Daycare Essentials for Infants or Toddlers
Daycare is an emotional time for everybody.
Getting what you need for daycare prepared in advance will be one less thing to worry about when the overwhelming drop off happens!
Here are the essentials my daycare advised me to bring. There are also a few I added as we gained more experience with the daycare. This list applies to toddlers or infants.
I’ve split it up into:
- ongoing/regular daycare items
- seasonal daycare items
I’ve also added in tips to keep in mind when selecting your daycare supply list.
Ongoing Daycare Essentials
1. Diapers and Wipes
If your baby is not potty trained, you will need to send a full pack of diapers and wipes every month or so to the daycare.
If you use cloth diapers, check with your daycare if they will accommodate these.
My daycare wouldn’t accommodate cloth diapers, but this wasn’t an issue for us as we were already using disposables.
We love how cloth diapers are more environmentally friendly.
While there would also be initial cost savings for cloth diapers, the time to wash (water, electricity, laundry detergent) and dry made the savings too small to justify the family time that would be sacrificed.
For disposable diapers, we tried a few different brands of diapers when she was born.
We had heard that some brands are better for certain shapes of babies. We were surprised that every brand worked fine as long as the size matched her weight and we did frequent changes.
Overall, we seemed to find that Pampers diapers resulted in fewer blowouts.
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For wipes, we use the Kirkland Signature Tencel Baby Wipes from Costco as they’re cheap, durable and don’t irritate my baby’s skin.
If your baby has sensitive skin, many moms have recommended these products:
- Diapers made from hypoallergenic and sustainable materials like these Honest Company Diapers or these Pampers Pure Diapers
- Water Wipes: They’re 99.9% pure water and 0.1% fruit extract. They’re the purest wipes available.
2. Diaper Cream
You should also include a diaper cream in your daycare essentials kit.
We love this diaper balm because it’s travel size, organic and works fast!
I’ve heard if you’re a cloth diapering family, it works with cloth diapers too!
You’ll want to bring a blanket for nap times at the daycare.
In the spring and summer, I often give the daycare a large muslin blanket to keep the baby warm.
These are incredibly useful because they’re versatile. Y
In the fall and winter time, I give the daycare a thicker baby blanket.
4. Crib Sheets
Most daycares have cots for little ones to nap on.
You’ll have to bring a crib sheet for the cot. Our daycare recommended bringing 1 for immediate use and a spare just in case the 1st one got dirty.
5. Bottles with Formula or Breast Milk
For young babies, you can add bottles to your daycare supplies list.
I would highly consider purchasing an extra full set of bottles.
That way you’re not constantly cleaning bottles in the evenings to prepare them for daycare the next day.
Don’t forget the formula or breast milk, depending on what your baby’s drinking.
6. Sippy cups
For older babies, add sippy cups to your daycare list.
Our daycare asked us to bring 1 sippy cup for milk and 1 for water for easier cleaning.
We decided to not use a traditional sippy cup because we heard from a nurse that these might result in tooth decay and speech issues. She said babies need to learn how to use regular cups.
We gave our baby water through a regular cup. Naturally, the water spilled everywhere!
We heard from a fellow mom about this trainer cup. It’s exactly like a regular cup except there are minimal spills!
The baby drinks from the rim like any regular cup. It’s only when you tilt the cup and apply pressure to the inside rim that liquid comes out. The little one can whip it around or throw it on the ground – maybe a few drops will come out, but that’s it!
This wasn’t initially on our daycare supply list.
We eventually gave it to them anyways after our daughter kept coming home with food, paint and marker stains on her clothes.
Since she’s had the bib at daycare, there have been minimal or no stains!
There are 2 bibs I like for different ages.
For 6-12 months, I loved these silicone bibs because they’re easy to put on and wipe down. The pocket does a great job of catching food. I like these ones particularly because they’re larger and softer than other silicone bibs I’ve seen.
When she was 1, I switched to this bib with sleeves. It’s light, waterproof and has velcro tabs. It was perfect for us at 1 year when she started being able to move her silicone bib out of the way and getting the food all over her clothes!
