how to afford twins

How to Afford Twins: What Do I Really Need for Twins?

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Categories Finances and Saving, Parenting, Theme Week

Those advertisers, those marketers, and those magazines all make you feel like you need to have the cutest, best, most adorable things for your baby and his nursery or your child will not turn out as bright or adorable. And especially when you will be blessed with two at once, it make you wonder ‘what do I really need for twins?’ But, the truth is, you don’t need most of it. Especially when you are strapped for cash and struggling to know how to afford twins.

But, I am a minimalist and an extremely frugal person (some would say cheap), born out of my poor childhood and currently out of necessity.  So, when we found out we were having twins, my frugal self began seeing way too many dollar signs popping up, and it freaked me out!  We were going to scrape the bottom of the barrel with just one baby, how were we going to afford two?  Looking back, I realize how we could have done so many things differently and saved way more money, but you live and learn sometimes.  The good news for those reading this is that you will learn from my experiences.  And that is one of the main reasons I pushed for How Do You Do It? to have this money savings theme week.

how to afford twinsWhat do I really need for twins?

Crib: Buy yourself a convertible crib, one that will later transform into a toddler bed.  It will save you that headache and money later down the line.  Also, drop down side cribs are now all recalled, so think twice about using one of those.

Mattress: Buy a sturdy, firm mattress for your crib.  A firm mattress reduces the risk of SIDS.  Don’t use a pillow-top mattress or put a mattress protector on it that makes it pillow-like.

Waterproof Pads and Sheets: Buy several of each.  Babies leak out of everywhere, so you’ll need a few.  However, bumper pads, crib skirts, diaper stackers, quilts, etc are not needed.  They are just for decoration.

One Pack n’ Play or Playard: Despite having twins, we only bought one pack n’ play, and it has never proved a problem.  Just about everyone has a pack n’ play, so if you stay the night somewhere, borrow one.  Also, don’t be fooled into buying ones with a changing table attached.  We did and I hated it because the baby always sank down into it, making it almost impossible to use.  But, I do recommend buying one that has a bassinet type insert.  For those first few days, weeks, or months, we use the pack n’ play in our bedroom, and without that insert, it would mean reaching in and bending all the way down to the floor to pick up your tiny baby.  Save your back and get one with the insert.

However, if you just have one child, don’t travel often, don’t want a bassinet type bed, or don’t want your child to sleep in your room for a while, you might not need a pack n’ play at all.  You can likely borrow one if and when the need arises.

Car Seat: Of course this one is a given, and one of the very few things that is recommended to buy brand new (though of course it is still ultimately up to each individual).  This is needed.  You do not have to buy a baby carrier car seat, and can just buy a convertible car seat which will last from birth to booster seat.  I bought the infant carrier car seat and both love having it–being able to easy put my baby in the car, take him out, not having to wake him if he’s sleeping, easily click it into a stroller–and hate it, because it then means lugging this heavy baby in a large, heavy car seat.  I don’t know many parents that lug their kids in it all the way up the suggested weights because it just gets too heavy to do so.  They eventually just leave it in the car.  If you want to save money and space, just buy a convertible car seat.

Stroller: These are needed.  However, what kind of stroller to get is a different problem all its own as there are lots of opinions out there.  But, a stroller will allow you to walk around with your baby, while also providing some extra storage for that diaper bag.  It will later become helpful when you go places like the zoo or a museum and your child is walking and wants to get out, but will not be able to walk the whole time.  It can also allow you to get some exercise comfortably if you buy a jogging stroller.

Dresser: In order to make room for all the cute clothes you will be getting for you cute new arrival, a dresser would be a very good idea.  But, a shelving and storage bins can also function as a dresser.  I am glad that we bought a dresser that also had a changing table built-in to the top.

Trash Can: You don’t have to buy a diaper pail, but you will have to figure out where those diapers will be going (if you are using disposables) and how you plan on throwing them away.

Bottles: Even if you plan on breastfeeding, it can be a good idea to have at least a few bottles on hand, to use with your expressed milk.  If you aren’t breastfeeding, bottles are of course a necessity.  We bought a brand of bottles that would convert from nipples to sippy tops to save money too.  What type of bottle to get is a matter of preference and your baby.

