Your Baby, Daycare Centers, and What to Bring Each Day

Are you ready to go back to work — in the office or from home? Daycare centers provide the ideal combination of care, supervision, and developmental experiences for infants. After you choose a center, set a schedule, and pick a day to start, take a look at what you need to do to pack and prep your baby for child care.

Pack a Daily Bag

You don't need to take your baby's entire nursery to daycare. Even though your baby will need plenty of care, feeding, and diapering products during their day, you may want to bring some items daily. Daily packing picks include anything that could spoil, that your baby uses in large quantities, or that requires cleaning, such as:

  • Bottles. Will the child care center staff clean your baby's bottles? If not, or if you prefer to send your baby in with a fresh batch, send new bottles daily — filled or empty.
  • Formula or breast milk. Some types of formula and all breast milk have short shelf lives in the fridge. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can store fresh breast milk in the fridge for four days and thawed frozen milk for one day.
  • Pacifiers. If your baby uses a pacifier, send a few fresh ones each day. Like bottles, you'll need to wash these after each use.
  • Soft toys. Does the child care center allow children to bring their own toys or loveys from home? Your baby may need their favorite stuffed animal or another similar toy during the day.

Now that you've packed your baby's daily bag, it's time to turn your attention to everything else they need and prep a weekly or monthly bundle to bring to daycare.

Pack a Weekly Bag

With everything your baby brings daily, it may seem like they don't need a weekly (or monthly) bag. But there are some items your baby may need in bulk. These include:

  • Diapers. While you may need to refresh your baby's supply more often than every week, a bigger box is typically better than a few loose diapers.
  • Wipes. Like diapers, this item is something your baby needs often. Bring a box or case of wipes each week or month.
  • Extra clothes. Your baby may not need a change of clothes every day. Pack a weekly change (or a few outfit options) and refresh the stash as needed.

Along with these items, you may also need to bring sunscreen (depending on the weather), crib sheets, bibs, and blankets in your baby's weekly bag.

Talk to a daycare center for more guidance.