If your baby uses pacifiers, you might want to include this in your daycare supplies kit.
9. Extra clothing
Your child is going to need extra clothing at the daycare in case there are diaper blowouts, your kid slips in mud etc.
Our daycare recommended always having 2 extra outfits in her cubby.
For babies, don’t feel like you need to send them in fancy outfits. Pajamas will do. It’ll be less work for the teachers.
For the first 3-6 months or so, my baby just went through a rotation of sleepers.
I actually got Zipper pajamas, which are convenient (as compared to button pajamas) for getting the baby quickly in and out of their clothes. BUT 2-way zipper pajamas are even better because you don’t have to zip from the top down to do diaper changes.
You can just zip from the bottom up. These pajamas also have built in mittens to prevent face scratching AND footies with grip for when your little one learns to walk.
Even though this is on the pricey side, this is something I regret not getting because this would have been particularly handy at night or when it’s slightly chilly in the baby’s room.
This is what we included in our toddler’s daycare cubby.
For the spring and summer, we included:
- 1 t-shirt (In my experience, the older the toddler gets, the more difficult it becomes to get them in and out of a onesie with the 3 buttons you have to snap together around their diaper. Save yourself time and get the regular t-shirts.)
- 1 long-sleeve shirt
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 pair of pants
- 1 pair of socks (I prefer the anti-slip ones. Even though my daughter is walking well, she can be a little wobbly when she runs. This is an extra precautionary measure.)
- 1 hoodie
- 1 light jacket for outdoor time (in case it gets cold)
For the fall and winter, we included:
- 2 long-sleeve shirts
- 2 pairs of pants
- 1 sweater
If your little one is potty trained, you’ll want to bring an extra pair of underwear as well for accidents.
10. 1 extra pair of shoes
If your child is walking, you might want to add shoes to your daycare essentials list.
Some daycares have a policy about how kids always have to wear shoes, even when they nap!
It’s so that if there’s an emergency, everyone can quickly leave the facility without having to locate and put on shoes for the little ones!
My daycare asked us to bring 1 pair of shoes for indoors and 1 pair of shoes for outdoors. They can be the same shoes if you’d like i.e. 2 pairs of identical shoes.
If you’re uncertain about what type of shoes to get, I highly recommend getting ones that offer great support and promote natural foot and balance development like these Stride Rite sneakers.
These are genuine leather with a rubber sole so they’re soft and durable.
There’s a memory foam sole so it’s extra comfortable. They’re easy to put on with the velcro strap so you don’t have to mess around with laces, which the daycare teachers will appreciate!
You’re going to need to label all of your kid’s belongings so teachers can tell which item is your kid’s vs. another kid’s at the daycare.
You can use a sharpie pen on the plastic wrapping for your diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and sunscreen.
I don’t recommend using it on anything else e.g. clothes, water bottles etc.. Why?
Ink cannot be easily removed if you’re planning on selling the items afterwards. You’re definitely going to want to sell these items to recoup some of your costs.
Mom Tip: Sell your baby things right after you use them (provided you’re not anticipating needing it for another child). Baby products are constantly updated. The sooner you sell them, the better price point you can get. I also recommend that you sell them online through marketplaces like Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, Letgo, eBay and Varagesale. If you sell them at a yard sale or through a children’s consignment store, you’ll get significantly less. If you need to get rid of them fast because you need the cash and you’re experiencing warm weather, you can sell your clothes at a yard sale. Here are tips on how to host a yard sale to maximize your earnings.
So how do you label baby clothes etc.?
What our daycare recommended and what we did was go with Mabel’s Labels.
I initially got their daycare starter label pack because it was on sale.
When I ran out of those labels, I got the clothing label pack. You can put the clothing tags on everything including shoes, bottles, tupperware and bags!
I could have probably just gotten the clothing label pack to begin with.
If you sign up for their newsletter, you can get 20% off. (When you scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll see the newsletter sign up box at the bottom.)
12. Daycare Bag
Our daycare provided a cubby area with a plastic box that we could leave all our daughter’s belongings in.