Bibs and Burp Cloths: Bibs are great for catching all the drool and later all the food that will not be swallowed.  Burp cloths are great for an assortment of things, for catching spit up, to cleaning up boogers, drool, and more.  Have a few of each on hand.  You don’t need a ton though.

Changing Pad: While I am a fan of changing tables, they are a baby gear item you don’t really need.  A bed, a dresser with a changing pad on it, or the floor all serve very well as changing stations.  However, you need to get a foldable changing pad.  They can save your carpet or bed from being stained.  They can also protect against germs and dirt when out.

Baby Book or Memory Book: You should physically record all those awesome moments for your child.  My parents never made me one (the youngest of nine kids.  I totally got jipped) and I would’ve loved to have one!  And, chances are you will have a hard time remember much after that first year is over.

High Chair

Baby Monitor: Don’t waste your money on a video one, but a simple one will allow you to listen for the baby while doing something else (washing dishes or watching TV).  If you live in a one story house or apartment, chances are you don’t really need one though.

Breast Pump: If you are planning on nursing twins or triplets, a breast pump will become a necessary part of your life.  And for multiples, I would suggest going all out and getting a double electric breast pump.  The good news is that some insurance companies will cover the cost or you can see about renting one from your local hospital or even from a Babies ‘R’ Us. 

Nursing Pillow: If you are nursing, this is a back saver, and in my book necessary.  They even have ones specifically designed for twins.  But, nursing a baby without a pillow could cost you money in massage bills, so just buy the pillow.

Diapers and  Diaper Rash Cream

Thermometer, Baby Tylenol, and Baby Nail Clippers

how to afford twins What do I really not need for twins?

Pacifiers: Unfortunately, not all children like pacifiers or will take or use them, but in my experience, when they do, they can be very helpful at times, especially if you have an overly fussy baby.  But, if you don’t like pacifiers, don’t buy them, but they can afford you just a few minutes of quiet until you can get home from the store and can feed your baby.  And they can help your baby fall asleep.

Swing/Walker/Saucer/Playmat: All of these devices are rather expensive.  And will only be effectively used for a few months.  Some MoMs swear by one of these contraptions in order to get a shower in, or to soothe their child to sleep, so one of these devices may be worth the money, but all of them?  Definitely not.  Also, only buy one of each, not multiple, despite having multiples.  And in my experience, babies are perfectly content just to roll around on the floor with some baby-approved toys.  I also think it helps them learn how to crawl and walk sooner not constantly being in baby-holding devices. (My twins were both walking by 11 months.)

Toys/Books: Less is completely more.  Babies destroy books and gnaw toys.  Don’t waste your money on expensive doodads.  Just get a few staple, classic toys and board books, and you will be set.  Examples: balls, blocks, shape sorter, teething ring.  And remember, you don’t have to buy double of every toy.  Twins are blessed to learn how to share by the nature of their twindom.

Baby Carrier/Sling/Wrap:  With my twins, I bought a cheap carrier that dug into my back and that I didn’t end up using more than a few times.  And we decided not to replace it with a better quality one.  With a double stroller and infant carrier car seats, we didn’t feel the need to have one of these carrying devices.  But, I’m not of the “babywearing” parenting camp.

Nursery Decor and Other Non-Essential Things: When you are looking to cut costs and save money for your new arrival of twins and triplets, don’t worry about having the cutest nursery on the block.  Your kid won’t remember it, and most of your friends will never step foot in it.  And by the time they are able to remember, they will probably not be so in love with your jungle or princess theme decor.  You don’t need diaper stackers, hung art, crib bumpers and skirts, diaper warmers, cutesy night lights, foo-foo mobiles, or flowery valences.  If you want to invest in your nursery, get black-out curtains and a glidder/rocking chair.  And remember, you can always decorate later.  It is not necessary to your children’s happiness (or yours), I promise.

When people ask you “What do I really need for twins?” what is your answer? What is on your must-have list?  What did you find not needed?

ldskatelyn is the mastermind behind this week’s theme week of saving money, trying to help others learn how to afford twins.  She loves saving money and making ends meet and is so excited that she is sharing some of her knowledge with others this week!  She blogs about her family and parenting over at What’s up Fagans?

