What to Pack for Daycare: Everything Your Little One Needs for a Great First Day
Sending your child off to daycare for the first time can be an emotional experience for both you and your little one. It's normal to feel a mix of excitement, nerves and maybe even a little sadness as you prepare for this new milestone. One of the biggest challenges for many parents is figuring out what to pack for daycare. After all, you want to make sure your little one has everything they need to feel comfortable and secure in their new environment. In this blog post, we'll share a comprehensive daycare checklist that will cover all of your bases from essential items to optional extras. A little preparation can go a long way toward helping make the transition easier for everyone involved. Ready, set, pack!
What to Pack For Daycare: 30 Key Items
- Extra change of clothes. As any parent knows, when it comes to little ones, accidents and spills happen. So, be sure to add an extra change of clothes to your daycare checklist.
- Jacket or sweater. Layers are always a good idea to help your child stay comfortable whether they’re dealing with chilly air conditioning or they get too warm after running around with their friends.
- Shoes or sandals. Your child will need a comfortable pair of shoes or sandals to wear to and from daycare and for outdoor play. Make sure the shoes fit properly and are easy to put on and take off.
- Indoor shoes or slippers. Many daycare centers require children to wear indoor shoes or slippers to keep the floors clean. Check with your daycare center to see if this is a requirement.
- Diapers. If your child is not yet potty-trained, be sure to pack enough diapers to last the day. Depending on your child's age, this could be anywhere from 4 to 8 diapers.
- Wipes. You'll also need to pack wipes to clean up after diaper changes or messy snacks. Add a full pack of wipes to your little one’s bag to ensure they have enough for the day.
- Baby lotion or cream. If your child has sensitive skin or the daycare encourages the use of hand sanitizer, you may want to pack a small bottle of lotion or cream your child’s teacher can apply to help keep your little one’s skin moisturized throughout the day.
- Diaper cream. If your child is prone to diaper rash, pack a tube of diaper rash cream or ointment the daycare staff can apply as needed.
- Wet bag. A wet bag is a good item to add to your daycare supply list in case your child has an accident or gets messy during an outdoor activity.
- Sunscreen. If your child will be spending time outside, make sure to pack sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and apply it before dropping your child off at daycare.
- Hat. Even if your little one is wearing sunscreen, it’s still a good idea to pack a broad-rim hat for an added layer of protection.
- Beanie. If you live in a colder climate, be sure to pack a beanie to keep your child stay warm and toasty on cooler days.
- Jacket. Ask your daycare provider if the children will be spending time outside and make sure you have appropriate outerwear for outdoor activities.
- Boots. In the winter and on rainy days, pack a pair of boots to keep your child's feet warm and dry.
- Stuffed animal. If your child has a favorite stuffed animal, be sure to pack it. Having something familiar and comforting can help make the transition to a new routine easier.
- Extra pacifiers. If your child still uses a pacifier, pack a few extras in case they get lost or dirty.
- Teething Ring. If your child is teething, pack a teething ring to help soothe their gums.
- Photo of family. A family photo can provide your little one some comfort while they’re away from home. Slip it into their bag or attach it to a keychain that your little one can carry with them.
Food & Snacks
- Snacks. Talk to your daycare about whether or not food is provided throughout the day. If necessary, pack a few healthy snacks that are easy to eat and won’t make a mess for your child to enjoy throughout the day.
- Sippy cup or water bottle. Your child will need a sippy cup or water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day. Make sure it's labeled with their name and is easy for them to use.
- Extra bottles and formula. If your child is still drinking from a bottle, pack enough bottles and formula/breast milk for the day. Be sure to label each bottle with your child's name.
- Extra bibs or burp cloths. If your child is still learning to eat solid foods, pack a few extra bibs or burp cloths to clean up any messes.
Health & Safety
- Medications. If your child requires medication, make sure to pack it with clear instructions for the daycare staff. Label the medication with your child's name and keep it in its original container.
- Instructions. If your child has any special needs or requirements, such as allergies or a specific sleep routine, provide clear instructions for the daycare staff. Make sure to communicate any changes or updates to the staff as well.
- Nap mat or crib sheet. Speak to your daycare provider about what’s required for nap time. If your child will be taking a nap at daycare, you may need to provide a nap mat or crib sheet for them to use.
- Sleep Bag. If your child uses a sleep bag at home, pack one for nap time at daycare. Make sure it's appropriate for the season, a 1.7 TOG sleep bag is a good year-round option and a 1.0 TOG sleep bag is perfect for the warmer months.
