Best buys

Note: I am not affiliated to any of the suppliers listed and do not receive any money to promote them. These are very personal and, I hope, useful mini reviews of some of the products we loved and couldn’t live without.

Backpack reins:

Lindam toddler runner backpack reins

The girls used these when started walking and they were brilliant for keeping them in check when we were out and about without them feeling that they were tethered to us. We got so many compliments about them and they are amazingly durable for the price. They are now sitting in a cupboard, unused but they were essential for about eighteen months.

Blackout blind:

Baa-baa blind

An absolute godsend when we were getting the girls into a good sleep and nap routine when they were small. It’s basically a piece of black cloth with some suckers on (and a cute sheep motif) but it’s worth every penny. It can be arranged to fit onto any size window and we’ve used it in the two houses we’ve lived in.

Booster seats:

Safety 1st Basic Booster

We started using these with the girls from the age of 8 months and they used to live in the car so that they were handy when we went out to a restaurant. They are now a permanent fixture on two of our dining chairs and the girls use them every day. They could just sit on the adult chairs but the booster seats make them taller. They are lightweight, durable, washable and cheap.

Breast pump:

Medela single mini electric breastpump

A godsend in the early days when I was struggling to establish breastfeeding. I used to hold the pump in one hand and play with my Nintendo DS in the other in the wee small hours of the morning. It makes a heck of a racket for such a small thing but it was great and the washable parts could be sterilised. We sold it on Ebay when the girls went on to formula and recouped almost all of the money we paid for it new.

Car seats:

Mothercare Travel Tot Car Seat

Mothercare no longer produce the girls’ first car seats but they were the equivalent model to this one. We didn’t want to spend a fortune on these seats as we had to buy two and the girls outgrew theirs at the age of 11 months and they can’t be re-sold for safety reasons. It was basic but the cover could be removed and washed in the washing machine (an absolute godsend as I used to feed the girls in their car seats when I was on my own with them) and the frame wiped clean.

Britax Evolva 1-2-3

The girls’ current car seat (we have it in the red and black colour scheme), which they have been in since they were 11 months old and, unless they have a massive growth spurt, should still be using when they are 12 years old. We went for a 1-2-3 seat due to the cost of buying two car seats (again). These seats have been thrown up on and survived to tell the tale. The covers are fiddly to get off but can be put in the washing machine. The girls haven’t used the cup holders yet but I’m sure they will as they get older.

Cot beds:

Mothercare Ashton cot bed

Again, due to the cost of buying two beds at the same time we went for a cheap frame but bought expensive mattresses. We were contemplating cot beds with slatted ends but were advised by a lovely new Mum in the shop that a solid ended cot bed would be better because her baby got his foot stuck and she didn’t want ours to do the same! It turned out to be excellent advice. We took the sides off just before their 3rd birthday and G managed to roll out four times on the first night. They now have bedguards on them and the girls love having ‘grown-up’ beds that they can escape from…

Digital in-ear thermometer:

Mothercare Digital thermometer

We didn’t buy one of these until the girls were well into their first year but we should have bought a thermometer before they were born. £30 seems expensive for a thermometer but we’ve used it countless times and it takes the uncertainty out of the ‘Does G/R feel hot to you?’ query. Essential.

Grobags (baby sleeping bags):

These were an absolute godsend for the girls until they were about 18 months old. The girls were (and still are) very wriggly sleepers, even as newborns and the sleeping bags kept them snug and in one place! In cold weather we put scratch mitts on the girls’ hands, or used sleepsuits with them built-in so save their hands getting cold and waking them up. One tip: I planned ahead and bought them both summer and winter Grobags in the sales and they had only used the summer weight ones a couple of times before G decided she didn’t like being hemmed in anymore and the switched to duvets. The winter 18-36 month grobags remain unused.

