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I’ll never forget my wife’s first ultrasound. The doctor showed us our little nugget of a baby on the fuzzy screen. She pointed out all the tiny parts. Everything was looking good.
Then she moved her scanner and said, “And over here, this one looks good, too!”
Twins. Twins! Oh, my God, twins.
We were nervous, excited and terrified all at once. As it turns out, telling our friends and families didn’t help much.
“Twins? That will be expensive! Your nursery is going to need two of everything!”
That got my wife and me thinking. Just how are we going to put together a nursery without going broke (or crazy)? Luckily for us, there are some really great resources out there for expectant parents of multiples. Here’s what we’ve learned.
Picking a Theme
One question people would ask is, “What’s your nursery theme?” Umm, I don’t know. Survival?
We decided to go with a nice, broad theme: adventure. We want our kids to grow up to be bold and adventurous, say “Yes!” when opportunities pop up.
Then we struggled to find stuff we liked to decorate the room.
Natalie Diaz, author of “What To Do When You’re Having Two” and founder of Twiniversity.com, a website dedicated to helping parents of multiples, is a great resource for people like me. She also has twins of her own, so she knows what she’s talking about.
She suggests a different approach.
“Instead of going to a baby store, look at websites like Wayfair and go right to the clearance section and then pick your theme. You can design your decor around what’s available. This works for birthday parties, too,” she says.
That may not be completely realistic since many people have a theme in their head long before it’s time to decorate, but if you’re really looking to keep costs down, it’s a great way to do it.
Do you have to have two cribs? Yes, eventually.
While it’s okay to let the babies sleep together at first, once they start to move around they’ll need to be separated for safety reasons.
Now, before you faint thinking about taking out a loan so you can buy that 4-in-1 convertible crib from Pottery Barn for $719 and then buying another one, take a deep breath.
You want to buy your cribs new because you don’t know what recalls or safety issues a used crib could have. But, according to Diaz, there’s no reason to break the bank.
“I would never pay over $170 for a crib. … I would never buy a crib that’s convertible. It’s not necessary. Just buy a basic crib and then buy a toddler bed when it’s time. They’re more likely to sleep in a toddler bed that they helped choose.”
When it comes to your crib mattress, Diaz suggests buying a convertible mattress. One side is firm for infants, and the other is softer for toddlers. No need to buy second mattress when they grow out of the infant stage. Who knew?
Two or Just One (or None!)
Okay, so you know that you’ll need two cribs. What else?
Go for Two
Baby Monitor Cameras – Because you will have two cribs, a video baby monitor with two cameras is handy. You can have a split screen that shows how both of your little ones are doing at all times.
Boppies – These nursing and infant support pillows are tummy-time gems. They are also a must-have, and you’ll want one for each child. These pillows will help support your babies as they grow and learn to sit up.
Bouncy seats – They are a lot of fun, and your kiddos may not want to share. Plus, if you can put them each in their own, you’re hands-free for a while. Nice.
One is Fine
You can get by with having just one of many things, at least to start out, and then buying a second if you decide you need it.
Play mat – Your babies will probably want to play together anyway, so why have two mats?
Dresser – Yes, you’ll have a lot of clothing for the tykes. But who wants to be reaching between two different dressers while changing? Your hands will be too busy for that!
Skip it Altogether
There is a tidal wave of baby products out there, and experienced parents can tell you that not all are essential. You don’t have to buy everything on the baby stores’ checklist because, face it, they’re the ones who want to sell it to you.
Changing table – We heard from many people that using a changing mat on the bed is just as easy. My wife and I, however, went against the grain and opted to get a changing table because it will allow us to change the babies while standing upright. It’s a back-saver and also safer because babies can roll off a bed more easily.
Diaper pail – This is another item that parents love or hate. They’re either a lifesaver or a complete waste of money, depending on whom you ask. With twins, Diaz leans towards the latter.
“You don’t need a diaper pail. They’re not made to handle the workload of twins. Even if you spend $70 a year on the bags, you’re literally spending money on garbage.”
In other words, why pay extra for special diaper-pail bags that you’ll have to change out daily and throw away when you can just take the diapers out right away? A few extra steps will save you money.
Other Ways to Save on Your Nursery
We’ve discovered that with twins on the way, we want to save every way we can. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to do just that.
Register … Everywhere!
We only registered at three stores, but at each we received a gift bag full of goodies, including coupons. Free baby bottles, spoons and a lot of great information. We received enough free pacifiers that we may never need to buy them. By the way, did you know they’re also called “binkies?” I have so much to learn!
Don’t forget to include a message in your shower invites letting everyone know that you love gift cards. Most of our family is across the country from us, and many bought us Target gift cards. What can we buy with them? Diapers, diapers and more diapers! Some other good ideas are cards for baby stores, food delivery services and grocery stores.
As you’re registering for those cute baby clothes and blankets, it’s easy to think to yourself, “No one will want to spend $150 on a baby mattress.”
Get out of your head and register for big items like the baby monitor, cribs, crib mattresses and anything else you are planning to get. Our baby-shower gifts included a swing, two extra car-seat bases and even our twin stroller (which uses the babies’ car seats). Those are some pretty big-ticket items. You never know when friends might go together on one gift. Register for everything and then see what you still need after the thank-yous have been sent.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your workplace if it does baby showers. My wife’s team threw us a shower, and it was a cornucopia of baby clothes and gift certificates. Jackpot!
I know. I know. When you envision your perfect, adorable nursery, you’re imagining everything pristine and new. Get over it. You can find great stuff out there that looks brand new.
“I would never buy the cribs used, and I would never buy the mattresses used,” says Diaz. “Furniture or decorative baskets? I would get all of those used. I would buy the bouncers used. I would buy the swings used. It’s easier for me to tell you what I’d buy new because it’s a lot less!”
We took her advice and bought our changing table used through Facebook Marketplace. We paid $40 for a table that would sell for about $100 new.
We found a used dresser that was in great shape for $75. A friend of ours volunteered to paint it up and now it’s exactly what my wife wanted for about one-fourth of the cost of new. (Thanks, Nancy!)
Mary also found bouncy seats and a swing at a garage sale (held by twin parents) and paid $50 for those items that would easily be $150 or more new.
She also added this tip: “If you buy second-hand baby equipment, you need to register it in your name. If there is a recall, you need to be the one to get that notice.”
Ask for Multiple-Birth Discounts
Anywhere you’re buying baby gear, ask about discounts for multiples. You may be surprised how much you can save. The worst they can do is say no.
Join a Parents-of-Multiples Group in Your Area
This is a no-brainer. By finding a group that is filled with parents of multiples, you’ll have an instant source of support and advice. You’ll also know a lot of people whose children may be growing out of their bouncers or ready to part with their nursery dresser. It’s good to be connected.
Keep Things in Perspective
The hard part about putting together that nursery is remembering that it’s more for you than them. Your twins won’t likely remember if they had a Winnie-the-Pooh or Snoopy theme. It’s all about creating a space that is safe, efficient and won’t kill your budget.
Why? Because you will need twice as many diapers and wipes and twice as much baby food when the time comes. If only Target gift cards could buy you some sleep.
Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. He’s equal parts excited and terrified about this life adventure. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.
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