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Preparing for Twins – Baby Essentials Checklist & Costs

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When my husband and I set out to have a second child, we were excited at the idea of giving our son a sibling. Little did we know that we’d wind up giving him two new siblings at once.

When we got over the shock of discovering that were having twins, we started to rethink our budget. We’d initially planned to reuse most of our son’s baby gear to keep our new baby expenses to a minimum, but a second baby meant we needed additional items.

Of course, there were other expenses to consider as well, such as extra diapers, wipes, and other day-to-day supplies. We realized we had to be judicious in our purchases, which meant not automatically buying two of every single item.

If you’re expecting twins, fear not. While you may have to double up on certain items, there are plenty of things that your new babies should have no trouble sharing.

Items to Double Up On

Some items have to be purchased in pairs in order to keep your babies safe. Here’s a look at all the items you must have for each baby you’re bringing home.

Cribs

Your babies can easily share a crib for the first month or two when they’re smaller and not very mobile. However, as they get older and start moving around, they’re going to need their own cribs to sleep safely and comfortably.

A basic crib costs about $110, but you could spend more than $2,000 on a high-end model. You also need a mattress for each crib, so expect to pay an additional $50 to $150 per child for this expense. In addition, you may wish to purchase a mobile for each crib, which cost $20 to $40 each.

You can save money by purchasing a used crib. Sites like eBay and Craigslist are good resources for used baby gear, as are local garage sales. Just make sure the crib is intact and comes with the original instruction manual. Also, before you hand over your cash, do a quick Google search of the model number to make sure the crib was never recalled or encountered any safety issues.

Purchasing a used mattress is a bit trickier, as they can get worn out and stained. If you’re going to buy your mattress used, make sure to do it in-person so you can inspect its condition before bringing it home.

Total minimum cost (new): $400

Car Seats

There’s no getting around this one: You need a car seat for each baby you’re bringing home. A basic car seat costs as little as $60, but a higher-end model can cost $150 or more.

Unfortunately, you can’t cut your costs by buying your car seats used, as doing so simply isn’t safe. Instead, check Consumer Reports or a similarly reliable source to see which car seats have the highest safety ratings. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that some of the less expensive models are as safe or safer than those on the higher end.

Total minimum cost (new): $60

Bedding and Blankets

Just as each baby needs a crib and mattress, each infant needs a bedding set. A basic bedding set consisting of a comforter, bed skirt, bumpers, and sheet costs around $60 or more – but with twins, you need at least two spare sheets per infant. Budget $7 to $15 per extra sheet.

Many parents like to put waterproof pads on their crib mattresses to avoid stains. These cost anywhere from $15 to $40 each, depending on the material. Additionally, you may want to invest in some sheet savers. These can help you avoid full-fledged sheet-changing during the early months, when your infants are less likely to move around. These cost $8 to $15 each.

Finally, you need a number of receiving and swaddle blankets to keep your babies warm during their first few weeks of life. A basic set of three to four receiving blankets costs $10 to $15, but since newborns tend to have frequent accidents, you’re best off getting two sets. Swaddle wraps are another useful item for new parents. They cost $15 to $25 for a set of three and make swaddling a cinch.

Total minimum cost (new): $200

twin girls in a crib

Towels and Washcloths

You don’t need to do a lot of bathing in those early weeks, but washcloths can come in extremely handy for wiping up accidents. You can buy a set of 6 washcloths for $16, and you probably need two sets. You also need at least two bath towels – one per child – and if you want to spare yourself the chore of constantly doing laundry, you’re better off having extra towels on hand. Infant bath towels, which are softer than regular towels and often hooded, cost $15 each.

Total minimum cost (new): $62

Highchairs

Most parents don’t need to bust out highchairs until their babies are four to six months old, but when the time comes, you’re going to need two. While you do have the option to buy one and have your babies take turns eating, there’s a good chance your twins are going to get on the same feeding schedule, which means two highchairs are a must.

Space-saver highchairs – the type that strap onto regular chairs – cost around $36, while larger standalone models cost $70 to $150 or more. You can save money on your highchairs by buying them used.

Total minimum cost (new): $72

Bibs and Feeding Supplies

Unless you’re breastfeeding exclusively, bottles are a necessity. A starter set containing several bottles and nipples costs $20 to $60, and while you may be able to start off with one set, two sets is the safest option.

