Saving money on brand name diapers for twins

The same retailers that have good deals on formula also offer good deals on diapers. I'm talking about the warehouse clubs,Target, Walmart, pharmacies, grocery stores and of course amazon.com.

What is a good price for diapers? I believe it's 15c per diaper. The closer I can get to this price with a combination of sales and coupons, the better. Ah talking about coupons. The best source for coupons for the brand name diapers are the manufacturers themselves. You can write them and ask to be enrolled in their multiples program and they will respond with a supply of coupons in the mail. I recently did this and here is what I got in response:

Huggies
I sent a letter along with copies of their birth certificates to "Kimberly Clark , PO Box 2020, Dept. Q-M-B, Neenah, WI 54957. Less than 3 weeks later, I got the following coupons in the mail
2 coupons for $3 off any huggies product
3 coupons for $1 off any huggies product
Total retail value of first mailing = $9

Pampers
I sent a letter along with copies of their birth certificates to "The Proctor & Gamble Distributing LLC, Consumer Relations, P.O. Box 599, Cincinnati, OH 45201. Strangely enough, I mailed the letters to the two companies out the same day, and their replies came in the same day. Anyhos, this is what the good people of PampersLand sent me
1 coupon for a free jumbo pack of pampers diapers (SWEET!)
1 coupon for $5 off a jumbo or larger pack of diapers or pants
2 coupons for $2 off a jumbo or larger pack of diapers or pants
1 coupon for $1 off Pampers wipes


The Pampers folks were definitely more generous because signing up for Huggies rewards online gets me the same value in coupons mailed regularly. Now all I have to do is combine these coupons with sales at any of the outlets above and I should be able to meet or exceed my 15c per diaper goal.
Total retail value of first mailing = $22

This post was submitted to Works for me Wednesday

Size 2 Disposable Diaper Review


I enjoyed my newborn diaper review so much so that I looked forward with relish to reviewing other sizes. I skipped the size 1 because I was pretty much stocked up on just two brands and there would have been no variety. However, we are now in size two diapers and I'm having a ball testing the different brands. All the brands I have here are the only ones I would consider using for various reasons which are too long-winded for this post
I have ranked the diapers "Excellent, Good, Okay and Poor" in several categories. Here are the results in no particular order:


Pampers swaddlers sensitive  
Cost & availability: Okay. Size 2 Swaddlers Sensitive has been really hard to find at the usual brick-and-mortar retailers. I snapped up the last one in Target and used a coupon.
Blowout performance: Good
Night time performance: Okay. Didn't leak so much as wick. PJs always felt damp in the morning
Fit: Good
Verdict: The softest of all the diapers and also the only one with the pee indicator line. It was an okay, not particularly memorable diaper 

Pampers Baby Dry
Cost & availability: Excellent. Readily available and an be got for as low as 15 cents per diaper or even less. I got my box from Amazon for a lot less than 15c per diaper
Blowout performance: Good
Night time performance: Good
Fit: Good
Verdict: Overall, this is a good diaper. The only issue I had with it was this really strange chemical smell 

Huggies little snugglers
Cost & availability: Good. Readily available but hard to find deals close to 15c per diaper
Blowout performance: Poor. Leaked from the legs and from the back.  Nighttime performance: Okay
Fit: Okay. The frills on the legs do not open automatically when the diaper is unfolded. The implication of this lots of leaks and wetness 
Verdict: I really want to be Team Huggies but their blowout (non)performance is making it really hard for me. I think it may have to do with the fact that they're shorter than the other size 2 diapers. (see picture)
 

