Favorite Toddler Toys for 2 & 3-Year-Olds

When I went to the big twins club re-sale in 2013, I had a very specific list of items that I knew our 5 month old babies would need in the short term. When I saw the huge area of big toys, I froze. I tried to think about the next 5-6 months and what the babies would do or learn or want or play with. And I had utterly no idea what, say, a 9 month old could use.

So I figure that as I go along, I’ll keep track of the toys we use in age-ranges of our babies, in hope that someday, another parent will find it useful! This isn’t an official review or sponsored post, it’s just what our babies have liked and used a lot. Amazon links are affiliate.

(Previous gear lists: Pregnancy, New Babies part 1, New Babies part 2, New Babies part 3 Toys for 3-6 months, Toys for 6-12 months, Toys for 12-18 months, Toys for 18-24 months)

Also, FYI: Baby Cheapskate does an annual roundup of “Toys that get played with” for all age ranges, based on reader polls/surveys. Here’s the 2015 list for 24-36 months. You should follow them on Facebook--they find and post tons of deals on baby gear every day!

Our boys just turned four years old. We have a ton of toys in our house, and I wanted to share the things they play with the most, in case you’re looking for a wish list item. Many items are things we’ve had for years! They’ve been on previous lists, but I guess I want to emphasize that many toys and activities can last for a really long time.

New Toys in the Last Year or So:

PicassoTiles

We went for the off-brand of Magnatiles, but these are still fantastic. (Though apparently I have no fantastic photos of them playing with them?) Hours and hours and hours of fun. So much creativity. They build towers, castles, trains.

They forgot about them for a couple months, but once they started waking up and getting out of their toddler beds, the magnatiles were a perfect toy to play with “quietly” in their room. I say “quietly” because usually it turns into arguing over who has more.

We got these for them at the end of August 2015, so they were a little more than 2.5. They’d already been playing with them and loving them at daycare for months, so it’s definitely something that you can buy around 2 and they will last for years.

DSC_0416_WEB

Toddler Puzzles

Another obsession! My friend Holly sent these two puzzle boxes when they  (ABC Puzzle Set and Farm Puzzle Set) and they just love putting them together. For awhile they needed a lot of help, but now they can put the whole puzzle together all by themselves. Then the boys got a set of 3 preschool train puzzles that they love. And later we got the
Melissa & Doug Underwater Ocean Floor Puzzle, which is a little bigger and more difficult, but they can just about do that one on their own in the last couple weeks.

DSC_7040_WEB

Play food

(Sandwich-Making Set Food Groups Cutting Food)

They got a bunch of these for Christmas last year (right after they turned 3) and they are OBSESSED. They use it as food, but they also use it to represent other things, or to just put into and take out of containers. (Containers of all kinds are still a big thing around here.)

dsc_5912_web

Reusable Sticker Pads!

These were the main surprise toys I brought out on our first airplane trip, and it was amazing. They played with them for two hours on that flight! They played with them for hours all last fall too. We have the vehicles set, the animals set, and a store/shopping set.

IMG_5087_WEB

Ukulele

The boys received a toy guitar for their 2 year old Christmas, and of course they fought over it. Our nanny lent us one of her nice ukeleles, and they loved playing that. So then we made sure they got their own ukelele for their 3 year Christmas. And thank goodness! It actually can stay in tune (the toy guitar can barely even keep its strings on and it has never been in tune). Mainly, it’s great because the boys can both play something at the same time.

IMG_9488_WEB

Car Tracks

Mindscope Car Tracks
Magic Tracks 220-Piece Glowing Track Set

The boys LOVE these car tracks. They were a Christmas present last year, and they are really cool! It’s these flexible pieces that you can snap together and apart, to make whatever kind of track shape you want. Kind of like an articulated snake. There are two cars with each set and they light up and zoom around. This will entertain our boys for a long time! (We have the Mindscope sets, and I’ve seen Magic Tracks appear at Fred Meyer this season.)

