Today’s handy tips post comes from Suddenly Mummy – have you got any more tips to add? Leave them in the comments below….
Recently I was speaking to a friend who is about to adopt three children aged three, 20 months and 5 months. I know! We were talking about what equipment she might need and she was feeling pretty confident that she wouldn’t really need a double buggy because the older two can walk pretty well and she could carry the baby in a sling.
Oh no, no, noooo! The decision to have the buggy isn’t about whether your children can walk well enough, it’s about how well you will be able to contain their exuberance when you want to browse in that shop for, say, longer than 20 seconds without losing them. When I had two ambulatory toddlers at once, I relied on the double buggy absolutely or else we would never have got anything done. One was a runner and the other was a flopper – pretty hard to chase the runner when the flopper’s leg bones have suddenly turned to jelly.
So I got to thinking about the various methods I have used to manage very young children of differing ages completely on my own. If you are adopting a young sibling group, or thinking of adding a younger child to your existing family, then I hope these suggestions might be of use to you.
Even if your older child has long-since got used to freedom from the pram, it might be worth looking at a double buggy, depending on their age/willingness to stay near you/willingness to stop and come when called! I kept my toddlers in a double buggy for most trips until the oldest was well past three simply so that we could do our errands without massive amounts of stress. The three-year-old was pretty big – poor thing was like a sardine in there! But it saved a lot of unpleasantness for all of us.
2. Wraps and Slings
At the moment I have a newborn and a three-year-old and I’ve been making good use of a borrowed Moby wrap. I’ve never used one before, but I shall be buying one as soon as possible. The wrap is comfortable for baby and conducive to attachment as she can be near me (on me!) any time she needs to. It means that both my hands are free to attend to my three-year-old and, with a bit of careful management, I can even carry them both that way for a short time if need be. I am convinced that the wrap has helped my three-year-old to be less jealous of the new arrival as I’m not constantly carrying her in my arms like a barrier between the two of us – he can still get close when he needs to, and he doesn’t have to wait for me to get his drink, play with him on the floor or whatever. As your child gets older, a Moby wrap can be adapted to a hip hold for a toddler, and it isn’t as tricky to get on and off as it looks!
3. The Bumbo
I was put onto this baby seat by a friend of mine who had twin babies and a toddler. Her identical girls looked so cute propped up there in their bumbos! They can be used with babies who can’t sit independently as long as they can hold their heads steadily, and I used mine until my son was around 8 months old, at which point he learned how to pop himself out of it. I found it so useful for containing a crawling youngster while I got on with other things, and we used the tray that comes with it for our first baby-led weaning experiments. Try before you buy though as some babies don’t fit into them so well. In fact, if you can borrow one or, as I did, get a second-hand one, that’s even better as they are quite pricey and only useful for a few months.
4. Portable booster seats
I like to eat out in cafes and restaurants – a lot! And I like my toddlers to stay in their seats so everyone in the place can enjoy their meals in relative peace. High chair provision can be patchy and if you’re eating at other people’s homes (we do that a lot too – I don’t enjoy cooking!) then a high chair might not be available. I have two fabric, fold-up booster seats with harnesses that we used to take everywhere with us. You can carry them like a bag, and fill the pouch with nappies, spare clothes and a fold-up changing mat if you need to. The label said sponge-clean only, but I put mine through the washing machine and they came up like new. Eventually we ditched our space-grabbing high chairs at home as well and just used the boosters all the time. I’ve used these for children aged from around 7 months (or when they can sit independently for the length of a meal) up to around two.
Various types are available – the traditional reins, the backpack reins and a variety of wrist strap solutions. I’ve tried the traditional sort before without much success to be honest (I found my toddlers always strained to the full extent of the straps, nearly pulling my arms out of the sockets!) but I have other friends who have used similar things to good effect. My friend with twins used wrist straps for car park safety – she would trap the wrist strap of one in a closed car door while getting the other one in the car seat! Sounds undignified but it’s better than turning round to get your other toddler and finding that they’ve disappeared. Another friend who is a childminder uses wrist straps for three toddlers attached to a belt on her waist to negotiate the school run and other quick errands. They’re not for everybody but if you can find a way to make it work for you then it’s got to be worth it.
So, those are some of the devices I’ve come across to help us manage life’s day-to-day challenges with little ones in tow. What are your suggestions?