Whether you are a new mom taking your baby to daycare for the first time or a veteran daycare mom, it's not easy getting out the door in the morning with everything both you and your baby will need for the day. Use the daycare packing list below to reduce morning stress and avoid return trips home because you forgot something essential.
- Diapers - many daycares request that you bring diapers in bulk at the beginning of each week. Plan for 8-10 diapers per day. It's much better to have too many than not enough. If you are using cloth diapers, make sure to include extra plastic pants and a resealable bag or container for the dirty ones.
- Wipes - take a full container to daycare initially and a refill package each Monday or when they run out. Also include a smaller container in the diaper bag you transport back and forth to daycare each day. Your daycare provider can use that as a back-up supply in the event your child goes through more wipes than usual in any given week.
- Diaper Rash Cream or Ointment
- Pacifiers - if your child is a regular user of pacifiers, consider keeping a separate supply of three or four at your daycare. Pacifiers are easily misplaced, and you wouldn't want your child to need one for comfort and not have one. You might also consider packing an additional one for emergencies in the diaper bag you carry back and forth. Once the babies are mobile, make sure to label the pacifier with a non-toxic marker.
- Crib Sheets and Blankets - many daycares require you to provide crib sheets and blankets for your child. Some centers provide laundry services for sheets and blankets so one extra of each should be sufficient.
- Extra Outfits - send two to three extra outfits for the week. Pack each complete outfit in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Be sure to include extra socks as well. Label each bag with your child's name. Your daycare provider can then use these same bags to send home soiled or wet clothes.
- Bibs - consider purchasing a separate supply of bibs just for daycare. Include both small bibs for drooling (especially if your baby is teething) and larger bibs for meal times. Four or five of each size should be sufficient.
- Bottles - send enough bottles for the time your child is scheduled to be at daycare plus one extra in the event of an emergency or if you are running late. If your baby drinks formula, send it pre-measured in each bottle. If you use powdered formula, your daycare provider will simply need to add water at feeding time. If you are sending breast milk, check with your daycare center about their preferred process. Most ask that you send thawed and prepared bottles each day. Some centers have freezers and will let you send in clearly identifed frozen bags as a back-up.
- Baby cereal - if your baby is old enough for cereal, ask your daycare provider how you should send it in for your child. Some ask that you send in complete boxes labeled for your baby and replenish it as needed while others ask that you send in pre-measured portions on a daily basis. If you must send it daily, use small plastic containers with screw-on lids to avoid messes while in transit.
- Baby food - once your baby begins eating food, you should send it in daily either in baby food jars or in small plastic containers with screw-on lids. Each should be marked with your child's name. Again, check with your daycare, since some provide food.
- Bowl and spoon - check with your provider as some daycares provide these items.
Put together a bag of medicines you permit your child to have. This bag might include a thermometer, pain reliever, fever reducer, gas drops and a topical teething ointment. Be sure to include a dropper as well. Write your child's name on the individual medicines as well as the outside of the plastic bag.
It's the Little Things...
- Label everything - there are many options available for labeling your child's clothes, blankets and supplies. While permanent markers may work fine for labeling plastic bags, diaper boxes and containers for wipes, you may be hesitant to use them on other things that come in direct contact with your baby. Consider using iron-on labels for blankets, crib sheets and clothing. Masking tape or painter's tape is a good option for labeling bottles.
- Things will get lost - you'll be less stressed if you ackowledge this and simply don't send anything to daycare that can't be easily replaced.
- Notepad and pen - keep these items in the outside pocket of your diaper bag. When you arrive at daycare to discover your child has run out of something ahead of schedule (diapers, wipes, ointment, etc.), make note of it on this pad. Make it a habit to review this notepad each evening when you are repacking the diaper bag for the next day.
- The "key" to remembering essential items - while most daycare items can be packed in your diaper bag the night before, certain items such as baby food, formula or bottles of breast milk need to stay refrigerated and can only be added the next morning. In the hustle of the morning routine, those refrigerated items are easy to forget on your way out the door. Either put your car keys in the refrigerator next to the bottles or put a sticky note on your car keys reminding you to get the bottles. You can't leave without your keys so you're guaranteed to remember these essential items before you get part way to the daycare.
The Most Important Reason to Use This Daycare Packing List
If you keep your daycare supplies organized, you make it easier on your daycare provider. What's helpful for your provider is ultimately helpful to your child. When everything is organized, your daycare provider has more time to spend quality time with your child. A win-win for all involved.