Baby Bunching: Must-Haves for Two-Under-Two Moms

11/08/2009 at 11:00 AM ET
Bebeyh/Meet The Famous

Two-under-two. The words alone are enough to strike fear in the hearts of women everywhere.

But ask Naomi Watts, Tori Spelling, Brooke Burke or any other mom who has navigated this tough terrain and she’ll often tell you that having back-to-back babies is a rewarding — albeit exhausting — experience.

Even better news? It doesn’t have to be so hard.

Whether it’s a toy that keeps both kids occupied or a stroller that expands with your growing family, there are lots of splurge-worthy products that make life easier and safer for all involved.

Click below for our picks!

Medela Freestyle

If ever you needed an extra set of hands, it’s when you’re nursing a newborn with a toddler in tow. It won’t take your firstborn long to figure out that mom’s, well, occupied. And more often than not, your little one will take full advantage. This is when a high-quality electric breastpump can come in extremely handy.

We love the Medela Freestyle ($380, left). This discrete double pump is so small it actually fits in the palm of your hand. Simply clip the unit onto your nursing bra, and voila — hands-free expressing!

Like previous Medela pumps, the Freestyle offers 2-phase expression technology that mimics a baby’s natural nursing pattern. There are also nifty extras like a memory button to set your fave pumping patterns and a brightly-lit LCD digital display that doubles as a nightlight. A rechargeable lithium ion battery gives you three hours of pumping time.

Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier Active Organic

Babywearing is a necessity for baby bunchers. Being on-the-go is tricky enough with one child. Just imagine how complicated it is with a toddler and newborn. In comes the Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier Active Organic ($140, left). It keeps your newest addition close to your chest, while your hands are free to change diapers, push a swing, fill up a sippy cup or give a hug.

But this carrier isn’t just for newborns. Specially designed to carry heavier children (up to 26 lbs), you can use it on your older child too! The Active Organic offers lumbar support and wide, padded shoulder straps for proper weight distribution. Plus, babies are kept in a physiologically correct position with proper support from the carrier and it features a fold-down neckrest once baby is old enough to forward-face. Best of all, it’s eco-friendly!

Phil and Teds Double Stroller

Now some moms (like Naomi Watts below) opt for double strollers and fortunately for them the market is full of options. Side-by-side strollers are great for twins — but for true baby bunchers the best option is Phil & Teds collection of inline buggies (see example at left). The brand’s doubles kits allow you to change from a single to a double and to a single again — giving you a stroller that fits your needs for years to come.

Most children struggle, at least initially, with being a big brother or big sister and nothing fosters feelings of resentment like being shooed away from a new sibling. At the same time, “being gentle” is a foreign concept to most young toddlers and you’ll need to take steps to keep your infant safe. Try the Superyard XT Gate by North States ($60).

You can use it as a barrier around the swing, the bouncy seat or while baby is enjoying some tummy time. When extended to form an octagon, it fences in 18.5 square feet of play space. Your firstborn won’t feel excluded playing alongside his or her new sibling and you won’t feel as though you need to constantly be on guard.

Yookidoo Discovery Playhouse

A big upside to two-under-two is that both kids will enjoy the same toys at the same time. But you’ll have to settle your fair share of toy squabbles — especially once baby #2 becomes mobile. That’s why we love the Yookidoo Discovery Playhouse ($100, left).

Cooperative play at its very best, it has shape-sorting, peek-a-boo and ball roller coaster games on the inside and on the outside so there’s something for everyone. Even better? Most of the activities run more smoothly when there’s a child manning each spot.

Honorable mentions: Keep a sippy and a bottle cool with the Double Kid Koozie by Built ($11) and then stash both in the Duo Double Deluxe diaper bag by Skip Hop ($80) — with room to spare! Speaking of room, you’ll be in need of some once you try to squeeze two highchairs in your kitchen. Save space with clip-on highchairs like the Chicco 360 ($70).

Doug Meszler/Splash News Online

— Missy

Tell Us: Are you a baby bunching mom? Which products can’t you live without?

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Showing 42 comments

Rebecca on

You can get an organic Ergo for cheaper than that Baby Bjorn and it harnesses to a higher weight.