DSC_6178_WEB IMG_7077_WEB

Plastic Beads

We played with these last winter at the community center activity nights, and the boys loved stringing beads onto pipe cleaners. So I got a few from Joann, and man, that five dollars of stuff has provided HOURS of entertainment. They love making necklaces and bracelets. And when the beads run low, we just undo one of the creations and dump the beads back in a bowl. 🙂

DSC_6800_WEB DSC_6988_WEB

Scooters!

We figured they’d still be using the three-wheeled Radio Flyer Scooter scooters for a long time…but then this spring my dad brought up my brothers’ old Razor Scooters.  The boys loved them and immediately started playing with them, and soon enough were zooming around like experts!

img_1835_web

Scissors

The boys got Fiskars Preschool Training Scissors as presents last Christmas and promptly spent at least thirty minutes carefully cutting up wrapping paper. Every once in awhile they go into a scissors craze and spent a long time cutting copy paper into big and tiny pieces. It’s like a trance.

dsc_6217_web

Things they’re still loving:

Little Tikes Super Chef Kitchen: We gave this to them just before they turned two. They still play with it all the time.

dsc_4445_web

PlasmaCar: The boys love steering this around the garage and down the hill of our driveway. Whee!

dsc_0070_web

Water Table: Still a good time in the warm months!

Learning Towers: The older they’ve gotten, the more they realize they can do with these. 🙂 But they’re super helpful to have–the boys can watch us cook, can wash their hands at the kitchen sink, can help us stir or bake.

Mop & broom set: If they see me start sweeping, they usually grab one of their tools and join right in.

Haba Blocks: These are amazing blocks, and sadly we keep them in a non-see-through bin so they probably don’t play with them as much as if they could see them. I think they will continue to be great toys to have!

Things we still don’t have for them:

Easel: We might finally get an IKEA one for this Christmas.

Dress-up clothes: I’m going to keep an eye out for things like half-price Halloween costumes. Then we need some kind of bin or basket (and we have bins everywhere already).

What are your favorites to add for this age group? Let me know in the comments!

(All Amazon links are affiliate. Thank you for your support!)

Advertisements

Things I Love Thursday: Toddler Tricycle

 On some Thursdays, I’ll share something random that I’m really liking, enjoying, or appreciating. Just a little post to share a little snippet of life right now. I’d love to know if you also like these things, and what you’re randomly into these days!

DSC_6964_WEB

Last summer, when they were about 20 months old, the babies always were super intrigued when the neighbors’ bike and tricycle were in their yard…and would try to climb on whenever they saw one (and have a super tantrum when we removed them).

twin trikes 01

So we figured they were ready to start trying to use their own tricycles. At the fall resale, we got two random trikes. They were super psyched and demanded to ride them immediately (though they needed help, because their feet didn’t quite reach properly).

twin trikes 10

However, they both only liked one of them: the Radio Flyer Fold 2 Go Trike (the one above with streamers). They fought over it, and would refuse to ride the other one. We realized that the other trike’s pedals were farther away from the seat and therefore harder to push. The Radio Flyer pedals sit closer, so their knees are at more of a right angle.

twin trikes 07

(Here’s the day that they both actually started riding by themselves–this was early December, so they had just turned two. They both screamed and cried whenever brother had the ‘good’ trike. And rode happily when it was their turn.)

twin trikes 06

This went on and on and we just kept trying to convince them to try the other bike too! Occasionally they would, sort of, but it never lasted. Andy kept saying, Oh let’s just buy a new one so they don’t fight so much. And finally, one afternoon in late February, I had had enough of the tantrums, and looked at craigslist on my phone while we were at the playground. I found that trike for sale nearby and I picked it up that night. And ever since–happiness and peace reign! They love riding their ‘bikes’ and there is no more fighting, screaming, or crying over them. Hallelujah!

DSC_6962_WEB

Here’s the trike all by itself. It seems to be specifically designed for younger toddlers (the description says 1-3 years). The main ‘feature’ of this trike is that it folds up. It doesn’t get exactly small, but it does make it easier to put into the back of the car, or even in the wagon. It’s easy to carry, too–the seat has a little ‘handle’ space.

DSC_6963_WEB

DSC_6966_WEB

So, if you have a young toddler who seems ready for a tricycle, this one might be a great option!

