Your child’s daycare center may provide a list of items kids will need while they’re there, for a typical day and to comply with Covid guidelines. But what else should you pack, aside from a pack of tissues for yourself? Here’s your handy checklist of daycare must-haves and why they’re important.

photo: Tanaphong Toochinda via Unsplash

1. Labels
Slap your kid’s name on everything, from bottles to clothes. We love Mabel’s Labels, because they’re pre-printed with your child’s name, come in easy-to-use packs, and they stay put through hundreds of washings. Put a few waterproof labels on your little one’s bag, lunch bag, jacket and inside shoes. If your child has food allergies, order allergy labels, too.

2. Bottles & Liquids
Depending on how long your little one will be at daycare, you’ll need baby bottles plus breast milk or formula or, for older kids, a leak-proof water bottle. Be sure to pre-measure formula. Most daycares have refrigerators or freezers available to keep liquids cold.

3. Lunch Bag & Bibs
If your little one eats solid food, you’ll also need a lunch bag and bib. An insulated lunch bag is best, as it keeps food cool and can be used later on for picnics and other excursions. We love the PackIt lunch bags with built-in cold packs.

4. Diapers & Wipes
Gather up diapers in the right size, and send off as many as your little one will need at the start of each week, with a few extra just in case. It’s easiest to label diapers with a Sharpie. Be sure to send a labeled pack of wipes, too. And pack diaper cream if your little one is prone to rashes.

photo: Gautam Arora via Unsplash

5. Spare Clothes
Pack at least two spare outfits for your child. You never know when your little one will have a blowout or get food or art supplies on themselves, and childcare centers don’t usually have spare clothes in every size. Check size and seasonality of the spare clothes in your bag every two or three months, so your kiddo isn’t stuck in shorts two sizes to small in January. Oh, and don’t forget extra socks!

6. Medication
If your child takes medication regularly, you’ll need to bring a brand new bottle of that medication with you, in its original packaging. Most daycares have very specific requirements both to keep little ones safe and due to licensing, so be sure to follow those carefully so your baby’s medication is readily available and can be dispensed by daycare staff when needed.

7. Sunscreen & a Hat
You want your baby’s skin protected during outdoor playtime, so packing baby-friendly sunscreen is a must. Send along a labeled bottle of your favorite sunscreen, and add a sun hat for extra coverage.

8. Weather Gear
Fresh air is brain food for babies, and most daycares bring kids outside as often as possible, even if it’s just for a few minutes. That means toddlers might stomp around in puddles or stare up at snowflakes. Be sure to pack weather-appropriate gear (boots, jackets, hats) so your little one is comfortable, no matter the weather.

photo: 东旭 王 via Unsplash

9. A Family Photo
Many daycares put family photos up on their walls or have them in a readily available photo album. Little ones love to look at pics of their family membersjust like we do. Check with your child’s school to see if they have specific requirements for what types of photos to send.

10. Lovies
Lovies can make the transition from home to daycare a little easier. While it’s a good idea to pack a favorite snuggly item, don’t send something irreplaceable (or buy a back-up), as blankies can disappear. Also, ask if your daycare center has policies on what you can and can’t bring. Order a pair of matching lovies, like the snuggly offerings from Bunnies by the Bay or the two-packs of security blankets from Copper Pearl, and you’ll be all set. A few days before the big drop-off day at daycare, hold the lovie to give it some of your comforting scent.

11. Lists of Your Little One’s Likes & Dislikes, Plus Paperwork
Does your baby love a good lullaby before naps, or hate avocados? Daycares usually send home paperwork that includes a getting-to-know-you child form, plus essential information like medical history and development and milestone updates. Fill out these forms and include any additional information your baby’s caregivers might need so they’re able to take good care of your sweet babe.

—Oz Spies

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