- Blanket. If your child is old enough, you may also want to bring along a blanket they can use during nap time.
- Diaper Bag. Make sure you have your diaper bag stocked with all the essentials for trips to and from daycare.
- Pouch Set. A set of pouches can be handy for organizing your child's snacks and other small items. Use one pouch for snacks, another for extra clothes and a third for any necessary medications.
- Hand Sanitizer. Finally, pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer for your child to use before and after meals, after using the bathroom and after playing with toys. Make sure it's labeled with your child's name and is easy for them to use.
Transitions are always difficult but a little preparation can go a long way toward making things a whole lot easier. We hope this daycare checklist helps set you and your child up for a successful first day!
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s a good idea to pack at least two sets of clothes for your child when they go to daycare so they have a spare outfit in case of accidents or spills. However, depending on the age and needs of your child, you may want to pack more sets of clothes. It's always better to be prepared for unexpected situations.
When packing snacks for your child's daycare, it's important to consider their nutritional needs, any potential allergies as well as the daycare’s rules and guidelines. Here are some healthy and safe snack options to consider:
Fresh fruits like grapes, apples, bananas and oranges
Cut-up veggies like carrot sticks, cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes
Yogurt with granola or fruit on top
Cheese sticks or cubes
Whole grain crackers or rice cakes
Hummus with pita bread or veggies for dipping
Nut-free trail mix with dried fruits and seeds
Homemade muffins or granola bars
Smoothies in a spill-proof container
Yes, if your child is not yet potty trained, it’s a good idea to pack diapers and wipes for them when they go to daycare. Most daycares require parents to provide their child's diapers and wipes as part of the daily necessities. If you’re not sure whether or not your daycare provides diapers and wipes, be sure to reach out to them before your little one’s first day.
As most parents know, when it comes to diapers, less is not more. Pack more than you think your child will need for the day, just in case. You may also want to include diaper cream or ointment if your child has sensitive skin. In addition to diapers, if wipes are not provided by the daycare you should include those in your child’s bag as well.
When it comes to packing your child's daycare backpack, it's important to keep in mind that some items may not be allowed for safety reasons or to avoid any potential disruptions to the daycare environment. Here are some items that are typically not allowed in daycare backpacks:
Weapons or any item that could be used as a weapon
Medications or any other substances that need to be administered by a medical professional
Glass bottles or containers that could break and cause injury
Electronic devices such as tablets, phones, or gaming devices that could be a distraction to other children
Food or drinks that require heating or refrigeration, or that may contain nuts or other common allergens.
Choking hazards like hard candies, nuts or popcorns.
Always check with your daycare provider about their specific policies on what items are allowed in backpacks. It's important to follow these rules to ensure the safety and well-being of all children in the daycare environment.
It’s easy for mix-ups to happen at daycare so it’s a good idea to label all of your little one’s daycare essentials to help ensure that they come home with everything they brought to daycare. There are a few different ways you can label your child's items for daycare:
Use a permanent marker. One of the easiest and most effective ways to label your child's items is with a permanent marker. Simply write their name on the item in a visible location.
Use labels or stickers. Another option is to use labels or stickers with your child's name on them. You can purchase pre-made labels or create your own using a label maker or printable labels.
Use a laundry marker. If you're labeling clothing or other fabric items, a laundry marker is a great option. These markers are designed to withstand multiple washes without fading.
Before you get to labeling, check with your daycare provider about their specific labeling requirements.
How your little one adjusts to daycare naps may largely depend on their personality. If your child sleeps comfortably in new environments and is flexible in their routine, the transition might be a breeze. If they’re a lighter sleeper and miss their own space, it could take a bit longer. Either way, your little one will find their groove and the staff will be there to help along the way.
Adjusting your child’s nap schedule ahead of time to align with daycare will make the transition easier. You might also want to book a visit with your little one before starting, so they’re familiar with the space. Share your home routines with the daycare too, so they know what might help soothe your little down for a snooze.
When the time comes to start daycare, make sure your child is well-rested each day, because it’s a stimulating environment. You may want to switch to an earlier bedtime while they transition and bring comfort items to daycare, if they’re allowed. A familiar toy, blankie or pacifier might be the key to great naps!
Remember to be patient and don’t worry, if your child’s nap routine isn’t the same at daycare as it is at home. As long as they’re cared for and supported, the rest will fall into place.