Let me start off this post by saying that we have only been moving towards minimalism/essentialism since May 2017. I know now, that God put finding that #DeclutterLikeAMother monthly challenge in my path because BAM… 2 months later we would find out we were having TWINS! I got rid of all the things that weren’t necessary. If you’re looking for a simple, 30 day decluttering challenge to get rid of all the unnecessary things I have an ongoing email series called “Less Clutter, More Joy” – you can sign up for free for the challenge here.
Now that we’re prepping for these twin girls to come anytime between January and March 2018, I wanted to pass along to any first time mamas and/or twin mamas my advice for what you truly NEED, along with a few *these would be nice* things added in there.
A word to the wise – there are quite a few things in our world that are massively commercialized and I’ve learned that in an area or two throughout my 30 years of life… hello Christmas, Valentine’s Day, College, Back to School, Weddings… ohhhh man Weddings… and BAMMMM BABIESSSSS.
If you really stop to think about it, most of the things you *NEED*… you don’t.
Because we have 2 kiddos already, we have a lot of these things but if you’re a first time mom I want to break it down to time frame-ish of when you *need* these things. Because – contrary to popular belief you do NOT need a high chair, or bumbo, or 100 bottles, yadda yadda yadda… before the baby(ies) come home.
The minimal list of what babies need: food, somewhere to sleep, a safe way for transport in the car, to be kept warm. Thats it. (I’ll be doing another minimalist post about what to pack in your hospital bag and your diaper bag in a bit!)
By the time the baby(ies) are born:
- Breast pump – even if you plan to exclusively breastfeed, you need one of these. Your milk is ALL crazy and over producing/under producing for the first few weeks & months after birth. Even if you pump and dump you need a way to clear that milk so that you don’t get any clogged ducts (mastitis – you don’t want it.. it SUCKS, trust me!)
- Swaddle Blanket(s) – maybe two incase the first one gets pooped or puked on. Look for something large, semi stretchy and lightweight so that it can be wrapped multiple times around baby to keep them snug. You’ll find that traditional sized receiving blankets are great for swaddling itsy-bitsy babies but that they don’t help at all once the little ones get any strength or size on them because they’re not big enough to keep the baby looking like a burrito.
- A Thicker Blanket – if you live anywhere cold or will be having infants in winter time. I like to sew so I plan to make some thick minky blankets for the girls to tuck around them when they’re in their car seats or in the rock & play cradles.
- A bottle or two (different brands!) – so others can help you and you can take a decent nap. Do all the research you want about what bottle is “best” but your baby might hate it. So investing in 8 of the same type of bottle, washing them (now they can’t be returned) and then your baby refusing it for their whole life is really a bummer. Do yourself a favor and get one bottle in 2-3 different brands and only open and wash one until you know your baby doesn’t like that one and then try another. (I am speaking from experience – my daughter didn’t ever take a bottle… literally never. We have 17 different brand/types of bottles in a bin in the basement. So much wasted money but now at least we have a million bottles to try with the twins).
- Somewhere for baby to sleep – we really love the Rock & Play Cradles. Some people swear by the auto rocker ones that vibrate and automatically rock your baby but, because of my experience with my daughter (aka worst sleeper on the face of the planet) I am steering clear of any *auto* things. My reasoning is that I don’t want my baby(ies) to learn to sleep with an auto rocker and then hit 4 months and be too big for their rock & play and become awful sleepers because now I’m laying them flat in a big crib with no vibration or rocker. Our goal this time around is to get our babies to sleep in the situation we want them in when they’re one – flat, on their backs, swaddled, in a crib, with a sound machine on. So this actually means we’re laying them flat on their back in a crib from day 1 (because we already own the crib). The rock & plays will be downstairs for infant naps while I tend to the rest of life. If you’re not down for the rock & play and don’t yet want to buy a crib maybe a small bassinet would work for the whole lying-flat-mimicking-crib thing we’re going for. Or just put baby(ies) in a crib from day 1 like us.
- Car Seat(s) – In all of my research I picked out the Chicco Key Fit 30 infant carrier car seat for the twins. Both Car Seat Lady and Consumer Reports rated it #1 for infant car seats. Bonuses: it is good for babies as little as 4lbs and the install is ridiculously easy and pretty hard to mess up. You can find them on sale on Zulilly and other website often – also Bye Bye Baby offers a 20% off coupon that you can use on them!
- Sleeper/Footie PJ outfits – Realistically, these are the ONLY clothes you need for a baby for the first 3-6 months of their lives. Seriously. The world tells you that you need all the bows and shoes (don’t get me started on how pointless infant shoes are), and hats and outfits when in reality, you won’t be leaving your house, if ever. And laundry is MUCH easier when you have less crap to match up. Seriously, I got rid of all of our little girl outfits and I’m stocking up on footie jammies. I am a strict advocate for doing one load of laundry a day because it means it never gets overwhelming and folding one load is a cinch. Because of this I recommend 6-8 footie PJ jammies per baby per day. If you wash laundry once a day like me, you’ll only need 6-8 per baby per size. We will likely have NICU babies and at best we have babies that are born 4 weeks early, even if they do get to come right home. And it will be the height of flu season. We won’t be leaving the house but to go to the doctors office for checkups, so footie PJs it is!
