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How to Prepare Baby for Daycare


If you are anything like me when you start thinking about sending your precious little bundle of joy to daycare you immediately begin panicking. In my case I wasn’t scared of daycare, I was scared of yet another change that I had no idea how to prepare for.

Rewind for a minute – Probably the number one thing you can do to help your child prepare for daycare is signing them up EARLY! I was so paranoid about this I actually had Little Dude signed up at daycares (on the waiting list at three) before I even announced I was pregnant. I started the process by going on the government website and finding the list of “approved” daycares, then developed a list of questions to ask when calling each one and started calling based on locations. I sought feedback and recommendations after doing all of this only because I hadn’t announced I was pregnant yet. Luckily two out of the three I had chosen cam highly recommended by others and narrowed my choice down to two in the end.
The first daycare I called I think must have thought I was completely crazy… they said they served snacks and lunch every day except Wednesday (which is bring you own lunch day) and I nearly fell of my seat. Having never been to a daycare before as a child or an adult this was news to me! The Mr. got quick a kick out of my surprise when telling him all about my calls one evening… he had gone to a daycare as a child and remembers them as “the best years of his life”. Yes, that is a direct quote. The Mr. to this day talks about daycare food as though it was served from a five star restaurant and the experience as though he was at an amusement park on a daily basis.
how to prepare baby for daycare
Little Dude looking pretty sleepy, but all set for his first day at daycare!

About a month before Little Dude started daycare I started googling (nearly every day) “How to prepare baby for daycare”. I found a variety of blog posts that were SUPER helpful and so decided to compile all of my favorite advice into this post for all of your benefit.

The two blog posts I followed the most were from Mamas Like Me and Laura’s Plans. I fell somewhere in between, since we do not use cloth diapers….
The post from Mamas Like Me talked about things you could do to prepare your baby and yourself for actually going to daycare while the post from Laura’s Plans concentrated on preparing the “stuff” you need to bring to daycare. Both were extremely helpful to me, but here are the things I actually did:
How to Prepare Baby (and yourself!)
1) Don’t go get your baby from his/her crib immediately after they wake up – at daycare there will be more than just your baby waking up and he/she might not be able to be picked up right away. Getting them used to being patient and learning to play in their crib should help them adjust to their new surroundings. At home our Little Dude has his two favorite animals (Bunny & Snuggles) at the foot of his crib. He plays with them through the night occasionally and “talks” to them every morning before we get him out of bed. 2) Write things down – prepare a schedule for the daycare workers and be as detailed as possible. Don’t say “has a bottle in the morning” be specific and say “has an 8 oz bottle of homogenized milk between 9:30am and 10:30am”.  3) Be flexible – even though you have written everything down it doesn’t mean your baby will react the same way at daycare as they do at home. Don’t be too quick to judge the daycare workers and think they are not listening to you if your baby missed a bottle or drank it later than normal or only drinks a portion of what they would at home. This is a big adjustment for everyone!
How to prepare the “Stuff”
I felt so disorganized bringing Little Dude to daycare since I had no idea what to expect, but in the end I think I had everything “right”. I’m pretty sure the women who owns the daycare thought I was a little (probably a lot) OCD, but seemed to appreciate the organization.
I used large Ziploc freezer bags and divided up all the stuff I would leave at daycare in Little Dude’s locker by three categories:
how to prepare baby for daycare

Extra clothes – two complete outfits that I didn’t care if I ever saw… keep in mind you are sending them to daycare as backup so they might never get worn or they might get worn and sent home for washing. In my case he hasn’t used his back up clothes yet so they are now too small and still at daycare. I recommend buying a few inexpensive second hand items if possible or sending outfits that your little one has worn many times already that you are tired of seeing.
Use as needed – swaddle blanket (which he sometimes liked to cuddle with when going to sleep at the time), sunscreen (since they go outside every day at least once), diaper rash cream (obvious reasons…) and Tylenol (in case of a fever etc.)
Just in case – two bibs, a baby mum mum, a soother with a clip, a onesie and a card with Little Dude’s emergency contacts.
how to prepare baby for daycare

The other items I sent to daycare the first day (to leave there) included a sleep sac, diapers and wipes. Not shown in the picture is a bottle – I sent one on the first day and assumed they would send it home every day to be cleaned etc. to my surprise they have kept it there, clean it and use it every day. Also, in the late fall I also sent a snow suit (that I bought on sale for $10!) to stay at daycare so it is one less thing to drag back and forth. Side Note: even though it’s almost spring now would be a great time to find a discount snowsuit for next winter if you can guess the size! Second Side Note: Since I have been back to work I have been ordering diapers and wipes from Amazon.ca and have them shipped to me rather than worrying about them on the weekends. This is a great time saver I highly recommend!

For labeling you can certainly be fancy about this an buy labels, but after asking several other moms and reading other blog posts I went with a good ‘ol sharpie marker to write Little Dude’s name on the ziploc bags, tags, milk, inside his shoes, diapers wipes, etc.

how to prepare baby for daycare
All the “stuff” to leave at daycare packed in a reusable grocery bag
how to prepare baby for daycare
Little Dude’s bags for his first day!

Every Monday Little Dude leaves home with his backpack (which contains his snow boots and mittens), his lunch can (just in case he won’t eat what is being served….remember from my Thriving Through Change post talking about how fussy of an eater he is?!), and a 2 litre of milk with his name written on it (which was originally a case of formula with his name written on it) for his bottles.

And then every other day he has just his backpack (still with the boots and mittens, they come back and forth with him every day) along with his lunch can.

Last but certainly not least… you may be wondering what containers I use is in his lunch can? Since he is so picky I was searching for containers that would hold a variety of foods as well as have ice packs with them to fit in his lunch – I found these Rubbermaid Lunchblox that work like a charm and keep everything cold all day! I highly recommend these containers and they come in many varieties depending on the shape of your child’s lunch box. I have since purchased another set (in different shapes) to have variety and to be able to prepare for more than one day at a time.

how to prepare baby for daycare

Did I forget anything? Do you have lunch ideas to share with me? I still struggle with this on a weekly basis! I would love to hear from you and learn from your experiences! Leave a comment here or on any of my social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)- I can’t wait to hear from you!

If you found this post helpful don’t forget to PIN it and why not share with a mama you know? It would make my day 🙂

My shoes for that: Little Dude’s new sneakers – perfect for daycare since they have white soles

how to prepare baby for daycare

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