January 21, 2013 · filed under miscellany, twins

my favorite things (the first 11 weeks)

With new babies comes lots of stuff. Our small house is pretty much packed to the brim, so we’ve had to be a bit picky at times about what baby gear is must-have versus just nice-to-have. I’m almost three months into this new gig and here’s my list of favorite items. You’ll notice that nearly all of them have to do with nursing or sleeping. That’s pretty much all I try to get babies to do all day long!

Boppy pillows. Two of ‘em, for us. During daytime hours, if the boys are not in our arms, they are most likely sleeping nestled in a boppy pillow (with supervision). When they were smaller, my favorite thing to do was to shove them into one boppy. I got mine for free from a neighbor and registered for new covers. I only use them for breastfeeding if I’m feeding one baby.

Breastfeeding pillow. I have the twin version of the terribly named “My Brest Friend” and it’s the only way I can successfully tandem nurse. I’m not sure how necessary this is if you don’t have twins.

A nice chair for nursing and pumping. Ours is the TRYP from Best Chairs, found at local furniture stores and places like Buy Buy Baby. This chair was the most expensive thing we bought (slightly less than $500 — more than both cribs combined), but I’ve logged literally hundreds of hours in it already. It rocks and swivels and reclines. We chose a neutral linen fabric with gray cording.

Babies in the chair

Simple Wishes hands-free pumping bra. I am scared to think of how many GALLONS (yes, gallons) of milk I’ve pumped by now. If I couldn’t do it hands-free, my babies would definitely not be drinking breastmilk.

Dr. Brown’s bottles and the preemie flow nipples. All my research said this combo of bottle+nipple was best for breastfed babies. Although they are kind of a hassle to clean because there are so many parts, we don’t have particularly gassy, burpy, or spit-uppy babies.

Swaddle blankets. Until the boys fit into their sleep sacks, we swaddled them in aden + anais blankets every night. The bamboo ones are softer and nicer for daytime use, and the regular ones have more “grip” for a tight nighttime swaddle.

Sleep swaddle sacks. These were a gift from Liz, and whoa, thank you, Liz! It took a few weeks for the boys to grow into these, but they now sleep in them every night and are probably the reason we ever get any sleep. (Not that we’re getting a ton…)

Video monitor. We have a Motorola one that I like a lot, but the battery life is short and one night it randomly had the White Screen of Death. Other than that, I love being able to see which baby is crying and I’m sure I’ll like it even more once they start moving around in the crib.

Something for babywearing. We have a Beco Gemini (thanks, Alison!) and a borrowed Moby wrap, and the babies like both of them. They’ve been most helpful when a baby is fussing but I have to get something done with my hands (dishes, playing cards, etc.). My next goal is to go on a walk with the babies in carriers but we haven’t tried it yet. I also might use the Beco at the grocery store if I ever have to take both babies with me (one in a carseat and one in a carrier?).

Humidifier. This might not be necessary for a summer baby, but in the winter when the heat is on all the time and the air is dry, our babies sleep a lot better when they don’t wake up with dried out mouths and noses.

A ton of burp rags. They don’t have to be fancy — ours are a mixture of hand-me-downs, gifts, and home sewn from cloth diapers — but we go through a ton of these every day.

Carseat bunting. It’s like a blanket built just for a carseat, and completely eliminates the need for bundling the baby up in warm clothes or a coat when we leave the house. All we add is a hat. I think this is a must-have for a winter baby.

Extra diaper changing station. We have one in the babies’ room and one in the living room, with a changing pad and a stack of diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.. It may seem like overkill, but we change something like 15 or more diapers each day, and I’m glad I don’t have to walk upstairs (or downstairs) every time.

A smartphone and #newmom and #bfing friends on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Wanna know who else is up at 4am? Moms. Want advice on sleeping, nursing, and anything else baby-related? Want to see and share cute baby pics? Talk to other moms. I also recommend following @nancyholtzman, who answers questions all day and night and has a ton of free sleep and breastfeeding webinars available on every topic imaginable.

