10 tips for when you’re juggling a baby and a toddler

Buggy boards, slings, double buggies and other practical ideas: here’s what you need to know to make juggling two children easier…

Your second child is on the way and you’re feeling fairly laidback. You’ve got this. You’ve done it all before.

Except, you haven’t exactly done this before. Because this time around, your hours on the sofa feeding will be accompanied not by a box-set but by a toddler trying to get you up to play.

And those long walks while the baby slept in the pram? Yes, they will now feature the stress of trying to work out what you’ll do if your toddler makes a break for the road.

But hey, there are ways to make it easier. Here are some suggestions…

1. Buggy boards

A buggy board (also called as ride-on board) can be brilliant for toddlers who are too tired to walk. They’ll also think that cruising on the back of the buggy is a bit like flying. A buggy board coverts a single pushchair into a double child carrier with little cost (Made For Mums, 2019).

Most buggy boards are suitable for children aged two to five years and are sold separately that you attach to your pushchair (Which?, 2019). Buggy boards clip to the pram and let your toddler cruise along while you push your baby. You can even get ones that convert to a seat too apart from clipping it as a bench or platform.

2. Double buggy/pushchair

Double buggies come in different shapes and sizes and allow you to transport a toddler and a baby at the same time in comfort (Made For Mums, 2019b). Newborns need to lie flat if they’re travelling in a buggy, while curious toddlers want to see what’s happening around them (Coleman, 2018; The Lullaby Trust, 2019).

Double buggies are super useful but they might not be such a good option if you travel mostly on public transport (Which? 2019b).

“I’m all about the double buggy. You might think it’s a bit of an investment when your eldest won’t go in it very often any more. But when they are sleepy after a long day and you’re trying to work out how you’ll carry them and push a pram… you’ll be so grateful for it. Just try and get a second-hand one to make it cheaper.” Katy, mum to Ian, three, and Maisy, six months

3. Sling or carrier at home (as well as out and about)

Using a single pushchair for your toddler and sling or baby carrier for a newborn can be a good option (Which?, 2019b). Plus, some toddlers might not want to ride on buggy boards, so using a sling for your newborn can be an alternative.

Slings can be used for newborns until they’re toddlers and can be used at home or when you're out and about. Some mums don’t use slings with their first baby but find them invaluable for their second (Blanchard, 2015).

“I even use my sling at home. I can do all the practical stuff like making dinner and tidying and playing with my toddler, while the baby dozes in the sling,” Gem, mum to Lily, three and Sarah, four months.  

You can read more about the different types of sling here and check here to see whether you have an NCT Sling library locally.

While a sling plus buggy combo can be handy, slings are not recommended in the early weeks after you’ve had a caesarean. Another disadvantage is that if you walk long distances, you might find it tiring to push the buggy as well as carry your newborn (Which?, 2019b).

4. Find groups they’ll both enjoy

Instead of constantly trying to juggle newborn activities and toddler classes, pick something that works across the board. Have a search online for kids activities websites that allow you to search for the classes and groups in your area. You local NCT branch might have lots on offer too so have a look.

Going to groups will allow you to pop your newborn on a mat to soak up the stimulation and let your toddler dance off energy. And… breathe.

5. Have a moses basket or crib downstairs

It makes sense to be able to lay your baby down in a moses basket or crib to sleep in the room you’re likely to be in while you’re playing dinosaurs with your toddler (Which?, 2019c). It's also recommended for babies to be in the same room as their parents for the first six months for safety (The Lullaby Trust, 2019b).

6. Attachable scooter

Even more fun for a toddler than a new buggy board, this is a scooter that attaches to the pram. So they can either use it as a buggy board or detach it and scoot their way down the road. Genius (Made For Mums, 2019).

7. Encourage them to sleep at the same time

While your baby and toddler’s sleep needs and times might vary, you can try to overlap at least one nap between them. Even if they sleep for one or two hours together, it will give you time to relax or take some time for yourself (The Baby Sleep Site, 2019).