Stephanie on

I had two-under-two up until August of this year. It’s crazy at times, but also a lot of fun and I wouldn’t change it for the world. My girls have so much fun together! As far as products go, we LOVED out Kolcraft double stroller – You can lay the seat back really far for newborns, they seats are re-arrangable, and there are cup holders, which is a must of course.

Jaime on

I agree…the Ergo is amazing and we have it in the organic brown and it was less than the Bjorn. I still use it for my 3 year old. It is a must have for us!

jacky on

i was thinking the same thing as rebecca. why get the bjorn when the ergo is not only better but cheaper?

Jessica on

I agree with what Rebecca says,
it last MUCH longer as well

meghan on

The Bjorn? Really? It is one of the most uncomfortable carriers on the market. Definitely go for the Ergo or Beco Butterfly instead.

hillary on

I disagree with phil and teds being the best option for two under two- my two are 19 months apart and we LOVE our baby jogger city elite double- full recline/big seats for BOTH children. I hate that bottom seat on the phil and teds…who would want to put their tiny 3 month old down there- not to mention without a sunshade at all?? I think the phil and teds is best for children spaced out that will hardly ride (older one 3 or older)… I also think your single stroller is very important when you don’t want to lug your big double- we keep our city mini in my trunk for quick errands or where a double is just too big. A great sling/carrier is the MOST important item with two so close together, I use mine at the park a ton so I can still play with my toddler, baby can take a nap in there too (I love my hotslings). Two under two is ROUGH, no matter how great the stroller!!! GL!

Sibel on

I actually think the Moby wrap and the Hotslings are better then the Baby Bjorn. Both are much lighter, the Moby can be worn under your coat comfortably until needed and Hotslings can be thrown in the diaper bag for easy access. Baby # 2 hangs out in hotsling while we eat dinner (she is 2mo)

Leah on

Don’t buy a baby bjorn – horrible for you & for baby. Buy a good quality ergonomic carrier like the Ergo, a Meitai..whatever.

I’m about to have my 3rd child – meaning I’ll have a 4 year old, 17 month old and a newborn. Quite frankly I wouldn’t buy half this stuff – though I might invest in a superyard to keep my 17mth old in one spot while nursing the babe!

Rebecca on

Sibel, a wrap is great, but they’re a big waste of money if you buy them. Get a few yards of fabric, cut it in half lengthwise, and you have 2 wraps for a fraction of the cost!

Louise on

We have a Phil & Teds, and I wish so much we had bought something else. The brake is very difficult to use and we’ve had problem after problem with the wheels. Also, there is zero storage underneath when you have both babies on board.

Ali on

I hate the inline buggies!!! The poor kid that has to ride underneath gets no eye contact with anyone, is closer to the cold ground and is basically shut off from everyone and all sensations. I would much rather have a side by side buggy so both kids can interact with each other and other people!

laura on

the phil and teds is amazing. you dont put your new baby in the seat!!!!! it comes with a very cosy padded cocoon untill your baby is old enough to sit up by its self. my two are 15 months apart and my elder daughter loves the bottem seat (she cant sit in the bottem seat as the heavier child has to be on top but she tries everytime to climb in the bottem. i would recomend it to anyone with two small children and i tried every pushchair on the market, also its such value for money as it reverts back to a normal pushchair once your elder child is walking properly. can you tall i love it lol

Emily on

I agree about a hotsling! I had two under two and now I have a two year old and a three year old. Ack!

Bee on

I agree, Ergo all the way, so comfy I can still use with my 3 1/2 y.o. Also used a bubba moe when bubs was newborn and could then push eldest in pram. I love my Phil & Teds.

applejuice on

Baby Bjorns SUCK. Seriously. They are uncomfortable for mom and baby and are useless after a few months. Do a little research online and buy a better carrier or a wrap. I have a fleece pouch sling that I have used for 2 of my 3 kids and I wouldn’t be without it. You can use it up to like age 2 at well (in a side carry).

