Learning what to pack for daycare is one of the most important things you need to do to ensure your little one’s first day goes as smoothly as possible.
In reality, it isn’t that difficult to work out what to pack for daycare, but the trick is knowing how much of each thing you need, and when you’ll require specific things like breast milk, etc.
Most daycare centers will give you detailed instructions on what they suggest you pack in terms of supplies for both weekly and daily child maintenance.
If your daycare center of choice provides you with this then it will be much easier for you to know exactly what you need ahead of time, which will come in very handy considering how difficult it can be to focus on everything without a proper list first thing in the morning.
You don’t want your child to end up without a pacifier or a fresh set of diapers in case they have an accident, after all.
Try not to worry too much either way, as accidents can happen regardless of whether it’s your first time packing the bags, or the 100th. Even veteran mammas have problems sometimes.
Be sure to remember that they won’t use anyone else’s supplies for your baby, or vice versa, so never be afraid to pack more than is strictly necessary.
It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to packing for daycare!
The best way to go about organizing the various supplies you’ll need, at least in my experience, is to separate them into a daily supply and a weekly one, with the weekly one being replenished as necessary.
The daily bag can be prepared each morning before dropping your precious little angel at the daycare center, with the child’s name labeled clearly on the bag.
Labeling is important for avoiding any potential mix-ups with another child’s supplies, so be sure to include both the first name and surname on the tags in case there are similar names at your daycare center.
I personally suggest using two separate diaper bags for this , but you can stick to whatever system works best for you.
Now that the basics have been covered, let’s have a look at what to pack in a daycare bag that most daycare providers will ask for.
What To Pack For Daycare Providers To Use?
To make this a bit easier to digest, I’ll separate all the items into lists of weekly and daily supplies.
You’re free to switch these around, or to add others if there’s something special that your baby needs, like a specific medication, apparatus, heater or anything else you can think of.
However, the following list contains the most common things on any daycare center’s list.
The Daily Supplies
First things first, the daily supplies.
These are sure to be on your mind each and every morning for as long as you drop off your little one at the daycare center.
The prime essential of what every child needs in terms of baby supplies will always be diapers.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a disposable or a cloth diaper, you must always ensure the daycare providers have a steady supply of them to use for your child.
They might have a few spare ones, but they’re not likely to have the brand that your child is used to, which can lead to a very fussy baby.
You might be wondering How many diapers do I need? Well, you should always be sure to keep at least a few in the daily bag you pack for the childcare center.
Around 8-10 disposables or 2-3 cloth diapers should be alright.
Something to remember if you prefer a cloth diaper,is that you will also need some bags for the caretakers to seal any dirty diapers in, as well as a pair of plastic pants for an added layer of protection for your child.
If you’d rather include these items in a weekly bag, then take the daily number into account when packing, and provide them as needed.
If they tell you they’re running a bit low, just bring a few extra diapers the next day to keep them topped up until the following week.
After all, your little one could end up having an exceptional amount of poops at any time, so you can never be sure of the exact amount you’ll need.
2. Diaper rash cream
Something else you’ll always want to pack alongside a bag of diapers, is some diaper rash cream.
Although your child won’t need this every single day , it’s worth packing in case your child does end up getting a rash, which they inevitably will.
Either way, packing some diaper rash cream doesn’t mean it’ll end up going to waste if left unused. It’ll just stay in the daily diaper bag until it’s actually needed.
This way, you avoid storing too much stuff at the child care providers and the need to buy more for when your baby is at home.
It’s also worth noting that providing your preferred brand is better than having the daycare center resort to using theirs, which could potentially have ingredients your child is allergic to.
3. Baby wipes
Another thing you’ll need to provide in heaps when looking at what to pack for daycare are baby wipes.
Kids go through them like candy.
It’s best to send a small pack or two each day for top ups, and help slow down consumption of the large weekly pack that you’ll likely also be providing.
Increase the supply if the daycare providers ask, they’ll need all the help they can get to deal with any potential blowouts.
Similarly to diaper rash cream, you don’t want to leave them in a situation where they have to resort to their own supply, especially if your child has sensitive skin, which might end up causing rashes or contain materials unsuitable for your little one.
RELATED: Organic Baby Wipes: The 5 Best Choices For Your Little One
4. A stuffed animal
No child likes to leave the house without his best friend, and in the early years that’s likely to be some sort of plush toy, or similar.
While he’ll be sure to have plenty of friends at the daycare center, his favourite toy will serve as a nice way of calming him down if he ever panics about where his parents are, or is upset for any reason.
This way, you’re not only helping your child avoid going into a panic, but also making it easier for the caregivers to help soothe him in case trouble arises.
It also helps them get your child to abide by nap time rules quicker, as he’ll feel more comfortable with a friend by his side.
The reason why you should include his toy in the daily bag instead of the weekly, is that you don’t want to accidentally leave it overnight at the daycare center, which could cause problems at home.
Best friends have to travel together after all!
Make sure to always have a couple fully cleaned and sterilized in the daily bag so they can be ready for use.
Try to not make extra work for the people at the daycare center by having them prepared ahead of time, and clean them once you pick your child up from daycare.
Make sure to also include a pacifier clip or two alongside them to keep your child from losing it once he starts crawling or walking around.
Kids are notorious for just letting go of them, and you don’t want them touching the floor or getting mixed up with other pacifiers by accident.
You can also go the extra mile by writing his name on the pacifier with a non-toxic marker so the child care providers know who the binky belongs to if it ends up getting lost.
RELATED: Best Pacifiers For Breastfed Babies: 8 Top Choices
6. Baby food
This can be tackled in several ways depending on what sort of food you feed your child, and what sort of storage methods the daycare center has on hand for it.