I’d love to hear what your toddlers and preschoolers are riding — please share links and/or your experiences in the comments!

Our Favorite Toys for Toddlers, 18-24 month edition

When I went to the big twins club re-sale in 2013, I had a very specific list of items that I knew our 5 month old babies would need in the short term. When I saw the huge area of big toys, I froze. I tried to think about the next 5-6 months and what the babies would do or learn or want or play with. And I had utterly no idea what, say, a 9 month old could use.

So I figure that as I go along, I’ll keep track of the toys we use in age-ranges of our babies, in hope that someday, another parent will find it useful! This isn’t an official review or sponsored post, it’s just what our babies have liked and used a lot. Amazon links are affiliate.

(Previous gear lists: Pregnancy, New Babies part 1, New Babies part 2, New Babies part 3 Toys for 3-6 months, Toys for 6-12 months, Toys for 12-18 months)

Also, FYI: Baby Cheapskate does an annual roundup of “Toys that get played with” for all age ranges, based on reader polls/surveys. Here’s the 2013 list for 13-24 months. You should follow them on Facebook--they find and post tons of deals on baby gear every day!

Things they’re still loving from last time: Water Table; Learning Towers, baby broom

Tricycles!

The Radio Flyer Fold 2 Go Trike is perfect for younger toddlers, because it’s a little smaller. I think our boys started riding them before they were 18 months, actually. (Read the post about it)

DSC_6964_WEB

Haba Blocks: We got some of these from a friend, and the dudes love them! The duplos still got good use too. The wooden Haba blocks don’t stick together, but that means that they can build tall towers and then knock them over. And what’s more fun than that? 🙂

IMG_9109_WEB

Play Kitchen: We received one when they were about a year old, and kept putting off putting it together until they were a little older. We finally did it when they were 23 months, and oh my goodness, THEY LOVE IT. I’d meant to move it upstairs to their room, but they play with it just about every day here in the living room. They LOVE it. And they probably would have loved it just as much a few months earlier! It is so much fun to watch them play pretend, and it’s so freaking adorable I can’t even stand it.
IMG_8156_WEB

Spoons, empty containers, dried pasta or beans: Part playing pretend, part sorting and pouring, and part percussion practice. We have a bunch of empty oatmeal canisters that they can play with, and we give them real spoons and Pyrex bowls, and they “stir stir stir” and scoop and stir. If they have some they can pour and scoop and move between one place and another–water, dried beans, dried pasta–they will play with it for a loooong time, very happily.

IMG_9028_WEB

IMG_7005_WEB

Push toys: When we go out on walks, they still love their push toys! We have the musical one musical one (we call it the “jingly walker”), the wooden one (“clacker”), and until recently we had this Fisher-Price Mower. (It finally broke and they got a newer, more realistic looking one for Christmas.)

IMG_4943_WEB

The umbrella strollers work very well too!
IMG_4729_WEB
Basketball hoop and other athletic stuff: The basketball hoop is a lot of fun, but even when that’s not out, they’ve enjoyed played with the mini basketball and a couple other balls we have. They figured out kicking and dribbling balls, so the soccer ball was a good addition. I also had two cheap frisbee-type things, which they love to play with and throw.

DSC_0411-11_WEB

Buckets/containers:

Good for headwear, beach trips, and generally collecting things. Gathering and unpacking is a big thing for them.

DSC_1587_WEB

Baby Guitar/Ukulele: Our nanny (who is in a band) sometimes brings her ukelele and sings to them, and lets them play with it. They will happily sit on their baby couch together, strumming and swaying back and forth. They never ever want to stop playing, and anytime it’s been here, they ask, “More le-le?” over and over again.
IMG_4722-1_WEB

Mama’s wallet:

This is my secret weapon toy. If I need them to chill out/I’m out of ideas/they’re stir-crazy, they get to play with Mama’s wallet! They methodically take all the cards out and then play with putting them back in and handing them back and forth to each other. I don’t get it, but I’ll take it!

DSC_2536_01_WEB

Rocks:

Every toddler’s favorite!

*     *    *

I’d love to hear what your young toddlers love to play with–leave a note in the comments!

