Sending your baby off to daycare for the first time can be an emotional experience. Even if you’re looking forward to getting back to a normal routine, you also know the time with your little one is so fleeting. Though you can’t really prepare for how you'll feel, you can have all of the daycare essentials ready which will lighten your stress.
We put together this handy list of daycare essentials for infants so you’ll know you have everything set for day one. The last thing you want is to realize you’ve forgotten something important when you should be taking that time to get in every last baby snuggle possible.
Infant Essentials to Bring Daily to Daycare
When determining what supplies you need for daycare, you'll want to determine when you'll bring the different items. Some will need to be brought daily, others weekly, and some can stay for an extended period of time.
These are the items you'll want to put in your daycare bag daily.
It’s up to you if you want to have a separate diaper bag for daycare than the one you’ll be using with your little one. We think it’s nice to have one that’s just for daycare so that you’re not constantly taking things in and out that you don’t need for your evening or weekend excursions. Remember that you don’t need anything fancy, just something that is big enough to carry all the items your baby will need day-to-day.
If you breastfeed, you’ll need a cooler bag to transport your baby’s milk to daycare. This will ensure the freshest milk for your little one. You can put it directly into their fridge when you arrive, or keep it in your cooler bag (breastmilk can be stored in a cooler bag for up to 24 hours).
For more breastmilk storage tips read: “4 Best Tips for Handling and Storing Breastmilk.”
Breastmilk or Formula
Because of storage limitations, chances are you’ll be bringing bottles of breastmilk or formula for your baby daily. However, some smaller or in-home daycares may allow you to store your breastmilk or can of formula through the week. Just be sure you always have more than enough, just in case.
Whether or not you’ll be leaving some of your baby’s nutrition at daycare, you’ll still need to bring enough clean baby bottles each day. Having them pre-filled and ready to go will ensure your baby gets the exact amount of ounces of milk they need. This will also make it as easy as possible on the infant room teachers to prepare your little one’s bottle for quick service!
We rated the best bottles of 2020 in this post!
The Baby’s Brew Bottle Warmer
Since we’re on the subject of bottle prep, one thing you may have not considered is a bottle warmer. Perhaps you’ve had no problem doing this task at home, but it can be a bit trickier for daycare. Providing your daycare with a bottle warmer that they can use easily is key. We highly recommend the Baby’s Brew portable bottle warmer which topped the list of Best Bottle Warmers of 2020. Unlike other travel bottle warmers, it’s super reliable and your baby can get their milk at the exact temperature they prefer with the press of a button. With four different temperatures, it’s perfect for both breast milk and formula.
Bibs that Stay Put
Whether you have a young baby who is a major drooler (hello teething!) or you have an older infant who’s onto eating solids, you’ll need to have a bib for your little one to wear. Avoid any that your baby will easily yank off. Look for ones with firm closures or ones that go straight over the top of your baby’s head. Check with the daycare, too, they may have their own bibs they prefer to use for babies who have officially moved onto solids. If it’s one less thing you need to worry about...sweet!
Burp cloths are an essential item most younger babies will need at daycare. Having a freshly cleaned one (or two) available each day will be necessary.
Security blanket or stuffy (or both!)
Even though your baby won’t be sleeping with a blanket or stuffed animal in the first year (the AAP advises no blankets or soft objects in a crib until age 1), you’ll still want to bring their security items to daycare. These will come in clutch when transitioning your baby to their new environment. Anything that reminds them of their favorite place (home and in your arms!) will help comfort and relax them when it’s time for their nap or when they’re missing you.
Individual containers of baby food
You’ll want to check with your individual daycare to find out if you can store baby food there throughout the week. It can be nice to have one less thing to worry about packing each day. However, if you prepare your own pureed baby food, you’ll need to keep it refrigerated so that may be a situation where you’ll need to bring it daily depending on space.
Questions about starting solid foods? Read here!
Weekly Items to Bring to Daycare
There will be several items that you can bring to your baby’s daycare on Mondays and then take home at the end of the week (often for washing and disinfecting purposes). If your child is at a center, they’ll probably have their own cubby where you can store their belongings. You’ll probably be able to store diapering essentials for longer than a week, but just be sure to check in periodically to find out when your little one might be running low.
They’ll need a lot of these...need I say more?!
Same on the wipes, be sure your baby is stocked up for the week or longer.
Diaper Rash Cream
Tucked away with your diapers and wipes should be a tube of effective diaper rash cream. Your baby’s little booty may look just fine the morning before daycare, but that can change in an instant. Having diaper rash cream will make sure your baby stays comfortable all day long.
Every Monday, plan to bring in a fresh crib sheet for your baby. On Fridays, your daycare provided will probably pack it up along with everything else that needs to be taken home and washed over the weekend. You may want to keep a spare clean one in your baby’s cubby just in case a diaper explosion or major spit-up messes one up during the week.
Hoodie or Jacket
Depending on the time of year, it’s great to have a hoodie or jacket that just stays at daycare. That way, with any turn of the weather, your baby will be prepared in case it’s still warm enough for the teachers to take the little ones out for a bit of fresh air. (Or even if they just need an extra layer indoors.)
Chances are your daycare won’t be taking the babies from the infant room outside for any prolonged period of time in order to keep that baby skin safe. But they may go out for some fresh air from time to time. Sunscreen for babies under 6 months is not recommended, so find out what your daycare requires.
Other Daycare Essential Recommendations For Infants
Tylenol and Other Necessary Medication
Your baby’s daycare should have a clear policy on administering medication. Often times a doctor’s note will be required if your child is at a center. If you are comfortable with the daycare administering Tylenol or other medication, make sure you are clear on your expectations and they know the proper dosing. We recommend touching base with both your daycare and doctor about medication policies before the first day.
Don’t forget the labels!
Label everything! Daycare teachers have a lot to keep track of and it makes their jobs so much easier when they can clearly see what belongs to whom. Additionally, this will ensure that your baby always gets the correct bottle, food, etc.
Dressing Your Baby for Daycare
It can be tempting to get your baby all dressed up in the most darling outfit before taking them to daycare. But there really isn’t any reason to do so. Remember that your child’s teacher’s goal is to keep your baby safe, cared for and loved throughout the day. Giving an outfit that is tough to get on and off, or putting a bow on your baby that they just keep removing ends up just being a hassle. We recommend putting them in exactly what you put them in at home...which is usually a onesie or a footed sleeper!