Freezer meals and friends who cook. Among the many nice things people have done for us is make us so many good meals. This was lifesaving for me especially, because during the first few weeks the only thing I could think about doing was feeding babies. I had no time or mental capacity to think about feeding myself, even though I was ravenously hungry all the time. My SIL set up a schedule on Food Tidings.

Things I did not list because they are kind of obvious necessities: carseats, stroller, cribs, etc. I like the ones we picked out but there are so many different options out there I can’t say for sure ours are The Best.

Things we live happily without: Fancy clothes (we are grateful for loads of hand me downs and gifts), a bottle or wipe warmer, crib bedding other than white sheets, expensive cribs (our were $99 at IKEA with $50 mattresses).

Things I recommend you borrow but not buy (if you can): Swings and bouncy seats. Ours come in handy here and there so far, but I’m glad we borrowed them from friends for the amount of use we get.

What are your must haves for the first few months? I’m curious to see if we generally agree or if everyone has different items!


17 Comments

  1. jen
    January 21, 2013 7:58 pm

    We’re looking at the IKEA cribs for that reason – cheap and simple! I think actually those are the same ones we like.
    The chairs I have in mind are the definite splurge for our nursery budget, but we have tons of hand-me-downs for other stuff, and I want something comfortable for Jon and me since we’re both tall.
    I’m bookmarking this link for reference in a few months- good suggestions! I can’t believe you’ve been a mom for 3 months nor that I’m 5 months pregnant already. I keep thinking I have plenty of time to get all this stuff done and sorted out. I’m a master procrastinator. :)

  2. carley
    January 21, 2013 8:02 pm

    Dr. Brown’s were such a lifesavor with our son we kept on using them with our daughter. I also second the two diaper changing stations. We’ve done this since day 1 due to my c-sections to make it easier and I still love it. It makes life easier not to run up and down!

    I also loooooved my moby wrap….times a million! Just love your cute photos on Twitter and your blog!

  3. Lyndell
    January 21, 2013 8:37 pm

    Great idea with the humidifier.
    I love my baby playmat with toys that dangle over bub, at 5 months it still gives me a 20 minute window in the morning :)

    • Janet
      January 22, 2013 4:42 pm

      We finally put Holden under our playmat today and he loved it! I think they’re just getting to an age where it’s fun for them. I can see this item being on my next must-have list.

  4. alison
    January 21, 2013 10:52 pm

    I think this is one of those things that can be quite personal. Of your list the things, the I also loved were not many overlaps surprisingly! (Boppy, good chair, swaddle blankets, burp rags, carseat bunting.) My other essentials were my bouncy chair (both kids lived in ours!) , Nuk pacifiers, and our white noise machine (Marpac).

    • Janet
      January 22, 2013 4:43 pm

      I think the noise machine will make it on my next list. It’s been good so far, but as their sleeping habits shift, I think it will become essential. (Is Marpac the same as Dohm? That’s what we have)

  5. Aly @ Breathe Gently
    January 22, 2013 1:06 am

    You make me wish we had Boppies available here. They seem like a lifesaver. Jealous!

    Love these lists. Practical info like this makes me feel better. :)

  6. J.A. from Amsterdam
    January 22, 2013 4:02 am

    I only had one baby, and I also live in Amsterdam so basically never get in a car, which I think changes things… my main things were the bamboo Aden+Anais swaddlers (which my daughter now uses as a lovey when she goes to sleep at one year old) and warm blankets (February baby!). For swaddling later we really loved Woombies, SO great. And then I really could not have survived without my boobs (haha), and my hotsling. I love all kinds of baby carriers but that hotsling was so easy to pop her in and out of, it was amazing. And we used cloth diapers.

    That’s it! They dont need much in the beginning :) But the Aden+Anais and maybe a woombie are my standard baby gift now (though not all moms are fans of swaddling, for me it was essential the first 6 months!)

