Ask GeekDad: Double Trouble

Geek Culture

Image: Dave Banks

We’re Having Twins: What Do I Do?

This week’s Ask GeekDad is a special “double trouble” edition from reader Mike. He’s expecting twins, and wants to know what he should keep in mind as he prepared for their arrival. Thankfully, Dave Banks–the father of multiples himself–has some great words of wisdom to share.

Remember, you can email us with your questions at AskGeekDad at geekdad dot com, or reach out to us on Twitter at @AskGeekDad! No question is too obscure, too curious, or unusual!

Image: Dave Banks

Mike: Hi GeekDad, I’ve been enjoying your blog for some time, even though I’m not yet a dad. However, that’s about to change. I found out recently that my wife and I are expecting twins in about 6 months. Since this is our first (and second) child we are not only having to learn about new baby products, but also about the specialized twin/multiple products. From what I’ve been able to gather, there’s a whole market segment for baby stuff related to twins/multiples. What kind of stuff should I pick up and what can I wait on? Also, anything geeky I should add to my shopping list?

GeekDad Dave Banks: First off, congratulations on the good news. Second, get some sleep now. You’re going to need it when your Luke and Leia are born. Having your first child is challenge enough – moreso when your first child is really more than one. I should know – about eight years ago, my wife and I had triplets. So let’s take a look at what should be on your baby registry and shopping list.

There are plenty of Web pages and magazine articles out there that outline what first time parents should be thinking about and it’s easy to get carried away with buying one (or two) of everything. But before you pick up that Louis Vuitton diaper bag, think about what you’ll need in the very beginning and fight the urge to pick up a walker, jumper or the Lego Space Shuttle until your kids are ready for them.

Certain items you need to have two of, like car seats and (eventually) high chairs. But others you can get away with just one. For instance, you’ll only need one changing table. And our kids shared a crib for the first few months. Some baby experts suggest parents of twins buy two of everything so they don’t fight. In our experience, if there’s only one, so what? It’s better (and less expensive) if your children learn to share. And you don’t even have to double-down on the essentials, a good rule for buying clothes, toys and bottles is to use a multiplier of 1.5. That will be more than enough for your kids. The exception is probably the onesie underwear and towels for mopping up faces and messes.

As far as twin-specific gear, there’s not a lot. You can buy identical clothes if you want to point out their shared DNA. And a two-seat stroller is a must for the times when mom or dad are on their own. Multiple-seat strollers come in two configurations – inline and side-by-side seating. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The inline stroller is easier to use when navigating narrow sidewalks and aisles in stores. However the turning radius can be difficult and our kids in back were always leaning to the side so they could see what was in front of them. Side-by-side strollers have a wider footprint, so you’ll have a tougher time in narrow spaces, but your kids might be happier with the unobstructed view. The side-by-side ended up being our favorite.

An invaluable piece of equipment was a couple of Boppy-type pillows. These weren’t just valuable for feeding times, but also for support when holding your babies.

A funny thing we figured out is that you may wear out some equipment. After six months of changing diapers for our triplets (4,439 of them – I kept count), the diaper pail was no longer doing a very good job of containing the odors within. A closer (but not too much closer) inspection showed the seals were no longer tight. My wife got angry at the quality of what was a highly recommended diaper pail. I pointed out that we had essentially given the pail 18 months of use in half a year. We had to buy another. And speaking of diapers, it wouldn’t hurt to start buying some now. It’ll ease some financial strain down the road.

As far as geeky infant goods go, our good friends over at ThinkGeek have a whole crib full of great geeky toys, clothing and accessories. My favorite is their JetBib, for slightly older kids. As we pointed out earlier this year, there are a handful of iPhone apps to help you pick out names, time contractions and more.

The most common piece of electronics associated with newborns is the baby monitor, so here’s a chance to let your geek flag fly. If you are going to put your kids in separate rooms, make sure each monitor has a different frequency. If you live in an apartment complex or someplace where there is a lot of electronic interference, consider a set with DECT standards so you don’t pick up anything more than young Tiberius’ snoring. You can pick up a monitor with video, one that notices unusual movement in the crib or just abandon the baby monitor altogether as some parents choose to do. If you’re looking for a bare-bones approach, the Sony Baby Call gets good marks.

Finally, the single piece of newborn advice I like sharing with expecting parents is to pick up a copy of Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. In my opinion, the best gift you can give your child is the ability to be a good sleeper. Not only will it make your children less fussy, it will give you the rest and energy it takes to raise your kids and do your job and everything else. This book was a must-have for us. Pick it up now and you will be very glad you did later.

Those are the broad strokes. Perhaps our readers can chime in with advice, as well. Good luck to you and your wife, Mike. And enjoy the fun times ahead!

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