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Katelyn is a stay-at-home mom to three year old fraternal twin girls, Lisa and Alison, and a brand new baby boy, named Michael. She is enjoying having a newborn again and also loving the dynamics (so far) of having kids of different ages. When Katelyn isn’t playing or taking care of her kids, she’s often reading a book, blogging, watching a movie, or taking care of business. She’s also a talented artist, a Sunday School teacher to a group of 6-year old kids, a supportive spouse to her graduate student/math teacher husband, and a musician. She works hard to have a clean house, great preschoolers, and a happy home. She shares bits of advice and much of her life over at her personal blog What’s up Fagan’s?

24 thoughts on “How to Afford Twins: What Do I Really Need for Twins?”

  1. This is a helpful list. I think it’s worth noting that it’s essential that you check the expiration dates on car seats. The structural breakdown of the plastic is invisible to the naked eye, but expired car seats simply don’t provide the protection to your child in an accident that you want.

    1. We have two sets of carseats (two cars, and my kids are less than 30 pounds at age 5.5, so we’re going to be in carseats for awhile). I did a ton of research and bought a much more expensive brand for the second set. I’m disappointed with them. I was swayed by all the “safety research” but the reality is that the standards for carseats are rigorous and anything on the market is safe. So, if I could do it again, I would shorten my list of “must haves” for carseats and go with a cheaper brand.

      1. That’s a good perspective. Thanks! I was actually in an accident, and our Britax Marathons (definitely on the pricey side) left my babies completely unhurt. We’re now using Diono Radians (also pricey) to be able to accommodate 3 kids when necessary in my sedan. My girls are 7, but M still hasn’t met the 40-lb minimum for boosters. I’m happy to keep them in 5-point harnesses until college, if they let me!

        1. I agree about the 5-point harness until college! I would also be very loyal to any carseat that kept my children safe in an accident. Thankfully, we haven’t had one! I wasn’t suggesting that it isn’t worth spending money on more expensive carseats; rather, that in my experience, the more expensive ones we purchased were still challenging to install properly, still a pain to remove the cover to clean, etc. I guess part of me thought that spending an extra $200 on a carseat would make a significant difference in my life and it really didn’t. Live and learn, right? Since we’re going to be in carseats forever around here, I’ll have time! Can I ask why you switched to the Diono brand from the Britax? Our new-ish set of carseats are Britax Frontier (forward facing, 5-point harness to a high weight limit, etc.) but our earlier set probably won’t get our girls to the weight limit they claim – they are convertibles and I imagine we’ll have to replace them either with high back boosters or, possibly, another set of the Britax Frontiers (despite my petty annoyances with them!)
          Why did you switch brands?

          1. I was pursuing adoption of a third child, so I switched to a narrower brand to be able to accomodate three kids across. The Britax Marathons were so wide, there was no way I could fit a third seat in. In fact, it was a squeeze for me to fit between them in our SUV, and I’m extremely small. Also, the Marathons were getting close to their expiration dates, so I figured it wasn’t a huge loss to make the switch.

      2. The same can be said about baby formula (or so I’ve heard). There are certain standards that must be met. If you can buy it, it meets them, so sometimes you are just paying extra for gimmicks, colors, or advertising. Generics are just fine. :)

        1. So true, Katelyn! I would add, though, that I think the taste of the formula changes slightly with each brand. My girls resisted one formula, but took another with no problems at all. So, it was a bit of “trial and error” but our pediatrician said they were all basically the same.

  2. This might not be “essential” to everyone, but the best thing I ever bought was a good-quality (and expensive!) jogging stroller. When my twins were small, we had one car which was often used by my husband to get to/from work. We eventually invested in a good stroller and I was able to go for a run with the girls every morning when the weather was nice. I walked those kids all over town for what felt like years (my girls didn’t walk until almost 2-years-old). It really made a huge difference in my quality of life to be able to get out and around easily and be physically more active.
    The other thing I think is essential (not just for twins) is to have a thermometer/baby tylenol, etc. on hand. You will find you need it for the first time one night at 3am and it might be a challenge to get it at that hour!