At least three to four bibs and burp cloths per child are also necessary. These often come in sets, making them more affordable:

  • A set of three to four burp cloths costs $11
  • A set of ten bibs costs about $17

As your babies get older, a small supply of infant-friendly spoons, dishes, and cups is necessary. Spoons often come in packs of six for $3 per set, and dishes and cups can be purchased either separately or individually. Expect to pay $1 to $2 per cup and $2 to $3 per infant dish, regardless of whether they come in a matching set. When we shopped for feeding supplies for our son, we found that buying sets as opposed to individual pieces wasn’t actually any cheaper.

Total minimum cost (new): $90

baby girl eating in highchair with bib

Items Where Just One Should Suffice

One good thing about having twins is that your children learn to share early on. Encouraging your babies to do so from the start not only saves money, but also space, and there are plenty of baby items where a single purchase is just fine.

Stroller

You need a good stroller to cart those little ones around town. The good news is that you only need one. The bad news is that it needs to be a double stroller, which costs more than a single. You can find a double stroller for as little as $135, but most reliable models cost $250 to $500.

If you’re going to splurge on something baby-related, I recommend treating yourself to a quality stroller. Paying extra could mean the difference between a model that steers easily versus one that’s actually painful to push, and considering how bulky double strollers can be, it’s worth paying more for a model that’s lighter and easier to fold.

There’s a good chance you can find a used stroller by checking yard sales or sites like Craigslist and eBay. Whereas many parents tend to hang onto their single strollers to use for future children, most twin parents don’t anticipate a second set of twins, and once the kids outgrow their double stroller, they’re often eager to get rid of it.

Total minimum cost (new): $135

Swing

Some parents swear by their swings, claiming they’re a lifesaver when it comes to soothing cranky babies. Other parents consider them useful but not quite a necessity.

With twins, having a swing on hand is a good idea. This way, you have an option for rocking a second baby while one is monopolizing your arms. A basic swing costs $100, and you can look for used options that are even less.

Total minimum cost (new): $100

Changing Table

Even if you’re the most efficient parent in the world, changing two diapers at a time just isn’t possible, which means there’s no need to buy more than one dressing or changing table for your twins to share. A basic changing table costs about $85, though you can try finding a used one for less. Another option is foregoing the changing table and instead buying a $20 changing pad to put on top of your dresser.

Total minimum cost (new): $20

changing infant diaper

Bouncer

Having a bouncer isn’t critical in the grand scheme things, but some parents do find them useful. A simple bouncer costs $26, and you can easily get away with just one, especially if you’re also buying a swing.

Total minimum cost (new): $26

Portable Crib

Also known as a pack-n-play, a portable crib serves two functions: It makes traveling with an infant easier, and it acts as a playpen when you’re home. A basic portable crib costs around $70, but if you want one with features like music or lights, expect to pay $100 to $200.

Some parents choose to sleep their newborns in a portable crib for the first month or two, and even if you’ve got two babies, there’s a good chance they can share a single pack-n-play during those early weeks. Similarly, your twins can share a playpen as they get older. Keep in mind, however, that you may need to purchase a second portable crib if you plan to do a lot of traveling once your babies are older.

Total minimum cost (new): $70

Diaper Pail

Just because you’re going through double the amount of diapers doesn’t mean you can’t stick them all in the same place. You only need one diaper pail, costing between $18 to $80. Note, however, that some diaper pails require special refill bags, and that cost can really add up over time. I purposely chose a diaper pail that was compatible with ordinary trash bags for this reason.

Total minimum cost (new): $18

Bathtub

By the time your babies are old enough to bathe together, you can put them in a regular, full-sized bathtub. For now, there’s no need to buy more than one infant tub. You can find one for $18 to $50.

Total minimum cost (new): $18

twin babies in the bathtub

Clothing

If your babies are the same gender, there’s no reason why they can’t share a wardrobe. You may have to purchase a few extra onesies or pajamas, but for the most part, you can plan for your babies to take turns wearing the same outfits. Babies outgrow clothing so quickly that it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot on infant attire. Plus, clothing tends to be a popular baby gift, so you’re better off buying a basic set and waiting to see what you get.

