So you’ve found the perfect daycare (I’ll assume you got on the waiting list sometime in 1977) and you and you’re baby’s first day is quickly approaching. Most childcare providers will want you to pack a variety of items for your infant including diapers, clothes, bottles, etc. but if you’re stumped about what to pack, here’s a list of ideas to get you started.
Infant Daycare Packing List
The first thing you’ll need is something to put everything in. Backpacks are nice because they are fairly compact, easy to carry, and easy to hang or store. Minted has come out with these gorgeous backpacks made from heavyweight canvas and personalized with foil-pressed leather name tags. They have two sizes: small and classic. I chose the classic size so you can cram a few more things in there but the small would be great as a day pack. The best part is your child can use it long past their daycare days. You can check out all the patterns here.
Congratulations on becoming a parent, you now have to label EVERYTHING. Not only is it difficult for a 3-month-old to say, "yes, that’s my hat", but odds are three other kids have the same one. In my opinion, Minted makes the nicest ones. Use them for clothing, bottles, pacifiers, bedding, medication, etc. They even have ones for allergy warnings and ones that are photo styles for non-readers. I like to get two types: little for small items and the larger ones for big items where you don’t want to dig around for who it belongs to. You can see all the designs they have here.
If your kid plans on pooping and peeing at daycare you’re going to want to send diapers. Many child care providers ask you to send a labeled pack at the beginning of each week but others prefer you send them in every day. Plan for your child to go through about 10 diapers a day. Of course, if you’re like me packing underwear for a vacation you’ll add a bunch more “just in case”. If you’re using cloth diapers make sure you’re sending a wet bag or plastic bag for dirty diapers to go in.
Wipes are another staple where your provider might want you to send in a labeled case at the beginning of every week or they might prefer a labeled pack in your bag. Either opt for a case that comes with resealable packages or a case that you can refill vs. an industrial size that could dry out if accidentally left open.
Diaper Rash Cream or Ointment
Diaper creams can’t be shared for obvious hygienic reasons, plus, it often varies wildly between kids – what works for one doesn't work for another. Opt for something that is easy to close so you’re not dealing with a bag full of goopy zinc because the screw-on cap fell off.
If your baby is a pacifier fan, make sure you have a good supply (plus extra). You can use a pacifier clip to tether it you your child and/or label them either using a permanent marker or a very small label.
Naps are an important part of daycare so make sure to include any sleepsacks, swaddles or mattress covers you’d like to use. This is an area where you want to get a lot of information from your daycare so you’re minimizing sleep risks – i.e. getting a fitted sheet that fits properly so it’s not popping off mid-nap. Skip pillows, bumpers, and pacifiers with stuffed animals attached to them as they all increase the risk of suffocation. You can read more about it here.
Plan to pack one bottle for every two hours your baby will be at daycare. So, if it’s going to be an 8-hour day you’ll need four bottles. As with diapers, it’s not a bad idea to include an extra bottle or two in case there’s an issue or your baby is extra hungry one day. Label all of your bottles so your child is sure to get their lunch.
Formula or Breastmilk
If you’re sending breastmilk, you’ll need to prep your bottles ahead of time and then pack them in an insulated bag with an ice pack for transport (or a Ziploc if it’s just a quick trip to get there).
If you’re sending formula, you’ll need to measure out your formula in each bottle so your child care provider can add the water right before chow time. This also ensures that your child is getting their brand of formula.
Bibs and Burp Cloths
Both are not only nice to have on hand for feeding but bibs are great to have during that drooly stage that a lot of kids go through. As always, label those things.
Ah, nothing like a good poosplosion that goes up to the neck and down to the toes. Pack a couple of extra outfits even if it’s two or three onesies so the traumatized childcare worker isn’t handing your kid back in just a diaper.
If your child is going to be out and about during the day think about packing a good sun hat. Green Sprouts will forever make my favorite sun hat – they make nice sun-safe clothing too. Sunscreen isn’t recommended for kids under 6 months old but if your baby is older consider packing a mineral-based sunscreen.
If your child has a favorite toy or lovey make sure it’s packed in there every day. If your child is young, make sure they aren’t sleeping with it or skip it until they are older.
Solid Foods + Snacks
If your baby is older and has branched into the world of food and snacks, make sure everything is packed in labeled containers and a cooler bag. Some daycares have strict rules about what you can and can’t bring for snacks due to food allergies, so make sure you’re up on any restrictions to avoid an awkward call out at pick up time.
There are (thankfully) strict guidelines about medication in daycares and schools. Make sure anything you send is in its original container and is clearly labeled. You can find more information about it here.
Packing for daycare isn’t as tricky as it sounds.
Daycare packing lists can feel overwhelming but you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll get into the swing of things. I found that building a ‘pile’ of things as I thought of them or keeping a running list a few days before helped me remember most things, plus, daycares often have the ‘to-do’ down to a science. Feel free to download the daycare bag printable below.
Are there any items you’d add? Let me know in the comments!
Also check out: Five Things to Love About Daycare