With twins, there are unavoidable doublings. Try to revel in all of them, especially the "Omigosh"'s you'll receive from onlookers when out and about with your precious babies. Twins are special, and as a Mommy of twins, you are, too. When you are purchasing double of the below listed items, try to look on the bright side. At least you will get through each need stage almost simultaneously. Here are the items you'll need in bulk.
1. Nourishing Food
Two mouths to feed, you can't chintz out here. Breastfeeding can work with twins, and if you can make it work, it's the healthiest choice for the babies, for you, and certainly for your wallet. If breastfeeding is not the route you decide to go, formula will do the trick just fine.
Most formula manufacturers offer special coupons and deals for parents of multiples. Get on those lists early in your pregnancy. Even if you intend to breastfeed, those companies distribute great developmental information on babies, and you never know. Best to be prepared. Likewise, once your babies are on solid foods, lots of coupons are available to mommies of twins. You'll still need to get double foodstuffs, but you can save a bit here and there.
2. Diapers & Diapering Supplies
What goes in must come out. Two bottoms, you can't chintz out here either. They need coverage. Many of the predominant diaper manufacturers put coupons in the newspaper regularly and offer coupons to moms of twins. Be forewarned. Even with coupons, the name-brand diapers are much more expensive than off- and store-brands.
You can expect each baby to soil/wet 8 to 12 diapers a day for at least the first two months. Believe it or not, you want that. It confirms your babies are getting enough nutrition. You can do the math. You will go through 960 to 1,440 diapers in your first 60 days alone. We found off-brands (or less popular brands) to be just fine. We used off-brand petroleum jelly with each and every change, and rarely had rear rashes. You'll figure out what works best for you. If friends ask what you need for the babies, you need diapers.
Buckled and Secured
3. Car Seats
You can't leave the hospital without them. They can't share. Our twosome even needed to be "tested" in their car seats for stress prior to being released from the hospital. We have a hysterical photo of our daughter sleeping away in her car seat with electrodes and monitors attached all over her. From what I hear, not every hospital requires this test, but don't be surprised if yours does.
For babies under age 1, and less than 20 pounds, the car seats must be rear-facing. (If your babies reach 20 pounds prior to their first birthday, they still need to remain rear-facing. You'll then need to invest in "convertible" car seats that can go from rear to front-facing, and that accommodate heavier babies.) Most firemen will install the bases into your vehicle for you, ensuring they are safely and properly in place. Don't wait until late in your pregnancy to get this important task accomplished. Twins can and often do come early. Be ready.
4. High Chairs
Even though you can only place a single spoonful in one baby's mouth at a time, feeding your babies semi-simultaneously by alternating bites betwixt the two is far easier than trying to feed them in sequence. Especially if you have one hungry infant watching while his/her sibling is being fed! High chairs serve purposes beyond feeding. They are great containment for finger painting, coloring, and for off-the-floor playing with small toys/books. Some favorite photos of our twins have been taken in their high chairs. Get a pair. You'll be glad you did.
Protect & Soothe
5. Burpie Cloths
After each feeding, each baby will need burping. Often, baby burps travel with spit-up. Hopefully, you will have Daddy or a second set of hands burping one baby while you burp the other. You'll need to protect yourselves from the burp cheese.
Even if you are handling burp duty single-handedly (which eventually you will have to) each baby deserves a fresh, cheese-free cloth. There are precious burp cloths out there that coordinate with bibs and outfits. If you get some as gifts, fantastic. For day-to-day and middle of the night use, cloth diapers serve the purpose well.
While on the subject of burping, let me digress. When your babies are small, you will probably not burp them over your shoulder as you usually see on TV. For the first three to four months, until they really get good neck control, it often works best to burp baby while he or she sits on your lap. Hold his or her jaw around the chin in one hand supporting the head, and firmly pat the baby's back with your other hand. We draped the burpie cloth over our hand supporting the head, and put the extra cloth over the leg toward which the baby was facing, just in case. Each baby gets a fresh cloth each burp session.
You will need to feed babies approximately eight times each 24-hour period the first couple of months. Get 20 to 30 cloths and you should be fine. You'll be doing laundry often enough for that to be about right. If you feel you need more, get more. You can always use them for dustcloths or to mop up mini-messes later.
Side note: Not a single book I read indicated when the parent-induced burping should stop. The "after-every-feeding" burping process continued for us until ours were about 6 months, and intermittently after that until they were about 8 months. Ours were exceedingly gassy. Yours may need regular burping for a shorter (or maybe longer) window of time.
Two mouths. Both have a suck reflex, and are soothed by the process. You'll need a minimum of two pacifiers. If you plan to breastfeed your babies, some wisdom advocates holding off a bit on introducing the pacifiers until nursing/latching is well-established. The phrase "nipple confusion" is one you will hear repeatedly. Personally, I don't believe in nipple confusion where a binkie is concerned. No nourishment flows through a pacifier; give your babies some credit.
Now on the flip side, when a fast-flow bottle is introduced frequently prior to nursing/latching becoming well-established, that may cause problems getting the babies to breastfeed. Not because they are "confused" between nipples, but because the bottle nipple makes it far easier to get big mouthfuls of milk rapidly, and with minimal effort.
Reading & Re-grouping
7. Baby Books
They are two children, with two distinct sets of achievements to document and cherish. Granted, the babies may be in high school before you get a chance to fill them all in with the notes you've jotted in your poo journal and on notepads, but they each need to have their own book. There are twin sets of baby books out there if you are seeking to coordinate every aspect of their early lives.
Two mouths to feed. Two sets of burps to provoke. Two babies to dress. A diaper bag that needs to be prepped to handle needs of two infants. Two car seats to snap in. Two babies to strap into the stroller. Two children to undress and redress at the pediatrician's office. Two cribs to keep in fresh linens. Two booties that need diapering. Two babies to individually hug and cuddle. Allow the extra time you need to do those things that must be done consecutively, one at a time. Attempting to "cram" too much activity into too little time will increase the stress on you, your partner, and your babies.
Cheryl Lage is a full-time, fully fulfilled mom to fraternal twins Darren and Sarah. During twin-synchronous sleeping hours, she is the Web host of www.twinfatuation.com, a Web support site for new and expecting twin parents.
Originally published on AmericanBaby.com.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.