Earth's Best
Cost and availability: Okay. Hard to find. I purchased the pack I used from Babies r Us and I used coupons that I printed off their website. Buying in bulk from the Amazon Subscribe and save program is a good idea. Also available at Whole Foods market but more expensive
Blowout performance: Okay
Night time performance:Okay. Did not keep baby dry
Fit:Okay. The fit was awkward on my girls (and they're about 1lb apart in weight) and that contributed to the leaks and blowouts in my opinion
Verdict: Mama can be green and crunchy when it doesn't cost an arm, a leg and two toenails. Out of the pack, this diaper reminded me a little too much of Target's Up and Up brand (not a good memory) and it crinkled! I'm not one to judge a book by its cover or a diaper by its crinkles, so I proceeded in good faith. I did not find anything enjoyable about these diapers

Seventh Generation
Cost and availability: Okay. Not readily available in a lot of retail outlets. Purchased my pack at Babies R Us and I used coupons that I printed off their website. Buying in bulk from the Amazon Subscribe and save program is a good idea as I've seen this diaper available for 17 cents per diaper which is not bad for "organic". Also available at Whole Foods market but more expensive there
Blowout Performance: Excellent. Only blowout was in a filled-up night time diapy.

Night time performance: Good.
Fit: Okay. Seems a bit narrower than the others and would ride really high at the hip and leave deep elastic marks.
Verdict: This diaper really surprised me. I expected that it would be a poor performer because of the whole natural thing. I was wrong. The babies' skin was always dry when I took these off regardless of how full the diaper was. As long as I can get this for a good price, I have no complaints whatsoever. 

This was quite entertaining for me real cheap thrills and the winner of the  size 2 diaper throwdown in mytwintopia is... drum roll please... Pampers Baby Dry and Seventh Generation. I will be glad to buy these again if I had to.


Notice how short the Huggies is compared to the others
The "Does this make my butt look fat" test. Who's flat and who's not?
Total 488 size 2 diapers used. Gulp! Makes me want to rethink the whole cloth diaper business. I'll talk about that tomorrow

Baby Memory Book Giveaway

I'm trying to think of a justification for this giveaway, and the best thing I can come up with is "our positive pregnancy test anniversary month" Quite a mouthful I know, so without further ado, here's what stands to be won and what needs to be done to win it.

God Created Me! (Little Blessings)God Created Me! (Little Blessings) Baby Memory Book.

This is the box set and as described by Amazon, "Most baby books begin when a baby is born, but this one begins when the world was born--from creation, to mom and dad, to baby. There is space to record how mom and dad met, and what they were like as kids. There's even a family tree. With helpful charts and plenty of space for photos, this baby book will be treasured forever. The acid-free pages are safe for photos and beautifully designed with Little Blessings artwork throughout.."

I have two copies to give away to two winners. To drop your name in the hat, just add a comment with your name and email address. That's it. Easy money. Winners will be announced on the 2nd of April. Thanks and good luck

How to Feed Twins at Night

This is my nightstand set up for feeding my twins when they wake up to eat at night. The items on the nightstand are
  1. 4 Playtex bottles ready for use with liners already in place
  2. A 12.5oz can of enfamil - part of the free case I received from Mead-Johnson; thank you very much sirs!
  3. 61oz thermos container with warmed water for mixing formula. I fill this up once a day and it takes me through all the bottles for that the day.
  4. Bottle of hand sanitizer
  5. Pack of pacifier wipes
  6. Box of tissues for the nights when I forget to have a bib on hand
  7. Receiving blanket to protect the inevitable spills that occur while a drowsy mama is going through the oh-so-complicated steps of preparing a 4oz bottle at 2am
  8. Not pictured is my cellphone which I use as a night light so I don't have to turn on the lamp
Also in the corner, you can see the top of one of the boppy pillows I use for keeping them elevated after the morning feeding.

Click here to buy a 61 oz thermos from Amazon.com with free shipping

Twin Stats - 4 Months



A third of our first year has gone! Who took my little babies and replaced them with little women? The girls are so grown up and personality filled, I'm more in love than I ever thought was possible


Here's our 4 month report card.

