5 Things You Need to Prepare Your Child for Daycare

Figuring out what you really need to buy to get your infant or toddler’s first day at daycare may feel like it’s obvious (diapers, wipes, blanket, binky for example) . But when you're a new mom faced with this challenge, coupled with the stress of going back to work, sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

Below are some items that you will likely need to help your baby make the transition to daycare seamless and effortless.

I went back to work after my first born was about seven months old and my second was three months old. Because of teacher preference or administrative issues we’ve also transferred to three different daycares over the course of three years.  

I think it’s safe to say we have this daycare thing down pat.  

But there are some products and things that I couldn’t do without when it comes to preparing the boys for their days of learning and adventure while I get to do what I love and also help to support our family.  

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Preparing for Daycare

Before you get ready to launch your child into their newest adventure, you’ll want ot do some mental and emotional prep work with them (and with yourself)

Check out this post on how to help your baby or child through the unique challenge of transitioning to their new normal.

The bottom line:

  • Practice the routine of Daycare before daycare so your child (and you) can get into the habit of it (lunch time/nap times/work times)

  • Try to provide some sort of transitional object from home or of yours to help your child feel comforted on their first day (and in the weeks it takes to adjust to the new normal).

  • If your child is old enough, talk about it with them. And if you can provide some other socialization opportunities prior to their first day, do it! The more comfortable your child is with other children and other new adults, the easier the transition will become.

Helping Your Baby With the Transition to Daycare

I say baby, but this applies to young toddlers and slightly older children starting pre-school as well.

I polled several real moms and mom bloggers to find the most successful tips to help their child transition to daycare without tears (as much as possible) .

You can read that post here.

The Bottom line:

  • Come up with some sort of routine that can help your baby feel control over her day, be it a good bye routine, or a morning ritual before school, or bringing a transitional object or lovey every day.

  • Work out details with your daycare provider and set expectations with your child about how long they’ll be there so for example: After your afternoon snack I’ll pick you up and we’ll go to the store and get groceries for dinner!

Label Everything at Daycare

Now that your child is going to daycare, you’re going to become very acquainted with the idea that you have to label every thing: Bottles, blankets, spare binkies, lovies, clothes, even their extra pairs of shoes for when they’re potty training.

These labels from Amazon are inexpensive and super easy to apply and they survive multiple washes without coming off (unless your toddler/baby gets clever and figures out how to peel them off.

I tend to pre-write little man’s name on all of the labels in the package. This way, when I do have to label new cups or bottles, or in the event a label does finally fall off (or more often the baby figures out how to peel it off) it’s a quick peel and stick, and we’re back in business. 

Other moms swear by these labels because they’re super sturdy and will withstand little curious fingers from picking at them (in theory)

You can also get personalized labels such as these on Etsy (which save having to write your baby’s name and make them very unique and easy for your child to find their water bottle in a mess of other bottles.

Re-writeable Food Labels 

Most daycares require you to indicate whether or not the bottles you’ve sent are filled with formula or breast milk, and today’s date. Even as they transition into older classes, you’ll likely need to label milk and water sippy cups as well.  

These rewritable labels are fantastic because you can use a regular sharpie to tag and a paper towel to erase. 

They work a lot better once they’ve been run through the dishwasher at least once and make sure you apply them to as flat as a surface as possible. On some of our bumpier cups and bottles, we have to use the super small size to find a flat surface that won’t have it peeling off after one washing. 

These are also quite sturdy, dishwasher safe and are less likely to fall off with little hands peeling them.

Washable Clothing and Shoe Labels for Starting Daycare

You’re probably sensing a theme at this point. Daycare makes you label everything, and for a good reason. I can’t tell you how many times an unlabeled spare blanket, sippy cup, or random toy has wound up in our stuff at the end of the week. 

I love these labels because they’re relatively inexpensive, come in different sizes, and are washable. We have them in jackets, on blankets, backpacks, shirts, etc.

They’re super handy especially if you have a younger child with hand-me-downs of an older sibling. You can quickly remove the old label or merely cover it up with a new one. 

I have super active silly boys who require a lot of running to feel whole and complete.

These shoe labels have been able to handle all of it. Sand in the shoe? No problem. Wood chips? Easy peasy. They’re great too as the boys get older and show an interest in putting on their own shoes, helping them designate which shoe is for which foot. 

An Insulated Tote Bag and Ice Packs 

Both my boys transitioned to drinking out of regular cups while at daycare, and for a time still drank whole organic milk and is required to have a sippy cup of water.

I love having a little lunch bag to put this in because the odds are high there is no refrigerator. 

These ice packs seriously stay cold for-e-ver. At least that’s what it seems like.

Plus I like using this insulated wine holder to keep the milk cup cool and supported standing upright in the bag. (and bonus DGAF-life, it’s re-usable for actual wine for play dates woot)
I also line the bottom of the tote with a kitchen towel because let’s face it; I’ve tried at leas 15 different types of “no spill” sippy cups and they never ever survive the trip to and from daycare without spilling at least somewhere.

And if you have somehow found a unicorn sippy cup that doesn’t spill, please let me know in the comments below because I’m always on the lookout for new gadgets to make my life easier. 

A Tote Bag to Carry All of the Daycare Gear 

Sure you could have your kids carry a back-pack, and lately we’ve been doing this as the boys get older.

I like the ones linked above because a) they’re insulated so they can double as a lunch pail and b). They have that little mesh holder for water bottles which are great.

When it comes to trecking the big stuff - sheets, blankets, changes of clothes - that I have to do every Monday and Friday.

But I find it easier to just throw everything into a tote bag, like this one, to carry things in and out. I need my hands-free when I’m juggling carrying a car seat, holding a toddler's hand, or holding a baby and wrangling his brother. Being able to throw the tote over my shoulder has been super handy. Plus at the end of the week, when they send home sheets, blankets, and any lovey’s to wash over the weekend, this makes it easy to carry it all in one place. 

I also love that this one has a pocket for “bottles.”

I tend to use it for stray artwork, or paper products that the boys are always collecting at the end of the week.

Do What Works for You and What Makes it Easier

Whatever you chose to do with your working days, and wherever you chose to send your precious little humans, just know that you'll be in good hands if you add a few of these items to your daycare arsenal for your infant or toddler.

Good luck, Momma! there may be a few tears, but you can do it! 

Do me a favor, if you found this helpful please pin the below to pinterest to spread the word to other working mommas in the daycare struggle.