Figuring out what you really need to get your infant or toddler started at daycare may seem so obvious, 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.
I went back to work after my first born was about seven months old. After I had my second I returned to work when he 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 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.
Some of the links below contain affiliate linking, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Self Laminating Labels for Daycare Items
These labels from Amazon are inexpensive and super easy to apply. They’ve also withstood dishwashing for years as some of our sippy cups that were my oldest’s are now the possession of the baby.
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.
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.
Washable Clothing and Shoe Labels for 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, 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
My 21-month-old still drinks whole organic milk and is required to have a sippy cup of water in his class as he transitions into drinking out of regular cups. 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.
I also line the bottom of the tote with a kitchen towel because let’s face it; they don’t exactly make sippy-cup-friendly-lunch pails. And if they do, please let me know because I’m always on the lookout for new gadgets to make my life easier.
A Tote Bag to Carry it All
Sure you could have your kids carry a back-pack, and sometimes the boys love to do that. 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.
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!