Life with TWO Babies??

FishBoys, 2002, the youngest two were 19 months apart

A reader asked recently,

I have a one year old and am expecting #2 in August. They will be 19 months apart. Any advice for juggling 2 babies so close together–and although this might sound crazy to you, I’m intimidated by the thought of going out alone (grocery store, etc.) with 2 babies. Any tips to ease my nerves? Thanks!

What a great question! I am convinced that one of the most difficult transitions in growing our family was when our second child was born. I distinctly remember sitting on the front porch bawling my eyes out, trying to explain to my husband how hard it was. Our little guy (the brainiac who knows Greek) was very active and started crawling at about 4 months of age. We were also remodeling our home and there was plenty of trouble for him to get into. He kept me on my toes, that is for sure.

The transition from being mommy to one to being mommy of two is certainly not without its challenges. Not only are you adjusting to getting to know another unique, little person, but you are also learning to divide your time between with two little ones who depend on you for so much.

Not only that, but parents need to move to “man-on-man defense.” With one child it is easy for one parent to go about independent projects while the other keeps watch of your child. With two kids, it really does seem like now you both have your hands full.

Your question doesn’t sound crazy to me at all. In fact, I think I face similar challenges when my older children are away with FishPapa, and I have the littlest ones to myself. Little people need more attention – that’s all there is to it.

Here are some things that helped me:

1. Meet the younger baby’s needs first. I know some people take the opposite tact, but I do believe that if we help our littlest ones to feel safe and secure, then they will be more confident as they grow and not need us as much when they are bigger. In meeting Baby’s needs for a fresh diaper, a nap, and a good feeding, you’re also modeling to your older child good parenting. Invite him to help you by bringing you a fresh diaper, the baby’s blanket, or a water bottle while you’re nursing. “Big kids” love to be included.

2. Make playtime a priority with your older child. Once baby is settled for awhile, sit down with your older child for purposeful play. Read a story, play playdough, or draw a picture. Make time with your older child very focused. Don’t ignore Baby — wear him in the sling or place him in a bouncy seat at your feet, but make sure that your older child also has a good share of “face time” with you.

3. Get a double stroller that you love. When my second child was born, my oldest was 3 1/2, so he had pretty much outgrown the stroller. But, Baby #3 was born nineteen months later. So my second and third babies had the spacing you’re talking about. I quickly learned that I had to have a double stroller. I thought I could do without one, but after holding one sleeping toddler in my arms, while pushing a full cart with a baby and older child through Walmart, I learned otherwise.

If you take both children on outings, use the double stroller. A lot of grocery items will fit in the basket below. For larger shopping trips, try to take only one child — or none, if Dad can swing caring for them both solo.

4. Preplan and pack accordingly before you leave the house. I imagine that you fear double meltdown (or double blow-outs) while you’re out and about. Cut this anxiety off at the pass by preplanning how to meet your kids’ needs while you’re away from home. Pack fun toys and snacks for your older child. Make sure everyone has a fresh diaper and that there arer plenty of supplies in the diaper bag. Give baby a good feeding before leaving the house. Avoid going somewhere during nap or mealtimes. Make your first solo outings adventures that are not necessary. Take a simple trip to the park as a trial run. Keep fine tuning your organization when it doesn’t really matter so that it has a better chance of going well when it does.

5. Expect the unexpected. As your family grows, so should your ability to roll with the punches. Expect that something may go other than you planned and pray for the grace to laugh at it when it does. That is part of life, and resiliency is a great thing to teach your kids. Keep that sense of humor — it’s critical!

Enjoy these days! My boys who are nineteen months apart are the best of friends. They share a room and are just the sweetest buddies – most of the time. Make a commitment to laugh at the days to come.

Especially when they’re all crying at once.

I certainly don’t have all the answers. Got some good advice for this new mom? Share what has worked for you in the comments.