Our Favorite Toys for Babies, 12-18 month edition

When I went to the big twins club re-sale in 2013, I had a very specific list of items that I knew our 5 month old babies would need in the short term. When I saw the huge area of big toys, I froze. I tried to think about the next 5-6 months and what the babies would do or learn or want or play with. And I had utterly no idea what, say, a 9 month old could use.

So I figure that as I go along, I’ll keep track of the toys we use in age-ranges of our babies, in hope that someday, another parent will find it useful! This isn’t an official review or sponsored post, it’s just what our babies have liked and used a lot. Amazon links are affiliate.

(Previous gear lists: Pregnancy, New Babies part 1, New Babies part 2, New Babies part 3 Toys for 3-6 months, Toys for 6-12 months)

Also, FYI: Baby Cheapskate does an annual roundup of “Toys that get played with” for all age ranges, based on reader polls/surveys. Here’s the 2013 list for 13-24 months. You should follow them on Facebook--they find and post tons of deals on baby gear every day!

DSC_4147_WEB

Activity Table (until 15 months or so) and Exersaucer: Yes, they just kept playing with these! I was really surprised. I suppose because they make noise, and have things that can be moved/pressed/manipulated.

DSC_4161_WEB
Books: Obviously. Lift-the-flap books have been especially fun.

2014-04 (Apr)_WEB

Broom and Mop: It was only after they started playing with the full-size broom and swiffer in the kitchen that we realized we should get them some kid-sized ones. They still prefer the big ones, but will happily play with the little ones most of the time. Of course they fight over who gets the broom.

IMG_4367_WEB

Balls: They love watching people play soccer and basketball, and they love trying to throw and catch. Or just holding them.

DSC_4674_WEB

Mega Bloks: Our twins received a set for Christmas, when they were 13 months old. I figured they wouldn’t be able to use them or interested in using them until they were at least 18 months old. But I was totally wrong–they started playing with them right away and quickly seemed to understand what to do! And they’ve only gotten better since, so it’s great they started kind of early. It’s got to be great for motor skills and spatial reasoning!

DSC_7324_WEB

Toy Shopping Cart, wagon, horsey, stroller: These are HUGE hits in our house. Our twins would probably be psyched if they could push the shopping cart around for most of a whole day. When we go outside for a walk they fight over which ones they get, and they always want something to push.

DSC_7522_WEB

Charley Harper Flash Cards, Clif Bars, anything with smaller parts inside a box: Take them out of the box, put them back in the box, throw them around. Good times!

DSC_6262_WEB

DSC_1721_WEB

Water Table: Apparently we got this for them in April and they loved it immediately. They played all spring and summer.

IMG_4406_WEB

Train table (at the bookstore): I think we discovered this by accident, but what an amazing accident. They are OBSESSED. Sometimes I wish we had a big basement play area so we could have one of our own, but then I think it’s nice that it’s out of the house, so that it’s a rarer experience and therefore more special.

DSC_9580-1_WEB

Learning Towers/Kitchen Helpers: I would see people posting about these on Facebook, that they were super awesome for little kids. I also noticed that they are WAY EXPENSIVE. Especially the idea of two of them.Then someone in a group posted that her husband was making DIY versions. I waffled for a bit and then decided we should go for it, and get two. It was totally worth it and I’m so glad we did. There are posts all over the internet about how to make the DIY versions (here’s one), so ask around for someone who might be handy. Even paying them to do it will be worth it. (And PS, since I’m finishing this so late, I can tell you that we’re still using these after they turned two!)

IKEA Table and Chairs

DSC_9903-1_WEB

Not exactly a toy, but they do really like their little table and chairs, just the right size for them!

What do your littles this age love to play with? Share in the comments!

Our Favorite Toys for Babies, 6-12 month edition

 When I went to the big twins club re-sale last spring, I had a very specific list of items that I knew the babies would need in the short term. When I saw the huge area of big toys, I froze. I tried to think about the next 5-6 months and what the babies would do or learn or want or play with. And I had utterly no idea what, say, a 9 month old could use.

