Figuring out what we’d need and/or want for baby items was one part research, one part conversations with other parents, one part guess work, and one part unsolicited advice. So you can understand our confusion. Everything we read said “and don’t follow the store’s recommended registry items list” because half the stuff wouldn’t be needed. And of course, as baby gifting goes, you end up getting a lot of items you didn’t necessarily register for. Not that that’s all bad, because some of the more useful items are those we never registered for at all. And some of the least useful items are those we thought important enough to put on the list. Turns out, though, that the kid(s) you have and the lives you live is what really drives what works. 

So beyond the basics and that part of your brain that tells you you’re not really tired, and such, what follows is a list – in no particular order – of the Must Haves and the Least Needed baby items that have come through the RaJen casita.  At least so far. If a picture is shown, I tried to link it to the location where we purchased from.

In the end, if this ends up generating enough interest, I may create a page on this blog dedicated to the RJB Recommendations, since we’ll have Must Have’s stretching over time.  Also, if a reader has a question about how we address a function that isn’t mentioned below, or has additional ideas or suggestions, by all means, leave a comment. 

MUST HAVES

Something To Carry Baby Around In – if you intend to be a baby-wearer, or if you need to multi-task, or if you are rearing more than one, or any combination thereof, we like these:  

  • bjornThe Baby Bjorn Carrier Air is quite nifty.  It’s made of a lightweight and breathable mesh material and you can easily toss it the washing machine for maintenance.  This is Bruiser’s favorite carrier because he gets to look outward and stays on the go as we go about the business of our household.
  •  blingwrapWe also own the Bling MetroWrap (with a peace sign in San Francisco chocolate) and it is super comfortable for both parent and baby.  The darn thing seems to be 10 feet long and intimidating to wrap, but it really is a cinch.  The online video instructions are plenty clear.  It’s stretchy cotton and wears like clothing.  
  • solsticeWe also like the Zolowear ring slings.  We have two of them.  One is the Solarveil style, a breathable mesh fabric (do you see a theme here?!) that blocks 70%-80% of UVA/UVB rays.  It’s not the softest sling, but it gets softer with each wash.  We also have one of the cotton ones.  Birdie had a doctor’s appointment a week ago and rather than trapsie through a huge medical center with a car seat or a stroller, I just popped her into the ring sling and we were on our way. 

Where To Keep All That Formula –
pitcherSince the RJBs are ingesting 32 ounces EACH, per day, and since they are on DIFFERENT formulas, we like the Dr. Brown’s mixing pitcher. We bought two and can make enough for a day and store it in the refrigerator. It is particularly helpful because Bruiser’s formula is a bitch to dissolve and the mixing contraption breaks down all those clumps. For the hypervigilantes out there, it supposedly has BPA in the plastic, but I pick my battles and with two babies who have reflux and difficult-to-dissolve formulas, this pitcher wins. At $15, it’s a bit pricey, but for us, it’s been totally worth it.

A Twist On Bottle ‘Warmers’ – It was at an airport when E! was due to eat (and bottle warming was NOT accessible) when her head spun off her neck in a red rage, landing in baggage claim, that I decided warm bottles are a bad habit to get into if you ever plan to be out and about during a feeding time. We don’t warm bottles to bath temps, mind you, just enough to take the chill out from being stored in the refrigerator. You can pick up a 1.5QT Rival Crock Pot at your local Target store for under $15. Last time I checked, most bottle warmers made for the explicit purpose of warming bottles will only warm one at a time. And with twins, I can easily fit 2 bottles in there at once.  So long queso maker, it now adorns the counter for the RJBs. As for when we are on the go, we carry these powder containers for their formula and bottled water.

Giving Baby A Bath
bathslingWe originally registered for/received The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn-To-Toddler Tub which retails for $17.99. But the main reason this one didn’t work for us is because after the first one got a bath, the second one was being placed into a semi-wet, semi-cold environment which only served to have them scream very loudly. And if I want to lose my hearing for those coming Backyardigans years, I’d rather do it on my iPod. So, prior to our trip to San Antonio, we bought a Mother’s Touch Comfort Bath Sling .  It’s squishy all around – feels a lot like a bean bag made of jelly – and retains water to keep the babies warm during their bath. And after we take one baby out and hand over the other, we can easily pour warm water on the sling to warm it up again. It also has a kick stand to help support them more upright. It hangs easily in the tub to drain/dry.  The newborn-to-toddler tub we have sits in a closet for now.  The cost of giving a bath that the RJBs enjoy and one you can take the time needed to wash all their neck and leg rolls?  $14.99. 