Amy on

I have 2 under 2, and I HAD to have some kind of carrier for the baby, whether it be a sling, wrap, whatever. My youngest is nearly 6 months, and anytime I take them out by myself, she is close to me (which she loves), and my toddler is in the single stroller (which she loves). I have a Graco double stroller, and we use that for walks and things like zoos and parks. I would also stock up on lots of new books for the older one for you to read while you’re nursing the baby. Having 2 under 2 right is really hard, but I know that some day, they will be so close.

trish on

Ive seen those Phil and Teds and couldnt understand putting any child by themselves down there. I have 2 under 2 and will soon be 3 under 3 and I have the Peg Perego Aria double stroller and I LOVE it, its light weight, super easy to push and turn and easy to fold and unfold!

MontanaMomma on

I second the Baby Jogger line of strollers. Their doubles are the only ones I’ve ever found to consistently fit through every doorway. That is a must for me. What’s the point in having a stroller that won’t make it everywhere you need to go? The Baby Jogger line is a consistent stroller in other ways as well – great sunshades with full coverage, excellent quality in every way, lightweight aluminum frames that won’t rust, true single-hand fold. You absolutely can’t go wrong with a Baby Jogger that suits your needs.

I swear by swaddling for the first four months, or longer if you desire. That made all the difference for having a serene baby so that I could better handle my 20 month old, who became extra demanding after the arrival of her sister. My personal favorite swaddle blanket is the SwaddleMe line by Kiddopotamus. I tried conventional blankets by Aden & Anais, as well as The Woombie and a Miracle Blanket. I definitely preferred the Kiddopotamus for ease of use, a tight swaddle, price, and practicality.

My favorite carrier is a ring sling for a newborn. I’ve tried many pouches and they just don’t do it for me. I like the ability to use a ring sling as a nursing cover and how endlessly versatile they are in the way you can shape them around the baby. There are no worries on sizing as they are infinitely adjustable. My favorite ring slings are Maya Wraps. The fabric is soft and beautiful and they conform well to your shoulder.

Once baby is older I like a wrap for back carries while cooking, hiking, walking, etc. Wraps are super comfy and great for carrying a newborn too, I just prefer a sling because they are faster to get on and off when I need to nurse, which is a lot with a new baby! My favorite wrap is a Neobulle or Storchenwiege Leo (not stripes, they are too stiff). The Moby is great, but it’s a stretchy wrap that won’t be useful once your baby gets to a certain weight. The stretch will cause the wrap to sag under excess weight. Neobulles and Storchenwiege are a woven wrap and they offer great support. They are pricier, but no pricier than an Ergo, and more versatile.

I prefer a carrier that is more blanket-like & cuddly, can serve multi-purposes, and without buckles to adjust. The Ergo is great for those who want to use a carrier without a learning curve, although I prefer the Lillebaby, which is cheaper and has a face-out carry position. I keep a Lillebaby for those who might want to carry my children but don’t know how to use a wrap.

Our bassinet with rolling wheels is a must for us while cooking and cleaning. I roll it from room to room and clip a toy at the top of the hood. Once baby is old enough to sit in a walker, I put her in the one we picked up five years ago with our first. It has rolling wheels and they all seem to love it. I don’t think you can find them like that anymore, however, because of the safety issues with infant mobility! You can still find them in second-hand or consignment stores. We don’t have stairs and I keep a close eye, so I feel it is safe for us.

Those are my top product recommendations for children in general and especially for two under two!

MontanaMomma on

I wanted to add that I have a Baby Jogger from the 1980s that I found on Craig’s List that has been used and abused, and it is still in excellent functioning condition. That is a testament to quality of the Baby Jogger line!

Also, as far as making the transition easier for the oldest of the two under two…finding activities that are special for them, or make them feel like a big brother or sister, that they are playing an important role, and lots and lots of great books to read while nursing are all key.

A two year or less age span is a world of difference from three or more years, but it can be done and even with relative grace (at times!).

Sadie on

I have currently have 3 under 2. My son is 23 months and my twin girls are 9 months.
The thing I would most recommend is a playpen in the early days. I’d pop the girls in their rockers and then put the rockers inside the playpen. This would protect them from my son’s overzealous but a tad too rough love, and meant I could leave the living room for short periods without worrying about him accidentally falling on them etc. When they were about 4 months we took it away, but it is now coming in handy again as they are crawling everywhere!
I, too, love having babies close in age. If you stay organised, it’s not as hard as most people would imagine.

nadeane on

I had 3 under 2. My twin girls were 15 onths when i had my son. It was very tough!! I did breastfeed my son, as well as my girls when they were babies till 8 months. My son till 13 months. The medela breast pump was fabulous for pumping when the girls were first born and couldn’t suck because they were premies.
I also had the double stroller by coastco which I put the girls in and my son in a bjorn baby carrier or there sling! All 3 things helped me tremendously!!

baby carriers backpacks on

Infantino has a few that are comfortable as well as affordable.