So I figure that as I go along, I’ll keep track of the toys we use in age-ranges of our babies, in hope that someday, another parent will find it useful! This isn’t an official review or sponsored post, it’s just what our babies have liked and used a lot.

(Previous gear lists: Pregnancy, New Babies part 1, New Babies part 2, New Babies part 3 Toys for 3-6 months)

Also, FYI: Baby Cheapskate does an annual roundup of “Toys that get played with” for all age ranges, based on reader polls/surveys. Here’s the 2013 list for 6-12 months. You should follow them on Facebook--they find and post tons of deals on baby gear every day!

I’m calling this 6-12 months because it’s a nice round number, but honestly, the babies are still playing with almost all of these toys at 14 months!  Also, they aren’t walking yet, so they’re not taking advantage of those kind of toys yet.

Also note that I got almost all of these things from craigslist or consignment sales. Baby stuff can get expensive, and secondhand gear is often just as good for the wee ones, but way better for your wallet! 

DSC_9581-17

Activity Table (ie, crack table) Man, did they love this! We called it the crack table because it was like a magnet–if we turned it on in an adjacent room, the babies would come crawling! And they would just keep playing with it, so when it was time to wind down at the end of the day, we’d have to move it to the kitchen to ‘hide’ it. I could see them practicing their gross and fine motor skills with all of the different ‘activities’, and I really think this helped them develop their standing stamina, too. Thankfully, the intensity of their love for this toy finally dimmed a bit. It’s still in our kitchen, and they still play with it a bit here and there. The Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker would be a good alternative to this–I’m not sure if both would be necessary.

IMG_1549-19DSC_0949-1_WEB

Riding toys: like our horsey that I found at a resale for eight bucks (newer version on Amazon) or a wagon. We have a vintage Fisher Price wagon (from a different resale), which I love for its simplicity.  Here’s their ‘new’ version, with lots more crap on it. These seem like they will continue to be played with for quite awhile.

DSC_8455-2_WEB

Anything to bang together (measuring cups, bottle caps, wooden spoons, plastic blocks, giant pasta shells)

IMG_1799_WEB

Musical toys: The babies seemed to love the music aspect of the kick n play piano mat, but I hated that there were only four keys and that you couldn’t just play a note. Any time you hit a key, it made a note but then also a jingle. I wanted some kind of musical toy/piano that is JUST MUSIC. Well, those pretty much don’t exist anymore. Everything sings and talks, plus does the ABCs, or talks in Spanish, or counts numbers. I just wanted them to push a key and hear a single note! Happily, I found one of these piano/xylophones and a teeny cheap little keyboard at the local Value Village for around ten bucks altogether. Some bleach and some qtips, and they were good to go! They don’t play with these a ton, but I like that they have the opportunity to “play” “music” with their own little hands, and I hope that they will keep playing with musical toys as they get older and more coordinated.

2014-01-11_0005

Bins of things: (books, toys, linens). I like the 56-quart clear bins from Home Depot or Target. We keep the baby books in one of these bins, and it turned out to be a perfect size for climbing into and on top of. 🙂

DSC_4147_WEB

Exersaucer/Jumper: (to sit in or to stand on the outside of). We had one of each before they were six months, since there were two babies that needed activities to rotate through. One was borrowed and one was from craigslist–we could not have afforded both otherwise! The babies LOVED the jumper for a long time but kind of got over being in the exersaucer sooner. However, it’s on my list because we still have it in our living room–they still like going over to it and playing with a few of the toys, especially the one where you push a button for some music. They start bouncing their little legs and smile. 🙂

Rattles We like to put popcorn kernels in empty containers and let them shake shake shake.

DSC_9243 (2)_WEB

IKEA Foam blocks/wooden or plastic blocks: Self-explanatory, I’m sure.

IMG_2048-17_WEBDSC_4095_WEB

Stacking rings (plastic or wooden) and stacking cups from IKEA (see above re: banging things together): I always heard these were good toys for babies but they seemed so boring! I have been proven wrong–the cups in particular were an instant winner for our babies. They’ve gone through different stages of playing with them: first to eat, then to bang together, then nesting together, and attempting to stack them. I’m telling you, three bucks, endless fun and entertainment.

