New Parents & Twins: Tips for Smart Shopping and Saving Money

Tips on how to save money and shop smart and cost-effectively when you are new parents having twin babies

When you find out you are having twins there are usually a mix of emotions. You are happy, scared, nervous, anxious, sad, etc. Okay now imagine how you would feel if you found out at the end of your second trimester or third. Believe me, there are no words that can express how this feels. I know, that was me!

If you find yourself in a similar situation (or even if you knew from day 1) there are a number of things that will help you avoid wasting money. You will need to know these because you will soon see you need all the money you can get! Here is what I learned and want to share with any family with multiples on the way.

Organic or homemade is the only way to go! Try your best to make everything you can for as long as you can. Start now because once your little ones get here you will not have the time or energy to do this. Use the search engine to find additional recipes, they are everywhere and people love to share their tips.

Baby food is one of the easiest things you can make. You can take a small portion of what you are eating (before adding spices) and feed that to your little ones or cook them their own. Baby food takes very little time and you do not have to have a food processor.

You can chop the food up into very small pieces and then take a spoon and mash the food. Once you have the food mashed avoid spending tons of money by putting the food in containers you already have or in freezer bags. Make sure you follow the storage guidelines properly and wash all containers out with hypoallergenic soap to avoid contamination.

Baby Wipes (I strongly recommend this) are also very easy and far cheaper than buying. You will need a large airtight container (you may want to even buy a pack of wipes so you can recycle that container). Once you have your container add 1 cups of baby oil (more or less depending how oily you want your wipes) and 2 tablespoons of your favorite organic/natural baby wash. Shake this mixture around so the baby wash spreads out and mixes with the baby oil.

Get a pack of quality paper towels (I highly recommend Viva) and cut each paper towel in half. You can also buy the half size paper towels. Once you have a nice stack of paper towel halves stack them and run them under water. After you wet all the paper towels squeeze them out. Put the damp paper towels in the wipes container and press them down until all of them are oiled. These usually last a couple of months if the lids are closed tightly.

Baby Shampoo is also fun to make. The quickest way to make this is to get a container and mix 1 part baby oil with 3 parts of your favorite organic/natural baby wash. If you want to get really fancy you can go to your local natural food store and buy a really weak organic oil (chamomile or lavender) and add it your shampoo. Be sure to check the strength because if it is too strong it may cause an allergic reaction.

Dinners for you and your hubby are a must! You will not feel like cooking and many days may not eat like you should if you do not have prepared foods at your fingertips. Be ready by having meals sitting in your freezer. If you do not like to cook, buy a crock pot and just throw veggies and meat in. Let the crock doing your cooking for you!

My last "make your own" tip is to use all the products you made for your babies on you and your hubby. You will find it helps keep your babies from breaking out because you are using only natural products. It is also a great way to save money. Lastly, you will find it is a great excuse to bathe each other and pretend you are child free again (if only for a few minutes)!

No matter how frugal you are, you are going to have to buy a few things to prepare for your twins' arrival. Watching commercials and listening to well-meaning family and friends will have you believing you need tons of gear and all the latest trends. Now you can go that route but I am sure in the long run you will live to regret it.

At some time or another I have had to change things up a bit. Sometimes it was because my boys were growing tired of something (chair, bouncer, etc.) or because I just plain ran out of supplies. One thing I came to learn was that I did not need most of the supplies and furniture many people convinced me to buy. Here are a few things to try that really work if you can get past your pride a bit.

When it comes to diapers, the cheaper the better. I am a huge fan of Target brand! They have been the best at preventing leaks and the cheapest (even when you do a comparison at a whole-sale club). You will need to be sure you buy at least one case (that's right a whole case) of Newborn or Size 1 diapers depending how big your babies are at birth. If you go to term you may want to skip Newborn and jump to Size 1. If the diapers are a little big just fold them down for a few weeks. This will keep you from having to exchange them after you have already used half a box. Also start stacking up on Sizes 2 and 3. My boys are tall but they have been in size 3 since they were a few months old. Be well stocked and do not open any boxes until you must use them. You want to be able to return any that do not fit.

One thing I cannot stand is a leaky diaper. Especially when you do not realize it leaked until it is all over you. Many grocery stores have their own brand of diaper liners that fit almost like a maxi pad inside the diaper. It may be hard to wrap around putting a pad in your babies' diapers but believe me, they keep you from having to buy costly overnight diapers. If your babies are close to the next in size diapers (code name for less in a pack for the same amount of money) go up to the next size but be sure to use the liners to get the most out of the lesser amount of diapers.

As I said before, make your own wipes. In the event you cannot make your own you can always buy wipes in bulk and then use them to bathe your baby also. This will eliminate the need for a baby bath tub (which is a waste). You can also use these to remove your make-up and wash up on a day when a shower is just not going to happen!