Budget about $250 to $300 for a newborn twin wardrobe, which includes the following items:

  • Onesies. Sets of three to five cost $10 to $20. Purchase four sets, or 12 to 20 total. Remember that onesies are the first item of clothing in the line of fire when a baby leaks through a diaper, so with twins, you need a fair amount on hand.
  • One-Piece Pajamas or Stretchies. These cost $10 to $15 apiece. Purchase six, or three per infant.
  • Pajama Sleepers or Sleep Sacks. Pajama sleepers cost $10 to $15, while sacks cost closer to $20. Buy a total of four, or two per infant.
  • Seasonal Outfits. Matching tops and bottoms typically cost $10 to $15 per set. Start with six outfits at most. Remember, newborns spend a lot of time in pajamas those first few weeks, so there’s no need to purchase more than a few outfits.
  • Socks. Baby socks cost about $1 to $2 a pair. Since they tend to get lost easily, start off with 10 pairs.

If your babies aren’t the same gender, you may wish to purchase two separate wardrobes, or you could opt for gender-neutral clothes for your twins to share. Another way to cut costs is to purchase gently worn clothing. Though onesies and socks are a little harder to find used, outer layers like pajamas and sleep sacks can be purchased secondhand at garage sales or thrift stores.

Total minimum cost (new): $250

Play Mats and Toys

Your babies won’t be doing much playing at first. But over time, they’re going to need toys to keep them stimulated. Fortunately, you only need a single play mat for your babies to share. These typically range from $12 for basic mats to $50 for activity mats that come with features like lights and sounds.

In addition, purchase these items to keep your babies entertained and engaged:

  • Rattles cost about $3 to $8 a piece. You can start with one for your twins to share, but eventually one per baby is a good idea.
  • Stacking Toys cost $10 to $15 each and are useful in helping babies develop coordination skills.
  • Soft Books cost $5 to $10, and like rattles, you can start with one and buy more as the need arises.
  • Stuffed Animals cost as little as $10, while others cost $50 or more. Since it’s recommended that infants not sleep with stuffed animals until they’re closer to one year of age, there’s no need to buy more than one or two of these to start.

As is the case with clothing, toys tend to be a popular baby gift, so before you spend any money, you may want to wait and see what people give you.

Total minimum cost (new): $50

Baby Monitor

You only need one baby monitor, provided your babies are sharing a room. A basic audio monitor costs around $30, while video monitors cost $100 to $200. Some monitors interfere with one another when placed in close proximity, which means you may need to purchase a multi-room monitor to keep tabs on babies in separate bedrooms. These are more expensive than regular video monitors, costing between $200 to $350.

Total minimum cost (new): $30

baby monitor next to sleeping parents

Humidifier

Babies tend to have dry skin and can sometimes get congested, so doctors often recommend putting a humidifier in your nursery, especially during the winter, when heaters dry the home. A quality humidifier costs $30 to $60, and if your babies are sharing a room, you only need one. If not, you may want to purchase one per bedroom.

Total minimum cost (new): $30

Exersaucer/Jumper

Exersaucers and jumpers have replaced walkers as the go-to item for babies who are first starting to become mobile. These stationary activity centers enable babies to remain upright to practice standing. Many parents introduce the exersaucer or jumper between 4 and 10 months of age, once their babies are able to hold their heads up with ease and bear some weight on their legs when in a standing position.

The primary difference between the two is that the jumper encourages more bouncing than the exersaucer. Both items cost between $50 and $100 depending on the features at hand, though you may have luck finding a used one online or at a yard sale.

While you may be inclined to buy one for each baby, there’s really no need. Most babies get tired of being in an exersaucer or jumper after a certain amount of time, and doctors actually recommend limiting time to one to two hours a day at most. Add in the fact that these items take up a lot of space, and there’s really no reason to purchase a second.

Total minimum cost (new): $50

Baby Carrier

Infant carriers allow you to essentially “wear” your baby while keeping your hands free. Since you won’t be able to wear more than one baby at a time, you may find that a single carrier is sufficient.

A basic infant carrier costs $16, though you can spend more than $50 on a higher-end model. Some parents find the more expensive carriers to be more comfortable, but when we shopped for ours, we didn’t notice enough of a difference to warrant spending the extra money. You can try finding a used infant carrier online or at a local yard sale, which helps keep the cost down.

Total minimum cost (new): $16

Breastfeeding Supplies

If you’re nursing twins, you may wind up producing twice the amount of milk and doing twice the amount of pumping. Fortunately, a single breast pump is sufficient.