Courtney on

I had a 2 1/2 year old, a 14 month and a newborn. The best thing ever for us was a great stroller. I have never had a sling or wrap (they did not fit me) so for me it obviously was not a must have since Ive raised 4 kids without one…LOL.

Rachel on

The Phil and Ted’s is a GREAT choice, especially for those of us who don’t have a garage for storing ten different strollers! I used it for my newborn and it worked out great, esp. since there is a newborn configuration (don’t put your tiny baby in the bottom seat…).
I would have to agree with everyone against the Bjorn… for me a carrier like Beco is the way to go.
I would say that another essential for Baby Bunching are those highchairs/booster chairs. They transition from 4 mos up to older kid, and can be used attached to any chair or none at all. Plus, pack them up in the car to take them anywhere.

Natalie @ Naddy's Blog on

Mine are 18 months and 6 months. I love my moby wrap and my ring sling and my mei tai. I double up and put one on back and one on front for most outings. I do like my Combi stroller as well.

Mandy on

I would have to HIGHLY recommend the Baby Jogger City Mini double stroller. We have used ours in stores with little aisle room such as Pier 1, Gymboree and World Market without a problem. I am always shopping alone wiht my 2 little ones and this stroller is such a snap to fold and easy to push one handed (gotta have that Starbucks right? :o) We have no problems fitting through single doorways and it is easy to open the door yourself with one hand and push the stroller through with the other. Also, the folding mechanism is incredibly easy and it folds flat. It is super light weight and by far the best stroller around. Our other choice that we use is our Maclaren Quest for the toddler and putting the infant into our Organic Ergo Baby Carrier (brown). We typically choose this method when we have to go to a flea market or farmer’s market and the crowds make it difficult to navigate a side by side double through or in the airport. When the toddler is bigger and no longer needs the stroller, the Maclaren would be perfect for that growing infant!

ashley on

I’m surprised not to see any talk about sit and stands. Mine are 22 months apart, and it is a lifesaver! My 2 year old can talk to me and get in and out easily, and the baby can face backwards in a car seat or forwards (she is 11 months now) in the regular seat. I have the joovy and it is a great stroller! Two under two is really hard, and while I know the rewards will be worth it (of them having each other to play with), right now it is very busy!

tracey on

So glad to hear that the Baby Jogger City Mini Double is good!! I’ve just ordered it for my 24 month old son & 5.5 month old daughter.. I didn’t like the P&T…

We also used a sling & ergo like carrier for bub but she’s getting too heavy already sadly.

Julia on

I used a Bjorn with both my kids and to hear some of you tell it we should consider ourselves lucky to be alive. lol. Loved my Bjorn; Never left home without it! I also agree with the Superyard recommendation. It’s big and unwieldy and takes some getting used to, but really comes in handy when you need to make dinner and you want to leave the kids in the same room together.

Ninja Mom on

Mine are 8 years, 5 years, 27 months, 14 months, and 2 weeks. I hate those Bjorn carriers, so uncomfortable and they put the baby’s spine in an unnatural position. I use a wrap. Also never had a breastpump but managed to breastfeed with no problems.

We have the Kolcraft Contours Options double stroller – couldn’t live without it! Put the baby in the wrap and the bigger babies in the stroller and all 6 of us can go for a walk on stir-crazy days. (Bonus: All 3 babies fall asleep.)

Make sure anything you buy is sturdy and won’t tip. Bassinets are out, because the older baby can climb up and tip it over. Same with most cradles. Also try to get things that you can get double use out of – high quality covertible car seats, durable toys (like Megabloks), and sturdy neccesities like boots and shoes.

Stephanie on

The tag *a* long! Love this for my almost 3 year old (he love it too!).