Go to the thrift store and stock up on bottles. If you wash and sterilize them in really hot water they will be fine. Be sure to look for newer ones because you want to make sure they have no mold that you cannot see. You can also use bottles as containers for little things such as cotton balls, Q-tips, etc. when you travel.

Yard trash bags or scented kitchen bags are a cheaper alternative to buying a baby waste basket. You have more space to put more diapers in the larger trash bags and then you can manually twist it closed or put a loose knot in the bag yourself. You will not have that awful dirty diaper smell if you keep the bag closed. This will save you big money when it comes to replacement bags. Just be sure to keep the bags out of your children's reach.

Big trash bags also work as a cheaper, smaller storage option. Instead of buying expensive or bulky totes, you can put your babies' old and unused clothes in them to store away. You can put toys or other items in these bags and throw them in the closet until you need them again. If you choose not to use them again you already have everything bagged up and ready to send to your local charity.

Large freezer bags are a cheaper and better way to store wipes in your diaper bag. They can be bent and easily fit in small spaces. They are light weight so you won't add to the already heavy load you are carrying.

Small freezer bags are a great option for storing food your babies' need. You are probably going to be in a location that has a paper/plastic cup so you can transfer the food into a cup or feed right out of the bag. They are light weight and with the food being in a freezer bag you do not need to use a microwave to heat the food, just run it under warm water for a few seconds.

Instead of buying one of the expensive brands of baby detergent opt for a less expensive regular organic or natural brand. You can still buy a large/family size container and you will be using a better product on your babies' clothes. Use the detergent on your clothes so you won't have to buy two different kinds of detergent.

Instead of buying a crib use a pack n' play. Your babies will probably be able to fit in one of these together for many months. My boys are over a year old and they are still able to sleep in one together when we travel (it's tight at this point but it works for a few days and they enjoy the smaller space). If you really want your babies to have separate beds you can still opt for two pack n' plays and you will save hundreds of dollars. You can find a good pack n' play at your local thrift store or yard sale.

Jumpers, walkers, bouncy chairs, and swings can all be used not only for entertainment but also to feed your little ones. You do not have to use high chairs and it makes clean up a lot easier because your little ones are occupying a smaller space. It makes clean up easier because as soon as you are done feeding them they are already occupied with an activity.

Paper towels can be used not only to clean messes and make wipes they can also be used as washcloths. If you buy a good quality brand such as Viva you will find you get more bang for you buck. I have been able to clean both my boys with the same one (even as I constantly rinse them). I discovered this when we ran out of laundry detergent. This will save you laundry time and you will use far less water.

Receiving blankets are a wonderful asset. I bet you did not realize you can use a soft receiving blanket not only to warm your little ones but also dry them off after a bath. Pack a receiving blanket instead of your babies' towel the next time you travel. Try keeping a receiving blanket in your babies' diaper bag to use instead of buying a changing pad. It's softer and a lot warmer than cold plastic changing pads.

I am sure you will probably receive many body suits for your babies. But, have you ever heard of the bodysuit extender? If not, it's a small patch like device that extends the length of your babies' body suits. As your babies get taller they can continue to wear the same body suits literally until they wear out. This is a good investment!

Sleepers are a necessity for any baby during the winter months. A common problem is that babies grow too long for the sleepers before the sleepers even have a chance to fade in color. To solve this problem I have to admit I did something that I thought was unthinkable (before having children). I cut the feet out and still let the boys wear them. However I had to do this in a cute way. I cut the feet out, folded and tucked the cut part under so it looked like a hem and then put socks on underneath the sleepers. It looked like regular pajamas instead of a cut up sleeper!

Buy a carrier and wait on the stroller. This is for all the physically fit moms and dads out there. If you can carry your babies together without it hurting your back, opt for a double carrier instead of a stroller for the first couple of months. Your babies will fuss less being closer to you and you will find it easier to get things like grocery shopping done. You can find a good reasonably priced double carrier online.

Once your babies are too heavy for their carrier, hopefully they will be big enough to sit (with minimal support) in an umbrella stroller. Believe me when I say I was not a fan of the umbrella stroller but now they have really nice ones that are far cheaper (to buy two) than one double stroller. You can then buy an attachment (sold at most baby stores or online) and attach the two strollers together.

Car seats are not only important they are a must have! We chose to buy infant seats because we did a lot of travel in our area. It made it easier for us to carry them and load them up. Also it made for another feeding option when we were at home. However your most cost efficient option is a convertible car seat. These models generally cost more up front but in the long run they are a cheaper option if you do not plan on traveling often.

Buying things for your twins will put a major dent in your wallet if you are not creative. Try your best to do most of your shopping at your local thrift stores and yard sales. You won't be sorry!

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Cherie Durbin
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Posted on Mar 31, 2010