You probably have a lot of questions about what to bring to daycare for your infant.
Starting daycare can be challenging for new parents (and seasoned parents too). It can be a difficult transition at first.
Knowing what to pack for daycare can help make things feel less overwhelming.
Each daycare will have different specifications for what you need to bring and what they will provide.
Ultimately, you’ll want to check with your own daycare about what you need to bring for your infant.
However, here are a few guidelines and recommendations to help you prepare.
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What To Pack For Daycare
Your baby’s diaper will probably be changed (or checked) about every two hours while they’re in care.
Infants will go through about 4-5 diapers daily while at daycare.
Typically, daycares will request that you bring in a pack of diapers for your child. They may let you know when you need to bring in more or request that you check to see when your supply is running low.
Some daycares may ask for you to send enough diapers to last the week and to send a new supply at the beginning of each week.
What About Cloth Diapers?
Some daycares welcome cloth diapers while others do not allow them.
If you want to send cloth diapers for your infant and your daycare accommodates them, here are some general tips.
Send about 6 diapers per day to start. Always send more than you think your baby will need just in case. As your baby adjusts to daycare, you can figure out how many you actually need each day.
Since daycare will send home the dirty diapers each day, leave a wet bag to make this part easier.
Some daycares provide wipes but most will require you to bring wipes for your infant, similar to whatever their policy is for diapers.
3. Diaper Cream
It’s a good idea to send a tube of your favorite diaper cream to daycare for your infant.
Creams and ointments are typically considered medications and childcare centers will require you to provide written permission in order for them to use them on your baby.
For example, at my children’s daycare, we sign a parental consent form each year which includes a stipulation that gives staff permission to apply the diaper cream that we provide to our children.
If your baby uses a pacifier, send a few extras with them to daycare.
Make sure you let the childcare providers know when you want your baby to have their pacifier. For example, my son only used his pacifier at naptime.
5. Extra Clothes
Most daycares will want you to send a few different outfits in case your baby needs a change of clothes. They may keep these at the facility or have you bring them back and forth each day.
We send two different outfits in a gallon-sized plastic bag labeled with my kids’ names.
Make sure to replace clothes as the seasons change and your baby grows into the next size.
Our daycare provides bibs for the babies but some places may request that you bring in your own.
Bibs will need to be laundered frequently so you’ll probably want to pack at least three each day.
7. Crib Sheets
Our childcare center provided crib sheets for the babies but some may ask that you bring in your own.
Depending on their policy, you may need to send new sheets every day or just at the beginning of the week. If your sheets are kept at daycare and not sent home each day, the facility will likely send them back at the end of the week to be washed at home.
Some places may also request that you provide backup sheets or send a few sets to have on hand in case of accidents.
8. Sleep Sack Or Wearable Blanket
Licensed daycare facilities should follow their state’s guidelines in regard to safe sleep practices.
Most states require providers to place infants on their backs to sleep and prohibit soft bedding in cribs. (source)
For this reason, you probably won’t be able to send in a special blanket or lovey for your baby. If you do, they may not be able to have it in the crib with them (although they may be allowed to carry it around during wake times).
A sleep sack or wearable blanket is a great alternative to keep your infant cozy and safe when napping at daycare.
Read up on your state’s regulations and check with your particular daycare about their guidelines.
What Do You Send To Daycare For Naptime For Older Babies?
When babies get older, they will transition from the crib to a cot or floor mat. At this point, you’ll probably be required to send bedding for your child.
At our daycare, babies move up to the toddler room around 15-18 months and sleep in a cot. We bring in clean sheets and blankets every day (since Covid). Before Covid, we brought in a sheet and blanket that was kept at daycare and sent home at the end of the week.
9. Medications (if needed or As Needed)
Guidelines for giving infants medications at daycare may differ by state, but in general, if you will need daycare providers to administer any medications to your infant, you will need to sign a medication authorization or permission form for each medication.
Any prescribed medications (such as antibiotics or inhalers) should be stored in their original container with the dosing instructions attached.
You may also be required to provide a letter signed by your infant’s pediatrician in order to give any non-prescription medications (acetaminophen, ibuprofen).
Check with your childcare facility on their guidelines for administering medications to infants before sending anything with them to daycare.