SpIce aka Twin A
Weight             14lbs 4oz (Looks like growth is slowing from the initial 2lbs every month)
Dress size        3 - 6 months
Diaper size       Size 2

Sugah aka Twin B

Weight             13lbs 2oz
Dress size        3 - 6 months
Diaper size       Size 2

Schedule
We are now officially on a schedule. 4 bottles of 7oz in the daytime and a 4oz bottle at night. Scheduled feedings are at 5am, 11am, 3pm and 6.30pm then sponge bath and bedtime is between 7 and 8pm. They'll have another feeding between 11pm and 3am whenever they start fussing. I don't wake them up to eat at night because I'm hoping that one day they sleep right through the night feeding crosses fingers. Both babies are taking around 28-32 oz daily. Naps are still on demand as I'm not really keeping track but I'll have to start now to make sure that night sleep routine is not ruined.

Top Gear - My fave 5 


Double stroller - I'm braving the great outside alone with the babies more and more

Bumbo seat - I resisted buying this because I couldn't quite get over the price for what looked like colored foam BUT when I noticed flat spots developing on the back of the babies' heads, I panicked. I couldn't rely on keeping them on their stomachs for tummy time because they got upset after 5 minutes. The bumbo was my last option and yes looks sheepish, it was worth it. I already see them sitting up better with increased muscular strength in their necks and back and I've had the bumbo for less than a week.  


Baby carrier - for when I need to carry the two babies up and down the stairs. Also, when I go to a store that has shopping carts, I put one baby in the infant seat inside the cart and hold the second in the baby carrier 

Bouncers - I have two. The precious planet and the rainforest both from fisher price. I use them to feed the two girls at the same time

Jersey Sheets - yeah you read that right, king size jersey sheets for mommy's bed. I had a new pack just sitting there and I finally decided to use it and oh my! I can't believe what I've been missing. They're so soft and warm and just generally awesome. Even the babies love them. I think they were a contributory factor to both girls rolling over (see below) for the first time when we had tummy time on mommy's bed.

Development
Both have had a few nights of sleeping 10 hours without needing a bottle. SpIce has rolled over from stomach to back three times in one day and hasn't been able to repeat the feat again. Sugar rolled over once and that's it. I'm eagerly awaiting the next occurrence.

The pediatrician was right. 4 months is really when things start getting interesting 

Saving money on brand name formula for twins - Part 2

Yesterday, I posted some general tips on saving money on brand name formula. Today I'll continue this series with tips on savings from individual manufacturers baby formula.

Enfamil
Visit their website and sign up for mailings and offers. They'll send formula samples and checks that can be used as coupons with brick and mortar retailers. 
Check their e-store which sometimes sells formula at a discount with free shipping. 
Call and request to be enrolled in their multiples program; they'll send you a free carton of whatever formula you're on. You'll also need to fax in copies of the twin's birth certificates. Call number is 1-800-222-9123. Alternatively, you can send a letter requesting to be enrolled in their Multiples Progam. Mailing address for the letter is Mead Johnson Nutritionals, 2400 West Lloyd Expy - B215, Evansville, IN 47721.
I sent my letter last month and just recently received twelve 12.5oz cans of formula in the mail. SWEET!

Similac
Visit their website and sign up for their StrongMoms' progarm. They will also mail formula checks regularly as well as educational brochures. 
The website sometimes have printable coupons that can be used with retailers. 
Purchase from their estore if the sale price is good
Call 1-800-222-9546 and register to receive free formula samples and checks

Gerber's Good Start  
The website allows you to register to receive coupons in the mail. You can also call 1-800-443-7237 to register  or send a letter to "Gerber Products Co. 445 State Street, Fremont, MI 49413". Copies of birth certificates will need to be mailed or faxed.

Earth's Best Organic 
Visit the website for printable coupons. 
Register to receive coupons by calling 1-800-434-4246 or writing a letter to "Consumer Relations, The Hain Celestial Group Inc, 4600 Sleepytime Dr, Boulder, CO 80301".

Are you a visiting parent? Did I miss anything? Please leave a comment to let me know.

