When you become a mom, you not only learn how to take care of a baby but you suddenly become a connoisseur of the numerous baby products. When I put together my baby registry in the hospital, I did it all based on online reviews and recommendations since I was never able to go out to the store myself. Since then, I have had a lot of friends and other new moms ask me how it all turned out, so I figured I would share what I learned about the overwhelming world of baby merchandise. As a disclaimer, this is what worked for me and the twins. Every mom and baby is different and having two babies changes some decisions about specific products. Also, keep in mind that I did not get to sample any other brands. Whatever I ended up getting is what I have experience with. Luckily, since the reviews and advice I received was so helpful, these specific brands and products have ultimately become my favorite things. With that said, here is my top 5 list of must haves which my family has enjoyed thus far: 1. Bottles & Accessories: I did a ton of research about bottles because there are over a dozen different kinds claiming to do a variety of great things for your baby. I ended up choosing Dr. Brown's because of the rave reviews regarding how the bottles eliminate air bubbles which helps reduce colic, spit-up, etc. The negative reviews only talked about how these bottles take longer to clean because of the two extra parts which take away the air bubbles. Yes, it might take an extra 20 seconds to clean these bottles, but if it saves me from cleaning the bigger messes that spit-up could cause or dealing with a fussy baby, I will gladly wash those extra parts. Plus, my son Ethan had acid reflux so these bottles really helped minimize his condition. I was lucky that Ella and Ethan liked the bottles too because I have heard of other moms needing to buy several different brands before their baby chooses one that they will drink from. Other than the bottles, I also got the Dr. Brown's bottle warmer and steam sterilizer which get a lot of use since our household has double the amount of bottles at every feeding.
2. Stroller: There are not very many double strollers out there that appealed to me because I never wanted to be that mom getting stuck in doors with this wide thing that is hard to maneuver. Because of this, I opted for the tandem stroller as opposed to the side-by-side. But then the issue with the tandem stroller is one kid is stuck with a bad view if they get the back seat. Luckily, the Baby Jogger City Select tackles this challenge and offers numerous configurations for my twins. This stroller also does not have to be used as a double stroller because it comes in a single version initially, then you can add an additional seat to it. The City Select has been deemed the "swiss army knife of strollers" because there are 16 different configurations that it can do. For example, I love that I can have each baby face each other and be able to interact. Plus, while the kids are using the infant car seats, there are adaptors you can purchase in order to snap the seats onto the stroller so you don't have to buy a separate Snap N' Go stroller. Probably the best news is that it is one of the lightest double strollers out there being 30 pounds. I can lift it in and out of the car without a problem which means a lot after having a c-section and being on bed rest for 4 months!
3. Infant Car Seats: When I was shopping online for car seats, I was mainly looking for ones that would have a longer usage time frame since babies tend to grow out of so many things too quickly. It's not a big deal when they outgrow items that don't cost too much, but car seats are a big investment. I ended up choosing the Graco Snugride 35 for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it had some of the highest safety ratings which is obviously the most important factor. Other than that, this specific car seat can be used until your baby is 35 pounds (that's what the 35 in the name means). Graco also has other car seats with lower weight limits but the higher you go, the more bang you get for your buck. Recently, they just came out with a Snugride 40! In addition, this brand has the biggest variety of colors, patterns, and designs to choose from, compared to other car seat brands. At this point, we probably will have these car seats for about another 6-12 months depending on how fast the twins grow and then we will transition to the next stage of car seat.
4. Swaddle Blankets: Hands down, the Miracle Blanket was truly a miracle for us. The twins slept so much better when they were tightly swaddled and it helped tremendously when they had colic for the first 3 months. When we tried to swaddle them with regular blankets or the velcro type swaddle blankets, they would always manage to wake up, break free, scratch their face, and cry. The Miracle Blankets are basically like little straight jackets that would hold their arms down properly while keeping their hips and legs free to move. These blankets are one of the more pricier swaddle blankets at about $25 each but it is completely worth it. We only used these for 3 months since we weaned them off of swaddling at that point but regardless of how long they were in use, they saved us from a lot of fussiness and helped them get into good sleeping habits early on. Make sure you buy two (you will need an extra one if the other is dirty).
5. Baby Monitors: There are so many choices of monitors out there and you can really get lost in all of the features and not really know what is completely necessary. I opted for a more simpler model without all of the bells and whistles since I had to add to my purchase a second camera because there are two cribs to spy on. I have been very happy with the Summer Infant Slim & Secure Plus video monitor and the reviews were right on about not having any static. I guess other brands of monitors have a bad history of static issues but this brand has a beautiful clear color picture. It is also very easy to use and easy for the grandparents to figure out too. Other high tech monitors that cost a lot more money have cameras that you can remotely move and zoom, a touch screen controller, etc. For an extra $100, it was not that important to me and I was able to use that money for other important baby essentials which have been added to my list of favorite baby things.
*The song "My Favorite Things" is from the 1959 Broadway musical The Sound of Music which originally starred Mary Martin as Maria. Julie Andrews then famously took over the role of Maria in the movie which never seemed to leave my VCR growing up. Overall, what I learned from this whole experience is take the time to do the research. Don't just pick a product to add to your registry without knowing the pros and cons and what other moms are saying about it. We live in an age where we can read a review about pretty much anything before we make the big purchase. By being an informed buyer, you definitely increase those chances of having a bunch of favorite things that you and your kids can enjoy for years to come.