What To Bring To Daycare For Feeding Your Infant
10. Premade Bottles
Daycares will typically request that you pack premade bottles with your infant each day, whether they drink formula or breastmilk.
Plan to send as many bottles as your baby normally drinks during the timeframe they will be at daycare.
This will probably be about 3-5 bottles per day depending on how long they spend in daycare and how often they eat.
Keep in mind that many daycares prefer non-glass bottles due to safety hazards.
11. Extra Bottles & Nipples
It’s a good idea to bring in extra bottles and nipples for your infant’s childcare center to have just in case. They may be able to store these at the daycare or you can pack extras each day along with their bottles.
12. Frozen Breastmilk Or Extra Formula
Sending extra formula or breastmilk is also a smart idea and your daycare may request that you do this.
My babies were both combo-fed so our daycare kept a can of formula and a few bags of frozen breastmilk just in case a spill happened or they needed something extra during the day.
Related Post: Essential Items for Pumping at Work
13. Food (when taking food)
When your baby is a little older and starts trying out foods, you may want to send purees or finger foods to complement their bottles.
Some childcare facilities will provide food for the children but if yours does not or you want to bring in your own, check on their policy.
Don’t send anything new that your baby hasn’t yet tried at home!
Do I Need To Send Silverware To Daycare?
Many daycares will have plates, bowls, and utensils for the children to use. If they don’t, sending toddler-sized silverware in a travel case is a great option.
14. Water cup
When your infant is old enough to start drinking water, consider packing a water cup or water bottle with them for daycare (usually around one year old).
Related Post: The Best Transition Cups for One-Year-Olds
Seasonal Items To Bring To Daycare For Your Infant
15. Sunscreen (if older than 6 months)
Childcare providers will often try to get the kids outside as much as possible on nice days.
Make sure to pack sunscreen for your baby during the summer.
It’s also a good idea to apply sunscreen in the morning before bringing them to daycare.
For younger infants, bringing a sunhat will help protect their heads and skin while outside in the sun.
17. Summer Gear For Water Play
Some daycares will do water play with the children in the summer.
Your daycare should let you know what to bring but typically, you’ll want to pack:
- water shoes
18. Winter Outdoor Gear
Childcare providers may try to take kids outside even when it’s cold and snowy.
Some things you may need to pack for your baby for daycare during the winter are:
- winter boots
- winter hat
What To Pack For Daycare Tips
If your daycare provides storage for your infant’s necessities, take advantage of that.
Your infant may have their own cubby or a bin where you can store items so you don’t have to keep taking them back and forth.
If not, it may be helpful to pack two bags: one for weekly items (diapers, wipes, diaper cream, extra clothes, seasonal items) and one for daily items (bottles, bibs).
The fewer things you have to remember to bring each day, the better!
Choosing The Right Labels For Daycare Supplies
Label everything that you send with your infant to daycare!
There are a few different options for labeling:
- Sticker labels (personalized vs write-on)
- Reusable labels
These are probably the most popular option for labeling items for daycare because you can use them for all surfaces including clothes and bottles.
You can choose from personalized labels, which come printed with your baby’s name, or blank labels that you can write on yourself.
Reusable labels are helpful for labeling bottles. These are usually made of food-grade silicone.
You can get reusable personalized labels and reusable write-on labels.
These reusable write-on labels can indicate the date a bottle was prepared and whether there is formula or breastmilk in the bottle.
Stamp labels are great for clothing, blankets, sheets, and other similar items.
These are one of the most convenient ways to label items because you just grab them, stamp them, and they’re all set.
As a backup, you can always label your items with a trusted Sharpie.
There have been many occasions when I’m about to walk out the door to daycare and realize I haven’t labeled a new item. I just grab a Sharpie and scribble my kid’s name and we’re good to go.
Final Thoughts On What To Bring To Daycare For Your Infant
Thinking about what to bring to daycare for your infant can feel overwhelming. This is especially true if you are a first-time mom or parent of multiple kids and are just returning to work after maternity leave.
The main things you’ll need are diapers, wipes, bottles, and extra clothes. Optional items include pacifiers, wearable blankets, diaper cream, and medications. You may also need to pack sheets and bibs and seasonal supplies like sunscreen or a snowsuit.
Mornings may seem a lot more hectic than they used to. Try to minimize the stress by preparing what you need to pack for daycare ahead of time.