Baby Monitor – we definitely like the monitor that we have.  It’s a Summer Infant Day And Night Handheld Color Video Monitor.  You get a picture and sound and since the nursery is on the first floor, I like knowing I can see what the RJBs are up to without going downstairs for every peep.  Or even to just catch a glimpse when there are no peeps at all.  Like this view here.  I even considered dropping the cable service because watching the RJBs is way more entertaining.  But let’s face it, I need my cable and DVR for watching Jon & Kate + 8…because watching them makes me feel like we have it so easy. 

Swaddling blankets – Receiving blankets really do work for this.  And most people get way more receiving blankets than they need.  But if your babies are like mine and grow quickly, the standard receiving blankets will soon become too small. 

  • We registered for/received some Koala Baby Cotton Thermal receiving blankets that have more stretch to them and those work well when they are about 8 pounds plus.  They are also good blankets for taking to church/errands or putting over there torso’s while they are in a swing.  But once they get to the 10 pound range and if you have Houdini kids like we do, the next two are definitely our favorites: 
  • The Miracle Blanket – we have two of these and it really works, but with our refluxy babies, not having to lift them up a bunch to get the whole wrap around them is ideal which is why we ended up getting a few the next iem.
  • SwaddleMe wraps.  The flaps are shorter and the velcro is super easy and you can get them in it without them even knowing what happened to them, which is totally worth the $9.99 that they cost.  Just be sure when you wash them that the velcro flaps are closed, otherwise it’ll stick to other clothing.  If we were to do it all over, we’d just start with the SwaddleMe wraps. 
  • pbblankieThese two items aren’t for swaddling, but they are blankets, so I’m tossing them in this category.  We received two Little Giraffe blankets (one brown/pink and one brown/blue) and they are so friggin’ soft.  Bruiser likes to be in his swing and have this blanket draped over him for naps and it’s so cute watching him stroke the softness in his sleep.  And I’ve caught the Beloved curled up on the couch with it over her.  I think they’re like a million dollars, but if you are lucky enough to get one, treasure it! 
    Same as for the My Best Blankie from Pottery Barn Kids.  Although those aren’t quite as pricey. 

Keeping That Damn Pacifier In Place
wubbanubNo matter what, if your baby is squirmy, there’s nothing that will keep the pacifier in their mouths, not anything short of landing you a visit from child protective services and for that reason, I won’t tell the internet about the duct tape.  But these WubbaNub pacifiers (thanks for the suggestion, Texas2) help at least a little bit!  Plus, they’re super cute.  Bruiser has the penguin one, but we’ll be ordering another one for him soon because he is a super sucky guy.  Or maybe we’ll just let him have pacifiers until he’s six and let him choose one for himself.  

Catching All That Falling Milk – in the newborn stage, bibs are worthless (to us).  And for the price of two of those cutsie bibs that are small enough to fit newborns you can by a package of 12 cloth diapers.  We have found that putting half- or quarter-folded cloth diapers under their necks is much more effective.  You can get it in under all the neck rolls and there’s more surface area to absorb the wet burps or the milk falling out the sides of their mouth when they start to eat sleepy.  Our favorites are Gerber Birdseye Flatfold because they are flexible and soft like a gauzy linen top.  We find the prefolds or Premium kinds are a little to stiff, more like a starched pair of chinos.   

Deodorizing The Diaper Trashcans – I read about this in one of my do-stuff-on-the-cheap books and just as I was shaking my head at the thought that people would do this, I found myself at the check out counter with a container of Fresh Step and 2 pairs of knee high stockings.  In Sand.  So what we did was put about two cups of cat litter in the knee high, tied a loose knot at the top, and dropped it in the bottom of our two Diaper Champs.  Cat litter serves to absorb odor from the cat box so the idea is that it does the same for the diapers.  And so far, I actually agree.

The Bag That Will Soon Become Your New Purse – Let’s be realistic here, the standard diaper bag is far too small for twins.  If they had cooler compartments, they’d serve better as bottle caddies.  So we looked elsewhere.  We use both of the following. 

  • backpackWe got a fabulous Daisy Gear Backpack.  Again, it’s important to have hands-free for multitasking and not be concerned with a bag falling off the shoulder.  This backpack is big enough for 4-6 bottles, formula, 3 changes of clothes, 10 diapers, a couple blankets, and several burp clothes. There’s also space for the adult stuff like wallets, keys, a big ‘ol camera, and blackberry’s.  
  • dudeFor teeny trips, or for one-on-one outings, we like the Diaper Dude.  We got my sister and brother-in-law one of these when E! was born and they use it all the time. 

