Returning to work after you’ve welcomed a new little one to your family requires an amount of planning and preparation that just may take you by surprise. Unless you’re hiring a private nurse or sitter to provide one-on-one care for your baby in your home, you’re soon going to discover the importance of clearly labeling all of his or her items to make things easier for your daycare provider and to also provide yourself with some much-needed peace of mind.
Why Worry About Labeling Bottles?
In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter if your baby comes home with the wrong socks or jacket, but getting the wrong bottle at daycare could mean that your child has missed out on the critical nutrition that you want him or her to receive. As a parent, nothing is more personal than the food you provide for your baby, and this is equally true whether you’re using infant formula or pumping and storing breast milk.
As a formula-feeding parent, you’ve likely put a lot of time, research and consideration into picking out a formula that’s right for your baby. Your pediatrician may also have made a recommendation on a product that he or she feels your baby needs in order to thrive. Properly labeling your child’s formula bottles will help to ensure that the nutrition you intend is what’s being provided even when you’re not there.
If you’re a mom who’s taking the time and effort to pump at your workplace or home and then spending even more time and effort in storing, transporting, and packaging the breast milk that you collect, you definitely want your child and only your child to receive it. Taking a few seconds more to attach a durable label to each bottle that indicates that it’s for your child alone is just one more step in a process that you’re already committed to.
Enlisting the Cooperation of Your Care Provider
When caring for multiple infants at the same time, attention to detail is crucial, and it’s something that you should look for when you screen and interview prospective child care providers. Among other things, the daycare provider that you select should be just as concerned as you are about ensuring that your child receives the bottles that you prepare, and the center must have written procedures in place for maintaining each child’s supplies to prevent mix-ups. Good organizational and housekeeping practices should be apparent even to the casual observer, and there must a reliable method for all individuals involved in your child’s day-to-day care to be kept up-to-date on your particular wishes.
Related: What should I look for in a daycare checklist?
Choosing a Labeling System
A wide variety of labeling products made just for bottles and other frequently used baby items can be found at most major retailers as well as on-line. Whether you go with individual bottle labels or opt for a personalized labeling system that incorporates labels for bottles and other items, you should look for products that will last. Labels that are easily damaged or that require frequent replacement will only create more uncertainty and more work for you in the long run.
Labels commonly take the form of adhesive stickers that are designed to stick directly to a bottle’s surface or bottle tags that are attached around the neck of a bottle. More unique product offerings, including stretchy band labels personalized with a child’s name, are also available. Adhesive labels are generally cheap and easy to use, but they may become damaged or faded by frequent washing. Bottle tags are easy to remove and reuse, but they are prone to detaching and getting lost. Stretchy band labels can be reused and are difficult to accidentally remove, but they do represent a larger initial cost investment and may not have a place for recording the bottle’s date.
Making it Happen
When labeling bottles for your child, it’s best to avoid initials and nicknames altogether. Instead, use his or her entire first and last names along with the date, and ensure that the writing is clear and legible. This can prevent confusion if your child’s name is similar to someone else’s or if a substitute other than your child’s regular care provider has to step in. When using pre-printed or inscribed labeling products, there’s no need to worry about the quality of your penmanship, but you do need to ensure that the bottle is dated for timely usage.
If you don’t already have a solid nighttime routine in place for getting ready for the following day, the ideal time to begin developing one is before you start back to work. Your comprehensive nighttime routine should include checking and replenishing diapers and other regularly used supplies in your child’s go-bag, preparing all the bottles that he or she will need and laying out clothes. While this checklist can be performed in the morning before you leave, it’s much more likely that you’ll overlook even critically important items when you’re rushed. Most parents find that it’s far simpler to take care of these important tasks in the evening when they and their babies are winding down for the day.
Early Planning Makes Everything Easier
Labeling your child’s bottles is one task that is particularly important to get right. Taking steps to prepare while you’re still out on parental leave and before you’re faced with all the other realities that go into heading back to work will greatly improve your day-to-day efficiency both in the workplace and at home.