There are so many things you think you need as a first-time mom. I remember creating Word doc lists with pictures (that was before I joined Pinterest haha) of all the items I thought I needed. And let’s just say these documents weren’t one-pagers. Things like wipes warmers, shopping cart covers, baby bathtubs (one for newborn, one for older) all made the list. And whilst I didn’t buy everything (thank you level-headed hubby), there were plenty of items that I did buy and have since sold because I never used them. There really isn’t a lot of stuff you need. Especially once you have a second. A wipes warmer? You’re lucky if there are any form of wipes in the vicinity of your change table. Shopping cart covers? Ha! You might have cared about germs with your first but you let all subsequent children lick what they like. And a baby bathtub? It’s called a sink. Or a regular bath tub. Because you’ve got a toddler to keep (semi) clean as well.
That’s not to say you don’t need anything once you’ve got two kiddos. Being a second-time mom is a whole different experience. Now you’ve got a toddler to contend with so hours and hours spent on the couch holding your newborn while he/she nursings and sleeps pretty much non-stop are out of the question. Now it’s all about multitasking. Anything that can contain at least one child, can keep your hands free, or can speed up your toddler so that walks down the street to the grocery store don’t take up your entire day – anything to accomplish those things makes life as a mama of two infinitely easier.
With that in mind, here are the 10 items that have been invaluable to our family since becoming a family of four last September.
Valco Baby Snap Ultra Duo stroller | Fawn Design diaper bag | Moby stretchy wrap | Lillebaby Complete All Seasons carrier | Ryan & Rose pacifier clip | Bugaboo Comfort ride on board | Baby Björn bouncer | Mini Micro scooter | Summer Infant dual view video monitor | Munchkin sound machine
[ 1 ] Double stroller . This is probably the first thing you think of and the item you’ll spend the most amount of time researching. I know I did! I spent weeks researching every single stroller available in Canada and was never satisfied with any of them. I ruled out in-line strollers pretty quickly because we have tall kids (think 97th percentile) and Isabelle was already too tall for most at the age of 20 months! Plus Isabelle was (and still is!) obsessed with stroller rides so I wanted her to be able to enjoy the view and not be stuck in a low, cramped seat behind the main seat. So side-by-side was the way to go for our family. The Valco Snap Duo was a stroller I continually came back to but it unfortunately wasn’t available in Canada at the time. We had the single Snap 4 and I loved it so much that I was gutted to learn that Valco decided to pull out of Canada (they’re back now and here to stay!). I looked at every other side-by-side available in Canada but nothing compared to the Valco. In the end we decided to purchase it in the US despite potential difficulties with repairs or other warranty issues because it really was exactly what I was looking for in a stroller: lightweight (it’s unbelievably light – only 21 lbs!), roomy seats with adjustable footrests, easy and compact fold, and you can get an optional bassinet as well as air-filled tires to turn it into an all-terrain stroller. Plus it comes in the most gorgeous grey marle colour (see a pic of our Snap Duo here and here) – I honestly have never seen a prettier stroller fabric!
The only negative of the Snap Duo for me was that the seats didn’t reverse. Isabelle still loved rear-facing and I wanted to be able to do the same with Nicolas once he outgrew the bassinet. But of course, Valco has answered my prayers and come out with the Snap Ultra Duo, basically the same stroller but with reversible seats! This is honestly the perfect stroller for a growing family with two young kids, from birth all the way up to a pre-school aged child.
There are of course a few key differences compared with the original Snap Duo, apart from the seats reversing. There is the weight – this stroller is about 8 lbs heavier thanks to this reversing functionality. But it still feels light and I think that extra weight is well worth it for the added benefit of having your kids face you. The seats are also a little bit smaller – both narrower and with a shorter seat back height. The width is fine for both of my kids – even with bulky winter clothes they fit just fine. The height is also still okay for both although Isabelle just about hits the top when we’re using the hoods. To be fair, she’s 3 years old and in the 97th percentile for height so for most kids her age they’d still have room to spare. And even at Isabelle’s height, she’s happy as a clam in there, requesting a ride in the “stroller where I sit next to Nicky” daily.
The push is great for a double. I add “for a double” because no double is going to push as well as a single. That said, this one is good even fully loaded with my approximately 80 lbs of kiddos and gear. The push was definitely easier and completely one-handed back when Nicolas was a newborn but I can still do a one-handed push when I’ve got smooth terrain. It can handle most uneven surfaces as well, granted you’re using two hands. And for any really rough terrain or just to get over bumps and unevenness with very little effort, Valco gives you the option of swapping out the regular puncture-proof plastic tires for air filled ones with the Sports Pack. We live near the beach and a beautiful park so I love the air-filled tires for doing a little “off-roading”.
Another one of my favourite features is the adjustable footrests, something not found on most side-by-side doubles. This is so great for babies and younger toddlers. The recline is also near flat (and super easy to do!) so, even without the bassinet, this stroller is suitable from birth. The basket is also huge and very easily accessible, another big plus in my books.
My only gripe with the Snap Ultra Duo vs. the Snap Duo is the fold. The fold is genius, don’t get be wrong. It can fold with the seats in either forward or rear-facing position, which is absolutely amazing for a reversible double. But the folded stroller is long. Even with the adjustable footrests which can be folded down to make it a bit shorter (although that does add two extra steps at each end of the process) it still takes up the bulk of our SUV trunk, whilst the Snap Duo (without reversing seats) takes up only a fraction. Now I’m sure the fold is still loads smaller than other double monstrosities, but my only comparison is the Snap Duo which has an amazingly small footprint.