  3. Love this list! We had an old dresser that we put in the boys’ room that held their small amount of clothes and diapers, wipes and rash cream and just put a changing pad on top of it and changed all their diapers (when home) on top of the dresser. It worked great. Changing table is completely unnecessary!

    Also, I would recommend borrowing or buying second hand almost everything you need. I found bumbo seats on Craigslist for cheap, bought them and used them for about 4 months (I found with twins that it was necessary to have safe places to “set them” and keep them contained and my boys liked sitting upright in the bumbos and playing with a few toys) and then sold them on craigslist for the same price I bought them for. YAY!!!!!!!!

  4. The double nursing pillow was ESSENTIAL. In fact I ended up getting two. I would add blankets that you can swaddle with. We ended up getting two fancy sleep sack/swaddlers for night time, but for the day time, blankets were great (and much less expensive).

    I agree that baby-holders (swings, bouncy seats, etc etc) were unnecessary. Much easier to just lay them on the floor or hold them. And babies are much more motivated to sit up, crawl, and pull up when they don’t have assistive devices. As my kids have gotten older, a changing table has become a must – for some reason, the love to get involved in each other’s diaper changes (ew). But before they were mobile, we changed them anywhere – floor, bed, etc.

  5. I regret buying highchairs- so unhygienic and messy- I would have bought booster seats (fischer price) if I had known about them! Also boppy pillows- my girls slept in them during the day for about 10 months (maybe longer)! And cloth diapers (for at home)- saved us a fortune. Also a fan for background noise.

    1. Oh a fan is a good idea! I have one for my girls now. It IS pretty essential. That little bit of noise allows us to walk around our creaky floors without waking anyone up.

  6. Also wanted to add – SHAME on the advertising industry for marketing to parents’ using fear of our children’s safety and their health and intelligence (i.e. Baby Einstein videos or your child will be behind by the time they’re a toddler – NOT TRUE!)

    Okay, I’ll step off my soap box :)

    1. No joke! First time parents are just so completely overwhelmed by all the options, and everyone has an opinion on what is the best. Anything marked “baby” is also like double the price. It’s very silly.

  7. I obviously don’t have twins, but this list can be helpful for anyone. It’s funny though, because almost everything on your “non-essential list” were things I used a ton, and couldn’t have survived without!

    And we were weird and used Jack’s infant car seat up until he grew out of the upper limits (which was July) because he would always fall asleep in it in the car, and it was so nice to bring inside and not have to wake him up. We never felt it got too heavy (I guess we just got stronger along the way 😉

    And I agree about not getting the pack and play with the diaper changer. Ours was terrible, and we used it like once. We did love the newborn napper that came with ours though, and Jack loved it, too!

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting Katie! :) It’s fun to see what everyone finds essential for their baby(ies). And things have been different from my twins to my singleton too!

  8. One trick with the waterproof pads: I learned (wish I’d known earlier!) to “double make” the bed. I’d put a waterproof mattress pad on the crib mattress, then a sheet, then another mattress pad and another sheet. If there was an accident in the middle of the night, I only had to strip off the top layer. I could save the work of putting on clean sheets for when I had the time and energy and the girls were in good spirits.

    1. My sister-in-law (who had twins also) told me to do the same thing, though I never ended up doing it. My cribs sheets were always so tight!

  9. You weren’t kidding about this being a bare bones list! I agree with most of it, but there are some major exceptions for me. My twins spit up a LOT and we definitely needed tons of bibs, burp clothes, and clothes. Therefore, consignment shopping has been a huge funds-saver! Also, since they have GERD, laying them flat on the floor is not helpful (leads to lots of screaming).. We have to keep them in an elevated position (with a bouncy seat, swing, or boppy), however one of each has proved to be sufficient. Plus, I have three older children and two dogs running around, leaving them on the floor isn’t really safe.

    We never bought a pack and play for any of our kids and never wished that we had. However, we did buy two rocking bassinets for our twins that have been lifesavers and combined were half the price of the pack and play.

    Biggest money saver for us were other Moms willing to let us borrow things to try out before buying the item ourselves.

    1. Ha. I was going for barebones. But, obviously, different things work for different families! And I have to say, now that I have just one baby, things are slightly different this time around too! And, that’s awesome people let you try stuff out before you bought them!

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