okay for you to have double baby brain.

And if you’re not into apps or technology or what have you, that’s cool. Make a notebook, or chart, or whatever works for you. Something to jot down what happens when so you don’t have to hold it in your head. Data is fun and your friend.

Hands-free pumping bra

If you are going to pump, you need this. Apparently some people don’t and they just sit there and hold the bottles as they pump. WOW that’s a terrible idea. I pumped like two or three times in the hospital and then asked to go to the hospital baby boutique to get a hands-free pumping bra. If I’d had any wherewithal, this would have been a good thing to buy before the babies arrived and bring to the hospital. The size at the end of your pregnancy should be about the same after milk comes in (after engorgement is over, I mean). I had this one and then got this one.

Also, get a couple nursing tops before your babies are born. I literally wear mine 24/7 except for the rare occasions I leave the house (and I didn’t do that for several weeks after they arrived!). The tanktops are better than just the nursing bra because it’s still an entire layer, so you stay warmer and it’s easier to stay dressed throughout the day. (“Dressed” being a relative term, of course.)

Resources

The Happiest Baby on the Block: This book felt like a study guide for having newborns. Read it, learn the 5 S’s, and feel a little more prepared for baby craziness.

Baby Shusher app: Because it’s hard to shush for more than a minute. It’s expensive as far as apps go, but it’s worth it. This is a great thing to have in your back pocket, so to speak. And literally too, since it’s on your phone! Haha!

Baby 411: The ultimate baby reference guide. I like the tone–it’s knowledgeable, witty, and not condescending at all. A great informative tome to have lying around. When I start fretting about something or other, I can just turn to that section in this book. It’s not comprehensive, of course, but it gives me a basic understanding of what I need to know and if I need to legitimately worry. This book is our first step before thinking about consulting the pediatrician.

The Wonder Weeks: I’m still not clear on the difference between growth spurts and ‘wonder weeks/developmental leaps’–maybe they’re the same thing. Either way, they aren’t covered in the regular baby stuff I’d read. This is another study guide for preparing for craziness. I feel much calmer being armed with this knowledge. The more you know!

Comfy couch, sweats and pajamas

You will probably be spending a lot of time on the former and in the latter. Our couch is a microsuede material that seems to spot clean very easily with a wet paper towel, thank goodness.

Netflix and a book/kindle

I think I mentioned in another post how much time you have to kill with new babies. During late-night feedings or pumping sessions, you need something to keep you awake. Find a good series on Netflix to watch the entirety of (Better Off Ted is hilarious. Dance Academy is a cheesy Aussie teen ballet drama. And there’s always 30 Rock.) Find some fun books to read. Though I’m a die-hard print book proponent, the Kindle really does feel easier, since I usually only have one hand available. Yes, take plenty of time to gaze lovingly at your baby(ies) during feedings, but I’m not ashamed to say that it gets boring to just sit there! Fluffy books and silly tv are good ways to keep feeling a little more human in those first few inhumane weeks.

 

Continued!

Part 2: For the Babies

Part 3: For the House

Note: These are Amazon affiliate links. I only feature products that we have used and loved.

Four Months Old!

My dear sweet babies,

You’re four months old now! I can’t believe it. As usual.

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You’re growing well: you both weigh about 14 1/2 pounds, and you’re both over 24 inches long. That means in four months you’ve just about tripled your size! No wonder–you’re eating 6 ounces every three hours. We just put you in size 3 diapers, which sounds WAY too big, but you should stay in those for awhile. You’re still wearing 3 month clothes, though they’re starting to get more snug.

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Look how big your hands are getting!

You clearly read the Awesome Baby Manual, because on your first night as three month olds, you decided to sleep all night. And it wasn’t a fluke–you’re still going! That’s pretty great for all of us. You’re still in Rock n Plays in our room. One or both of you does start making noise early in the morning, but you’re okay for awhile. For awhile we were getting you up 6-630am, but now you’re going until 7-730. Sometimes you need a little snack in the wee sma’s, but that’s not unreasonable. The best part is that first thing in the morning when we come get you, you see us and give us these big happy smiles. It makes my heart happy.