"My holy grail is when they sleep at the same time. It makes such a massive difference because you get genuine time to yourself. Also, you can go out without worrying that somebody is always missing their sleep or having it cut short,” Liz, mum to Simon, two, and Mark, five months.

8. Get tips from the experts

Chat to friends and family who have two kids and get their pearls of wisdom. There's no-one that knows better than another parent who's been there. They might suggest something you hadn't thought of or reassure you that you are doing OK. It might also be worth thinking about a Refresher antenatal course - a great way to meet other parents at the same stage as you.

9. Sit with your toddler while you feed

If you make feeding the baby something that you do with your toddler, they will be a lot happier about it. Make it a time when you all snuggle up with a book or watch a film. You can get your toddler to do something to help, like hold the muslin or grab a bib – they’ll feel much more involved.

If you're breastfeeding, they will also learn that it's normal and not something to be hidden away (Kellymom, 2018). You can explain to them how the baby gets their food from breastfeeding and how it can help to soothe them (Kellymom, 2018).

10. Get a backpack

If you want a more spacious and comfortable option that keeps your hands free, a backpack changing bag is probably better than a traditional messenger style nappy bag (The Bump, 2018). You can re-purpose your old backpack but a nappy backpack should be easier to clean and have lots of pockets (The Bump, 2018).

“I’d say get a backpack over a baby bag. They mean you can be hands-free, use a sling and/or pram and they’re usually big enough to get both kids’ bits in. Plus you can get fashionable ones so it doesn’t look like a baby bag,” Alex, dad to Jake, two and Louise, nine months. 

This page was last reviewed in July 2019.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We offer Refresher antenatal courses for those parents who have already had at least one baby. They offer a chance to reflect and build on past birth experiences and prepare yourself for looking after your new baby.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

Blanchard L. (2015) Baby wearing second time round. Available at: http://www.naturallyhappyfamilies.co.uk/blog/baby-wearing-second-time-around [Accessed 17th July 2019]

Coleman E. (2018) Do I need a double buggy for a toddler and a newborn? Available at: https://www.bestspy.co.uk/need-double-buggy-toddler-newborn/ [Accessed 17th July 2019]

Kellymom. (2018) Tips for juggling a newborn and toddler. Available at: https://kellymom.com/parenting/parenting-faq/tips-newborn-toddler/ [Accessed 17th July 2019]

Lullaby Trust. (2019b) Sharing a room with your baby. Available at: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/room-sharing/ [Accessed 17th July 2019]

Made For Mums. (2019) 6 of the best buggy boards. Available at: https://www.madeformums.com/reviews/8-of-the-best-buggy-boards/ [Accessed 17th July 2019]

Which? (2019) Six pushchairs with buggy boards we love. Available at: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/05/six-pushchairs-with-buggy-boards-we-love/ [Accessed 17th July 2019]

Made For Mums. (2019b) The best double buggies for a toddler and a baby. Available at: https://www.madeformums.com/reviews/11-of-the-best-double-buggies-for-a-toddler-and-baby/ [Accessed 17th July 2019]

The Lullaby Trust. (2019) The bed sleeping position for your baby. Available at: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/sleeping-position/ [Accessed 17th July 2019]

Which? (2019b) How to buy the best double pushchair. Available at: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/pushchairs/article/double-pushchairs/how-to-buy-the-best-double-pushchair [Accessed 17th July 2019]

Which? (2019c) Moses baskets. Available at: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/moses-baskets-and-cribs/article/moses-baskets [Accessed 17th July 2019]

The Baby Sleep Site. (2019) Sibling Series Part 2: Juggling different baby and toddler sleep schedules. Available at: https://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/baby-toddler-sleep-schedule-juggling/ [Accessed 17th July 2019]

The Bump. (2018) 12 best diaper backpacks for every need. Available at: https://www.thebump.com/a/best-diaper-backpacks [Accessed 17th July 2019]

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