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What to Pack for Daycare: 12 Daycare Essentials for your Baby or Toddler

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Packing up for your baby’s first days at daycare can feel overwhelming. Parents are always wondering what to pack for daycare. What don’t you pack?! You want your child to have everything they could possibly need in their time away from you, but the truth is: a short, well-curated list of tried and true daycare essentials will get them through anything!

“Parents already have so much on their minds as they prepare for the daycare transition” says Rachel Duda, VP of Learning at Vivvi, a child care and early learning provider that serves families with children 0-5. “Try to focus on just what you need and nothing more. Babies often require less than you think!”

Ask your child care provider for a list of their top baby essentials, and remember to account for specific rules you may need to adhere to. Some daycares are nut-free; others prohibit glass bottles. 

And while you certainly don’t need designer duds (there’s nothing worse than finding out someone else accidentally wore your baby’s Gucci onesie home), you’ll want to send your baby with quality items that are easy to use and long-lasting. Constantly replacing items can be expensive and time consuming.

To help you start shopping, we asked the most veteran child care providers on the Vivvi team to come up with a curated list of daycare essentials for baby. 

12 Daycare Essentials

1. Milk and Formula for Daycare

Number one on our list is food for your infant. Every parent needs to know how to bring breast milk or baby formula to daycare. Whether you’re a breastfeeding or formula-feeding family, having it pre-measured for each feeding will make it easier on your caregiver. It will also help you keep track of how much your baby is eating, and help your childcare providers stay organized at feeding time.

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Breastfeeding families will want to bring pre-measured bags of breastmilk, and formula feeding families will find formula storage containers helpful. Your daycare may also ask you to provide back-up milk and formula, as well.

Formula Powder Storage Containers 

Best formula storage

BÉABA Stackable Storage Containers for Baby Formula are great storage systems for baby formula. They are stackable, in 3 Compartments, and 100% airtight. When you’re done using them for formula, they are great snack containers to fit easily in your diaper bag or to take in the car!

Shop for more formula storage dispensers here!

2. Baby Bottles for Daycare

The sheer amount of great baby bottles on the market today is overwhelming to say the least. While we love the sustainability behind glass bottles, most daycares say no to glass for safety reasons. 

If your child is transitioning from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, start practicing with bottles before you send them to daycare. It can often take some time for a baby to get used to something new; and rest assured that even if they go on bottle strike at first, they’ll eventually settle into the new routine.

Best baby bottles for daycare

Tomme Tippee Closer to Nature Bottles Fiesta Collection is a great bottle choice for daycare for many reasons. First of all, look at the colors! You’ll know which bottles are YOURS. Second, whether you’re feeding your baby formula or breastmilk, this bottle shape is a favorite. 14,000+ reviewers on Amazon agree!

Shop for more baby bottles for daycare here!

3. Purees and Finger Foods for Daycare

Many daycares require that you send your child with their own food, so let the lunch-making adventures begin! Glass is usually out of the question here, too, so look for premade foods in non-breakable plastic containers or squeeze tubes. You can also make your own purees and store in plastic containers or reusable squeeze tubes.

Best baby food for daycare

Plum Organics Baby Food Variety Pack. You’re going to need a lot of baby food pouches to send to daycare, so start with a variety pack! This box of 18 comes with fruits and veggies for Stage 2 (6 months+) kids. They are organic, non-gmo and taste yummy (our kids say so!).

Shop for more baby food pouches here!

4. Sippy Cups for Daycare

Pediatricians also recommend cup drinking starting at 12-months. Your baby may be ready or curious even earlier than that. And while there’s more sippy cups on the market than you could use during an entire childhood, you only need to choose one that works for you and your little one.

Best sippy cup for daycare

Dr. Brown’s Cheers 360 Spoutless Training Cups have long been a favorite of early childcare educators for the way they mimic regular cups and help little ones develop that key muscle memory for drinking. They allow baby to drink from any edge without leaking. As baby gets older, you can remove the silicone valve and use it as a big kid cup. Also, dishwasher safe and BPA free.

Shop for more sippy cups here!

5. Diapers for Daycare

Poop happens…even at daycare. If your child uses disposable diapers, you’ll want to keep at least one package of diapers in stock at your child’s daycare. 

If you’re a cloth diapering family, communicate with your daycare about whether cloth diapering is doable in their setting. Not every childcare facility can accommodate cloth diapering, so be prepared to use disposable diapers; there are some great options that are better for the environment and easy on your child’s skin too.

Best diapers for daycare

Coterie Diaper Subscription. You’re going to need a lot of diapers for daycare! Let Coterie send the diapers straight to you whenever you need (seriously, just text!). Sizes range from Newborn/01 to 06. When your kids outgrow these diapers, you can shift your order to the 2-in-1 Coterie Pants. They are all hypoallergenic, super soft and free of chlorine, dyes, parabens, and fragrance. Bonus buy— add the Coterie Wipes and get it all done in one click.

Shop for more diapers for daycare here!

