Making the decision to put your toddler in daycare marks the beginning of a lot of changes for your family. Your child may be at first resistant to these changes, and there’s usually an adjustment period. You can make your transition easier by getting prepared. One of the most important things you can do is pack adequately. Your child will need certain items during the day. The only way to ensure that he or she does not go without is to plan and pack ahead of time.
Clothing and Personal Items
Pack two bags. One bag is used to carry food, and the other can be used for clothes and other necessities. The clothes and other items can be transported in a diaper bag.
Be sure to include a full change of clothes in your diaper bag. Some parents make the mistake of only packing pants because they believe the child will only need pants in case of a potty accident.
However, you should remember that kids play rough. If your child rips his or her shirt or dress on the playground, it’s a good idea to have a backup ready in the diaper bag. You may not need to send clothes every week. If your child comes home in the same outfit each day, then there’s no need to send an extra outfit because one is already stored at the child care facility.
In addition to clothes, you should also check that your diaper bag contains the following items that are often forgotten:
- Diaper rash cream
- Baby wipes
- A change of underwear
- Gloves or mittens
- A hat or bonnet, especially for field trips in which your child is outdoors
- Hand lotion, especially in winter and especially for kids with dry skin
- Teething gel
Most daycare providers have certain policies about toys. Ask your child’s provider about the rules for their particular center. Most child care centers will allow you to send one small toy with your child. For instance, a small furry object could help your child relax and sleep better during naptime. Or, some parents prefer to send a pacifier that the child prefers to sleep with.
You don’t want to send more than one toy item, though. Most daycares already have toys for the children to play with. Also, you don’t want to lug around a bunch of heavy and unnecessary items each week.
Once you’ve got your diaper bag packed, then you can put together your child’s food in a small cooler or lunch bag. Some items can be taken at the beginning of the week and stored there, such as non-perishables. However, perishables must be taken every day or perhaps stored at the facility in a refrigerator. Be sure to ask how much food your child care facility will allow you to store.
You should also ask about other rules for meals. Most providers will furnish lunch and a snack. However, if your child is a finicky eater, you may be able to send extra food. The facility will discard your food from the fridge after it has been there for a certain length of time. Be sure to ask your center about extra food that your child has not eaten. Other centers might allow you to send a snack, but they may discourage you from sending a full lunch.
For a snack, pack fruits and veggies each week, such as apple wedges or carrot slices. You could also send crackers at the beginning of the week, and this prevents you from having to send more each day.
Don’t forget to send eating utensils. If your child has a special cup he or she likes, you could store it at the child care facility. To make things easier for the provider, you could also send bibs and clean washcloths at the start of the week. Send your prepared meals in a plastic container, preferably one with secure locks. A sturdy container can help prevent leaks and spills.
Here are a few reminders for you. First of all, don’t forget to label your child’s belongings. Use a black marker to label your plastic containers and personal items. Fold clothing and tie it up in a bag with a name label on it.
It’s also a good idea to make friends with the parents at your child’s center. That way, if you forget to pack something, another parent would be willing to let you borrow from them. You could also offer to lend a pack of crackers or some extra wipes to a parent who needs them.
Another good piece of advice is to watch what you see other parents bringing to the daycare. Watching another parent unload a few things could give you some ideas for what you could bring next week. You could also ask your child’s daycare for a list of necessities. Most daycares have such lists already written for parents.
In short, you can alleviate the worry by keeping an inventory of what your child needs each week. Pack two bags for your child. Send extra clothing and necessities in a diaper bag, and pack food separately. Keep track of what your child uses each week, and replenish items when necessary.