“I don’t know how you do it!” is a comment Chris and I hear a lot when people learn we have triplets. Usually, we mutely shrug our shoulders. What are we going to say to this? To steal Nike’s tagline, we just do it.
There are, however, quite a few products that make “just doing it” much, much, much easier. This post describes the baby products we couldn’t have survived without during the first 2 years with the Tagalongs. I’ll try not to wax poetic about too many of the items, so if you want more info, hit me up in the comments.
Baby Product Review: Apps
With three babies, it was hard to keep track of the who, what, when, where, why, and how. The app Baby Connect saved our sleep-addled brains from trying to remember all this. Best of all, it could be synchronized between multiple users. That meant Grandma and the nanny could track when they cared for the babies. And it made doctor’s appointments a snap. When doctors wanted to know how much the Tagalongs were eating, pooping, and sleeping, we just whipped out our phones. Our medical team loved Baby Connect as much as we did!
White Noise Baby
I don’t remember how we stumbled upon White Noise Baby, but it was a lifesaver. We were in the throes of c-o-l-i-c with Caleb, and his high-frequency DEFCON 1 screeches quieted to DEFCON 5 squalls when the app’s Conch Shell sound was played. We downloaded that sucker onto every electronic device in the house and played it at all sleep times. Long gone are the days when I walked the house with Caleb in my arms and the app playing from my phone, which was shoved in the shelf of my nursing bra, but Conch Shell still graces us with its presence between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. each day.
Baby Product Review: Feeding Gear
Many preemies suffer from feeding issues that can affect their digestion and nutrient intake. Dr. Brown’s bottles use a fully-vented design that’s touted for reducing these issues. They’re expensive and have a gazillion parts that are a pain in the butt to assemble and disassemble at 3 a.m., but we fully believe that they were the right bottle for our preemie babies who suffered from reflux.
Table for Two
The first 2 months they were home, the Tagalongs ate every 3 hours. Because Chris and I weren’t comfortable experimenting with how to feed all three at once, feeds (as we called them) took 1.5 hours each. Then we stumbled upon the Table for Two feeding system. Game changer. Now we could feed all three at once and get done in around 45 minutes—30 minutes if James didn’t puke. I wish we’d discovered it sooner than we did, but we were able to use it from the time the Tagalongs were 5 months old to the time they were a little over 1 year old. This gift from heaven is expensive, but we were lucky to find one on a yard sale site.
Kids are uncoordinated, messy eaters. Case in point: I’m pretty sure that only 25% of what James picked up ended up in his mouth. Bumkins waterproof sleeved bibs saved us mucho dinero in the stain remover department. And we could use them when we wanted to do messy art projects. And they were machine washable. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Boon SNUG lids turn any cup into a sippy cup. Yes, you read that right: any cup. Oh yes, and they’re spill-proof … unless you have a kid who likes to shove pretzels in the air vent and stretch it out (I’m looking at you, Caleb). They come in spout and straw varieties.
Images of kids dumping bowls of spaghetti over their heads are cute—unless you have three kids doing it at once. That’s why I was uber excited to learn that there were suction plates on the market. We ended up going with the Nuby Sure Grip Miracle Mat Section Plate. While not as sticky as other brands, it got the job done for a price that didn’t make our bank account cry.
Baby Product Review: Sleeping Gear
The Tagalongs slept in the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play (RNP) or Leachco Podster the first 2 months they were at home. Like many of our fellow triplet families, we were doing this to help our 5 lb teeny tinies transition between the diaper-box sized NICU isolettes and their cribs as well as to combat reflux. If you use inclined options like these, make sure you’re offering your babies plenty of time on flat surfaces, or use positioning techniques to aid in the development of their head shape.
The price tag of the 4moms mamaRoo turned us off considering it for a baby swing. Then we were gifted with one in the middle of c-o-l-i-c. We used it the first night we had it, and Caleb and I got the first night of sleep we’d gotten in 2 weeks. When another set of friends heard about this, they showed up on our doorstep with another mamaRoo—one for downstairs. Something about the motion and sound the ‘roo offered spoke to Caleb, and he spent many a night in one or the other. The ‘roo proved useful after c-o-l-i-c left the building. It functioned as a swing, a feeding seat, and a white noise machine. I cried the day we sold the last one because I felt that we were truly losing a good friend.
