If you google two under two you’ll probably find a plethora of advice from troubled and tired souls who decided to pop another baby out within two years of the previous one being born. So in all honesty i’m not sure if I’ll bring anything new to the table by talking about how I coped and made life easier with my small age gap, but I’ll give it a go anyway.
Top Tip Number 1. DO NOT HAVE TWO UNDER TWO.
I am, of course, joking. All age gaps have their challenges. When Florence was born Elliot was 17 months old. He was very much a baby still which made things easier in some ways, and harder in others. He had no understanding of a new baby coming along so he wasn’t too put out by the whole pregnancy/new sibling thing. He was adaptable and never showed any signs of jealousy. However, because he was so small he still had a lot of needs to be met. His lack of walking (thanks very much Elliot!) meant he had to be carried a fair bit, and he was too small to use a buggy board. But like I said, each age gap has it’s pros and cons. A smaller one means you get all your child bearing out the way quickly and there’s less chance of jealousy, and a bigger gap means your eldest child is more likely to be in school or nursery and will be more independent.
Top Tip Number 2. Buy a sling and use it.
I had a calin bleu wrap that I didn’t get on with so I moved on to a Tula and I absolutely loved it. The right carrier will really help you out when you only want to be wrangling one loose child, and babies tend to sleep very well in them. Win win if you ask me. Do your research, find a sling library, try some out and don’t give up if you don’t like the first one you use. There will be one out there for you.
Top Tip Number 3. Get a top notch double buggy.
Hunt around for one that meets all your needs. I went through a few doubles before I found the Phil & Teds Navigator V2 and I’m glad I persevered and found the right one. It will be a lifesaver when you want to be hands free when you’re out. Slings are fantastic but they are quite restricting. For example, clothes shopping ain’t happening with a baby in a sling. A good double buggy will be a lifeline when you need a bit of space without a baby strapped to your chest.
Top Tip Number 4. Try and iron out any toddler issues before the new baby comes.
A self settling, nap having toddler will be so much easier to manage than the opposite. If you can have your routine down to a fine art before the baby is born then the new arrival should hopefully just slot right in. It will also help if your toddler can play by themselves for a few periods throughout the day. It can get very stressful very quickly if everyone wants you at the same time.
Top Tip Number 5. Get out the house when you can.
Obviously routine is great, but so is going out and speaking to other adults. I found it hard to drag myself out of our safe, structured little bubble sometimes but even just popping to the local shop was enough to lift my spirits and make me feel part of the real world again. Don’t forget about your mental health. It is incredibly important.
Top Tip Number 6. Don’t give yourself a hard time.
This is advice I have to really try hard to follow. Do not beat yourself up if your toddler goes a bit neglected one day, or if you shout, or cry, or the baby is on their own for too long, or if you can’t be bothered to cook a dinner, or if the house is a tip and you just don’t have the energy to face it. Parenting is tough regardless of how many children you have or what age gaps you have between them. No one is perfect and hammering yourself with the guilt stick won’t make you a better parent tomorrow, it’ll just make you a sad one today. So try to be kind to yourself.