Before the birth of my second child, I had been warned at least a dozen times about the chaos headed my way with two young children. But still, I wondered, what exactly made the addition of one child into the family dynamic so difficult?

After two months of juggling a newborn and a toddler full time, I understand what the fuss is all about. Adding another baby into the mix is complicated – it’s tremendously time consuming, emotional, and it throws the existing status quo out the window (and down the block). My three-year-old daughter loves her new title of big sis, but it’s been a huge adjustment for her. The three-year age gap between my children is definitely helpful, but it’s a daily challenge to meet both of their needs. Inevitably my daughter has an insatiable appetite for a snack the moment I sit down to nurse, for example.

But just as I learned how to parent the first time, I’m now learning to parent two. And I’m slowly finding my way through the newborn haze, while learning the best methods for keeping everyone happy. Here’s 5 products that have proven to be invaluable when balancing a newborn and toddler.

image 1919

  1. Skip Hop Explore & More Amazing Arch Activity GymThis is not your average, run of the mill activity gym. No, Skip Hop has created a two-position arch shaped gym to entertain baby with a number of interactive features, bright colors, and a sly parent pocket for recording the fun (doubles as a mirror for baby). The mat entertains both my daughter and the baby – she loves the mirror (what three-year-old doesn’t?) and watching her brother swipe and reach for hanging objects. Playing with the mat requires my undivided attention, but it’s great to watch them interact and give my back a rest at the same time! $90. Buy it here.

image 1920

  1. Lily Jade Diaper BagMy rule of thumb for living in New York City is less is more, especially when it pertains to baby gear. I rarely used a diaper bag with my daughter, but figured I would at least need a functional bag with the second to keep everything organized. My Lily Jade “McKenna” bag is perfectly suited for city living – it’s compact, stylish, and the cross body feature allows me to push a stroller, hold a hand, and navigate the busy streets safely. $180. Buy it here.

image 1921

  1. Ergobaby 3 Position Adapt Baby CarrierSince the birth of my son, I have a newfound appreciation for baby carriers. When he’s fussy late in the day, my three-year-old needs to eat dinner and I still haven’t found time to switch the laundry, I turn to my Ergobaby Adapt Carrier. Ergobaby’s first insert-less carrier is adaptable for a growing baby and can be positioned front inward, back, and hip carry. I’ve tried a ton of different carriers throughout my three years of motherhood and this one is incredibly comfortable (I have a 14lb two month old!) and easy to use. $145. Buy it here.image 1922
  1. Mamaroo Infant SeatThe Mamaroo infant seat by 4Moms is one of my favorite new baby products. The infant seat mimics the real movements of mom (both in and out of utero) and it serves as the perfect “helper” when life gets hectic with two young kids. I can safely buckle my son into the seat and help my daughter with whatever she needs at the moment – which thankfully sometimes is just a hug! $269. Buy it here.

image 1923

  1. BuggyBoardTraveling the streets of NYC with a newborn and a toddler has become infinitely easier with the help of the BuggyBoard, a universal toddler board. My daughter is at the age where she doesn’t need to sit in a stroller, but can’t necessarily walk the entire distance. The BuggyBoard, which adapts to 90 percent of the strollers on the market, allows your toddler to safely ride between you and the seated infant – problem solved! $89.99. Buy it here.