The twins are two which means infancy is finally far enough in the rear view mirror that I can reflect on the journey a bit more. If I’ve learned nothing else from juggling the needs of two babies at once, it’s that necessity is the mother of invention. In many cases, some fancy (and expensive) gadget or gear that I purchased has very quickly been replaced by some cheap or free alternative that actually better suits our needs overall.
While many of these products our absolutely great for what they are, I found certain items gather dust and wish someone would have given me the real deal scoop. Whether you’re a twin mom-to-be or just new to this parenting thing, I hope you will benefit from these strategies to avoid busting your pre-baby budget.
So we learned this one the hard way. My wallet has cried may times over when I think about all of the things I bought and either never or barely ever used. Here’s a list of the top 10 items I had to offload (or are collecting dust in the garage) and why you should skip these purchases all together.
1. An Electric Steam Sterilizer ($40)
As far as this items goes, I actually rather like The First Years model that we purchased (pictured above). Here’s the real deal though – it takes about 10 minutes to run a cycle and, while large, still has a limited capacity. This doesn’t work well when your babies are going through a collective 13-15 bottles a day at the beginning and only 4 or 5 can run at a time. It also takes up A TON of counter space and there are issues with cleaning hard water residue in the machine and dumping the old water after each use.
We decided to let practicality win out and started using the “sanicycle” on our dishwasher as our sterilizing solution. We also bought a lot of bottles so we only have to run them once a day. Trust me when I say that the $40 would be better spent on extra bottles so you’re not in panic mode over getting them clean at 2am when you realize you’ve just used the last one and another baby is screaming.
Now, there are times when you still want to sterilize something like a pacifier or your breast pump parts (which should get sterilized once a day) that either can’t go in the dishwasher or don’t warrant a new load. What then?
Enter microwave sterilizing solutions! I used my Munchkin Microwave Sterilizer (~$13) at work every day to sanitize my pump parts and it works in 2 minutes with total ease:
At home or on the go? You can use these super compact Medela Microwave Sterilizer Bags (~$5 for 5) 20 times before you need a new one. Just a minute and a half later and you have the peace of mind that your stuff is clean and ready for baby.
2. An Electric Bottle Warmer ($70)
While I was pregnant, I did a ton of research on bottle warmers and landed on one from Kinde which is part of a larger bottle system (more on that later). As far as warmers go, this seems like a great one. I, of course, wouldn’t know because I never even got as far as taking the twist tie off the cord.
When I started reading the instructions and realized how long it would take to warm each pouch of milk, I knew this was not going to work for us. Now, I fully realize that this particular warmer does a great job of warming the milk in a very gradual way that maintains the nutritional integrity of the milk better than alternative but really, two screaming babies means the milk needs to be ready yesterday.
Our easy (not to mention free) alternatives was to run each pouch under warm water. We would often keep a clean bowl in the sink so we could submerge the milk pouches in warm, running water while we prepped the bottles. This also worked well while we were on the go since a bottle warmer is basically not an option in those scenarios.
3. Dont over buy bottles until you try them (+$100)
Being the savvy, research driven person I am, I decided on what bottle system we were definitely going to use (don’t even try to change my mind about it), early on in the pregnancy. I found a great deal on a Kinde system on Zulily and I jumped at it. It had everything we needed to get started, including the aforementioned bottle warmer. Box checked.
Well, the boys arrived and I quickly learned it wasn’t that simple. We tried the Kinde bottles in the hospital but the boys seemed to do much better with other bottles that the hospital provided us to try. I also ran into issues pumping directly into the Kinde bags (which is kinda the point of that system) so by the time we were home from the NICU, I had completely abandoned both.
That wasn’t the end of our journey either. We bought a bunch of Dr. Brown’s bottles which worked well for a time but the big winner ended up being Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Bottles. Don’t tell anyone but we still give the boys milk in these from time to time.
4. You will marry your stroller so choose wisely (varies, usually +$300, at least for a double)
Oh stroller, my favorite item to waste money on. Let me reframe this just a little bit. I actually like every stroller we’ve purchased, including the very first one which I recently sold with the help of Facebook Marketplace. Talk to your friends, see if you can try out one they have and really like before you buy. I went to Buy Buy Baby and tested out a whole slew. Once my family finally talked me out of the $1,000 dream stroller (please, don’t buy that one either) we settled on the relatively reasonable Contours Options Elite tandem double stroller. It had all of the featured we needed and was super pretty. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great stroller.
I will say it actually served us really well in the early months. The car seats clipped into the adapters nicely and it worked. Even with the seats, it is a really nice stroller. My mom bought one for her house and still uses it to this day.
It didn’t work for us because of how we use our stroller. Because we both work during the week, there aren’t a ton of strolls through the neighborhood. We do a lot of theme park visiting or running errands on the weekends. This requires folding and unfolding frequently and lifting the stroller in and out of the car. We had an SUV at the time and I didn’t realize how heavy this stroller would be and how awkward it would be to put in our tailgate. In this stroller’s defense, they have also lightened up the weight a lot in subsequent models but that’s really besides the point. We found that the tandem configuration was too hard for us to navigate in crowds. This just wasn’t the right stroller for us.
Do a lot of soul-searching before you register. How will you use it? Who will be load and unloading? How easy is it to fold and unfold? Will you fly with it?
Now, we have a cheap double umbrella stroller that we often use when we’re traveling but our every day stroller is the amazing Joovy X2 which is a reasonable $210 on Amazon as of the time of this writing.
It’s a great stroller and suits our needs perfectly. It can fold and unfold with one hand (literally), seats are independently adjustable, it lays flat in the car, and is light enough for me to throw in and out of the tailgate. I’m actually really sad anytime we travel since we usually go with the even more minimal umbrella stroller for flights.
5. Extra Car Seat Bases in Your Secondary Car ($100+)
I can finally share one that I actually figured out before spending the money. I decided that the Nuna Pipa was the infant car seat for us based on reading a ton reviews. Unfortunately it comes with a pretty serious price tag (to the tune of $300, then double because twins).
My mind was made up but then I started shopping for extra bases for Charles’ car. $160 each just for those. That really did not seem like a good use of funds so I started doing my homework. Since the boys were only going to be in his car very minimally (one way to my mom’s house, two mornings a week) we realized that we could get much better bang for our buck with a relatively inexpensive convertible car seat that we would much greater utility from.
We just recently upgraded the seats in his car thanks to a killer black friday sale on a different seat but the Cosco Scenera Next is a great choice for a second car and for travel. The car seat blogs give this seat extremely high marks and while it lacks some of the amenities of more expensive seats, it is extremely safe and can be purchased for under $50 from Walmart.
These seats are extremely light and very low profile which works perfectly for flights. Since we bought both seats for less than the cost of 1 of the car seat bases, this was a no-brainer. Additionally, it is recommended that babies move out of their infant seats and into a convertible seat by their first birthday. At 2 years old, the boys are still well within the height and weight range, even rear facing, in these seats.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of ways to save, I hope this helps you hang on to a few extra bucks as the adrenaline rush of holding that registry scanner gun washes over you.
Have tips of your own? Did you have a completely different experience with one of these products? Tell me in the comments.