So three months into this whole parenting thing and it feels both like it’s been way longer, but also that I don’t know where the past 3 months have flown by.
It seems like a lifetime ago I was on the other side of this parenting thing totally flummoxed by the sheer volume of things that I was “supposed” to buy for my impending prison guards. I constantly wondered how tiny people can need so much, and since I was having twins my list seemed to be three times as long (don’t ask how that works).
Since I grew up across the world, I was also wondering that if all these hundred things were “must-haves” how did the rest of the world (including my parents) raise kids without them? My husband and I did move from a one-bedroom apartment to a lovely 3 bedroom (1400 sq ft) home, but it still seemed too small to accommodate everything the experts say we absolutely needed. So in a quest to be minimalist about what I acquired, I asked all my already-mama friends what they thought were the essentials and tried to find the commonalities. The items that popped up consistently, I put on my list of things I needed.
Now that I am 3 months into having babies, the list has only shifted slightly. I’ll start this post with what has been most useful for us right after baby comes home.
NOTE: If you just want the list without my 2am ramblings, skip to the bottom.
1. A place for baby to sleep. Since this is their favorite hobby out of the womb (the world is a jarring place, even I go through phases where all I want to do is sleep!), you’ll want to have somewhere for the little ones to pass out. When they are newborns you’ll probably want them close since it will feel like the cycle of feeding, burping, cajoling to sleep, de-pooping (rinse and repeat – literally) will seem never ending and you’ll also want to pass out every second you get the chance*. A bassinet/moses basket is ideal for this 0-3m phase. You really will not need a crib till month 3, or when your baby starts sleeping in longer stretches/you are done co-sleeping.
*Parents of twins don’t count on getting any sleep those first few months (they take turns needing all of the above, so start building that village if you have any hopes of survival 🙂
You’ll also want a few swaddle cloths. Muslin works great for the summer, but winter babies will need something more. You want them to be sturdy so that you can wrap the babies tightly, but with enough stretch that they can kick out without hurting themselves. We loved these swaddle cloths from Carters for the newborns:
As the babies got older and started moving more at night, I got the aden and anais easy swaddle blankets which kept the squirmers safe and tucked! These are expensive at $25, but I got mine for $5 at TJ Maxx, so keep a look out.
You’ll find what works for you after the babies come so don’t stress too much about accumulating sleep stuff. Just have a safe place for when baby first gets home.
**Tip: Look at craigslist (especially in ritzy areas) for second hand moses baskets/bassinets. These items are used for very short times but are bulky, so people want to get rid of them as soon as they are done using them. And you’re likely to get deep discounts on really nice items if you look in the nicer parts of town.
2. A place to change your baby. This arguably could be on any flat surface (you’ll want to put something soft/waterproof under that dewy bum just in case, I love my Bamboo Mattress Protector from Lil’ Helper), and we’ve done that plenty when we don’t have the energy to trek up (all 7 steps – viva la split-level!) to the nursery to the changing station just to change a pee-pee diaper. For those big poopy diapers however, you might want to use a changing pad. There are so many on the market, and most come with cute interchangeable covers with little dancing monkeys and frogs and did I mention the cute monkeys? While these might be tempting, and they are certainly cheaper initially, many of my mama friends complained about having to wash them every time the little people peed (or worse) on the covers, and advised me to purchase multiple covers. This seemed like way too much work (did I mention I’m lazy), so after a little research I found the Peanut Diaper Changer by Keekaroo. It’s made of a super soft, durable and most importantly easy-to-clean material which is latex-, PVC-, BPA-, etc etc free. And it comes in all sorts of beautiful colors! I honestly feel like I could have more of these all over the house. I LOVE mine. Added bonus, for those first few weeks (especially when Gappsie was a 3 pounder who I could palm), we gave the kids sponge baths on this thing.
3. Feeding stuff. This breaks down into two categories, breast and bottle feeding.
a. Breastfeeding: If you are breastfeeding, the first thing you should know is that Obamacare mandates that your insurance company provide you with a free breast-pump. I got the Medela Pump In Style Advanced and loved it! Mamas of multiples you don’t get more than one. I asked.