    Janet I just love reading about your mothering adventure, it makes me so happy :)

  7. Michelle
    January 22, 2013 11:36 am

    First of all, I think it is amazing that you are breastfeeding both of those boys–when you started talking about tandem feeding–holy moly. I couldn’t even breastfeed one at a time. That’s amazing!

    I always love these types of posts because it’s fun to see what other people loved and what people hated. Both of our kids hated being swaddled–my oldest son slept through the night at six weeks old, so I’m not going to question it. The youngest is another story–but he’s nine months old now, so we are past the swaddling stage anyway! We got a Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper with our second son and it was the best investment we ever made. He slept in it the first two months and it was awesome. We also loved the bouncy seat and swing with our oldest–but our youngest hated them. It’s amazing how two kids can be so different!

    I love hearing about these adorable boys!!!

  8. BirdieDorf
    January 22, 2013 4:08 pm

    We used the sleeper gowns, swaddle me (you know the straight jackets) & 2 A+A blankets all together for 3 months! Abe needed to be tightly wound up!

  9. Betsy
    January 22, 2013 11:10 pm

    I agree with Alison, it is funny how personal these lists are. I thought the swing and playmat were essential. He lived in both of them from 1-6 months or so. We also loved the swaddlepod and swaddle wraps, I could never quite figure out swaddling with blankets. We didn’t use the boppy much but I did like the (single) Brest Friend. I also needed the nipple shield for almost 6 months, as well as BreastFlow bottles. And the Snap and Go stroller was/is awesome but I only had one baby so I probably went a lot more places early on.

    I agree with you on the humidifier, pumping bra, baby wearing, burp cloths, and 2 diaper stations!

  10. Liz
    January 23, 2013 12:04 pm

    I’m glad you figured out the hands-free bra thing earlier than I did. I can’t believe how long I pumped without it! (3 months) Here’s my list of faves for 0-3 months: http://willtherebecake.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/my-favorite-baby-thing s-0-3-months/

    I JUST bought that Beco baby carrier. I don’t know how much we’ll use it so I may return it or save it for the next baby.

    I’m glad we have a swing and bouncer, although we didn’t really use them too much, but I know they’ll come in handy for future babes.

    Warning: It’s a sad day when the babies start wiggling out of the boppy. No more boppy naps made things slightly more difficult, although now we just put him in his crib. And we JUST packed up the playmat, at 7 months old, because he’s too big for it now. But man was it nice to be able to set him down and let him play/roll/pull while I did laundry, cleaned, or just watched TV. Now if I want to get something done, I put him in the jumperoo or exersaucer so that he’s contained and entertained, though it doesn’t last longer than about 10-15 minutes.

  11. K
    January 23, 2013 6:28 pm

    Oh man…YES on the nice chair. We spent a lot of money on one for Ezra’s room and one for Iris’ and have used them so, so much. Probably as much as our couch in the living room.

    And I second the sound machine.

  12. Elaine
    January 25, 2013 6:11 pm

    I love Dr. Brown bottles and the video monitor- we have the Motorola one too, and I agree with the battery life. Freaks me out when it beeps in the middle of the night because I forgot to plug it in.

    We of course have the swing, bouncy seat, etc. Wish I would not have bought those since they are only interested in them for a sort time. Now we just rotate them between friends!

  13. Emily
    January 27, 2013 10:49 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on the boppy. I thought it was mainly for breastfeeding but it is also an incredible baby prop up spot. He likes being wedged in it right next to us more than being in the swing across the room.

    I agree with you on the a&a swaddles. The cheaper ones are better (more grippy?) for night swaddling. I love the super soft bamboo ones and use them also as a carseat (germ) cover and boob cover for when we are out. I even have worn them as scarves so I have one handy when I needed it!

    I’ll need look into the dr brown bottles for the future!.. Thanks for the tip on nancy holtzman! She’s a reassuring voice and I’m learning a lot. P.s. follow me at @emilyoctober