- Breast Pads– I used the reusable ones for both kids and loved them. So much cheaper and less trash floating around than using the disposable ones. The disposable are nice to have around for leaving the house for longer periods of time but you won’t need that for a few months.
- Diapers & Wipes – we will be having preemies but not sure they’ll be actually preemie sized. So I’ll get a pack of premie and a pack of newborn disposable diapers until we realistically know how big they are so that we aren’t buying diapers we wont use. Also, we cloth diaper so once the babies hit 6 lbs they can use the newborn sized fitted cloth that we already have. The hospital will send you home with these so you don’t even NEED them before babies come home if someone can run out and get them once you get home.
That’s really it! For a baby to survive they need your boobs/milk, a place to sleep, and to keep warm and a dry butt. The hospital will send you home with everything else to at least get you through the first couple of days/weeks (diapers, wipes, formula, nipple cream, pacifiers, baby shampoo, etc). Again, I’ll post about the hospital bag soon (so subscribe to my blog to get the email with the list!).
A few things that would be really nice to have but are NOT a necessity for the first days with a newborn are:
- Baby Swing – both of my kids have loved our baby swing but again, I think we relied too much on our babies sleeping with some sort of vibration/rocking motion and that’s one reason why they were both crappy sleepers and needed to be sleep trained later in life. We only have one swing for the 2 babies coming, that’s perfectly fine. We’ll just alternate them around between the swing, cradles, playing on the floor, or the bouncer.
- Bouncer – If you’re only having one baby, I love the idea of the swing/bouncer combos but those don’t make sense for twins unless you buy two ($$$!!) so we have 1 bouncer and 1 swing. The bouncer is a simple thing, it vibrates, and its nice for carting around for when you’re trying to fit a shower in. As they get older some of the dangly things are nice but not really necessary.
- Car Seat/Breastfeeding Cover Combo – This is a big carrier car seat cover that keeps wind and elements away from baby (as well as strangers and their germy hands!!) but then you can yank it off the car seat carrier and wear it like a poncho for breastfeeding. I love that when babies get older they can’t just pull it off and show your goods to the world. Again, NOT necessary right when you bring babies home for a few reasons: you won’t be leaving the house much.. and all your modesty and care goes out the window after you push a child out of your vagina (or get it surgically yanked from you – I’ve done both). Seriously, when your kid is crying you can care less who sees your nipple, and a swaddle blanket works fine for keeping covered if you ever do care!
- Some form of white noise: You can download free apps on your phone or ipad for this so don’t think you NEED to go buy a sound machine but we do enjoy ours! This one is portable which would be great for trips and traveling too – cutting down on the crap is always the way I go!
- Baby Monitor – for when baby(ies) start sleeping in a room other than yours. Its a nice comfort to be able to check in on baby and we have a set that is multi-camera capable so we can check on all 4 of our kids. But, its not necessary at all. Why? Because mom-spidey sense is REAL and you’ll be able to hear those babies as soon as they make a peep (which is sometimes unfortunate for trying to get some sleep when all the noise was was a baby squeak)
- Thermometer – hopefully you own one already and hopefully baby wont need this for quite some time but a good, easy, baby rectal thermometer is wonderful to have if baby ever gets sick. (Rectal temp is the most accurate for babies and kids, FYI).
Here are some things you definitely don’t need right away OR possibly don’t need at all:
- Baby bath toys – the squirt ones get SO GROSS (I’m talking mold and mildew disgusting on the inside) and you’re there to entertain baby the whole bath so toy’s aren’t really necessary.
- Changing pad – you will change baby everywhere. For us, the bedrooms are up 1.5 flights of stairs, we don’t use changing pads to change them, we just use the couch, floor, or a bed. This extension would be that an actually changing table for baby. When we did use a changing pad we just secured the changing pad to the dresser instead of buying a separate flimsy changing table that the kid would only get use out of if I changed the diaper upstairs and in the baby’s room.
- Wipe warmers – these things, I don’t understand at all. The theory is in good intent but in reality, the second a thin, wet wipe touches the outside air, it will get cold and be cold on baby’s butt.
- Baby towels – as long as you have a comfy towel in your home, use that for the baby. They grow out of those tiny baby towels so fast. If you’re dead set on getting a baby towel just get a kid sized hooded one that they can use until they’re a teen.
- Diaper Pail – we cloth diaper so we just throw the cloth in a wet bag but for disposable ones, throw them in the normal trash and just take the trash out. Newborn breastfed poop doesn’t really smell anyways.
- Wash cloths – we just use the ones we already have in the house. They’re plenty fluffy and soft and seem to clean just fine. I don’t like the baby ones, they’re flimsy and I can’t get a handle on them easily with one hand. The normal ones are easier to palm one handed while giving a bath.