If your daycare doesn’t provide this, you can bring a large reusable shopping bag or beach bag. I would check the area it will be stored in advance to ensure it fits.
You’ll probably also want to have a large bag to transport goods to and from the daycare. I know some parents use their diaper backpack, but I find a plain plastic or cloth shopping bag works just as well.
If you’re carrying bottles, it’s easier to carry it in a cooler bottle bag.
This bag also has a pocket in front for a spare outfit you need to bring etc.
13. Special Item
When your little one goes to daycare for the first time, it’s helpful to bring a comfort item from home.
This might be a blankie, a stuffed animal, a soother…
It’ll help make the transition a little smoother.
If your little one needs to hold onto a special item to nap, definitely don’t forget to bring that as well!
14. Family photo
Giving your daycare a family photo allows them to get to know your family.
It’s also a great tool the teachers can use to comfort your little one when he or she’s at daycare. This is especially useful in the first few weeks when your little one is getting used to the separation!
Our daycare actually put up all the family photos on a tree so the kids could point and look at it throughout the day. It was such a great touch!
15. Medications or items for allergies
If your little one needs medications or substitute products for allergies, don’t forget to include this in the daycare items list!
My daycare provided all meals and snacks.
I know some daycares allow or request you provide food.
If you have to provide food, these glass containers are great for pureed baby food. They even have measurement markings for portioning out food.
If you have an older child, I like this Bento Box.
I like how there are additional separate compartments. Sometimes you want that separate container for soups or sauces.
I like how my toddler can grow with it and use it in preschool and perhaps later years as well.
Seasonal Daycare Items
If your daycare takes the kids outside for outdoor play, it’s a good idea to provide sunscreen to your daycare provider (provided the baby’s over 6 months as I understand they shouldn’t use it under 6 months).
Getting a mineral sunscreen for babies (made without oxybenzone, parabens or added oils and fragrance) is better than a chemical sunscreen.
Here are a host of benefits detailing why mineral sunscreen is better than chemical sunscreen. One big reason is that it works as soon as it’s applied.
Chemical sunscreens take 20 minutes to be absorbed into the skin before it starts working. Daycare staff don’t have time to manage one kid’s sunscreen application time along with everything else they have to do.
As sunscreen has to be reapplied every few hours, it’s also a good idea to dress your little one in breathable UPF 50+ long sleeve shirts.
You probably want to order a size up to get more use (you can always roll up the sleeves).
18. Swimsuit, towel, water shoes
If your daycare has a kiddie pool, pack a swimsuit and towel for your child.
If the teachers take the children to the water park, you’ll want to pack water shoes as well.
For towels, we often packed a small towel we had around the house, but readers have mentioned how much they love this organic baby hooded towel.
I’ve heard it’s luxuriously soft! It has a premium, thick material and absorbs well. If my soft towel wears out, I will probably get this for my little one. I might even try to find an adult version for myself!
For kid’s water shoes, crocs are a solid option!
They’re light and easy to put on and take off. My daughter can put her’s on herself.
My daughter doesn’t just wear her’s in the pool and waterpark. She also wears it in the backyard, park and beach. It’s just a comfortable pair of shoes for her.
I like that it’s well-made, easy to clean, and protects her little feet from scratches.
19. Swim Diapers
Another swimming essential for the daycare – if your little one is still in diapers, you’ll need swim diapers that are designed for water use!
These did the trick for my little one in keeping the messes in! They’re also quite stretchy.
20. Sun hat
During the late spring and summer times, our daycare recommended that we give them a hat for our daughter.
I particularly like this sun hat because it has a wide brim to protect the face and neck.
21. Toque and scarf
Our daycare suggested that we bring a toque and scarf for her outdoor time in the winter.
Instead of bringing the 2 separate pieces, another mom recommended that I get an all-in-one toque and scarf.
I’m so glad we did! It’s so much faster than putting on both pieces each time. You also don’t have to worry about one piece going missing. I’m sure the daycare staff appreciate these features too!