    Saving money on brand name formula for twins - Part 1

    Got twins?! Got no milk?! Welcome to my world. If you're supplementing with formula or fully feeding formula, you know that it's a major part of the costs for the first one year. Formula feeding twins exclusively can easily add an additional $200-$300 to a family's food budget. A good price-point for brand name formula is 13 cents per oz. Stock up whenever you can get it close to that price-point.

    Here are some tips on saving money on brand name formula
    • Buy from the warehouse clubs like BJS, Sam's and Costco
    • Buy from the grocery store when its on sale but first of all, make sure the sale price is a real sale price and the lowest available from all retailers. I've got some good sales from my neighbourhood Kroger and CVS at various times. With CVS, rely on the online ad and not the store sticker. I've noticed with a few CVS stores in my area that they omit putting the sale price on popular baby items sometimes and I would have passed up the deal if I hadn't checked the ad.
    • Check for deals and sales on in babies r us. I find babies r us to be expensive but they do occassionally have good deals. (Very rarely)
    • Check for coupons in your pediatrician's office. Mine has a basket of baby-related coupons at checkout and usually includes $5 coupons for similac and $2 coupons for enfamil
    • Ask for free samples from the pediatrician's office. Don't be shy, don't be proud! The formula sales reps gave them samples for a reason.Ask and ye shall be given is the mantra here 
    • If you choose to shop Amazon.com, check their coupon page before you buy. If your formula is part of amazon's subscribe and save program, you also get 15% off the list price for a bulk purchase. Currently, Earth's Best Formula and Isomil are listed. When I fed the twins liquid (ready to feed) formula, the best bulk price for me was from Amazon.
    • Lookout for sales on Earth's Best formula at WholeFoods Supermarket or your organic grocer.
    The second part of this post continues tomorrow with tips on individual manufacturer's deals.

      Nightlight Provided by Google

      Well, I've spent the week talking about the apps on my android phone that contribute to my twin parenting 101 journey - the recalls app and the scheduling app. Here's a third and perhaps the app with the most mileage. Its my screenlight app.

      Image Courtesy of android.com
      I use this app as a nightlight for preparing nighttime bottles and feedings. That's because my babies sleep in their own crib but right by my bedside and I have their bottles, formula and water on the nightstand ready for when they wake to eat. I needed a nightlight that was bright enough for me to use in preparing bottles yet small and dim enough not to wake up the babies. This light on my phone did just that. It comes with different color lights (I use the white light) and has adjustable brightness buttons.

      I did try using a plug-in nightlight but the positioning was difficult. For me to be able to see the bottles I was preparing at night, it had to be in a position that was also beaming light straight into the crib. I also tried a battery-powered closet light from Home Depot. It was good in that I could keep it on the nightstand and turn it on and off as needed unlike the plug-in. However, when I needed to change the batteries after 2 weeks of use, it was time to explore more cost-effective options. Enter the free screenlight app from the android market. One of my best freebies yet..

      Android App for Baby Tracking

      I'm a free app kinda of person but this is the one app I actually paid for. It's the baby ESP app for tracking daily routine. Basically, you input the time of a certain activity and the app will display for you the amount of time that has passed since the baby last performed the activity. I initially downloaded the free trial from the android marketplace and it was so good, that I ended up buying the app.The features are what made it worth the $3.99 I paid.

      • Can track more than one baby
      • Built-in buttons for tracking bottle feed, nursing, diaper, medicine, bath and sleep. There is also an "other" button that can be customized for any other activity to be tracked. I actually used it to track "Pooping" which is a big deal for Sugar and play time.
      • Charts and stats for weekly, monthly and annual summaries. This helped me in planning their schedule and getting the big picture of their eating and sleep habits.
      • Multiple users. This was useful for when I had help. With a gmail account and the app, all the caregivers can enter the activities and it will be synced
      • Every activity entered has a notes section for say description of said poop or whether feeding was followed by a huge spit-up
      This app was godsend in the first 2 months when everything went by in a sort of haze that only a fellow twin parent will understand. I thought I would remember every little detail about my girls' daily routine, but I didn't. With this app, I could actually provide answers to the pediatrician's questions on feeding and sleep at the well child visit without sounding like a total idiot.