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You’re just now starting to maybe get into a nap routine–9am, 11am, 2pm, plus more in the afternoon. Most of them don’t last very long–less than an hour. And sometimes only one of you falls asleep. But if we can solidify the routine times I think that will help both of you be happier in the late afternoon/early evening. We’ve been trying to put you down for at least one nap in your co-sleeper so you can get used to sleeping on your back. You’ll need to move to your cribs in the next few months!

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Your hair is changing. Malcolm, yours continues to thin on the top but seems to be growing at the back–you have an old man mullet! Emmett, your hair at the top is still growing, nice and lush. It’s even long enough that most of it sits down now, instead of sticking up. However, you appear to be losing some hair in a ring around the middle of your head.

I think it’s safe to say that the theme of this month was your hands. You’ve really discovered them and started putting them to good use!

First, you started finding fingers to snack on. You’ll nom your whole hand sometimes. We thought at first that it was only a sign of hunger, but now we think it’s just something to do. You’re less interested in pacifiers, so it’s nice that you’re able to soothe yourselves with something always handy (ha!).

Then you started working on coordinating your hand movement to purposefully move toward an object and grab at it. We put you both on an activity mat/gym and you guys have learned to bring your hands up to and around the hanging toys. You concentrate very hard and move pretty slowly. I find this very exciting and fascinating to watch, as you learn that your body can move and that you can control it. Now you like to hold the Winkel toy and the Taggies rattle.

We put you in an exersaucer for the first time a couple weeks ago. You’re still way too small for it; you kind of lean onto the side. Emmett, you only had eyes for the hanging toys and reached for them. Malcolm, you found the buttons that light up and make noise. And right away you figured out how to push them! You sat there focused on moving your fingers and hands to brush and push the buttons! I was amazed.

Beyond the exersaucer, we’ve expanded your toy/contraption collection even more. We finally started using the swing and thankfully you love it and always calm down if you’re fussy. DSC_0995-1

We also rotate you in a bouncer and a rocker. The rocker has a musical hanging toy (it sings If You’re Happy) that makes you smile every time. Lastly, we gave you each a Sophie giraffe, and you already like holding her and trying to chew on her ears.

The other big news is that you both GIGGLED! You finally got that last third of the sound to make it all the way to a sweet little laugh. So far you haven’t done it more than once or twice, so I’m looking forward to hearing a lot more of those happy sounds soon. Here’s Emmett almost-giggling with Daddy:

Here I’m trying to get both of you to giggle.

Speaking of sweet, this month you’ve finally begun noticing each other. We have to physically put one or both of you in the eyeline of the other, but you will look at each other–and smile! It’s kind of strange but also so exciting to see you acknowledge one another. You guys have been separate for so long and this is a reminder that you will soon be buddies and hopefully best friend brothers.

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You make a lot of noise–your coos have really taken off. We can practically have conversations! Mostly you say a sound like, “guh”. It’s really cute. Here’s Malcolm practicing lots of sounds while joyfully kicking:

Here’s Malcolm chatting with Daddy while nomming a hand:

The noise from your, erm, other end has decreased a bit, which is nice. You also don’t really root anymore. Now when you’re hungry, you just start crying.

You’ve had your first real outdoor experiences. We’ve had some beautiful days this month, and a couple times I’ve brought you out to the lawn on a crib pad. Can’t wait for you to be big enough to crawl around the grass and play in the dirt!

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We love you, babies. You’re the best, cutest, most amazing babies ever.

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love, mama

ps: thanks for letting me dress you up for holidays! 🙂

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Tired.

I am tired today.

I’m tired of being tired.

I’m tired of staying up late to pump, even though I don’t have to stay up as late as I used to.

I am REALLY tired of pumping while feeding two babies simultaneously. I hate it, in fact.

I’m tired of my butt feeling numb from sitting on the couch so much.

I’m tired of the back spasm I only get while pumping.

I’m already tired of trying to work even a little during the day with babies. It’s only been two weeks.

I’m tired of being behind on everything. Cleaning, organizing, photos. Any time I remember something I should do or want to do, I can’t actually do it then. Or I’m just too tired to want to do it.

I’m tired of doing nothing and doing the same things all the time over and over. Somehow I have cabin fever but also am too lazy and tired to do much about it.

