Everything You Should Do to Prep Your Child for Daycare

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how to prep your child for daycare

The milestone of sending your little one to daycare can be a very emotional and overwhelming time for a mom. There are so many emotions associated with it: Fear, guilt, anxiety, anticipation, and that’s just to name a few.  

While there’s not much you can do to take away all the anxiety surrounding it, there are some practical things you can do to help you (and your wee one) feel prepared. With all the stress of maternity leave coming to an end, anything you can do to help with organization will be beneficial, the more organized you feel the more you’ll ease your worries. Believe me, having had six kids, I’ve been through this many times.  

Here are the four things every mama should do to prep for daycare: 

Get a copy of the Daycare/Preschool’s handbook

Make sure you get a copy of the daycare or preschool’s guidebook so that you can go over the policies and procedures that your specific center follows. That way, you have ample time to consult with the daycare about potential concerns or insights you have before your child starts attending. Having that first chat also helps to open up communication between your family and the daycare, so you’ll naturally feel more at ease about conversing with them in the future should any issues arise.   

Make a daycare packing list

Packing up your first daycare bag will be a lot easier and less overwhelming if you consult a list. It also helps qualm any worries about whether you’ve sent the right items or not. There are plenty of sample ones online, but your daycare will probably provide you with their preferred packing checklist. What are the basics? You’ll likely be asked to send: 

  • Diaper bag 
  • Extra clothing 
  • Diapers, wipes and cream 
  • Indoor shoes 
  • A stuffed animal or blanket 
  • Sippy cup  
  • Bottle and pacifier (if your child still uses them) 
  • Any necessary medications 

Label EVERYTHING

There are two reasons why you absolutely need to label every single item you send to daycare with your little babe.  

  1. Germs. Oh, the germs. The first year of daycare exposes your kiddo to a ton of stuff their immune system hasn’t dealt with yet, which means they get sick (a lot). Don’t worry! It’s good for them in the long run and helps them build up their own immunities, but by labeling their items you DO limit the number of germy sippy cup and soother mix-ups that happen. Trying to avoid daycare germs sounds like an exercise in futility, but hey, as moms we’ve got to do everything we can to avoid yet another night with little sleep because of a miserable, feverish toddler.  
  2. To help the daycare staff. They’ve got a lot of kids to watch over and helping them stay organized is key. By labeling all your child’s clothes and gear, they won’t have to deal with a huge lost and found pile and they’ll always know whose diaper cream belongs to who. They do a lot for our precious babies, the least we can do is take them seriously when they ask us to please label our items.  

Talk to your child about daycare in a positive way

As nervous as you may be to send your little one away for the first time, it’s important to put on a brave face in front of them. Even infants and toddlers will pick up on your anxiety and know that something’s worrisome. The best way to make them feel at ease is to show them that YOU feel secure and happy with the change. Get excited for them! Show them pictures, let them help you pack their daycare bag and talk to them about all the amazing, fun new things they’re about to do. There are also tons of books you can read together to help put fears at ease and make them feel comfortable with the transition.  

Now that you’re prepared, also remember to go easy on yourself. It’s okay to feel sad, and it’s okay if things don’t run smoothly from the get-go This phase is tough, but it’s not permanent! Before you know it, everyone will be settled in their new routines and you’ll be a seasoned daycare pro.  


Julie Cole is the co-founder of award-winning children’s label manufacturer Mabel’s Labels. She helped her company bring their product to a worldwide market, gain media recognition and has won countless entrepreneur awards. Cole is a regular television contributor, an influential and syndicated blogger and a mother of six. Shop her award-winning kids name labels at mabelslabels.com or follow her on Instagram @cole.julie. Julie recommends the following items for labeling your daycare items: Mabel’s Labels Daycare Label Pack, Personalized Bottle Bands and Baby Bottle Labels 

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