High chairs:

Chicco Happy Snack

The net thingy underneath the high chair lasted about two days before its magnetic food-collecting abilities drove me mad and I threw it away. Apart from, that, it was a good buy. The back of the seat is adjustable but the height of the chair isn’t, so that’s worth bearing in mind if you want baby to sit at the dinner table with you.  The girls used it when I started weaning them at 5.5 months old and they were finally put out as rubbish (sounds awful and wasteful but the plastic on the chairs was starting to split and despite repeated washing they were pretty grotty) just after their 2nd birthday. The chairs were used 5 times a day for well over a year so I felt we’d got our money’s worth. Note: when folded, they resemble patterned Dr Who villains.

Microwave steriliser:

Tommee Tippee closer to nature steriliser

We had an older version of the same model and it was absolutely marvellous. We used to clean the girls’ bottles and the washable parts of my breast pump in the steriliser and it saved so much time. I read of mothers that also sterilised dummies (didn’t use them) and plastic toys (that way madness lies) in their steriliser so they are multi-functional. I put the container out for recycling when the girls were 9 months old after thousands of spins in the microwave. At one point the girls were on 3-hourly feedings day and night and the steriliser could hold six bottles, teats and lids, so you do the math!

Double buggy:

Nipper 360 Double

My absolute favourite of the best buys. Dh and I started researching double buggies as soon as we found out I was having twins. It seemed to be a straight choice between the Nipper 360 and the Jane Twin Two and we were put off the latter by the cost, weight and stories of parents not being able to dismantle it very easily. The girls had their first trip in the Nipper when they were a week old and I can’t imagine how many miles I must have pushed it since. It’s light (relatively), agile, turns on a sixpence, is easy to put up and fold down, fits through most doors (many of the side by side doubles don’t), is suitable from birth, washable, practical and stylish. The cosytoes and shopping basket are normally extra but both are well worth it. The first raincover split after 18 months so we bought a more robust replacement, which I believe comes with the new models as standard. I know lots of twin mums that have been seduced by other double buggies and ended up buying a Nipper as it is just so brilliant. I knew we’d never need to buy another double buggy after getting it and I’m sad that we barely use it now.

Playpen:

Wooden playpen/room divider

We bought ours from a German company on Ebay but it’s exactly the same design as this one. I wanted a playpen that all four of us could sit in and that would be big enough for the girls to explore. This one fitted the bill. Dh reconfigured it when we moved house and part of it acts as a room divider, separating the girls’ playroom from the living room. In its previous life as a playpen I bought four foam mats to put on the floor as it doesn’t have a base. We took the room divider down a couple of months ago. It was a great, versatile piece of kit.

Rucksack changing bag:

John Lewis rucksack changing bag (no longer produced, sadly)

I was very anti-changing bags. I thought they screamed Yummy Mummy so dh bought me two bags from the Fiorelli luggage range – I used the smaller one as a changing bag and, when the girls were weaning, the larger one for food and bibs. In return I bought dh a rucksack changing bag from John Lewis. It’s an absolute marvel and I ended up abandoning my two bags in favour of the rucksack. It contains a (small) fold-up changing mat and plenty of compartments for nappies, wipes, cream, spare clothes, etc. It’s still in pretty good condition considering the amount of use it has had in the last couple of years and it’s a shame JL don’t stock it anymore.

Single buggies:

Maclaren Volo

As wonderful as the Nipper is, I knew that we’d also need to buy two single buggies as the girls got older and I purchased these just before they were six months old. They are a touch on the pricey side for toddler single buggies but their usefulness and quality has far outweighed the initial cost. We have them in the black and pink colour scheme, which they no longer manufacture. They are lightweight, extremely easy to put up and fold down, can be slung (and kept) in the boot of the car and are washable. The rain cover is slightly fiddly to start with (especially when you’re in a hurry) but it has a large shopping basket. It feels like it might be quite a bumpy ride on rough terrain or cobbles but the girls loved that it was more upright than the Nipper. The singles are hardly used now but we made a wise decision and they were a good buy.

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One thought on “Best buys

  1. Pingback: Best buys list « House of Twins 2.0

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