      A lot of twin parents in the forums I visit recommended the itzbeen baby care timer. I heard its really good but then again, why pay $50 to carry around two of those when I can pay $4 for an app that does the same thing on my phone which I will be carrying around anyways. Baby ESP... the only app that I ever paid for :)

      One Android App Every Parent Should Have

      The one Android app every parent should have, is the official RECALLS.GOV app. It features updates on all the recalls from Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and Department of Agriculture.

      This app is very easy to use. You can scroll down the "Recent Recalls" tab for chronological update on all recalls. There is a search tab for finding the specific product, a barcode tab that allows you to scan the barcode of any product and verify its recall status and lastly, a Tips tab with safety tips. The RECALLS.GOV app also has a "Report Incident" button.

      How awesome is this? Well, remember the oball with links that I wrote about glowingly 3 days ago? While writing the post, I was quite disappointed that I couldn't get a picture of the toy off of amazon.com and now I know why. A recall for it was issued on Thursday the 3rd of March. There goes our favorite toy!

      If you don't take anything else away from this blog, please take the message of this post and download the app if you're using an Android phone. Thanks

      Favorite Toy at Three and Half Months

      This post should really be titled "Babies are simpler than you think." You know my type-A-ness has been buzzing and trying to look for toys for my girls. I've read books and browsed aisles full of multicolored animals and such. In the end, the babies are just a couple of weeks over 3 months and as the experts said, mommy is their favorite toy. Next to mommy, they love their hands and spend hours looking, chewing and shadow boxing. Next on that list for my babies is the oball.

      I had bought a gigantic one that looked interesting to my adult eyes but was ignored by them. I then bought a much smaller one with links and a rattle in babies r us for less than $5. I don't get it but dem kids love it. It's perfect for this age because they are working on the milestone of grabbing and swiping at objects and this is the right shape and weight for their little hands. I hang it off the mobile of their swing (in stationary mode) and they have a ball with it - pardon the pun. :)

      Dear oball makers, this is mama writing to say thank you.

      Book Review - The Secret of Play

      The Secret of Play: How to raise smart, healthy, caring kids The Secret of Play by Ann Pleshette Murphy

      This is another book I got to help in my search for the best toys. The subtitle says "How to raise smart, healthy, caring kids from birth to age 12" and it was written in collaboration with FAO Schwarz.

      This is a well-written and easy to read book. It's sectioned by age from birth to twelve years. Each section then explores the play milestones for that age. For instance, the milestones for the first one year include
      • Reach for a mobile
      • Play peek-a-boo
      • Feel different textures
      • Bond with you
      • Kick in a bouncy seat
      • Focus on self in a mirror
      • Grasp a rattle
      Each milestone is then explained in terms of what to expect, why it's happening and how to interact/help your kid.

      I loved this bbok. If I could only have one book about play and toys on my bookshelf, it would be this. It's a buy and keep.

