Following on from my must-haves for the nursery post, here are my must-haves for feeding. Similar provisos apply: remember that these suggestions are just what worked for me personally, combi-feeding twins, largely breast-milk, but with a nightly formula top-up.
Feeding pillow: I could not have breast-fed my boys without this. As I’ve mentioned before, we bought a fantastic twin-feeding pillow from Jojo Maman Bebe, which supports each baby, is very slightly sloped towards the breast, AND offers back support for Mum. This allows me to feed both boys simultaneously and hands-free. It was amazing when the boys were really tiny too, as it gave me peace of mind that they weren’t going to sink or roll anywhere.
We also bought an everyday V-pillow, and I do sometimes use this for feeding, especially on the sofa, or if I am only feeding one of the twins. I ran up a wipe-clean cover using some PUL I bought to make nappies – definitely something I recommend too!
Steriliser: One if you have no plans to bottle feed at all, at least two if you’re planning on combi-feeding, more if you’re bottle feeding entirely. I load two sterlisers every morning, one with my breast-pumping kit, the other with bottles, ready to pop into the microwave when needed during the day. I also have an oyster style mini-sterliser for my nipple shields, which only takes 90 seconds and is great for quick-sterilising dummies, oral syringes, teats…
Nipple shields: The boys were born early enough that their tongues were too weak to draw the nipple into the mouth to feed. Nipple shields created a pseudo-teat for them to latch onto, allowing me to feed. They can be a bit of a faff, but nothing compared to sterilising bottles and mixing formula for each feed – and many come with their own little carry cases to keep them clean and handy. In collaboration with my trusty pot of lanolin (thanks for the tip, Adelle!), they also saved me the pain of sore cracked nipples, I’m certain!
There’s lots of advice available on the subject of weaning babies off nipple shields, but none of it worked for me. Suddenly an evening came when the boys were screaming for their food. I was in the nursery trying to soothe both lads, whilst Dapper warmed a bottle, and Conall did his usual job of screaming and nuzzling his way down to my breast. In desperation, I loosed a boob, just to see what would happen, and he latched on – and that was that! No more nipple shields, and an important lesson in parenting: children will come to things in their own time. You can’t force it!
Bottles: Mine are all Tommee Tippee from the Closer to Nature range, but only because that’s the feeding system we chose to go with – and I cannot fault it. My boys have had no problems switching between breast and bottles, and no more wind than your average pre-term baby, if I’m honest.
Breast-pump: Having become accustomed to hospital grade pumps whilst my boys were in the NNU I was doubtful any would live up to the same standard when it came to buying within my budget. I gambled on a new model Lansinoh Affinity Pro Double Pump £107 from ebay, and have been really impressed. It has a timer, several different suction strengths, and a two -phase programme to stimulate let-down. No noisier than the one I borrowed from the NNU either. And no, I’m not on commission, just really impressed with a product! I’ve used it every day since we bought it and couldn’t be happier.
Muslin squares and/or terry cloth nappies: You cannot have too many muslin squares in my opinion – especially if you have very windy or acid reflux-prone babies like ours! I also made some burp cloths, but they’re just not as effective for catching/wiping up spew! We also have a decent stash of terry cloth nappy squares, which we regularly grab for clean-ups, lay under the boys in their cots to save nightly cot-sheet changes, and lay over the plastic change mats to catch the fountains our boys are so keen on sharing mid-nappy change! (I also ran up some weewee wigwams for this – highly recommended!) Both muslin squares and nappies are used at every single feed to protect cushions and clothing from milk spills!
Infacol/Gripe Water/Colief: whichever remedy works for your baby! We find a combination of remedies works best, but every single feed has to start with Infacol, or we risk facing very unhappy, uncomfortable babies!