Frustratingly for me, my milk never came in. I was a mess post-op and for so many disappointing reasons wasn’t able to get the flow. It’s still one of my most frustrating moments as a mom to realize that my plan to breastfeed was just not going to happen. So despite your breast efforts (haha get it? No it’s not a typo!) it may not happen for you. Despite my setbacks in this area, for the few weeks that I was able to do it intermittently, I came away with this: breastfeeding is one of the hardest things you will do to begin with. But if you stick with it through those I-want-food-every-3-hours, feels like you’re a full time cow phase (ie the first 1-2 months), you will be highly rewarded.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but breast feeding is easier than bottle feeding. When you are bottle feeding you have to wash bottles, sterilize them, prepare formula, make sure it’s with boiled/sterile water that is neither too hot, nor too cold (remember Goldilocks?) and more. Breastfeeding on the other hand means that when baby is ready to feed, there is an all you can eat buffet at the perfect temperature all ready to go. And this doesn’t even cover all the bonding and health benefits for both baby and mama (hey, I’m all about the ease here, don’t judge). Also, baby gets to experience so many lovely flavors with breast milk, unlike formula that comes in one flavor-icky.
There are a few items you’ll probably want to get if you are breast feeding/pumping:
i. Breast feeding pillow (I like the Breast Friend, and it comes in a twin size so you can technically double-boob it!!)
ii. Somewhere comfortable to sit – this could be a nice rocking chair/glider type thing, or just a nice firm backrest/pillow for your bed.
iii. You might also need to get some nipple butter, cooling pads, and nursing pads for those leaking milk canisters you’re gonna be sporting.
iv. If you are pumping as well, you might want to invest in a pumping bra (or you can buy a sports bra and cut out X’s where you attach the pumps). It’s basically a hands free kit for your boobs. It made it a lot more likely that I would pump because it allowed me to have a few minutes a day to myself so I could get on Facebook and post all those cute baby pics. What? TMI? whoops
You will also need a few of the bottle-feeding accouterment listed below.
b. Bottle feeding: so this is where I find myself after trying for many weeks to get my milk to come in. We got the tommy tippe and the Dr. Brown bottles, but the kids both went for the latter. From what I heard over and over is not to invest in too many bottles because your babies might not like the brand you get and you may have to find one they like. My cousin went through several before her daughter settled on tommy tippees. After you find a brand your baby likes, stick with it! You’ll also want to get something to dry your bottles on. You could do it in your regular drying rack but they often have so many little parts that you’ll probably want a dedicated place for them. I LOVE the Boon Grass Rack for this purpose. First of all it allows the bottles and all the parts to dry well fast, and second it feeds my anal-retentive side by allowing me to organize all the parts so they are
all pretty accessible quickly. You’ll also need a bottle brush.
Optional items include a microwave sterilizer (I don’t use one, I boil the bottles every 5-7 days), and a bottle warmer. Again, I don’t use one, I actually have an awesome electric kettle (Rosewill Electric Hot Water Boiler and Warmer Dispenser) that boils the water and then keeps it at a desired set temperature. We have it at 60F which is the lowest setting and still too hot for those lil mouths, but after it has boiled, I just keep a separate bottle nearby fill and let that water cool. When going to make formula all I have to do: add most of the water from the kettle, top it off with a little boiled cooled water, and add the formula. Stir and serve warm! It seems like a lot of steps, but it beats making formula and then waiting to cool it, or using cold boiled water and then waiting to heat it. (Aside: see why breastfeeding is easier?) It takes me about 30 seconds to make formula right now, which is crucial when both sirens are wailing and there are only two hands to their ten.
4. Carseat. Ok so this could be another ten posts. There are pros and cons to every seat out there, but the consensus on safety is that the Britax B-Safe and the Chico Key Fit are some of the best car seats out there. We have the former, but mama’s of multiples (whether all at once or not) if you have a smaller car, the Chicos are said to have a smaller footprint on the seat. This one I leave for you to research and decide.
5. Stroller. Again this is as big (or small) ticket item as your budget will allow. Do your research and pick something in your price and comfort range. Tall parents, look for something with telescoping handles, small parents, make sure you can lift those things in and out of the car! We were fortunate enough to receive 2 (count em: One, Two) side-by-side strollers from my amazing sister-in-law who saved them from when she had twins (12 years ago). They are super high end strollers in superb condition, but they are WIDE! So D and I did decide we were going to invest in a City Select:
First, this is a tandem stroller, second it allows you (with separate attachments) to just hook up your car seat to the frame, so no jolting the kids around, third it can be a single or double stroller as needed. Score! And lastly, it will grow with the kids (once they are in the regular seats, not attached car seats).
A note on baby clothes: despite not registering for clothing, I got tons. People can’t resist. I will be writing a post about good clothing and better clothing because there are some bad choices out there (and I mean how they close, zippers vs buttons vs snaps etc.)
So here is the list (with some additions that probably don’t need my endless musings)