Sending your kids off to daycare is a pretty emotional thing. You feel scared at the thought of someone else watching your child, nervous about how they handle it, and sentimental about how big they are, even though they are still so small. I frankly found the whole thing a little overwhelming. How can you possibly prepare enough stuff to prepare for a full day away from home without knowing what they will be eating, playing with, doing outside… Well, the good news is, you don’t have to. Whether your baby is at a home daycare or a licensed center, there’s a list of “musts” and a list of “please.”
“Musts” include really just the basics that will help care for your child as you would at home. This means things like your preferred brand of diapers and wipes, a change of clothes, and a blanket for nap time. You might have a cubby or a bag you can stock weekly to ensure you’re on top of the inventory. Other things to consider, which may be a must for your care giver or for your own peace of mind, include things like a labeled sippy cup, sunscreen, and additional attire for flexible play. Things like an extra outside layer, a hat, and a change of shoes are a good starting point.
This list is really all you need to do all the things you would do at home. At the daycare there will be toys to play with, meals prepared, and other items like art supplies are provided by your caregiver.
“Please” items are something a little extra that might apply to you, but not other kids. It’s at the discretion of you caregiver and your best judgment. If your little one attends a special centre, or you have some personal items you feel will make the transition easier, feel free to over-prepare for the first couple of weeks. Here are some examples:
- If you drop off your child sleeping or very early in the morning, you may want to send them with breakfast. Most sitters would only include lunch and two small snacks.
- For infants and toddlers, an attachment item may help, especially for sick days and nap time. Things like a pacifier with a strap, or a well identified stuffy. Be prepared for these things to be occasionally be used by other children or to mysteriously go missing. Kids are quick, it happens even with the best scrutiny.
- Any medication your child needs for daily or emergency use should be sent ahead with clear dosing instructions. Be sure you talk to your caregiver about your expectations for pain/ fever medication, bum cream application, as well as their comfort level with things like Epipens.