An electric breast pump costs $100 to $250 or more depending on the model. Though some women find manual pumps less efficient, they often work well for moms who don’t pump very often, and at the $30 price point, they’re far more economical. While you can’t buy a used breast pump, your insurance company may cover the cost of a new one. Some insurance companies offer members a monetary allowance to be applied toward the pump of their choice. Others supply the pump itself but limit members to a small selection. If you have insurance, check your benefits to find out what your coverage entails.

In addition to a breast pump, you may want to purchase a nursing pillow to make breastfeeding more comfortable for you and your babies. You can find nursing pillows that are specially designed for twins. These cost between $50 and $60. If you plan to only nurse one baby at a time, you’re better off buying a less expensive, standard nursing pillow for $30.

Total minimum cost (new): $30

mother and baby with manual breast milk pump

Thermometer

There’s no reason your babies can’t share a thermometer. If you get a temporal scanner, which many parents prefer since it simply gets swiped across the forehead and produces a digital reading, you can switch back and forth between babies with ease. You can buy one for $25.

Another popular option is the digital ear thermometer. With twins, you can buy one for $35 to $50 and purchase a pack of 30 to 50 lens covers for $10 or less. All you need to do is put on a new lens cover when you need to take a baby’s temperature.

Total minimum cost (new): $25

Diaper Bag

You may need to carry around extra supplies when you have two babies instead of one, but you only need one diaper bag. A basic diaper bag costs $30 to $80, though designer bags retail for $300 or more. You may want to purchase a larger bag that can accommodate the additional supplies when you’re on the go.

To save money, find a used diaper bag online or at a yard sale. This is an especially good idea if you’ve got your eyes on a designer option. A friend of mine snagged a name-brand $250 diaper bag for $80 at a recent garage sale, and it was in near-perfect condition.

Total minimum cost (new): $30

Other Things You May Pay Double For

Though there are plenty of items your twins can share, there’s no escaping the fact that caring for two babies costs more than caring for one. While you can save money by being smart with your purchases, be aware that you’re likely to pay double for the following items:

  • Diapers, Wipes, and Ointment. Newborns go through 10 to 12 diapers per day on average during the first number of weeks. If you’re having twins, you might easily go through 600 to 700 diapers in your first month alone. At $0.25 a pop, that’s about $150 to $175 on diapers. Add in $60 for all the baby wipes and ointment you’re going to burn through too.
  • Vitamins. If you’re breastfeeding exclusively, your doctor may recommend a vitamin D supplement. Formula-fed babies typically don’t need one because most formulas contain adequate amounts of vitamin D. A one-month supply costs $8 to $15, and one is needed per child.
  • Formula. A supply of formula costs around $100 per month for a single baby, or more if you’re going organic. With twins, expect to double your formula costs. Some women have trouble producing enough breast milk for two infants and have no choice but to supplement with formula or use it exclusively. To save money, ask your pediatrician for samples and sign up for coupons through your formula company of choice.
  • Checkups. Twins are more likely to be born early and underweight than single babies, and as such, they often require extra medical care in the beginning. Depending on your insurance, you may be looking at two copays for each pediatrician visit instead of one, even if your twins are scheduled to see the doctor at the same time. If you don’t have insurance, expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $250 per child, per visit.
  • Childcare. If you need to enroll your babies at a daycare center to return to work after maternity leave, expect to pay almost double in tuition fees. Some daycare centers offer a 5% to 10% discount for enrolling two infants at once, but your overall cost is going to be considerably higher than it would be for a single baby. Hiring a nanny may be more cost-effective, though most nannies charge anywhere from 10% to 50% more per additional child on top of their single-child rates. If you go the daycare route, you may be able to save money by prepaying your tuition or taking advantage of referral programs.

twin boy and girl babies

Final Word

Having twins can be considerably more expensive than having one baby at a time, and it can also be a lot more demanding, especially during those early sleepless weeks. With that said, there’s nothing like watching two infants interact with one another and grow up side-by-side. Once your twins are out of diapers, from a cost perspective, you’re likely to find that raising them isn’t much different from raising two siblings who are close in age.

How did you react when you found out you were having twins?

Maurie Backman
Maurie Backman is an experienced writer and editor based in Central NJ who enjoys blogging about everything from parenting to money management and investing. She spends much of her time chasing after her children and chipping away at her never-ending piles of laundry. She also bakes way too often.

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