How will I get around the city with a second child?Ceridwen Morris and Rebecca Odes
I’m seven months pregnant with my second baby. My first is three years old, and I’m wondering how I’m going to get around with both of them. I have a Bjorn, a few slings, a Graco carseat/stroller, and my son’s stroller. Is it worth getting a double stroller? One of those boogie board thingies? I’ll be schlepping around the city to school and parks a lot – what is the best solution for the subway? Winter? I don’t want to spend a ton of cash but I do want to be prepared. It’s hard enough getting out of the house with one kid! – Taking Two
Dear Taking Two,
Adding a baby definitely throws a wrench into whatever transport plan you’ve become accustomed to. You’re in kind of an in-between phase. A two-year-old almost definitely needs a dedicated stroller seat. A four-year-old probably does not. But three-year-olds vary a lot in their mobility. Is your son still in the stroller daily? Can he walk any distance? Do you depend on the stroller to get him down for naps or to save time during errands? These are the questions you’ll need to ask yourself.
A double stroller is really handy for getting both kids strapped in and out of the way. But these strollers are either cumbersome or expensive (or both). Double strollers are probably the best option for a cold winter walk, as you can bundle everybody in and move quickly. But their bulk and weight makes them pretty awkward for the subway. Plus, many strollers are built to go to age four, so your son may start to outgrow the seats pretty soon after the baby’s born anyway. If money is an issue, we’d recommend seeing whether you can get by without buying one at this point.
Boogie boards are a creative solution to the big kid transport problem. Kids love to ride on them, and they’re a lot cheaper and easier to maneuver than a massive two-seater. But they do have one tragic flaw: they live right where your feet should be when you’re pushing, so you end up having to straddle and sidestep, or risk bruised ankles and insteps. They also don’t solve the problem of giving your eldest somewhere to nap if need be.
The most streamlined option is to wear the baby. Once the kid’s born, you’ll know what kind of weight you’re dealing with and how your body is recovering from the birth; back pain is a pretty common postpartum complaint. Based on that info, you can see what kind of carrier might work for you and whether wearing the baby is a viable plan. Some parents do well with bringing one stroller that could work for either kid, then alternating who’s in it. If your three-year-old is feeling active, he can walk while the baby rides in the stroller; if not, you can carry the baby while he rests. This requires a stroller that’s appropriate for your baby’s age (complete recline is recommended for newborns, some recline for older infants). It may also create conflict if your oldest feels kicked out of the chair by the new one (something he’ll probably be feeling figuratively anyway). But if you’re sensitive to any issues that come up, this strategy can work really well.
You may find that every solution leaves you wanting in one way or another (the sling’s too heavy, the stroller’s too bulky, etc). This is a pretty common part of the adjustment to the new two-kid lifestyle, which, though deeply enriching in many ways, adds a whole new layer of inconvenience. And when you come up with a solution that works, don’t get too attached. You may need to figure out new transportation plans periodically as your kids grow. The good news is that this whole awkward phase is temporary; it’s just a matter of time before you’ll all three be strolling through the city stroller-free. And everything goes much quicker the second time around!
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