I’m tired of feeling like I’m failing my sweet babies by not knowing how to entertain them enough and not being able to hold them/keep them off their backs all day.

Mostly, I’m freaking exhausted. For the past three weeks I haven’t gotten extra naps during the week that I was getting for the past two months. I get five to six hours of sleep at night, which I know is so much more than a lot of people with small babies so I have no right to complain. But it’s really starting to get to me. It’s so hard to stay up even until 12-1am (to pump, of course)–my eyes literally start crossing. And it’s almost impossible to get up in the mornings.

I’m just so. tired.

Schedule update, v4 (3-4 months)

Well, just as I suspected, the babies did indeed change their own feeding schedule a few days ago. They happily took 6 ounces at each feeding and were able to wait for the whole three hours to eat again (we’d been giving them 5oz and they were getting hungry for snacks and wanting to eat again at 2.5 hours).

This meant they ate thirty ounces in only twelve hours, so they were ready to go to to bed at 7pm instead of 10pm!

Very happily, we discovered that this new schedule does prevent the screaming overtired witching hour! Though they still do get a little crazy if we don’t start on time, which apparently needs to be 6pm.

We weren’t sure what this would be mean for their sleeping schedule. So far it’s very similar in that they, or at least one of them, awakens and stirs/makes some noise. The timing has also moved up, though, so that has been starting in the 4am hour. Which suuucks.

We get them up for the day between 6-630am. (Before, it had been 8-830am.) This is really early and both of us hate getting up early even when we’ve had enough sleep. Which of course neither of us do, anymore.

Speaking of sleep…I’m working on getting a teeny bit more. This week I have successfully gotten down to only FOUR pumps per day! This is very exciting for me. During the day I now go 5-6 hours between each pumping session, and 7ish at night! It gives me so much more time and freedom during the day. Woohoo! If I time it correctly, I can get about six hours of sleep. That’s only happened a couple times, and it’s only an hour more than I’ve been getting for almost four months, but I’m telling myself it still makes a difference.

Our evenings are so much better now. The babies are upstairs asleep by 730 or so. We have the whole rest of the night! Time for dinner! For tv! For actually catching up with photos!  I don’t have to stay up until 1 or 2am either, so it’s all quality time instead of forcing my eyes to stay open for that last hour or two.

This is the best schedule yet. I am so impressed and happy with our babies for being so awesome and putting themselves on a great schedule!

A few practical baby tips

I hate the word ‘tips’. (Almost as much as I hate the word ‘strategies.’) Tips are supposed to be NEW things, that you didn’t already know, that can help you.

And yet. Have you noticed? Every single article with tips (10 tips to a slimmer you! The 5 best pregnancy tips! 20 tips for teachers!) is full of the same rehashed bullshit. Things not only that you already knew, but things that aren’t helpful and sometimes aren’t even concrete things to do or get. “Take care of yourself.” “Drink lots of water.” (Hey look, those could be top tips for all three of my examples! See what I mean?!!)

Perfect example from last summer: We listened to an audiobook about tips for twins, and one of the tips was, I shit you not, “shop online.” Effing DUH.

So please know that it pains me to use the word “tips”. I don’t throw that around lightly. But these are little things that I’ve learned or figured out over the past three months–that I didn’t read in the books or on the blogs–that have been helpful, and may be helpful tips for you too!

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At the changing table, when you know there’s a dirty diaper, take several wipes out of the container BEFORE opening the diaper. That way you don’t have to frantically tug with one hand if something leaks or someone squirts you.

Also, unfold the new diaper down under the old one. Unfasten, lift, remove, fasten. Makes for a much quicker change!

For pete’s sake, never leave the baby undiapered to throw out the wet/dirty diaper! Clean and re-diaper first! Otherwise you’re just asking for a mess. Yes, it’s gross to have the icky one right there, but it’s already contained. Hold your breath and avert your eyes and cover up that leaky baby!

Use dry erase markers to write directly on bottles. It wipes right off. IKEA sells a set of 4 for like two bucks.

Re-use the nicer wipe container (with the snap lid) with generic brand wipes.

Tie a muslin aden and anais swaddle blanket around your neck like a giant neckerchief, as a makeshift nursing cover/pump cover.