DSC_4134_WEB

Shape Sorter Bucket: The pieces can be used for chewing and banging together first, and then the babies will learn about dumping out and putting in again. Good times! It’s also an excellent hide and seek ‘mask’, according to Emmett.

Sharky brush: Teether/toothbrush that the babies love to chew on!

Foam playmat: We keep this on our living room rug to cushion falls and tumbles, and to prevent messes from getting to the carpet. It does trip them up sometimes when they’re pushing the riding toys.

IMG_2948_WEB

Bath letters:  Who doesn’t want fun bath toys to chew on and throw over the side?

Touch and feel books, lift-the-flap books. They love lifting the flaps so much that they rip them right off!

I’d love to hear your additions to this list–what do your 6-12 month olds love to play with?

Our Favorite Toys for Babies, 3-6 month edition

When I went to the big re-sale a couple months ago, I had a very specific list of items that I knew the babies would need in the short term. When I saw the huge area of big toys, I froze. I tried to think about the next 5-6 months and what the babies would do or learn or want or play with. And I had utterly no idea what, say, a 9 month old could use.

So I figure that as I go along, I’ll keep track of the toys we use in age-ranges of our babies, in hope that someday, another mama will find it useful! This isn’t an official review or sponsored post, it’s just what our babies have liked.

(Previous gear lists: Pregnancy, New Babies part 1, New Babies part 2, New Babies part 3)

If you’ve seen any other lists like this, or have things to add, please let me know in the comments!

DSC_1070-1

Sophie the Giraffe–goes without saying. They like them, but they don’t actually love them. For awhile, they would get frustrated because they had trouble holding it and getting part of it in their mouth. As they’ve gotten bigger and more dextrous, they like it better.

DSC_0915-1DSC_5109-12

Winkel–I saw this on a few lists/blogs awhile ago and got one. They’ve loved it for months–at first to look at, and then to very slowly practice their gripping and holding, and then to try to eat.

Activity Ball (on the bottom right)–A bigger, louder version of the Winkel. Picked it up at a re-sale and sure enough, the babies really like it.

IMG_8907-2

Squishy books–a friend sent us three of these, and seriously, they are still some of their favorite toys. At this point they don’t care about the touchable stuff on the pages, they just love that a) the front page crinkles, and b) they can tug and pull to their hearts’ content.

DSC_5119-1

Baby Einstein Take-along Tunes–the orthotist had this in her office to entertain babies, and it was an instant love for Emmett. We got one the following week and both babies adore it.

IMG_0250-1

Bumbo–it’s not very fun or interesting, but it’s somewhere for the babies to sit with support.

Baby Super Seat–like a Bumbo BUT BETTER. Supported sitting without fat little legs getting stuck, AND an attachable activity tray. The babies’ favorite activity is playing with (ie, banging and eating) the little cups! Slowly they’ve learned to manipulate and play with/gum the other objects.

We’ve been using the Bumbo and Super Seat as seats while we feed them. Very mobile and convenient.

DSC_3380-1

DSC_3578-1

Piano mat — We had a regular activity mat with the hanging toys, but then I heard about this one. I waffled on it for awhile, but I am so glad we got it. It’s really fun for the babies. It’s an activity mat but it also has a kickable piano at the bottom! Plus, as you see, the piano can change position so that babies can sit at it. In theory, then, it should last far longer than the standard activity mat.

DSC_3222-1

O Ball  It’s a bendable ball full of holes. Easy for baby to grab and try to eat. Tons of fun.

DSC_3206-1

Jumperoo–Love it. They are so adorable when they bounce! Also, as they’ve gotten bigger and better with their motor control, they’ve discovered more of the toys and functions.

DSC_5033-3

Exersaucer–Love it too. And just like the jumperoo, they’ve figured out more fun stuff that this does and noises that it makes.

DSC_5053-5

Taggies ball–Tinkly bell sound plus big and squishy plus lots of tags to grab/eat. What’s not to love?

Tell me what your babies love to play with!