Elby on

Two under two ain’t nothin’ you should all try 4 under 2! Yup, me and my husband had twin girls followed by twin boys 17 months later. I back up everything that’s been said about the Bjorn, get a good sling and it’ll last you years. I made my own and can match them to my outfits 😀
A lot of the products on here aren’t available in the U.K but I love my babyDan den – I used to put the boys in there when they were babes then their sisters couldn’t attack them and now the girls use it as a playhouse.
Obviously the Phil and Teds was never useful for us and we’ve had quite a few buggies – my two favourites being Maclaren and Mamas and Papas (same as Peg Perego) but friends who’ve got the Phil and Teds rave about it so it can’t be all bad.

Angela on

My daughter and son are 17 months apart. I have the Peg Perego Aria Twin 60/40 and love it because you can put a car seat on one side.

Karen on

Pouch slings are amazing. Lots of you are mentioning hotslings, but there are smaller mom run businesses that have them for reasonable prices. I got mine from Slinglings. Pretty sure she still does a buy 2 get one free thing. I did that and gave one to my sister, kept one in the car, the other in the house. I used it until my daughter was about 3.
They’re fairly easy to make as well. I made one to try it out and it was fine, but I liked the “professional” one better.
I also used a Maya wrap but preferred the pouch. The tail of the Maya Wrap helped when it was raining, also helped when you wanted to get a custom fit. But really I never felt like the pouch wasn’t proportionate or needed to be changed due to the size of the baby/kid.

Elizabeth Lyons on

We had 3 under 2 as well. I found that the most important piece of gear was actually a headset phone for me! But where the kids were concerned, a SuperYard in which the twins could play while I cooked dinner or with which I could block off the dining room (a.k.a. toy room) where all three could play while I cooked or cleaned something up was quite sanity-saving. Plus, we later used it while training our dogs, so it’s gotten a lot of use and was well worth the money!

Carolyn on

Isn’t it true that the Ergo Baby Carrier can only be worn with the child facing you? Doesn’t an older child get bored by that? Just wondering what everyone thinks.

TNT on

I just want to add that my older boy (27 months now) actually prefers the lower seat in the Phil & Ted’s stroller. I think it’s because he can get in and out of it himself. I also have a 14 1/2 month-old. Since they are about the same size and within 3 lbs of weight, I do let the older one ride in the back, and it hasn’t been a problem for us. 🙂 But I do understand the concern for the view in the back seat. It’s a trade-off, I guess. It’s kind of like buying cars – not every brand has all the features you want, and if it does, it very well might be completely unaffordable!

TNT on

Also with 2 under 2 up until this past August and soon to be 3 under 3, I’ve found the disposable bibs to be most helpful. I know it’s not great for the environment, but if they don’t get real dirty, I do re-use them.

I also saw someone mentioned the Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster Seats for a high chair. Those things are great!

Suzanne on

I can’t say enough good things about the Phil and Ted. My kids are exactly a year apart and it was the best thing for us. The funny thing is that the kids fight for the bottom seat. My big concern when I got it was that the kid in the bottom wouldn’t enjoy the ride. I talked with a lady that had one and she said that her kids fought for that spot. i ended up buying it with the same thing happening. We have had it for over 4 years and the kids still use it. My big 5 year old usually sits in the bottom while his sister sits in the front. We only use it when we go to Disneyland or somewhere that they will fall asleep but we did get a lot of use out of it when they were little. If you have babies close in age this would be a great find for your money but if they are 2 years or more apart I would look for something else that is less expensive.

Angus on

All the people I know who have P&T’s say their kids love the back seat. The only people I’ve ever heard say they don’t like it are parents that don’t have one, so I put no stock in that opinion at all.
The reason so many of us like it is because it’s not huge and imposing, it isn’t rendered useless when your older child doesn’t want to ride anymore, and if they suddenly decide to ride they can.

It really is the most adaptable stroller currently available.
We’ve had ours for over three years, through three kids and I love it. I want a new one only because of the feature where you can now fold it with the doubles seat attached.

jen on

i have two boys – 19 mos apart. we live in a tiny house in SF, so a white noise machine is very important for us. it lets the baby sleep while our toddler runs around practicing his new words.