The Logistics of Containment

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.

1. Pramsdouble buggy
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.

5. Reins
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?

4 thoughts on “The Logistics of Containment

  1. Sarah - The Puffin Diaries

    All this is really great advice and something that we had to take into consideration when our boys first arrived at 2 and 3. We opted for a single buggy and a buggy board, which worked well for us. When we were on the move it helped contain both boys and when we were stopped the little step at the back proved a good spot for the one not in the buggy to sit.

    1. Suddenly Mummy

      Oh that’s interesting. I’ve been given a buggy board but I’ve never actually used it as there was no way I’d persuade the younger one into the buggy if the older one wasn’t going in too! I’ll be keeping hold of it though in case I get a sibling group in future, so it’s good to hear that it can work.

      1. tasocial Post author

        Started by putting youngest in buggy and older one on board but sometimes they liked to swap. That was before they started being difficult with each other for the sake of it. Sarah again. x

  2. Adoption Journey Blog

    Great post and so very practical. We only have one little one but even them the buggy comes into its own for dealing with over enthusiasm (he is both a runner and a flopper depending on mood) and tired-toddler syndrome. My wife would testify that those few minutes shopping without a two and a bit year old planning a Colditz like escape are gold dust.

    We had a sling-type cloth high-chair thing too which a friend gave us too and it was a very very useful thing to have slung in the car for emergencies. As you say, high chair coverage can be patchy at the best of times and even when available with a large-for-his-age toddler there have been a few times when supplied high chairs simply didn’t fit him.

    As he has got bigger, though, it’s just not a workable solution any more and we bought a portable booster seat from Chicco which I would really recommend.

    We never really used the integral tray but it gets used every day at home for sitting up at the table for meals. It is really easy to set up and remove and we take it to Grandmas, friends and restaurants for meals. It folds up really neatly. It’s been a godsend too when we have been away for holidays.

    On tethers, I really recommend the “Little Life” back packs which have a tether included but are also just really cool. Ours contains a spare nappy, wipes, nappy bag, snacks crayons and toys so it is a mini out and about kit too. They are so very very cute and there are so many designs to choose from. In our experience though, the success of the tether is proportional to your toddler’s willinghness to accept it…


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