6. Baby Wipes for Daycare

Oh yes, you’ll need a whole package of wipes at daycare at all times. Package these with the diapers. And add extras for hands, face and all the things.

Best baby wipes for daycare

Water Wipes Hypoallergenic Baby Wipes. 720 wipes ready for you in one purchase, thanks to Water Wipes from Amazon. These wipes are 99.9% water, hypoallergenic and unscented. If baby’s got sensitive skin, these are your wipes. Even if they’re not, for hands, face and tush these are a great choice.

Shop for more baby wipes for daycare here!

7. Diaper Cream for Daycare

One thing that is never shared at daycare: diaper cream. So you’ll want to make sure you’re always stocked up – and that your bottle or jar is labeled.

Best diaper cream for daycare

Dr. Mom Butt Balm Diaper Rash Ointment. Moms rave about Dr. Mom Butt Balm probably because it was made by a mom! Who is a doctor! This clear, creamy ointment goes on smooth, without leaving behind the giant white matte mess. The tube is easy to open/close (with one hand) and fits perfectly in your diaper bag’s side slot.

Shop for more diaper creams for daycare here!

8. Baby Clothes for Daycare

Onesies, onesies, onesies. Our favorites have quick open snaps for easy access to your little one and also wear well – these little outfits will be washed nonstop! You’ll want to keep your daycare stocked with extras and remember to swap them out seasonally and as your baby moves into the next size up.

Best onesies for daycare

Burt’s Bees Baby 5-pack Short Sleeve Organic Cotton One-pieces. You already know you need a lot of onesies for your little one, so a 5 pack is the way to go. We like having a ‘brand’ that everyone knows is ours so it doesn’t get mixed in with every other kids’ belongings. These onesies are incredibly soft, organic cotton. Tag free, itch free.

Shop for more baby onesies for daycare here!

9. Pacifiers for Daycare

If your baby uses a pacifier, you’ll want to make sure your daycare has a few backups of his or her favorite style. A safety note here: most daycares don’t allow pacifiers that are attached to stuffed animals or clips.

MAM Air Night & Day Baby Pacifier, 6-16 Months. You can never have enough pacifiers. Are we right? Order a few of these 6 packs to get the daycare bag started. The large open air holes on these MAM pacifiers allows for plenty of breathing room for babies with sensitive skin and even lets you peek at your baby’s smile! The best part? They glow in the dark! They should be called sleep-savers.

Shop for more pacifiers for daycare here!

10. Comfort Items for Daycare

There will be times your baby misses you and wants to feel your presence. Packing a comfort item, like a favorite stuffie or blanket, can be a great way to help your child feel connected to you and their home even when they’re away.

Best stuffie for daycare

Jellycat Bashful Blush Bunny Stuffed Animal. Everyone loves their stuffie. That doesn’t end when they leave the house for daycare. Choose one that’s easily recognizable so everyone knows this is yours! Jellycat animals are SO soft and lovable, your babe will never let it out of their sight.

Shop for more stuffed animals for daycare here!

11. Baby Backpack for Daycare

Okay, you may think your six-week-old is a little too little for a backpack, but hear us out on this one. This little backpack will be in your child’s life from those first days, when it’s packed with an extra pacifier and diaper cream, until they upgrade to a full-sized backpack when they enter Kindergarten. A little backpack will become part of their routine and will eventually be the bag they carry themselves to preschool.

The smaller the backpack, the better. The goal here is to eventually get your little one in on the carrying action, so invest in a bag that was specifically designed with small bodies in mind.

Best baby backpack

Skip Hop Toddler Backpack. All the kiddos love having their own backpacks for their prized essentials (see stuffie above). Plus you can use this backpack for your essentials, like pacifiers, sippy cups and a few of the many snacks.

Shop for more toddler backpacks for daycare here!

12. Name Labels for Daycare

Label everything! You’d be amazed by how many children have similar items and unfortunately, your little one is not quite ready to identify what belongs to them just yet! Labeling your items will help caregivers keep track of your child’s belongings and help prevent losses or accidental mix ups.

You have a lot of options here, too. From iron-ons, to permanent ink stamps to plastic stickers that never fall off, name labels are a real Type-A parent’s dream.

Best name stamp for daycare

SeeWeLove Name Stamp for Clothing. Stamp EVERYTHING! That’s the best parenting advice we can share. This stamper makes it very easy, and makes it permanent. You can include a cute animal logo, your child’s name and your telephone number for when things DO get lost. Plus this helps for years to come— think camp, school, playground and more.

Shop for more daycare name labels here!

Can You Have Glass Bottles at daycare?

The answer is likely no, but you need to check with your specific provider. There are glass baby bottles now that come with a silicone wrap for safety, so it’s worth asking if those are allowed if glass is your preference.

Essentials for Daycare

The list may sound long, but you only need 1-2 items per section. Just make sure you’ve got the clothes, diapers, wipes and food, most importantly. The daycare centers are pros at telling you what works best, so rely on them for the very best list for your little one. And don’t worry. The babes will do great!

This article was produced in partnership with Bobbie. Our editorial team personally selects each featured product. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you.

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