Gear for Babies and Twins, Part 3: For the House

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. 🙂

Previously:

Pregnancy Must Haves

Part 1: For You

Part 2: For the Babies

And now, the exciting conclusion!

Part 3: For the House

This is where the ‘stuff’ starts accumulating. I said in Part 2 that babies themselves don’t need much, and that’s true. Except somehow there is so much of their stuff around the house! And I don’t even think we’ve been excessive!

Anyway, here are the things that have made our lives easier around the house, day-to-day.

In General

Amazon Prime: We order so much on Amazon it’s ridiculous. We also have Prime (from a family member–thank you!!!). It is completely worth it to get free, fast shipping. We’ve gotten diapers, baby gear, and a bunch of stuff on this list, in fact. 🙂 And Costco for baby stuff–the prices on their brand of diapers, formula and wipes cannot be beat. The cheapest formula option on Amazon is $0.80 per ounce–the Costco brand is something like $0.42 per ounce! And of course their prices on most everything else is fantastic.

Bedroom/Living Room

Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper: This was our babies’ first bed. We had set up a crib in their room a few weeks before they were born, but while we were in the hospital we realized that we would rather have the babies in our bedroom so we wouldn’t have to go as far when they fussed. So the day before we went home, I sent Andy to go buy a co-sleeper (a used one from someone in the multiples club). We didn’t have enough room on either side of our bed, so we set it up at the foot. Plus that way it was equidistant for both of us.

IMG_7134-180

Rock n’ Play:I’ve mentioned before how these are different from other bouncers and how great these are. We switched our babies to sleeping in these when they were a week old, because they needed to be propped up a little after they ate. The incline angle of the Rock N Plays meant that we didn’t have to physically hold them at an angle for 20 minutes after every feeding. Plus they seemed to sleep a little better snuggled up in these as opposed to flat in the co-sleeper.

DSC_7779-216 DSC_0131-1

One week vs four months. So big now! Sob.

Swing: I got a used one at a consignment sale back in October, but we only started using it about a month ago. It’s a fantastic way to calm a baby who won’t otherwise calm down, or when both babies are crying at the same time and you can’t hold both, one can go in the swing.

DSC_0995-1

Boppy Pillow: (2 or more) Duh. You’ve no doubt already heard of these and probably bought at least one. At first I was only going to get one, for some reason. I thought maybe both babies wouldn’t need to be on it at the same time? I don’t know why I thought that. First of all, our babies sat/slept on these on our couch for their first week, because we had nowhere else to put them when we weren’t in our bedroom. Second of all, we use them at all the feedings–two boppies makes double feeding as easy as possible. Sit in the middle of the couch, with one baby+boppy on each side. Use rolled up blankets to prop, and then adjust and burp back and forth. It’s a pain in the ass for sure, but the boppies make it possible, and make it easier.

IMG_8978-2

Plus you can use two to fashion a seat support!

Changing Table: Instead of just open shelves, this one with drawers and laundry hamper is so much more efficient. Plus the stuff isn’t out and visible.

Bed Risers:If the changing table is too short to be comfortable for your back, raise it up a few inches. So cheap and so very worth it.

White Noise Machine and Projector:

A silent room makes little noises really stand out. And babies make a lot of little noises, let alone big ones. 🙂 Background noise is helpful for the babies–when I first turned on the machine, I swear that the babies sighed–and it’s soothing for us too! We use the ocean setting on this machine, and when the babies are still awake at bedtime, we turn on the projector function.

Diaper Champ:Everyone knows about the Diaper Genie, but when I saw how small the bag part is, I was like, two babies are gonna fill that in half a day! Then I found this awesome contraption at a consignment sale. (Ours looks a little different than the picture.) It doesn’t use special trash bags (so it doesn’t cost any more as time goes on) and it holds a lot. And the two babies still fill it up quite fast. (Even faster now that the diapers themselves are bigger.) The only downside is that, even though no part is open to air, it doesn’t contain the smell.

Waterproof Crib Pads:I had never heard of these, but they are awesome. We got several sets (we registered for them) in different sizes. We put the small square ones under the boppies to protect the couch. We put two medium-small ones side by side in the co-sleeper to protect the mattress. We use the full-size ones as a ‘blanket’ on the grass outside.