If your little one is on baby formula, either by choice or because of lactose intolerance, then it’s best to put exact measures in each bottle to save the people at the daycare center having to figure it out for themselves.
They have other kids to attend to after all, and the easier their life is, the more time they can devote to keeping all the kids safe and sound.
On the other hand, if you’re feeding him breast milk you’ll want to specifically label your breast milk storage bags so the caregivers know who they belong to when it’s feeding time.
Don’t forget to ask them if they have freezers to store the milk in, so you know how often you need to send it over to them.
If they do, then ship it frozen, if not, send it in thawed to save them the hassle of defrosting it.
Furthermore, once your child moves on to more solid foods you’ll want to ship that as well, be it pre-packaged cereal or standard baby food that comes in tightly sealed jars with screw-on lids.
Once again, be sure to label everything you think needs labeling so there aren’t any accidental mix-ups, especially baby food and anything else that your child is going to ingest or be in contact with.
7. Medical supplies & medication
Finally, if your child needs to take medication due to an l underlying medical condition, allergies or similar, you might want to pack some emergency medical supplies in the bag, too.
I’ve mentioned this last because some daycare centers don’t allow you to bring any medication due to potential risks, and them not wanting to be held liable for incorrect doses.
However, should your day care centre allow medication on the premises, be sure sure to pack your medical bag with whatever meds your child might need, as well as an ointment for teething related sores, simethicone drops for reducing gas buildup, baby-safe pain relievers and fever reducers, as well as a thermometer, either oral or rectal.
Don’t forget to label them to prevent the bottles being confused with those of other children.
The Weekly Supplies
As well as the daily bag, there’s the equally important weekly bag, where you’ll be storing all the things that are more durable and less disposable.
Be sure to keep in mind that some of these items might be sent back via the daily bag for washing if the daycare center doesn’t provide that service, or if you’re using a special brand of detergent because of issues with a child’s sensitive skin.
1. Bibs and burp cloths
Your child is bound to get dirty during feeding time, and if you want to keep him clean at the daycare you’ll want to pack a few extra bibs and burp cloths in the weekly bag.
Make sure they’re not your only ones, and that you have a few at home so you don’t have to use the ones from the daycare every day.
Your baby is likely to get them messy at feeding time, or simply by drooling all over them if his teeth are still coming in.
That’s why you’ll need to have spares for when they’re being washed if the daycare doesn’t clean them, but that shouldn’t be a big problem.
Be sure to pack an extra resealable bag with proper labeling alongside them, so they can store the dirty ones properly and without getting them mixed up with someone else’s.
As far as the actual amount goes, around 4 should be enough, but 5 is best just to be sure.
Don’t forget to pack a sippy cup if your child is old enough to have swapped to drinking water, so as to keep him from getting wet when using a regular glass. Don’t forget to label it so it doesn’t end up getting lost.
2. Extra outfits and clothing
Lets face it, blowouts happen, as do other unfortunate accidents, and your baby will need a few extra outfits to change into in case of emergencies such as these.
This includes socks, pants and anything else in their ensemble, because he’s bound to get into all kinds of messy trouble when he’s on his adventures at daycare.
A poopy mess isn’t the only threat here; there’s food, crayons and all sorts of other things to be wary of.
A mother’s worst washing machine nightmare come-true, some might say.
This is why it’s important to send disposable clothing in the weekly bag, rather than your child’s Sunday’s best.
Something like a simple onesie that’s easy to replace, and that you don’t care too much about. You’re bound to have a few articles of clothing that have stains which just won’t want to wash out, which will be perfect for this.
As with everything else that might make a return trip, pack labeled plastic bags that the caregivers can store dirty clothing in. It’s also important to properly label all clothing for daycare so there are no mix-ups.
3. Fitted crib sheets, swaddles and blankets
Last, but not least when looking at what to pack for daycare centers are all the other cloths that are used when getting your child to sleep during naptime.
The reason why this is included, is that you might be dealing with a daycare that requires you to provide crib sheets in case your child decides to go potty in one.
While many daycares clean the sheets, clothing and everything else themselves, you could have a child who’s extremely sensitive to certain brands of detergent, so you might want to do the cleaning yourself.
The same goes with the blankets themselves. Swaddles and even sleep sacks can be provided as alternatives, but they’re completely optional.
The other reason you’d want a sheet from home is so it can retain the child’s scent and feel, and provide something familiar to him that’ll make it a lot easier for him to fall asleep when he’s in an unfamiliar environment.
Be sure to provide at least 2 of each crib sheet and blanket in case an accident does happen, this way they have a spare.
4. OPTIONAL: Summer items
If it’s summertime and the sun is strong, you might want to consider packing some sunscreen and a sun hat on top of everything else when working out what to pack for daycare.
The kids will likely want to go out for a walk in the park or play outside, so it’s crucial to keep your child protected from the harsh sunlight and its UV rays at all times.
When wondering what to pack for daycare, it’s important to take care of the essentials first, like diapers, baby wipes, and spare sets of clothing, etc, to make sure your child has a comfortable experience while they’re there.
The other items are generally optional, but are nice to include, and will help the caregivers greatly in providing a comfortable and efficient service.
Make sure to separate supplies into weekly ones that stay over at the daycare, and daily ones that you deliver alongside your precious little angel.
If you’re ever confused about what needs to be brought in, consult with the caretakers themselves and ask if they’re short on anything for your baby.
If you’re worried you might forget something important, set a reminder on your phone when the alarm rings to wake you up or put sticky notes up around the house to help you remember.
It might be difficult at first, especially if you’re a new mom, but believe me when I say that it’ll become second nature before you know it.
It really helps if you do the packing the night before, at least when it comes to the things that don’t need refrigeration.
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