What do I need for daycare?

"What's something you figured out with experience that could help us in our early days of day care?" asks one PSP member to their baby group. Here are PSP member tips of what you need for daycare.

Need help navigating the daycare process? The Park Slope Parents Guide to Finding and Securing Daycare features explainers on the different types of childcare, tips compiled from PSP members, and much more—AND it's available to members at a reduced price. Check out our Guides Library HERE!

baby-220316 640

What to bring:

  • 1 bottle (they washed it between feedings)
  • Powdered formula (they provided the water to mix)
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 dish
  • 2 bibs for solid feedings
  • Lovie
  • Pack n play sheet
  • Sleepsack
  • Standard diapers, wipes & cream.
  • Small cooler for milk/food:
    • "We use a small soft cooler lunch bag to transport breast milk & food.
  • Foods:
    • "For food and pre-mixed formula (if they want you to premix bottles v bringing a container of formula for them to do so - ask that maybe?), I recommend PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure (having trouble with the link, but you'll find it on Amazon easily). I like the small single-serving tupperware for when your daughter starts solids (if she hasn't yet). I tried to include some food she was guaranteed to eat and some that was a bit "riskier" for them to try on her."
    • "Not sure if your daycare requires formula to be pre made or maybe they will make bottles as needed. I send him with 3 bottles and leave 1 extra at daycare. We have a back up can of formula as well. "
    • "We also send lunch and snack."
    • "Solid food (at 1 year old he started to eat their food)."
    • I personally prep the bag w/ food and any extra items he may need the night before  and assemble bottles in the morning.
  • Extra clothes:
    • "Extra clothes, bibs etc for sure to be left in case of messes."
    • "Give day care an extra set of clothes in a ziploc bag they can keep at day care for emergencies (and try to switch it out every so often since the baby does outgrow the emergency clothes -- I once picked up my daughter and she was wearing the most ridiculously small-for-her outfit due to a blowout."
    • "Hat for summer, coat for winter"
  • Blanket"
    • "Maybe a blanket to be left in crib or something of yours to remind her of home during the transition."


Have a checklist:

"Make an "out-the-door" checklist and tape it to the wall next to your door. And make sure it includes stuff for your child AND stuff for you. Put everything obvious on it (keys, wallet, phone) even if that seems ridiculous (it is not - I can't tell you how many times I almost left the apt without all of those things, and without shoes on)."

Label everything:

"Put her name on stuff with a sharpie."

"I'm a big fan of these labels on everything: bottles, food containers, diapers, wipes, diaper cream."

Prep the night before:

"Especially for the first week, I'd suggest doing as much as you can the night before -- including showering yourself, if possible. It takes a little while to get the rhythm of getting out the door down (but you will get it down!) and I found it super helpful to prep a lot at night. Also, wake up 30 mins before you think you have to, at least the first day. Also allows you to have max hangout time in the morning.

It's common to leave strollers:

"Most daycares will store your stroller or carrier."
"Ask if you can leave the carrier there so you don't have to schlep it around during the day."

Daycare will remind you:

"Once you get going the daycare will remind you of items you need to replenish."

Ask for pictures:

"I also recommend asking the day care providers up front if they will send you a picture or three each day during the first week. And ask if they give a "report card" type write-up of all her pees/poos, naps, etc. at the end of the day. That can help a lot in terms of feeling like you have a sense of her day, but also because it will help make the grandma-care days and weekend schedules consistent with day care."

Be easy on yourself and others during the transition:

"Most of all, remember that there are bound to be some hiccups at the beginning, both logistically and in terms of communication with the day care. This is totally normal. Trust your gut if something feels off. But also trust that, by and large, they know what they are doing -- I have learned so much about parenting from my daughter's wonderful care givers at day care! And after a short adjustment period, it will be GREAT. Day care is wonderful. And she's so lucky to have both day care and time with her grandmas. Sending good vibes to you for this transition!!!"


 Related reading on PSP:

Transitioning to Daycare

Daycare for Under Two Year Olds: What Can I Expect?