The idea of having two under two may have you nervous, scared or worried. These 10+ tips for Parenting two under two are meant to put your mind at ease and help get you prepared!

Planning for and Parenting Two Under Two

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It is one of those “as if it was yesterday” moments. I remember it so vividly.

I was cleaning our master bathroom, wearing a tank top I finally fit back into after having my daughter. Life was finally starting to settle down after just over a year of momentous life events. My postpartum weight loss had started off well, plateaued, and then (ugh!) started climbing again. Finally, I had gotten back on track. And thankfully, I was now only five pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight.

But when I looked in the mirror, that shirt I’d just gotten back into suddenly, yet again, looked too tight.

Then, it hit me, my period was due.

I always do this. Around that time of the month, I get puffy. Then, I momentarily mistake that for weight gain. I needed to stop being so hard on myself. I did the quick math in my head.

Wait. Something wasn’t adding up.

I grabbed my phone and meticulously did the math. My period wasn’t due. It was late! Ever since about six weeks postpartum (despite exclusively breastfeeding), I had been on a predictable, 28-day cycle. I stopped cleaning, grabbed my wallet and keys and told my husband I had to go to the pharmacy across the street. I couldn’t admit to him what I suspected was up for fear he’d think I was crazy.

We had just had a baby six months prior!

As I took the elevator back up to our apartment, the pregnancy test was clutched tightly in my hand. The reality of all of it started to sink in. The math was not only suggesting I was pregnant, but the baby would likely be due on my sister in-law’s scheduled wedding day. Good God Almighty. In just over a year, we had gotten married, moved twice, lost two family members, traveled twice to visit family, and became first-time parents. So much for cruise control!

Shortly after the double pink lines slowly presented themselves, I started scouring the internet for tips on two under two. I wanted to know how to successfully introduce a baby to a young toddler, how to parent two under two, and any piece of advice to help get me and my family prepared. I don’t know if my keywords weren’t right, but what I found was minimal and largely directed to older first-borns. After having gone through it myself, here are some tips for planning for and parenting two under two.

 

Getting Ready for Two Under Two: Before/ In the Hospital

  • Have a trial night’s stay for your child wherever they will be staying. This way, when you do go into the hospital, your child will have a better sense of what to expect. Admittedly, I found it daunting to send my then 14-month-old baby to my parents’ place. This was important so she could learn that, though Mama and Papa left her, we came back. A trial run may help reveal any potential problems so you can prepare for when it’s the real deal.
  • Buy or borrow a book about becoming a sibling for your child. It is hard to know how much they understand when they are particularly young. At the very least, it made me feel as though I was doing something to prep her.
  • Consider having a gift for your child when baby arrives to make it special for them too. We bought a couple of gifts for our 15 month-old to receive at the hospital once Baby #2 arrived. I had read that some parents make the gift from the new baby. We just chose items we knew our daughter would enjoy, wrapped them, and gave them to her at the hospital, so she could feel special too.

 

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Parenting Two Under Two: Coming Home

  • Have one-handed snacks and easy-to-warm-up meals in stock. It will help you greatly to have foods that can be eaten while nursing (i.e. protein or granola bars, apples, baby carrots). And on days where it feels like you’ve only nursed/ fed baby, having ready made meals (i.e. soup, healthy TV dinners, leftovers) make a huge difference.
  • Have loooooow expectations on what you can accomplish in your day. After I had more or less healed from my cesarean, I was left with both kids on my own. My “To-Do” list comprised of nothing more than a few things. For example, 1) tidy kitchen 2) make dinner 3) toys away 4) clean floors. The next day, I would repeat steps 1 – 3 but swap out 4) for something new.
  • When someone can help, DELEGATE.
  • If the opportunity for “me” presents itself, TAKE IT. It’s sooooo easy to get caught up in being needed and feeling a sense of obligation to get as much done as possible. When you can, have your partner watch the toddler while you and the baby nap. Use grandma’s visit, to go to the grocery store alone (believe me, this will feel like a luxury), or take a long bath.

The idea of having two under two may have you nervous, scared or worried. These 10+ tips for Parenting two under two are meant to put your mind at ease and help get you prepared!

Important Reminders for Parenting Two Under Two

  • You’re a ‘pro’ at having a baby. Yes, each baby’s personality is different. Some like to be held differently, some cry more, some sleep better, some eat more frequently. But you’ve done this before. It’s easy street. It’s the little toddling person who you have to remind countless times to “sit on their bum” that is the hard work.
  • You’ve made the hardest transition already. From one to two is much easier than from none to one. You know emptying the dishwasher may take 5 tries before you get it fully done. You know a 20-minute dinner might take an hour to make.

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The Best Parts of Two Under Two (Based on my Experience)

  •  You’re already in the thick of it, changing diapers, finely cutting up dinners, filling sippy cups, pushing a stroller, singing nursery rhymes, buttoning up pjs, and watching PBS. By having two who are roughly at the same stage, you’re parenting more efficiently 🙂
  • They have built-in playmates. It is very typical for children under two to engage in parallel play and not play collaboratively. My kids play with each other more often than not. During exciting life events, they always have someone near their developmental stage to participate in it with them. On a recent family vacation, I realized if it weren’t for my son, my daughter would have spent a week playing with adults.
  • Everyone who has had little ones close together or has a sibling close in age tells me my kids will have a close relationship their whole life.
  • From toddlerhood on, planning activities is so much easier than if the age gap was greater because they are similar in their capacities.
  • They scaffold each other’s learning. My daughter is a slightly more advanced peer and therefore pushes my son to operate in his zone of proximal development. Furthermore, when my daughter repeats words of caution to my son, or instructs him as I would her, she is further advancing her self-regulation (read more about speech scaffolding self-regulation here.)
  • Having two little ones in the bath, stroller, playing toys, or snuggled up asleep is way cuter than just one.
  • Baby #2 was never a question for us, he was completely planned. Because the timing was sooner than what we had planned, we ended up meeting him sooner and, therefore, had richer experiences and memories sooner too.
  • Having Baby #2 is better than Baby #1 because you have the joy of your first and your second.

