Less than two years ago, when I dug into writing my second memoir, Plenty, I did not imagine that by the time it was released I would be carrying a second child — at that point, I was barely pregnant with the first. But here I am, beginning my third trimester with a 17-month-old daughter at my hip.
Considering what a test of organization, patience, and fortitude it’s been for me to get out of the house with a single little one, I can’t imagine the feat it will be to take both of them somewhere, even if it’s just to our favorite playground, James Forten in Prospect Heights (my kid is all about the sprinkler), or even around the block.
So I’ve spent the past month speaking to a bunch of discerning moms, particularly those who’ve had another child within the last couple of years, about the products that have been most helpful for them in juggling an older and a younger one (specifically, a toddler plus a baby). Even though plenty of them mentioned items they use at home — like this Primo Eurobath that’s capacious enough to bathe two kids at the same time — the most impassioned recommendations tended to fall in the “transportation” category, since, again, it can be a real logistical struggle to double your load. I also focused on items that were actually designed with multi-kid-at-once use in mind, as opposed to suggestions like this featherlight and overhead-bin-friendly gb Pockit stroller suggestion. Although I was told it helped an ESL teacher travel the world with her two children, alas, it will only fit one of them at a time.
Based on my conversations with 11 moms, the following list includes double strollers that won’t take up the whole sidewalk, roomy-but-not-bulky diaper-bag alternatives, and even a set of on-the-go bibs that fit toddler and infant equally well.
Sit and Stand strollers
By the time the new baby comes along, your older child may be less inclined to get strapped into a stroller and more inclined to hop on the back of one. This is where the relatively affordable genre of “sit and stand” strollers comes in, giving your toddler the choice of whether or not to be seated. Ebonie Bergman, a Maryland-based software engineer who has a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a baby on the way, says this highly reviewed Joovy version is “perfect” — her oldest loves to stand on the rear platform or will use the bench-seat option, which has a secure three-point harness, if it’s a particularly far walk. The “aircraft-grade” aluminum frame is super-lightweight and quick to fold. And because it has a universal car-seat adapter, unlike many strollers that only work with pieces from their own brand family, Bergman says she will be able to easily click in the seat of baby No. 3. She can also add an additional full-size seat, sold separately — and even if she doesn’t, she can still have the full trio of kids all ride in at once, which is a good deal for a little over 200 bucks.
Speaking of stroller brands that are only compatible with seats in their specific product line, that’s the case with Uppababy. But this is obviously a hugely popular brand for city moms, and two of those I spoke to swear by the Uppababy Piggyback attachment. Shira M. Zemel, who works for a Jewish nonprofit outside of D.C., knew a double stroller might not be the right pick for her two kids, now 4 years old and 8 months old, because of the age gap. Her older son is on the edge of outgrowing her Uppababy stroller, in an awkward “in-between where he doesn’t need to be seated in the stroller but certainly can’t be expected to walk” (and she says they’re doing a lot of walking — to the farmers’ market, the park, etc. — in the pandemic world). The Piggyback attachment makes it so “he feels like big brother is riding along — he calls it his skateboard,” says Zemel.
Another mom of two, New Jersey-based marketing director Kelsey Blodget, says she uses her stroller and PiggyBack for preschool drop-off every morning. Her older kid “loves standing. It’s almost like a game, plus he can look at the baby and make silly faces,” she says. “I don’t drive, so if I want to get both kids anywhere, this is the best arrangement.”
Your kids may be close enough in age that you feel it’s worth spending the money on a proper double stroller. Kimberly Rae Miller, an author who lived on Long Island with her 2-year-old and 5-year-old, swears by this exceptionally lightweight (and not terribly expensive) one from more of a niche brand. The Twin weighs just 19 pounds and folds and opens with just one hand, making it easy to get it in and out of a trunk. It’s also surprisingly narrow, able to fit through coffee-shop doorways and down busy city blocks. Also, says Miller, “Each seat adjusts independently so one kid can be up and alert while the other sleeps completely covered by the super big shade.” If you have plans to expand your family even further, it extends to a triple or a quad with add-on seats, too.
If the Twin still feels too wide for you and you want to forego the side-by-side stroller altogether — and you’re ready to make a “grow-with-your-family” investment — there’s this splurgy Cybex model. Alex Zagami Ng, who owns the Chinatown kids shop PiccoliNY and is soon to be a mom of two, swears by this modular stroller that can morph into 23 configurations, depending on whether you have both kids with you or just one and a grocery haul, or if you want them to be facing in or out or one and the other. Ng says she loves that it’s “super-sleek and easy for city bumpy roads, plus easy to pack into our car.” She’ll have the option of taking off one of the seats if her big guy, who is 4, isn’t it the mood to ride alongside his baby sibling, expected in December. Also, a click-on-able basket holds 25 pounds of shopping items or daily essentials, so you can be on the go all day if necessary.
Not as modular but a few hundred dollars cheaper: the City Select makes it “so much easier to pass people and not be that annoying mom taking up the entire sidewalk,” says mom of three Alison Goodwin Nogi, a communications and fundraising consultant who lives outside Boston in Brookline, Massachusetts. “The wheels are sturdy enough to handle cobblestone,” adds Nogi, and there’s a “telescoping handlebar” that lets you smoothly steer through crowds. The stroller also converts from a single to a double or even a triple, with a glider board.