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Preparing for Twins

Having two babies at once—particularly if they are a couple’s first children—can put a mighty dent in one’s wallet. We’re talking two car seats, two cribs, two sets of clothes. And it’s estimated that parents go through 140 or more diapers a week with a set of newborn twins.

Couples expecting multiples have a lot of work to do before their little ones arrive, but unlike those expecting just one baby, these parents need to get to work preparing their homes and the layette earlier, experts say. “Parents expecting twins need to be a few weeks ahead of a singleton parents’ schedule when it comes to getting ready for their babies’ arrival,” wrote Connie L. Agnew and her colleagues in Twins! Pregnancy, Birth and the First Year of Life. They suggest assessing your finances, arranging your priorities, and starting to buy or borrow items in the third trimester, because, on average, twins arrive early.

Given the costs incurred in stocking a twins’ nursery, Elizabeth Noble, in her book Having Twins: A Parent’s Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Early Childhood, urges parents expecting twins to be very practical, to buy no-nonsense clothes that are interchangeable, and to buy in bulk. “Many parents of twins find it simpler and less expensive to ship in bulk,” Noble writes. “Products are cheaper by the case, and three- or four-month supplies of non-perishables can be bought, leaving less shopping time to be done weekly.” She suggests parents keep in mind that if you have a lot of some basic items on hand, the less often you’ll have to do laundry.

In the book Mothering Twins, where mothers of twins discuss their experiences, the parents concluded that before buying every item on the market, parents expecting twins should not only think about buying in bulk, but also look into getting equipment from “secondhand stores, garage sales, swap meets and friends who can lend you equipment.” (Car seats should not be purchased used, however.)

Early Decisions to Make

One room or two? Matching clothes or not? Side-by-side or front-back stroller? Breastfeeding or bottles? Disposables or cloth diapers?

Before prepping your home for the arrival of twins, parents expecting multiples have a slew of questions they need to answer that those expecting a single baby typically don’t have to grapple with. You need to make a few lifestyle decisions before embarking on the daunting task of stocking up for double the bundles of joy.

One or Two Rooms
If you plan to put the twins in separate bedrooms, you need to figure on buying two cribs, two sets of sheets, bumpers, mobiles, and all the other decorations that go in a nursery. You’ll also have to determine if you want to keep separate stashes of diapers, wipes, and ointment in each room, and if you want to buy a single changing table or two.

Matching/Coordinated Clothes
Regardless of whether or not you know the genders of your babies, you’ll likely get a lot of coordinated or matching clothes before they’re born. In buying some of the basic clothing, you need to decide whether you want matching clothes or simply clothes that are interchangeable. The website eHow, in a section on raising twins on a budget, suggested that parents buy different outfits as opposed to matching ones. “This gives the twins’ wardrobe twice the variety.”

Breastfeeding or Bottle-Feeding
If you plan to breastfeed your twins, it’s likely you’ll want to invest in one of the many breastfeeding cushions designed to support twins who are nursing at the same time. Having a nursing pillow is very helpful so you can nurse once, not twice. Popular pillows include the EZ 2-Nurse Pillow, the Anna Double Nursing Pillow, and the Nurse Mate Pillow.

If you’re not nursing, you have to purchase double the amount of bottles you’d normally purchase or plan on washing a lot of bottles. You can contact manufacturers of formula and bottle suppliers to see if they offer discounts for twins or freebies for parents of multiples.

Strollers

Having a stroller that suits your lifestyle is essential to any parents of twins who want to have a life outside the house. But before buying a twins’ stroller, you need to decide which style you want and where you’ll be taking the kids, as some strollers are suited for more rugged walks, while more umbrella type strollers are better for malls and sidewalks. If you’re on a budget and don’t plan to drop a few hundred dollars on a double stroller, you can opt to buy single umbrella strollers and attach them together with specially suited equipment.

“One of your biggest challenges will be getting out and about with your very young twins,” according to Twins! “Most parents of twins get many hours of use from their strollers, so you want to buy the right one.”

The National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs recommends that parents choose sturdy, strong strollers with large wheels. “Sacrifice economy if necessary to gain safety, comfort, and durability features,” the club suggests. “Parents of multiples tend to use strollers longer.” Strollers range in price from roughly $200 to $580 for a triplet stroller. But on the other end of the price scale, a double umbrella stroller from Kolocraft was listed as $59.95. The More Than One online catalog also has a set of straps designed to connect two of the lesser expensive umbrella strollers into for $20.

Baby Packs
There are baby packs that enable a parent to carry more than one baby at a time; however, many experts say that most mothers can only use them for a short while until the weight gets to be too much. Other parents use a combination of a single baby pack and an infant car seat to get around. “When twins are very small, it is possible to wear one baby in front and in back or use a double pack,” Linda Albi and her colleagues write. “… However packs aren’t for everyone.”

Baby Seats
Some people opt to use the infants’ car seats as baby seats in the house, mostly to save on the cost of having to buy two car seats and two infant/bouncy seats. “Some car seats can be used indoors as infant seats,” Noble writes, “and it is easier to pick up two handles than two babies.”

Cribs

You need to decide whether you want two separate cribs, a double crib (which can be quite costly), or dividers that carve out space for more than one child in a standard crib. Cost and the layout of the babies’ room(s) both have an impact on this decision. Many parents of twins opt to have the babies share a crib when they are small—they shared a uterus, after all—and then when the twins get bigger and interrupt each other’s sleep, many put them into separate cribs.

Diapers
While some diaper services offer discounts for families with twins, such services aren’t available everywhere. If you live in a place where there are no diaper services or you simply prefer using disposable diapers, try buying diapers by the case and stock up during sales.

The Basic Layette
Once you’ve made all of the organizational decisions, you need to make sure you have the basics on hand for when your bambinos cross the threshold for the first time.

Recommended Shopping List

Below is a compilation of the shopping lists recommended by experts:

  • 140-200 diapers per week
  • 12 cotton snap undershirts
  • 12 one-piece, leg-snap pajamas or nightgowns
  • 12 receiving blankets
  • 4 blanket sleepers (if your children are winter babies)
  • 2 snowsuits (winter babies)
  • 2-4 machine washable sweaters (winter babies)
  • 2 sets of booties
  • 4 hats
  • 6-10 fitted crib sheets
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