Making Sure Clothes Get Worn And Organized(ish)

  • I found baby clothing size dividers for the closet. I liked them so much, I gave a set to my sister and my sister-in-law for their offspring, S! and Putter. With these, I can easily organize Birdie and Bruiser’s clothing and not lose out on the chance to put them in some cute outfit that got stuck in the back of the closet.  
  • shoeAnother idea is having a shoe organizer in the closet –  but it’s not for shoes!  I read about this in a multiples book.  You hang a shoe organizer in the closet and put two outfits – one for each kid – in each slot.  Or for one kid, one in each slot.  That way, you can get their clothes quickly in the mornings. Because if we left it up to Matou, they’d go through three changes of clothes and a million questions of “this belt, or this one? these shoes or these? this khaki, or this other khaki?” and no one would ever leave the house. We got our shoe organizer at Ikea because they come in fun colors and they’re cheaper than the ones at other places.  

Bottle Drying Rack – skip the ones marketed specifically for bottle/nipple drying.  They are far too small and I am pretty confident that is not just by virtue of having twins.  We got one and it promptly went to the storage closet.  Instead, I pulled out a dish drying rack/drain thingy from under the sink and it works just as well and is about three times bigger for probably half the cost.  Just a thought.

Baby Swing –
swingwe highly recommend the electric kind.  We have two swings, one is battery-operated, one is electric AND battery operated.  I’m not sure how many brands and styles have this option, but we got the Fisher-Price Starlight Papasan Cradle Swing and I think we’ve saved the price diference in batteries already.  Granted, the music is more for sleepy time, and the canopy stays in the closet, but the option to plug in a wall is fantastic!  We also have the previous model of this battery-operated swing that we picked up at a Mother’s Of Multiples garage sale.  But considering we paid only $30 for the swing that was used for five months, we splurge on the batteries for that one. 

Puhjammers  –

  • those cute little sleepers with the footies?  The zippered ones are SO! MUCH! EASIER! for middle of the night changes, or, quite frankly, when you are trying to get a squirmy, hungry, pissed-off baby into their jammers before bed.  On the plus side, they make for warm, snuggly babies in the mornings. 
  • sackWe also really like the sacks.  Of the brands we received/purchased, our favorites are the Bundlers from Baby Gap.  They are a lightweight cotton and super soft. 

Bath Towels
FrogThose small ones found at BabiesRUs and Target (and probably Wal-Mart, too, except we don’t shop there)?  SKIP THEM!  They’re too darn small.  And have you ever tried to sooth a sleepy, wet, hungry, cold baby?  Let me just say it would be easier to have a root canal.  With no anesthesia.  Our favorites?  The hooded bath towels we registered for and received from Pottery Barn Kids, modeled here by Bruiser.  They are more pricey at $24, but much bigger and will fit them through part of toddlerhood.  

NOT SO NEEDED

Velboa Snuzzler
snuzzlerI actually love the feel of it – think warm butter and sleeping kittens – but looking back, we really could have used rolled receiving blankets to support their heads when getting them home in their car seats.  I think these are great if you’ll have a winter infant, but they’re just too hot for summer and car seats.  What we have done, however, is place them in the swings for extra support when the swing seat is in the upright position (good for reflux!).  It helps them fit better and without a lot of neck strength/tone, it helps keep them from slumping over.  So we’ve certainly made use of ours.

4 oz. Bottles – Done over, we would have just exchanged these for something bigger.  They drank 4 ounces for so little time, it would have been more economical to just use a bigger size from the beginning. 

Boudreaux’s Butt Paste – Everybody loves this stuff.  And while it does create a barrier that no moisture will penetrate, it’s yellowy in color and can stain certain clothing.  We prefer Desitin Creamy, but I can guarantee we’ll also use all the Boudreaux’s we received.  Good old-fashioned corn starch works well for irritated skin, too.

Baby Shampoo – the shampoo-only is less than ideal.  We prefer the Head-To-Toe version. 

Newborn Size Clothing – the RJBs spent much of the first eight weeks in long-sleeve onesies.  They’re easy and soft and comfortable.  We returned a lot of the newborn and 0-3 month clothing and exchanged it for larger sizes (6-9 month, or 12+ month).  We did keep a few items, though, including, I’m sure of it, the one you sent us if you sent us a newborn or 0-3 month outfit. 

UmbiliCare Bodysuits – seriously, save your money.  By the time you wrap them up to keep them from the draft on their bellies, a regular onesie would have worked just as well. 

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A note on purchasing:  No matter if you use these RJB recommendations or your own, cost compare between purchasing at a local retailer (where you’ll pay sales tax) and ordering online (where you’ll pay shipping, but oftentimes not sales tax, depending on what state you live in).  Lots of online vendors are competing for customers by reducing shipping charges.  And even across online vendors, some have higher shipping than others. 

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