DSC_1022-1

Kitchen

Soaking tub, and fragrance-free dishsoap: A couple years ago I realized that the strong scents of dish detergents gave me a headache and sometimes left a residue on our dishes that I could smell and taste. We switched to Seventh Generation Free & Clear dish soap and that made such a difference. Once we came home with lots of baby things to wash, I never worried about the dish soap causing an issue. While we were in the hospital, there was a plastic dish tub for soaking bottle parts, and we were able to take it home with us. Good thing, too, because it is in use most hours of every single day. We do have a dishwasher, and our stuff is dishwasher safe–but we use so much feeding  paraphernalia so often that we don’t even bother trying to use the dishwasher. If you have a lot of bottle stuff and only one baby it would probably be easy enough to put some in the dishwasher.

Fragrance-free laundry detergent: Again, I hate strong smells for myself, and figured that babies don’t need that either. Seventh Generation makes a free and clear detergent, and so does Costco. I know there’s a fancy ‘baby detergent’ but eh, no need for that label markup.

Dr. Brown’s Bottles: Once the babies graduated from the tiny (90ml) Snappies bottles, we moved to the Dr Brown’s 4 oz plastic bottles. They feature a vent that allegedly creates a vacuum and reduces or eliminates air intake, therefore reducing gas. And I do think they got less gassy after we made the switch.

Babies can be really particular about bottles–the type they’ll accept and when they’ll accept them. Ours started using bottles at 2 or 3 days old, thank goodness, and have never had a problem. When I was also attempting to nurse here and there in their first 6 weeks, they didn’t have any problems or confusion.

Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher: I’m not even joking, this thing changed our lives. Even at the beginning, when we were only using formula for one set of bottles a day, it was a pain in the ass to measure scoops into tiny bottle openings and then shake shake shake, trying to see past the foam for an actual level. Mixing in the pitcher is fast, super easy, and no foam. You just pour it right out into the bottles, and you can pre-mix a whole day’s worth if/when you need to. SO FAST AND EASY.

Lawn Drying Rack: This is a cute accessory and all, but it’s become more than that for us. For the first few months we put everything on a dishtowel on the counter to dry. Which meant things constantly toppling over, everything in disarray, ugh. The plastic ‘blades’ of grass of this drying rack keep things upright and it’s so much easier to have everything orderly while also drying/being stored. As you can see I like to build a ‘fortress’ of bottles around the edge to contain the small items in the middle. (We recently added a ‘tree’, which is a plastic branch bit thing, to corral some of the bottle nipples.)

IMG_8537

For Going Out

Car Mirrors: for car seats. Makes such a difference to be able to glance back and see if those little faces are awake, asleep, cranky, etc.

Baby Jogger City Select: Ah, the stroller wars! Our first twin friends recommended this one and I think it would win. I’ve never used any other stroller, and I’ve never felt the need to, and even better, I’ll never need to. This stroller has car seat adaptors while the babies are in infant seats, and then once they’re sitting, there are ‘regular’ seats that snap into place. Those can be configured in many different ways, and you can easily just use one seat to make it into a temporarily single stroller. The initial expense is worth it in my opinion, because a) it’s a quality stroller–really easy to maneuver considering its size; and b) this one will last us for around two years. If you’re having twins, you need this stroller. If you live in the NYC area, they come up on craigslist all the time. I was lucky to get one on craigslist here in Portland–they don’t come up often and everyone pounces!

DSC_1509-1

Double Snap-N-Go: Only get this if you don’t have a car seat adaptable stroller yet or if you don’t know what large stroller you’ll be getting. They’re cheap (only buy them used!) but they’re not sturdy and they’re tough to maneuver/navigate. But they’re a lot better than nothing for the first few months!

And there you have it! Phew! We’ve accumulated a lot of stuff for these babies. And now we’re moving into the toys/play equipment age, so at some point down the road I’m sure I’ll do a roundup of that.

Please share your household/miscellaneous must-haves!

Note: These are Amazon affiliate links. I have only featured products we’ve actually used and loved.