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

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.

Best Toddler Formula, Baby’s Only Organic Dairy with Whey Toddler Drink

Best toddler formula

For toddlers in daycare, this toddler formula is a great option for parents who want to ensure their 1 year old gets adequate nutrition! USDA organic and with exclusively lactose as the carb source, Baby’s Only Gentle Toddler formula does not contain corn syrup like most conventional toddler formulas. I also love it as a shelf-stable option in place of whole milk when on the go or traveling!

Best Formula Powder Storage Containers, BÉABA Stackable Storage Containers for Baby Formula

Best formula storage

BÉABA Formula dispensers 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!

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 Multi-Colored Bottles, Tomme Tippee Closer to Nature Bottles

Best baby bottles for daycare

Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature Baby 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!

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 Pouches, Plum Organics Baby Food Variety Pack

Best baby food for daycare

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!

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 Cup

Best sippy cup for daycare

Dr Browns 360 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!

Food Storage for Daycare

At every age, you’re going to be sending food and snacks. Great food storage containers are a great investment, you’ll be using these beyond daycare, even when your kids start pre school and then real school (gulp!).

Best Food Storage for Daycare, Bentgo Kids Lunch Box

Best lunchbox for daycare

No matter what age your kids are, you’ll be packing them lunch and snacks (for almost an eternity). You’ll need a great lunch box that safely stores the foods while separating them (you know, no touching) and keeping everything fresh. We love all of the Bentgo lunch box styles for keeping it functional (for us) and super cute (for the kiddos). This lunchbox has 5 compartments, is leak proof and easy to clean!

Shop for more food storage here!

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

Best diapers for daycare

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!

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

Best baby wipes for daycare

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!

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

Best diaper cream for daycare

Bobbie 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!

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

Best onesies for daycare

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!

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.

Best Pacificers for Daycare, 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!

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

Best stuffie for daycare

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!

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 for Daycare, Skip Hop Toddler Backpack

Best baby 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!

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 Labels for Daycare, SeeWeLove Name Stamp for Clothing

Best name stamp for daycare

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!

Shop Bobbie Organic

Shop Bobbie Organic Infant Formula

Bobbie Organic Infant Formula is a USDA Organic, EU-style infant formula that meets all FDA requirements. It is a complete nutrition milk-based powder modeled after breast milk and is easy on tummies. It is non-GMO and doesn't have corn syrup, palm oil, or maltodextrin. Learn more about Bobbie.

Shop Bobbie
The content on this site is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Discuss any health or feeding concerns with your infant's pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay it based on the content on this page.

The content on this site is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Discuss any health or feeding concerns with your infant’s pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay it based on the content on this page.