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Comments

  1. When we adopted our younger two boys, they were 10 weeks apart and infants, we had a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 year old. I was crazy, but it was worth it. I learned that I just had to let some things go – fashion, perfect house, shopping for fun. We stayed home a lot, going to the grocery store was the weekly adventure that took major planning. The 4 year old would hold the cart while one infant carrier went up front and another went in the cart itself. I held the 2 year old’s hand and pushed the cart. During those years, I wondered if I’d ever get a handle on life again, but now, almost a decade later, I can look back and smile.

  2. My girls are 12 months and 1 week apart. Although I don’t remember much of my youngest’s first year (I was in survival mode) I have a couple of tips. I only went to grocery stores that had a double cart. Both girls could ride in front. Second, I got them on the same nap schedule. That was huge. Jessica’s suggestions are great too! Good luck! I always say the joke was on me the first year, but from then on…I was the winner. I love that they are so close in age. They like much of the same stuff. They can be in the same dance classes together, etc.

  3. Jeremiah and Stephenie says:

    I appreciate your post today. I’m due with our sixth baby in late August, and although it is our sixth and I should already be good at this, I’m nervous as my now youngest child will only be 20 months old when new baby arrives. This is the closest spacing we have had and I wonder how I will be able to manage 2 babies, homeschool the older 3 and not neglect anyone!
    Thanks for your tips!

  4. Kristen, great story. Love to hear about someone who’s lived to tell about it.

    jlo, I was hoping you’d chime in. I thought of you when I was thinking this through. Glad you mentioned the nap thing – that is so important!

    Stephenie, all the best to you. Having the close spacing was not as scary as I thought it would be. I was prepared for it to be awful and it was not at all.

  5. Tara aka "Mama Koala" says:

    I truly appreciate your thoughtful points, and suggestions. (and the reader comments)

    Motherhood is truly an adventure, and as far as I can tell so far is THE most exhausting, yet most beautiful journey.

  6. Jeanette "Frogster" says:

    Hi, this hit close to home! I have three children – the first two are 14 months apart in age, and then the youngest is 16 months apart from the middle child. Life here is crazy every day!
    I think adding number #2 is a lot harder than adding #3 because that’s when you first learn how to juggle everything.
    My advice? Although I understand going out with 2 young ones is intimidating, do it anyway. Make it a point to get out at least once a week, even if it’s only to a local store for a few minutes. Otherwise you will feel trapped in your home and may resent your children.
    Also, you don’t have to be perfect in everything! So the kiddies had hot dogs two days in a row for lunch – so what? Just make sure that you always take time for yourself, even if it means putting both kids into their cribs so that you can take a fast shower. If they cry, it’s okay. You’ll be getting them in just a few minutes.
    God bless you – babies are such a blessing! (I’ll tell myself that when my son is destroying the house today!) LOL

  7. I was a single mom of a 5 year old when I had my twins. I found that if I planned everything it went smoother than if I didn’t. I felt like I took something away from my 5 yr old, she is 17 now and I can tell that I gave her more than I ever took. Having a brother and sister has taught her sooo much.

  8. The Happy Housewife says:

    Great tips! I agree that the hardest transition for me was from one child to two. It didn’t help that my baby was very sick. I don’t have much advice because the first year is a blur! I do remember crying a lot! It does get better, now we have 6 and are expecting #7. I am not apprehensive at all.
    Toni
    http://thehappyhousewife.com

  9. Even though my girls are 3 years apart, my Beco Baby Carrier has been a life saver – especially when it comes to shopping and errands. They’re not cheap, but I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth.

    I didn’t really trust my older girl to walk in the grocery store and needed her to be in the cart. With the Beco, I could securely tote the baby and have my hands free. Plus, it is very comfortable and can be worn as a backpack too. My baby is now just over a year and I still use the Beco on a regular basis. Just today we went to a museum and I used it for nearly two hours without my back hurting or getting tired. Plus, she LOVES being in it and I’m much more mobile than with a stroller. I highly recommend a Beco!

  10. JessieLeigh says:

    There are so many great tips on how to “survive” here already!

    My advice? Be encouraged that closely spaced siblings are a HUGE blessing. My first two are less than 11 months apart and it is fantastic. There is no jealousy, rivalry, or bullying. To them, they’ve both “always been there”. To have two children who are best buddies and enjoy the same toys is a wonderful gift to be sure! The first little while is the toughest, as you “find your groove”… oh, but the rewards are grand! Congratulations!