- Baby Soap – Yes, you will need this, eventually. But the hospital will send you home with small bottles of it. (Pro Note: every time they stock up your baby supply cart, stash that stuff in your going home bag and they will replenish it… which means lots of baby swag to go home with!). But babies so small really don’t get dirty and they just need water for their delicate skin. We only bathe with soap once every week or so when they’re itty bitty, so one of those free-from-the-hospital soap bottles will last you a LONG time, believe it or not. When you do finally run out or if you don’t want to use the Johnson & Johnson stuff, I suggest the Burts Bees Calming Shampoo & Wash. If you get it at Target it comes with a pump top, which is great for one handed soap to wash cloth application! Added bonus, if you have other kids, it can be used on all of them. Added bonus #2: it is *supposed* to be calming.
- Baby Lotion – Same reason as the baby soap. They’ll send ya home with some. But once you run out or if you don’t want to use the baby soap, Burts Bees makes a pump calming baby lotion too.
- Humidifier – necessity for us because we live *North of the Wall* (Game of Thrones reference). Ok, we live in up, upstate NY but its so frozen and dry here, everyone needs a humidifer so you don’t crack and fall apart. Its also great for babies and congestion. The Crane brand has done us well.
- Crib bumpers – current safety standards actually discourages these all together. You don’t need them.
- Baby bedding sets – its just more laundry to wash and tends to look cluttered. We have one crib sheet and one crib mattress pad per bed + 1 extra of each. This way if one crib ever gets pooped/puked all over and I have to do laundry, I have an extra set to throw on while I wash the normal set that is on the baby’s crib. The dust ruffles, bumpers, quilted blankets are all not necessary.
- Burp cloths – towels and rags work fine. If you’re set on getting some, just get a few absorbant ones and call it a day. Seriously, you need no more than 3-5/day per kid. Spit up happens but most of the time its small amounts that you don’t wash the cloth immediately. Plus with tons of kids running around we normally keep a hand towel handy for spit up situations.
- Bibs – kids don’t need these until they’re spoon feeding. Even then I normally had my kids in only a diaper when sitting in the high chair for easy clean up. Those bibs don’t do much for containing the mess in my opinion.
- Highchair – again, they don’t need these until they’re 6-7+ months old. Prioritize the things you need NOW on your baby registry and get those first.
- Diaper Bag – any bag will do. We use a Thirty-One bag as our carry all thing and it works well. Plus its easy to throw in the laundry and clean.
- Baby wraps and carriers – if you’re having a single baby these can be a life saver for being able to get things done around the house or running errands. They’re good for bonding and productivity and being hands free but I’m not sure how these will help with twins. Maybe if one is sleeping or happily elsewhere I can wear the other OR if we’re out with me and daddy to carry kids – but I know with my bad back, I can’t carry both at once. A word to the wise though: if you plan on baby wearing, you gotta start it when your baby is tiny. Its easier to get used to it AND your baby will get used to it. I randomly tried to wear my son once he hit 4-5 months and he hated it. I wore my daughter from day 1 and she loved it (and actually still does to this day at 1.5 years old). I know they make twin specific carriers but thats a lot of money to fork out when the chances of having twins again is unlikely. So, thats just my input – take it or leave it.
- Strollers – you’ll need one of these eventually, definitely need one if you’re having your first kid(s). We have a double stroller already and got TONS of use out of it with 2 kids 2 and under but with us about to have 4 kids 4 and under I wont be leaving the house with all 4 kids… ever!! Unless my husband is with me. And even then it still sounds terrifying. Word to the wise: we have the baby trend sit and stand stroller and I HATE IT. With a passion. Hate hate hate. It steers like crap, is annoying to fold and unfold, is so huge it is the only thing you can fit in the back of the car when its in there. Avoid BabyTrend stuff – its all proven to be CRAP.
- Baby mirrors for the car – these are really comforting to have since babies have to face backwards for the first 2 years of life but considering your trips will be super short with infants, you don’t need these right away. They can wait, if you’re prioritizing what you NEED right away vs what you don’t need the moment they’re born.
- Toys & Teethers – the pacifier they come home from the hospital with will suffice for a month or so. Then 1-2 simple teether toys will be great. Babies don’t need a lot of stimulation, the world is super simulating to them. And I’m a firm believer that if you give them these blinking, bring, noisy, vibrating toys then they will crave that level of stimulation. I want my twins to be content holding a fluffy toy with a rubber nub on it that they can rub their gums on and that’s it. Here are some simple ones if your babe is ready for some simple play things – this one, this one and this one.
- Play Mat – we own one but I don’t know how our twins will get much use out of it unless an adult is on the floor with them. My son was a gentle, loving big brother to his baby sister but now that E is 1.5… I don’t trust her around babies on the ground. We’ll probably end up buying some sort of large-ish pack n play yard thing. Not to keep the babies in but to keep the 2 year old out! Certainly not needed in the first 4-8 weeks of the babies lives.
I’m sure I’ll randomly be updating this list, but I would love to hear what you think is totally necessary and what you think is 100% not necessary to have for your babes. Leave it in the comments and let me know!
Reminder: I’ll be posting about what is really minimally and essentially necessary and what is just nice to have for your hospital bag and your diaper bag in an upcoming post. 🙂 So be on the look out for that!