Essential Items for 2 Under 2
If you haven't read my posts, "Tips & Tricks for Transitioning to 2 Under 2 (Part 1): BEFORE Baby Arrives" and "Tips & Tricks for Transitioning to 2 Under 2 (Part 2): AFTER Baby Arrives" check them out as I've reached out to my smartest and most experienced mama friends and gathered all their best advice along with my lessons learned to help you not just survive, but thrive with 2 under 2! These posts also can be helpful for advice for going from 1 to 2 kiddos (or just adding another kiddo to the mix), even if they don't fall in the 2 under 2 age range. They are filled with lots of advice and lessons learned as well as things to do before and after the new baby arrives.
Now back to the essentials! Here is a list I've complied of some of my favorite things and essential items for making the transition to 2 Under 2 easier and smoother!
1. BIG SIBLING BOOKS: We bought a few "Big Sister" books for Everley and included her name and baby brother's name as we read and pointed out activities she will be doing to help with baby when he arrived. These are some of my favorite books: I'm a Big Sister, I'm a Big Brother, You're the Biggest, I'm a Big Sister, The New Baby, and I'm a Big Brother.
2. BABY CARRIER: Find a baby carrier you love such as this TULA Explore baby carrier. I love how easy it is to put on and take off as well. I also love that I didn't need to buy a newborn insert for it and that you can wear it 3 ways! When baby arrived from the hospital, he was right at 7lbs so even though the TULA weight range is from 7-45lbs, he was a little peanut so I used a Solly baby wrap similar to this wearable wrap for the first few weeks until he grew a little more to fit comfortably in the TULA.
3. MULTIPLE DIAPER CHANGING STATIONS: Similar to the reason above, I didn't want to have to run upstairs and haul the kids and fur baby with me when needing to change a diaper. I had 3 different quick access areas for changing diapers - one on each floor. This little Baby Diaper Caddy Organizer is great for organizing baby diaper supplies, and we have one for each floor of the house!
4. HAAKAA: This Haakaa was a lifesaver for me. I work from home so don't need to necessarily have a huge milk supply on hand as I make my own hours and can nurse as needed, but I wanted to have some milk on hand for date nights and a little backup supply. I nursed and pumped with my first child but cleaning the bottles and pumping after nursing was still a lot of work, time, and a big commitment. With the haakaa, I just place it on the side that I'm not nursing on, and while I'm nursing on the other side, it collects anywhere from 1-5oz per time! I have already stored up 4 gallon size ziplock bags just using the haakaa 1-3x per day over the last 3 weeks. It is so easy to use and to clean, I couldn't recommend it more!
5. COMFY HOUSE SHOES: I know these extra comfy OOFOS may not be on all you stylish mom's shopping list, but let me tell you, they are a Godsend if you have wood floors! I wear these almost daily in the house as my feet take a beating as we have wood floors throughout the house. They really are like pillows for your feet, and I think my feet do a little happy dance every time I put them on!
Here's how I roll these days... Nursing Top, Tula baby carrier, maternity jean shorts, my toddler's Frozen socks (since my feet were cold and I was too lazy to go upstairs and get my own), and my cozy OOFOS!
6. NURSING TOPS: My new wardrobe consists mainly of comfy clothes, nursing tops, and nursing dresses. Here are a few of my favorite nursing tops by Ekouaer and Smallshow as well as a few fun lightweight hoodies! I have found my go to's are whatever is easiest to nurse in. Many days this may just be my robe! Finding a cute and comfy robe will make you feel like a pretty mama, even if you only got 3 hours of sleep and never get out of your PJs for the day! These adorable robes come in various patterns, colors, and sizes!
7. SOUND MACHINES: These will be necessary for not only your toddler but your baby too, especially if their rooms are next to one another. You just never know when a crying spell will break out and the only thing worse than 1 baby crying in the middle of the night is two. We also have a yippy fur baby, so we use both a DOHM Sound Machine near the crib as well as this extra loud Lectrofan White Noise Sound Machine near the door to help block out the dog barking at any and everyone passing by. I love the DOHM so much that I have one in our room too as I have grown accustomed to the sound and it helps drown out the newborn baby grunts a little!
8. DUAL BABY CAMERA MONITOR: It's now time to have a double baby monitor so you can keep watch on each child in their rooms. After a lot of research, we went with this Motorola Video Split Screen Baby Monitor. So far it has worked well for us!
9. CABINET LOCKS: Baby/Toddler proof the house BEFORE baby arrives. Prior to baby, I could keep my eyes on my toddler at all times since there was only 1 child to watch, so I didn't feel as much of a need to baby proof everything. But once baby was here, there were times when I needed to leave my toddler for a minute and couldn't trust that she would not get into anything and everything she wasn't supposed to. We used these Safety 1st Magnetic Cabinet Locks on all the cabinets within my toddler's reach to avoid any catastrophes.
10. SAFETY DOOR KNOB COVERS: We used these Safety Door Knob Covers to keep our toddler from entering rooms she wasn't supposed to be in.
11. DOUBLE STROLLER: If you haven't already purchased a convertible double stroller, now is the time to start saving up! If you were super smart and bought a convertible stroller early on, KUDOS to you mama! Wish we would have learned this lesson early on! We originally purchased the Nuna single stroller system which we loved for one baby, but then decided to upgrade to the UPPAbaby Vista Convertible Stroller to accommodate 2 kiddos. We also bought the UPPAbaby Vista Rumble Seat for when baby gets a little bigger as well as a the UPPAbaby Snack and Drink Tray. We will eventually get this UPPAbaby VISTA PiggyBack Ride-Along Board for when our toddler gets a little bigger so she can ride along on the back!
12. BABY DOLL: If you toddler/child doesn't already have one, give them a baby doll early on as their own baby such as this baby doll that even comes with a car seat and bottles. My toddler is obsessed with snapping in these straps so another bonus- they can learn a new skill too! Tell them all the ways they can help to be a big sister/brother when baby arrives. Use the baby doll and help prepare them by showing them how to hold baby, rock baby, change baby's diaper, feed baby, etc. and find ways that they can help in the process too. When baby does arrive, let them help and be involved as much has possible.
13. SURPRISE BOX: Create a box of "surprises" for your toddler that is from the baby. You don't have to spend much to do this, just be creative! This may look a little excessive below with all the gifts, but I didn't spend over $100 with everything. Some people just pick out one special gift from their baby sibling, and that's fine too!
I let her pick out a new "surprise from baby brother" every week (and following a time when she has really good behavior to offer even more positive reinforcement), and she gets so excited to open the gift. I found a lot of little cheap thrills at the dollar store. I also found some old toys and treasures my mom saved for me from when I was little (dolls and this adorable vintage Minnie 'n Me set) that have been major hits with my little one. Thanks Mom for holding onto it for all these years!
Find ways to include learning activities or skills for them to practice while nursing. One example of this - I used plastic cups from dying Easter eggs, then bought $1 package of poms as well as plastic utensils from the dollar store. My toddler practices sorting the colored poms into the colored cups with the utensils and learns about colors while practicing fine motor skills.
I also found a ton of cute inexpensive items at TJ Maxx on clearance and consignment shops and sales. Look up consignment sales in your area and you'll find toys at a fraction of the cost. Some of her favorite "surprises" have been the Build-A-Garden set, Play-doh Set, Do-A-Dot Art Markers & Coloring Books, Leap Frog 100 Words Book, Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse, Fubbles Bubble Camera, Mickey Mouse Basic Skills Board, Frozen coloring books, Baby Doll Stroller, and sorting color and cup game.