      Clothes Shopping for Baby - Buying by Brand

      The only thing more exciting than dressing myself is dressing my babies. Today's post is about the brands I've gravitated to so far and my reasons for doing so. I know there are nicer brands out there, but most have been eliminated by my golden rule. (Nothing above $10)
      • Gerber. Available in Walmart, Target, BabiesRUs, Amazon. This brand has a reputation for being cut small and shrinking after wash according to my SILs. I've bought 3-pack newborn-size sleepers in this brand. Why? Well asides from the fact that twins are generally born smaller, the average baby will stay in a newborn size for 4 to 6 weeks so these clothes have a cheapness requirement and not a durability requirement for me. Gerber is cheap. I got the mittens and hats pack for sizes 0-3 months for same reason - won't be used for long
      • Carters. Available in most baby apparel retailers plus Carters outlets. Said to run true to size and quality is good enough not to shrink with frequent washings. To be honest, the onesies, sleepers and  rompers will be the workhorse of my baby wardrobe for the first one year. I like the one-piece outfit concept for easy changes. Babies will spend their first year sleeping, playing and romping so this works just fine for me. The best deals I've got have been from the Carters outlets and not from resellers. I also got their pvc-backed bibs and the bigger blankets. They have regular 20% off coupons. Don't shop without one. CAVEAT: The quality endorsement applies to "Carters" brand and not the "Just One Year by Carter's" brand sold in Target and sometimes Walmart
      • Oshkosh b'gosh. Pricier sister brand to Carters. Available in own outlets and select retailers plus shares an online website with Carters. This brand is generally too pricey for me but the quality seems excellent and I love their denim pieces and overalls. They also have regular 20% off coupons. I walked to the back  of the store and shopped the clearance racks when they have a 30% off clearance promotion. Bought 2 thick outerwear coveralls (for spring-type weather) and adorable denim jumpers for the inevitable daycare days. This will be a good brand for the active toddler years so I guess I have a year or two to figure out how to shop here at MY price point. In the meantime, my strategy is to buy bigger sizes off season at clearance.
      • Old Navy. Available in their stores and online. Supposed to be good but I'm on the fence because I don't have a good opinion of the quality of their adult brands. I bought some onesies in faith 3 years ago for a good clearance deal (I'm talking a dollar a piece here). My more recent visits to Old Navy have yielded zero purchases so this brand is in the doghouse for me
      • Gap. Available in stores and online. Upscale pricier brother brand to Old Navy. Quality is said to be excellent and I believe that because I've had a good experience with their maternity clothes. Another brand that I'd love to buy if the prices could come down a bit. Should be good for the toddler years.
      • Garanimals. Walmart brand. I have no idea what the sizing or quality on these are but this I know - I love the colors. Walk by the Walmart baby section at certain times of the year and you'll see these colorful pieces all priced at $3 or less. I made my first purchase a few years ago and look forward to having baby try them on. The main selling point for me is the more adult colors they have as an alternative to the standard pastel blue, green and pink. I expect to shop this brand for everyday tees and tops especially when the kids start growing like weeds and outgrow the clothes faster than I can get through the Walmart checkout line.
      Those are the brands in my baby closet for now. On my to be explored list are Gymboree and the Children's place for everyday pieces. I am of course open to the more high-end brands as long as they are within the right price range. (ie on the clearance rack of TJ Maxx, Marshalls or Macys). There you have it. 
      Walmart Garanimals Onesies in colors I love.
      
      Old Navy Onesies

      Clothes Shopping for twin girls - The Golden Rule

      I admit it, after my ultrasound revealed sugar and spice and everything nice, I knew a moment of fear. Fear that I wouldn't be able to resist the aisles and aisles of cute pink clothes and could end up baby-shopping myself into bankruptcy. I mean, who can resist turning their little girl into a princess/diva/mini-me. Probably not me.

      So before I made that first onesie purchase, I came up with the golden rule for buying clothes for my children - I WILL NOT BUY ANY OUTFIT FOR MORE THAN $10. No exceptions. That's the only rule I need. How did I come up with $10? Fairly arbitrary number that I hope will keep me out of the poorhouse. How has that worked out for me so far? Well,
      • I've escaped several emotional purchases
      • I've been very creative with coupons and discounts. Most of my pieces have been below the $5 price point
      • It's hard to find pretty dresses for special occcasions at this price point. 
      Are rules meant to be broken? I'm hoping to maintain this price rule till the kids start getting an allowance that they can spend on more expensive duds if they so desire. Should I make an exception for special occasions? In which case the next question would be what constitutes a special occasion? What will the price point be then? Will it apply to individual pieces or outfit plus accessories? 

      I don't know, but what I do know is the most beautiful outfit my girls can wear is their character and it's my job as a mother to ensure that they are understand that a beautiful heart trumps expensive clothes.
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