Let me start by saying that we were lucky enough that my husband was able to stay at home with J for the first 2 years of his life. He works for himself and he works while J is napping, when I get home in the evenings, and every weekend. It's a sacrifice for all of us but it's been amazing seeing the bond they have formed because my husband stayed home with him. I'm lucky enough to be a teacher so I'm home with J all summer and on all holidays.
All that to say that J is turning 2 and we are going to send him to daycare twice a week. He will still be home with my husband the other 3 days but we've had a wonderful opportunity come up that we couldn't pass up. J needs to have more social interaction with kids his age and my school has started a learning center for children ages 2-4 for J will actually be coming with me two days a week to school.
Now I haven't been to a daycare before so I have been asking the daycare 5 billion questions about what he needs as well as talking to my friends. I have some friends that send their children to in home daycare and some that send them to centers. I even have a friend who runs an in home daycare so I asked them all for advice on what to pack, what to leave home, and what we should bring back and forth daily. Surprisingly the lists were all very similar with a few differences based on sleeping arrangements and how food is handled. Otherwise, it sounds like all toddlers need the same things for daycare.
So today we're talking about packing your toddler's bag for daycare. I'll talk about what needs to stay at daycare, how to label it, and what needs to be in the travel bag or book bag every day.
Things That Stay at Daycare
1. A bag- I simply took in one of my extra diaper bags to keep everything in. Make sure it is big enough to hold everything you need.
2. Diapers-bring in a large pack and write your child's name on it in permanent marker. If your child is potty trained then send in extra underwear instead of diapers.
3. Wipes- Whether or not your child is potty trained wipes are a good idea. They can be used for wiping off your child's hands at meal time, cleaning them off from the playground, or used for diaper changes if needed. Again, simply write you child's name on these with a marker.
4. Nap time essentials- This will vary based on what your center asks you to bring in. We are only required to take a blanket but depending on where your child sleeps you may need a fitted crib sheet as well. If you child sleeps with a lovey, stuffed animal, or a binky you will need to send an extra one in to keep at daycare.
5. A change of clothes- This one is important since kids have accidents, get messy, and generally just need extra clothes. Pack everything from shirt and pants to extra socks and underwear (if your child is potty trained). I would have two different shirts, one short sleeved and one long sleeved, so that they can choose which one fits the weather. Place them in a plastic zip top bag clearly labeled with your child's name.
6. Outside gear- When it is warm outside make sure to send sunscreen, a sunhat, and bug spray to keep at daycare. Place all of these things in one zip top bag labeled Outside Play Time.
7. Lotions and diaper creams-Always leave a tube of diaper cream with the daycare if your child is in diapers. Label it with a marker. Also if your child is prone to dry and itchy skin send in their favorite lotion. My son has eczema and needs to have lotion applied multiple times a day. Pack these in a zip top bag labeled Lotions and Creams.
8. A cup- While you may have a cup that goes back and forth between home and daycare an extra cup should be left at daycare just in case. J likes straw cups but on occasion chews through the straw and would need an extra. Just toss this in the bag and write your child's name on it in marker.
Here is a photo with everything out of the bag just so you can see everything that I have packed into the bags.
Lastly, I have a photo of my labels. I like them to be pretty but that's not necessary. I simply bought some scrapbook paper at the local craft store, cut it to fit on the bag, placed a mailing label on it, and wrote what was inside the bag on the label. Then I used packing tape to cover the entire label on the bag. If you want an easier method simply put a sticky label on the baggie and write what is inside.
Now let's talk about what goes back and forth to daycare everyday. This will also vary depending on your center so check and see what they recommend. Since J is 2 I simply bought a toddler backpack for him to take with him everyday. You can use a diaper bag or any other bag that is easy to carry.
1. A bag- You will need an easy to carry bag to go back and forth every day.
2. A cup- Pack a sippy cup or a straw cup that your child will drink out of. Label it with a marker. We use this Nuk sippy cup because it's one of the only ones that doesn't leak.
3. A lunchbox- This depends on whether or not you have to provide lunch for your child. If you have to provide both breakfast and lunch think about buying one lunchbox that will hold two bento boxes. One can have breakfast in it and the other can have lunch in it.
4. Snacks- This also depends on your center. Some will want you to provide snacks and others will provide snacks for you.
5. A change of clothes- Yes I already have a change of clothes that I leave at daycare but I still end up packing one each day depending on the weather. I'll leave the same one in his bag for several weeks.
6. A favorite book- This is totally optional but J likes to look at books. If the kids are having trouble going to sleep at nap time or they wake up early they are allowed to look at a book so sending in a favorite is important.
That's it! I know it sounds like a lot but everything fits in a small toddler backpack without any trouble.. It's important to talk to the people at your center and make sure you know exactly what he or she needs. This is a great list to get you started but make sure you have the specific things you need for your toddler!
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