One of the pleasures of parenting multiples is getting to help ease other twin parents into the new world that awaits them. We’ve been honored to be asked for advice by a number of expecting parents, and we certainly hope that our experience has been helpful to them. Recently another friend discovered (at 20 weeks!) that she’s expecting twins, and we also got to travel back in time 21 months and baby-sit a pair of adorable three-month-old twins for an afternoon.
I thought it would be fun and potentially useful to put in writing some of our opinions about what twin parents do and don’t need. (And I imagine some of this will be useful to new parents, no matter how many babies will be arriving.)
There are really very few “twin-specific” pieces of parenting gear that we found to be useful. This is probably because there are really very few “twin-specific” pieces of parenting gear. Still, there are a few things worth mentioning:
If you’re going to be attempting to tandem-nurse two babies, a double nursing pillow will probably be helpful. We had an EZ-2-Nurse pillow which we never ended up using, but lent out to someone who thought it was effective. Also, it has a really stupid name.
Everyone except us loves a Double Snap-N-Go. If it works for you, it’s a great way to cart around two infants: just snap in the car seats, and away you go. We found its length to be really awkward. If you’re trying to cross the street, for instance, the far baby is essentially in traffic before you can see around the parked cars. Or maybe that’s only a problem in our neighborhood?
A good double stroller is probably going to be your biggest purchase (unless you’re getting gold-plated cribs) and is almost certainly worth spending a little extra to get a model that you’re really going to be happy with. It should be comfortable, foldable, maneuverable, and ideally weigh less than your car. (I could probably write a whole separate post just about strollers.)
That’s really it, in terms of double items. With everything else it’s a question of buying two (or more).
Sleeping: Our twins slept together in a co-sleeper until they were two months old. (At that point, together they weighed enough that they caused the mattress to bend and in the middle of the night we’d find them kind of tumbled up against one another in a corner.) From there, we moved them into their own room where they shared a crib until they were about four months old. We found that they could share as long as they were short enough to fit side-by-side in the crib in landscape (as opposed to portrait) orientation (that is, perpendicular to the way you expect a baby to lie in a crib). Frankly, I liked having them in the same crib both because it made life a little easier for us (there they both were!) and because they seemed to be happier when they were next to each other. Awww. Once they lengthened out a bit, we put them into adjacent cribs.
Quantity: There are certain items that you’ll use and dirty often enough that it really is worth it (from the point of view of maintaining your sanity) to just buy way, way more of them than you think is sensible. Trust me; when your baby drops her pacifier on the floor for the fifth time, you’ll be much happier to just grab a clean one from the drawer rather then wash it off. You really almost cannot have too many burp cloths, bibs, bottles, pacifiers, and receiving blankets.
Docking stations: We tried to arrange our house so that there were “baby docking stations” close to hand wherever we were. Upstairs, downstairs, bedroom, living room: there needs to be someplace to safely park at least one baby so you can deal with the rest of your life (or your other child) for thirty seconds. The memories are hazy now, but I’m pretty sure we had a total of three bouncers, one travel swing, one cradle swing, two pack and plays, two cribs, two Bumbos, two playmats, two Boppies, an Exersaucer, a Jumperoo, and often a relative or two. (Not all at once.) Still, it’s probably worth it to map out your house and come up with a plan for where you’re going to stash Baby A when Baby B spits up down your shirt.
Speaking of bouncy seats, you will definitely want at least two of these. We had the best luck with the kind on a metal frame, like this. Why? Because you can put one baby in the seat, rest your foot on the frame, and gently bounce them no-handed while you attend to their twin sibling. This was a lifesaver for us. If the bouncer makes horrible noises while flashing obnoxious light and waving brightly colored plastic animals about, all the better.
Monitor: In general, I think the idea of a video monitor is overkill, but I do admit there were times it would have been useful. With one baby, when you hear noise over the monitor, you know that the baby is awake. With twins, you hear noise, and you might not know who is awake, or if both are awake, or if one is awake and the other is still asleep so you might actually have a chance of yanking the awake one out of the room and letting the other one sleep, or if they’re both awake so you’re better off just letting them work it out for themselves for a bit because once you go in, it’s all over. We spent a lot of time hovering around the audio monitor going, “Oh, Eloise is up. No, wait, that’s Julian. Wait, is it Julian? Nope, sorry, it’s Eloise, but I can hear Julian doing his kicky leg thing against the mattress. Or wait, is it just Julian kicking and making noise, and Eloise is asleep?” Point is, it would have been nice to be able to see. We had, roughly, this monitor, and it served us very well for two good long years until it suddenly stopped working while we were on vacation.
Diaper bag: We have, I think, three diaper bags at this particular point in time, and the one we use most often is the Skip Hop Duo Double Diaper Bag. It’s roomy (even for cloth diaper supplies), it fits on a double stroller, and it’s nicely unisex. However, for a recent trip we suddenly realized that a backpack would be even better: and it was! We just bought a regular backpack (as opposed to a backpack that was officially a diaper bag) and it was really helpful. (Of course, we had this brainstorm right as we were getting ready to start potty training.)
OK, that’s a lot of words. And I have more to say! I think I’ll save it for another post, where I’ll talk about the systems, as opposed to the stuff, that we found especially helpful.Filed under Uncategorized | Comment (1)