For some more great tips on parenting two under two, check out Two Under Two – A Survior’s Guide from Twitchetts.

 

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38 thoughts on “Planning for and Parenting Two Under Two

    1. Really interesting this article. I would like to learn more. I have a 10 moth old baby girl and I’m 5 months pregnant so my kids will be only a year apart, is going to be challenging but a good experience especially having a girl and a boy. Because I’m my family i have 4 sisters so is going to be different raise a boy. ?

      1. Sintia, thank you so much for reading and congratulations on your soon-to-be two under two. It isn’t easy, but in some ways, it couldn’t be better. You’re already changing diapers and in the infant stage. It will be so much easier to plan activities when they’re both walking because they’re more-or-less at the same stage in life. A boy is nice too because there will be a clear difference in whose stuff is what. Two and Three-year-olds can get really hung up on what is “mine”. In my experience though, boys are much more active. So hold tight. Best of luck <3

  1. I can’t imagine having two under two. My kids are 3 and a half years apart. I remember how excited my daughter was when her brother was born. She wore her “big sister” shirt with pride. Wonderful tips!

    1. Melissa, I think a three year age gap is awesome. I am here years older than one of my brothers, and six years older than the youngest. I have such fond memories of, especially the youngest. And I think because of the spacing, we fought so minimally. If there is a third in uo own family, we will opt for a larger gap for sure 🙂

  2. All of this is so true. Now, you are ready for three under three like me! (LOL). My first two are only thirteen months apart, so that was pretty crazy. My second and third are 15 months apart. Now that my oldest two are almost three and almost two, I would add that they are also pretty advanced at conflict resolution and respecting each others’ boundaries. They are constantly having to resolve their disputes and are keenly aware of behavior that is never permitted (like biting, hair pulling, pushing, etc.) because it has come up at home where I can nip it in the bud.

    1. Thirteen months apart? Wow!!! despite the immense fatigue, our home looking like a bomb went off 99% of the time, and the biting, hair pulling, and hitting, there are so many perks to such small age gaps. I really appreciate your commentary about how your kids are more independent as a result of being so close in age to their siblings. We are hoping that if there is a baby number three the planning part of “Catholic Family Planning” comes into play, and we aren’t pregnant for a little while 🙂 lol.

      1. Yeah, I’m taking a break between three and four because they were all C sections. Creighton method is working much better for me than Marquette was (lol, obviously)

    1. What a great family composition! The best memories from my childhood was having a brother six years younger. Thanks for the compliment 🙂

  3. I love this. Great advice. Have 3 under two was an overwhelming task at times but I would trade it for the world. My twins are amazing older brothers and watching the three of then become best friends is the most beautiful thing ever. Close together can be hard initially but I think it pays off long term (and short term). Great post!! I’m gonna share it on Twitter. ☺

    1. My hats off to you BIG time!!!!!! What is the age difference between the twins and your youngest? I agree: hard at first, so much easier later. Thank you for the compliment and for the share <3

      1. Absolutely… they are exactly 18 month s apart. My twins turned 2 in May and my youngest is 10 months on the 9th. Its a whirlwind and never a dull moment but honestly so much fun and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, ?

    1. Thank you for your kind compliment Tricia. And yes, I totally understand not being ready yet. One is still quite young, but when the time is right baby #2 will be so much fun 🙂

  4. The age gaps with my kids are pretty big (my middle child is 13 and my oldest is 16, while my youngest is 9 months) though we’ve agreed that no more after her. He’s got an 11 year old and a 7 year old. Anyway, these are great pointers and advice! Thank you for sharing this.

  5. I agree with everything here! One of my favorites is the built in playmate. I love sitting on the couch and watching my kids play. And when my daughter teaches my son new things, I just melt!

    1. Thanks so much! They are very close, and do almost everything together. But, a 5 year age difference definitely means less competition, and in the case of my siblings and me, way less fighting!

  6. I’m so impressed! Mine are 3.5 years apart and I find it overwhelming sometimes! These are great tips, and I love the built-in playmate idea. I’m sure they will be super close and eventually they’ll hang out with each other even more and Mommy will get rest.

    1. 3.5 years is a GREAT age difference! My brothers and I were 3 and 6 years apart respectively, and it was so great! I’m really hoping the “hang out and let mom rest phase is sooner rather than later!” Thank you for your commentary!

  7. Every time I consider this I feel like a total wimp and think I could never do it! 😉 Now I am at that point where it seems equally daunting to have a second because I am done with diapers and teething and all that other “fun” stuff and can’t quite imagine going back, LOL!

    1. Totally understandable! It is hard to think of having another person to take care of when you’re already working so hard, and so taken with your first. The jump from one to two is far less than from none to one, though.

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  10. I am expecting my second in April and my first will be 20 months old. So much great advice in here and honestly, what I needed to read. Pinning and sharing as I have 3 friends who are also in the same situation.. I do think it is more common and totally agree with you that there are not many resources online for having 2 so close together in age!

  11. Great advice that you share! Baby #2 came earlier than we had planned and there was 17 months between our children. We survived though and made the crazy decision to add another child to the mix. 16 Months after #2 was born #3 arrived! Now those boys are 8, 6 and 5. Because they are close in age they are all at the same school and are able to do activities together as well. Win on less driving and them having each other for support!

  12. These are great tips! Thank you. My second will come out right after my first turns 2, but these are so helpful with all the unknown I have for adding another to the family!

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