  11. Michelle H. says:

    My second child is due in 5 weeks, and while they will be 3 years apart, I have been worrying about to juggle two. I am an only child and so have no experience with how to handle siblings.

    Thanks for this post. Your advice and the comments have helped.

    Michelle H.

  12. Eenigenburg says:

    Our two are 20-months apart — now 15 mths (boy) and 35 mths (girl) — and we moved FOUR days before the second was born. The first several months were survival mode (mainly because job demands required my still working at least part-time), but as we transitioned to the new house, second baby, and back to full-time work schedule, things got easier and now, I couldn’t imagine anything different. They take baths, read, play and nap together; they are also often together at daycare since they also learned early on that the older one is a great helper and the younger one is very comforted by her being around. DO prepare for even the simplest outing (we ALWAYS have a packed diaper bag in the car), and you can never have too many bags of goldfish crackers. Our mantra: This too shall pass — because one day they’ll be teenagers and we’ll be aching for our baby stage back again!! *Ü*

  13. FromThe Creek says:

    I don’t know how we got through the “two baby” years…but I know that I am missing them now that mine are now schoolage.

  14. I just had to laugh as I read this post and saw my comment from before! I survived having six children with the two youngest a mere 20 months apart. Now, that baby is into everything and I wonder how I will manage things when our new baby arrives in September!
    To that anxious mom I can just say that FishMama’s advice is rock solid. Take things as they come and don’t worry about tomorrow. Prepare as best you can and chalk the rest up to experience. Enjoy this time because it really is fleeting.

  15. I have 2 boys – 1 and 2 yrs old. I was so surprised when I found out that I was expecting again…AND WORRIED. I did lots of research on having 2 under the age of 2. I work full time M-F and my boyfriend works in the evening so I’m home with the kids alone all week long and all day Saturday. The baby lived in a sling (easy on/easy off Infantino brand) for the first 4 months. I learned to always park near the cart holder at the grocery store even if that means parking far away. My 2 yr old has a mind of his own so he can’t be trusted outside the cart at all. He won’t hold my hand very well or follow along. I get a little jealous of my friends who have daughters who seem to tag along with them everywhere when my son wants to nothing but run and talk to strangers at the store. Alas, he is a happy smart little boy and he likes to go in public so I try to take him and overcome. Things got scary when both started walking but I manage by doing errands before noon on Saturdays. They love to go on wagon rides at the park. Always pack more than you think you need. And download Go Baby Go to your cell phone for a quick easy game at your fingertips for cranky toddlers. I miss my sleep the most but I’m still smiling. Good luck!

  16. I can so relate to your reader, my oldest 2 were 22 months apart and I spent most of that pregnancy crying, however my 3 and 4 are 24 months apart soooo. It couldn’t have been that bad. I joined a local MOPS group and it was such a relief to see other moms with the same problems and it gave me a shoulder to cry on many times. FishMama gives some great advice, and my oldest two are 6 and 8 now and they are the best of friends its great.

  17. As Janel said, I suggest using the sling/baby carrier for shopping trips if you really need to take both babies. I had 2.5 year old twins when our baby girl was born, and my husband was traveling out of the country for months at a time. Obviously, I couldn’t shop alone. So I would wear my tiny one and push the boys around in a race car cart. With just one to push in the cart, it would be even easier.

  18. My boys are 12 months and 9 days apart. People always asked how I managed it. The honest truth is that you just do. You have to. You have to figure out what works for you and just roll with it.

    My husband worked graveyard and slept during the day. Unless I went shopping in the evening of his one night off a week, I had both kids with me. I had an amazing double stroller (Graco Quattro Tour Duo). If I couldn’t take that, I had a leash backpack on the older one and had the baby in a sling.

    Boy #1 figured out very quickly that he could get into a lot of trouble when I sat down to feed the baby. So when I could, I grabbed a book and read to him while I nursed.

    I used a backpack as a diaper bag. It held more stuff and it freed up my hands and arms.