Baby Product Review: Diaper Pail
We had both the Diaper Dekor and the Ubbi. The Dekor served us well until the Tagalongs moved to solids. Then the stench of the poop that table foods create—times three—overpowered the Dekor’s rubber seal and spring-loaded trap door. We could smell the upstairs diaper pail downstairs. We’d heard that the Ubbi was God’s gift to multiples, so we snatched one up when we saw it for cheap on a yard sale site. Our noses were thankful we did. The Ubbi contains the stench of even viral diarrhea.
Baby Product Review: Cloth Diapers
When Mom handed Chris and I the box of cloth diapers left over from my brothers and me, we were very grateful. But we were also very amused. We had no plans to use cloth diapers with the Tagalongs. We’re all for reducing waste (no pun intended), but cloth diapers sounded like a giant headache we didn’t need to add into the equation of caring for three tiny humans. So instead, we used them for burp cloths and to clean up puke. They came in especially helpful with the latter, since James spent half his waking and sleeping hours puking up everything he ate.
Brothers, if you’re reading this, no need to worry about us passing the diapers on to you. We’ll be burning them when we’re through.
Baby Product Review: Teething Aids
Some parents swear by amber teething necklaces. We swore by Punkin’ Butt teething oil. Made of essential oils, it can be applied directly to babies’ gums. We used it to take off the edge of teething, which was sometimes all the Tagalongs needed. When it didn’t work, we went straight to Tylenol, which we bought in bulk from Costco.
Baby Product Review: Travel Gear
I can’t sing the praises of the Radio Flyer Triple Play Wagon enough. We were skeptical about spending so much money on something that wasn’t a stroller, but it’s probably one of the best baby purchases we ever made. The wagon’s body straps all three kids in, and the wagon comes with an attached bag that’s big enough to hold our Skip Hop Duo Double diaper bag and my largeish Coach purse. Yet the wagon is compact enough to fit in the trunk of our Dodge Grand Caravan. This makes it possible for one person to take the Tagalongs anywhere by themselves. We’ve rolled up to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, the zoo, church, and the park in that sucker.
Oh, and it makes the kids look even cuter than they are. Our diaper budget would be funded if we had a nickel for every time we heard “Now that’s how you travel in style!”
Another pricey but perfect purchase was the Summer Infant Pop ‘N Play Portable Playard (PNP). Finally—one person could wrangle three movin’ and shakin’ babies out in public! I plopped two babies down in it when I wanted to slide or swing with one baby at the park. I confined three babies in it at library story time so they wouldn’t trample all over the other moms and their nice, quiet singletons. We penned up three babies at doctor’s appointments so they wouldn’t destroy the exam room. The Tagalongs have outgrown the PNP, but it was a seasonal friend who was worth its weight in gold.
While not a product, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) as something we couldn’t have survived without. I’ll be doing a separate blog post on early intervention (EI), so I won’t go into too much detail here. Instead, I’ll include excerpts from a Facebook post I made when the Tagalongs celebrated their first “birthday” with EI:
Today is the Tagalongs’ one-year evaluation with early intervention (EI). The “side effects” of being a preemie are not always pleasant, but this is one for which I will be forever grateful. I couldn’t imagine the past year without the support of our EI team … They have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and the coaching they’ve provided has helped our kids stay on track and, in some cases, even excel. More importantly, they’ve been some of our biggest advocates and cheerleaders, and we are a better family for it. Every child should come with their own team of developmental therapists.
Family and Friends
Last, but certainly not least, is family and friends. We couldn’t have made it through the first 2 years without them. I’m a firm believer in recognizing people for going above and beyond, and I so very badly want to recount every instance of every person who helped us—whether it was by driving 4 hours every weekend to help the first 2 months the Tagalongs were home; by bringing dinner (DQ blizzards) and helping with a feed or chores around the house (and not saying a word when you fold the undies your friend thought she’d pulled out of the laundry pile) several times a week; filling in when we were without childcare for 2 months; by being available day or night by phone or text or Snapchat; or the countless many other ways people pitched in. But I can’t. Suffice it to say, we were very blessed to have in our lives so many people who love us. If I could bottle up and sell our family and friends as a baby product, I would.
It goes without saying, but I’ll mention it anyways: these baby products are entirely personal and situational. What worked for us won’t work for others, regardless of whether you have a singleton or multiples. I know triplet families who’d choose entirely different baby products, and I know triplet families who’d agree with just about every baby product in this post. Use what works for you and your family—regardless of what I or another review says.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, comment below if you want more info. And check out my review of the parenting books I read during the first 2 years in the post “The Parenting Books That Helped Us Survive the First 2 Years with Triplets.”