If you are a non-short person like me, you may end up hunching at your changing table because it’s not tall enough. Get some bed risers–less than ten bucks–and your back will thank you.

Make any space an ‘activity mat’: Get a thin tube, dowel, pvc pipe (three bucks at Home Depot!), bamboo, whatever you’ve got. Slide on any hanging toys or rattles. Hang over a co-sleeper or playpen. This idea comes from a girl in my mama’s group–she hung a bamboo pole between two low couches, over a large squishy floor mat covered with a sheet. Instant, free baby entertainment!

Don’t get hung up on name brands for things like wipes, diapers, and formula (unless your baby/babies have special dietary needs). (This is a generic ‘tip’, sorry. Just want to make the point that brand names truly don’t matter.)

Write shit down. All kinds of things. We have a whiteboard up in our kitchen that includes things happening each day that week, grocery/errand lists, a fun countdown (we recently got up to 14 days without being peed on!), a copy of the pediatrician info, and a list of emergency contact info too (clearly we are bad parents because we only just thought of this one, oops). My already forgetful brain has gotten worse with the monotony of daily baby life, so it’s really helpful to have visual reminders and notes.

Wipe some olive oil on pump flanges to prevent chafing/chapping. Much smoother and less messy than lanolin. (Took some digging on a babycenter board to find this one.)

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I’d love to hear your best practical baby tips! I’m going to check out Parent Hacks on Facebook

First Scare

Saturday night we were beginning our bedtime routine. Andy was changing Emmett and I was getting Malcolm set up. He was laying on a boppy waiting for eating time.

I happened to be standing in front of the couch and saw him spit up clear drool. He does that pretty often. But this time something went wrong.

It must have pooled and blocked the back of his throat. Right away I could see that he hadn’t been able to catch his breath. And in fact, he was not breathing. At all. He was choking.

I scooped him up immediately. His eyes were big and wild and his head was thrashing around, as his body fought for air.

I held him out in front of me, feeling completely helpless and clueless. I knew that there wasn’t an object blocking his airway, it was liquid. The only thing flitting through my mind was sucking it out of his mouth with my mouth, but that made no sense. I had no idea what to do, and I just stared at him as he continued panicking. I had to say to Andy several times, He’s not breathing. He’s choking. He is not breathing.

I continued feeling helpless and tried not to think about the awful way this could turn out. I didn’t know what to do.

He finally caught his breath. He breathed. He was okay.

I finally brought him to me and held him in a long hug. He gave a quick little cry, but didn’t really fuss about it, and a minute later seemed like his normal self.

Thank god.

All of this, this whole episode, must have only lasted maybe ten seconds. It was quick and surreal and scary and so damn fast. Such terrible things can happen so fast.

I tried not to think about what would have happened had I not been standing right there. I frequently leave them on their boppy to go do whatever (get their bottles ready, go to the bathroom). I mean, I can’t carry two babies every single place I go or every single time I leave the room. This whole episode was silent, so if I hadn’t been there, Andy wouldn’t have even known anything was happening, and he was five feet away but out of view. I told myself that I didn’t need to worry about leaving the babies alone for eight hours in a few minutes. I felt better about our laziness–they’re still sleeping in their Rock n Plays, where they lay at an incline and this kind of spit-up choking isn’t a hazard, unlike lying flat in a crib.

I know that much scarier things happen to babies all the time. (When I told my mom, she told me again about the time I randomly stopped breathing and the time I had a seizure.)  Babies get mysterious high fevers and go to the ER, or end up with horrible infections or long-lasting illnesses. This was a tiny blip compared to that. This episode at least had a clear cause and solution. But still, geez, those few moments watching my baby choke…terrible.

I swear I’m not a worrier. This event rattled me and scared me and made me cry a little and hug my babies longer. But I wasn’t about to sit up with them all night watching them sleep to make sure they were ok. If I start genuinely worrying about something like this, then I’m sure it would only spiral and I would go crazy. There are so many things that can go wrong! And with two babies…there are twice as many hazards and fears, It’s too awful to think about, so I just try not to think about it. Is that naive and childish? Sure. But whatever keeps me sane and keeps me going, right?

Anyway, the fright has faded now, we’ve moved on. My babies are safe. I am so relieved that our first scare had a happy ending.