  19. Your tips for this mom are excellent.

    Our first are 22 months apart, and it seemed like such a struggle. My oldest (a girl) refused to potty train before my son arrived, so I was potty training her at 2.5 when my son started crawling – NOT a fun time, LOL! I can laugh about it now, but there were days I was in tears. :o) She was just very resistant to the whole process.

    We are now expecting #3, so #2 and #3 will be almost 31 months apart – which feels like ages to me! I am trying to get him well into potty training and he is very independent, so he helps out with a lot of things. My daughter does as well (setting the table, folding washcloths, etc.). I am nervous about adding a third, but I know it will all work out.

    I do recommend stocking up a bit on extra groceries or prepping meats or easy to fix things and stocking in the freezer, this helped out a lot with meal times. Then, when I was in the midst of non-stop nursing and changing diapers, I kind of let the house go for a bit, because I knew my kids needed me but not a spotless house. My daughter and I did a lot of reading when I spent all that time nursing, and now, at barely 4, she is an amazing reader already. :)

  20. This is mainly in regards to #4 – I keep an extra emergency bag packed that stays in the van with diapers, wipes, bags for dirty diapers, and an extra change of clothes for the babies (my #2 & #3 are 16m apart – surprise!). I pack drinks before we go, make sure I have extra formula for the baby, and snacks if I think we’ll need them. I keep a small basket of toys in the van. I have a sling I can use for the baby, a double (sit-n-stand) and a single stroller so I’m prepared for most any type of outing. (I’ve been surprised at how easily my now 24mo learned to use the sit-n-stand, but she’s a very determined little girl.) There have been plenty of tough times and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come but I wouldn’t trade my children for anything. My children are now 5yo DS, 2yo DD, and almost 1yo DS. Life is crazy and good!

  21. My youngest two were 17.5 months apart. I took care of the baby’s needs first, as you say, but I also tried to involve the older one in helping to care for the baby by getting a diaper, etc. I also put them on the same sleep schedule. Both girls took a nap at the same time in the morning and the afternoon. Finally, when the baby was about 4 months old, I played with both of them for about 30 to 45 minutes together. Then, if I had to take the baby with me in the kitchen to do dishes, her big sister was happy to play alone for a while. Later, when baby was bigger, the two girls would play together. This always worked best after I had spent quite a bit of time with them first.

  22. Bethany Gillespie says:

    Our number 2 and 3 are 17months apart. Firstly, can I say it is hard work! Really hard. All the advice is so great, and we did many of these things – but some days you ca expect to feel completely thwarted by life. It really does get better though. I remember feeling like it would never end, and adjusting just wouldn’t happen – but it really did. Our youngest is now 2, and our kids are such a joy! I don’t want to be a downer, I just want you all to know that when you have those desperately hard days. Others have been right there.
    We decided right from day one, that I wouldn’t go out for the grocery shop – we used an online service (we are in the UK, so our big grocery store offers to deliver for between £3.50 and £5.50 – and I can choose any 2 hour time slot I like) I could do my shopping wherever fit in – lots of time if I was up late nursing that was when I chose to do it. Once I started doing the online shop, the store started sending me vouchers to use online too.
    Honestly stay connected with friends. I know it is hard to get out and spoil the routine – but even though I’m an introvert, and recharge from alone time – I have friends that I share this crazy life – who when it is hard, when I feel overwhelmed, when I feel like a failure will come and rub my back, remind me of all the things I’m doing well and will set me back on the right track.

  23. Elisha Larsen says:

    I second the double stroller that you love! I went through several until I found I LOVED the BOB double jogger, and it was worth the price – even on craigslist it was quite expensive, but it’s our second home! I am pregnant with my 4th child. My oldest is 4 but will be 5. My first 3 are each 18 months apart and there will be a 2 year span between my youngest and this next baby. Hardest.thing.I.have.ever.done – but also the greatest thing I have ever done! My kiddos are best friends and I wouldn’t spread them any further if I could – but yes, it’s hard! My advice, learn to let “stuff” go and focus on enjoying your babies!

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