22. Winter shoes
Winter shoes are another must have at the daycare during the winter time.
When I was first looking for winter shoes for my toddler, I scoured the local moms Facebook page for ideas.
Time and time again, I would hear about bogs.
These shoes are not cheap, but they’re worth every penny.
They’re insulated and warm! As the boots are high, the socks stay dry even when they’re playing in the snow.
They’re also light! With the handles, they’re easy for little ones to put on. There’s no additional velcro to manage!
At our daycare, the kids go outside twice a day. With her also coming home and going to daycare in her winter shoes, it’s a huge time saver when kids can get their shoes on themselves.
23. Winter Snow Suit
My daycare asked me to bring waterproof pants and a jacket as well as mittens.
Instead of bringing 3 separate pieces, I brought an all-in-one winter snow suit instead!
I love it because it saves time to get on and off. I used to have a 2 piece snow suit and that was a PAIN to manage with a wriggling toddler.
This one also has a fleece lining and built in mittens (so you won’t lose it in the snow)! It comes in a variety of colors.
When should you drop off what your child needs at daycare?
For our child’s first day at daycare, we dropped it off the week before.
This gave us time to put everything in her cubby and get it organized. My daughter also had time to look around the space and meet the teachers.
I highly recommend dropping your daycare items off in advance.
The first day you drop off your little one at daycare is often emotional and teary.
Our daycare also said that it’s best that when we do the drop off, we don’t hang around too long. That the longer parents stay – the more difficult it will be for little ones to adapt and accept their new surroundings and situation.
If you want to get in and out quickly, you’ll be rushed to drop off and explain all of your kid’s belongings. You also don’t want to forget anything!
It’s best to just drop off your daycare supplies in advance!
Final Thoughts on Daycare Essentials
Every daycare is different and has different practices.
You can start with asking your daycare for a supply list and then adapting the list to your situation.
To save money on costs, here are 2 resources that I found helpful:
- Amazon provides you with a one-time 10% discount on select items from your registry, 60 days before your child’s arrival date.
- If you are an Amazon Prime member, the one-time discount is 15%! Amazon Prime also comes with 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions. The best part about this membership: 2 day FREE shipping and FREE access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You can cancel your other subscriptions!
There are also FREE 90 day returns on baby store purchases. Get the FREE 30 day Amazon Prime trial here, which you can cancel at anytime.
You can also get a welcome gift box if you’re an Amazon Prime member and meet certain requirements like a minimum spend. Here are the specific eligibility requirements in the US. Here are the eligibility requirements in Canada.
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Recap of Daycare Supplies for Babies and Toddlers
- Diapers and wipes: Pampers diapers, Kirkland Signature Tencel Baby Wipes, Water Wipes, Honest Company Diapers, Pampers Pure Diapers
- Diaper cream
- Blanket: large muslin blanket, winter blanket
- Crib sheet
- Bottles with Formula or Breast Milk
- Trainer cup
- Bib: silicone bibs, bib with sleeves
- Pacifier with clip-on
- Extra clothing
- Extra shoes
- Labels: Sharpie pen, Mabel’s Labels
- Daycare Bag: beach bag, cooler bottle bag
- Special Item
- Family photo
- Medications or items for allergies
- Food: baby pureed food glass containers, Bento Box.
- Sun protection: mineral sunscreen for babies, breathable UPF 50+ long sleeve shirts
- Swimsuit, towel and water shoes: girl’s swimsuit with UPF 50+ Protection, boy’s swimsuit with UPF 50+ Protection, organic baby hooded towel, crocs
- Swim diapers
- Sun hat
- All-in-one toque and scarf
- Winter Boots
- Winter Snow Suit
Related Daycare Essentials Articles:
- 6 Month Old Baby Must Haves
- What I actually used from my hospital bag checklist
- Best Tips for flying with a baby
- Free Baby Things
- Baby on a Budget: 18 Tips You Need to Know
- Pregnancy Products I Couldn’t Live Without
- Practical Gifts for Baby Showers
- Baby Clothes Needed for First 3 Months to 1 Year
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