One last thing to note: the handlebar is fixed (to save weight) but it sits at a great height (about 41″ off the ground) for both myself (I’m 5’11”) and my 6’4″ husband. My 5’5″ sister can also push it no problem but if you’re significantly shorter you might have some issues. (That said, Isabelle likes to push Nicky in it and she’s 3½ feet so maybe you’ll be fine after all.)
[ 2 ] Diaper knapsack that converts to a messenger . With Isabelle, I bought your typical shoulder-bag style diaper bag. It was pretty, functional, and I used it every single day. That bag? Yeah I haven’t touched it since I had Nicolas. Because a shoulder bag whilst holding a baby and running after a toddler is just not an option. It falls off, it gets in the way, it smacks said toddler in the face. Which is where a diaper knapsack comes in. Two free hands, it stays put, and is comfortable to boot. We have the Fawn Design and I absolutely love it! It’s beautiful, huge with lots of pockets, and it converts to a messenger bag. Because, whilst a knapsack is best for most scenarios, there are a few where messenger just works better. Namely having a baby in a carrier on your back (front carrying a knapsack is just awkward) and when travelling. Let’s face it, when you’re going through the airport, you’ve got a crib, car seat or some other giant carry-on on your back, a baby on your front and no where to put your diaper bag when you have to do the dreaded boarding. Solution: a diaper knapsack that converts to a messenger that you can wear on your side like the mule that you are. And then at your destination it converts back to knapsack style for your daily adventures. Perfect!
[ 3 ] A wrap you can nurse a newborn in while on-the-go . In those first few months that baby just wants to be on your boob, you’ve got yourself a bit of a problem. Because your toddler most definitely doesn’t want to just watch you sit around on the couch while you nurse that pesky younger sibling of theirs. So a stretchy wrap is going to be your lifesaver. It’s full-coverage enough for when you’re out and about and you can still have two hands free!
[ 2 ] An easy on-and-off baby carrier that works for your toddler as well . When a stretchy wrap no longer works, a good soft-structured carrier will be a great alternative. It only takes a few seconds to get baby in and out, plus you can wear your toddler when he/she decides she’d much rather be a baby again too. My personal favourite is the Lillebaby line of carriers. They’ve got the option of a higher back for older toddlers and a lumber support piece to give your back a little break. Plus they have matching doll carriers so your toddler can be just like you!
[ 5 ] A good pacifier + pacifier clip . Baby number one may have been able to be attached to your boob 24/7, but number two unfortunately doesn’t have that luxury. A stretchy wrap is a good way to give your newborn constant boob access on the go but a good pacifier can help you for all that comfort sucking. With pacifiers it’s generally trial and error (both of my kids liked completely different types of pacifiers) but my personal favourites are these Philis Avent Soothie and Nuttersutten natural rubber ones. Of course you’ll also want a pacifier clip to keep that darn thing attached to your baby and not on the dirty floor. My favourites are by Ryan & Rose because they’re not only beautiful but also shorter which means, when baby is sitting, they don’t touch the ground.
[ 6 ] Baby bouncer or swing . I’ve tried several and Baby Björn is my hands-down favourite bouncer, but anything that straps baby in and moves (either naturally using baby’s own movements or mechanically) will do the trick.
[ 7 ] A ride on board . For toddlers that want to walk but can’t walk that far yet, a ride on board is a great way to extend your single stroller. We have a Bugaboo Buffalo stroller and got the Bugaboo ride on board with a seat you can attach or remove – it’s amazing. (Check out our ride on board combo here and here – with and without the seat.) There are also other options out there if you’ve got a non-Bugaboo stroller, like the saddle seat you can attach to a Lascal buggy board.
[ 8 ] A scooter . Isabelle is a slooooow walker. (She gets that from her mama.) For older toddlers who don’t want to always sit in a stroller or stand on a ride on board, it’s nice to have an alternative to walking. The micro mini scooters are great for kids aged 2+ becaues they’re small and easy to steer. Isabelle learned how to use hers just after her second birthday and she’s now so fast that sometimes I need to run to keep up with her. (Hmmm, hidden cardio opportunity right there?)
[ 9 ] A baby monitor with split screen capabilities . Most monitors that allow for multiple cameras don’t allow for multiple views on the monitor. Switching back and forth is a pain in the butt, to say the least. This Summer Infant one gives you a split screen to let you watch both kiddos at the same time.
[ 10 ] White noise machine . Sound machine is a mama’s best friend! Not only does it help babies sleep better, it signals sleep and can ergo significantly reduce the length of your bedtime routine! With Nicolas we now just have to brush his teeth, turn on his white noise, put him in his sleep sack, and plop him into his crib. Et voila! What’s important is a noise machine that plays throughout the night and not just for a little while. With Isabelle we had the sleep sheep but that thing wouldn’t stay on for more than 45 minutes and ergo she would wake up throughout the night. With Nicolas we have the Munchkin sleep machine and it’s amazing.
What are your must-haves for two (more!) kids?
In this post:
[ Stroller ] Valco Baby Snap Ultra Duo stroller | JJ Cole BundleMe Urban bunting bags | [ Sina ] Uniqlo coat | GAP pants (similar) | Geox boots | The Fifth striped shirt (similar) | Fawn Design diaper bag | [ Isabelle ] | Uniqlo fleece jacket | Old Navy vest | Hunter boots |Zezuzulla beanie [ Nicolas ] GAP vest (similar) | Hunter boots | Zezuzulla beanie | Zara pom pom hat