30+ Items for Your Ultimate Daycare Essentials Checklist

What are daycare essentials? Here’s a list of all the things you should prepare for your child’s first time at daycare.

Daycare Packing Checklist

Packing the Essentials

Are you a busy parent in search of the perfect daycare essentials checklist? Look no further!

I assembled this last based off the list we used to use at my old school. Every childcare facility is a little different, but these items are on most lists. You can download a copy of the list HERE.

I recommend checking the daycare bag at the beginning of every season to ensure the clothes are right for the weather and everything fits, including diapers and changes of clothes.

Practical and Thoughtful

This daycare essentials checklist contains everything from practical must-haves to comfort items and covers everything you need to ensure a smooth and happy daycare experience for your little one.

I know how important it is for you to feel confident and prepared when entrusting your child’s well-being to a daycare center, and that’s why I took the time to curate this list of essential items.

So, whether you’re a first-time parent or a seasoned pro, let me guide you through the process of assembling the perfect daycare essentials kit that will keep your child engaged, comfortable, and safe throughout the day.

Get ready to make your daycare drop-offs stress-free and enjoyable with our expertly curated checklist!

Importance of Having a Daycare Essentials Checklist

Having a daycare essentials checklist is crucial for several reasons.

Creating a daycare essentials checklist will keep you organized!

Stay Organized

Firstly, it helps you stay organized and ensures that you don’t forget any essential items when packing your child’s daycare bag.

With a checklist in hand, you can easily go through each item, tick it off, and have peace of mind knowing that you have everything your child needs for a successful day at daycare.

Prioritize Necessities

Secondly, a daycare essentials checklist helps you prioritize the most important items. When you have a long list of things to pack, it can be overwhelming to decide what is essential and what is not.

A well-curated checklist will help you focus on the must-haves, making the packing process more efficient and less time-consuming.

Reference List

Lastly, a daycare essentials checklist serves as a reference point for both you and the daycare staff.

By providing them with a comprehensive list of items, you ensure that they have everything they need to take care of your child.

Communicating Expectations

It also helps to establish clear communication and expectations between you and the daycare center, ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Essential Items for a Daycare Bag

Creating an daycare essentials go-bag will make drop-off time less stressful.

When it comes to packing a daycare bag, there are a few daycare essentials you should never forget.

These items will ensure that your child is comfortable, well-fed, and entertained throughout the day.

Here are the must-haves for your daycare essentials bag:

1. Diapers and Wipes:

Pack enough diapers to last the entire day, along with a pack of wipes for easy diaper changes.

Make sure to choose diapers that are appropriate for your child’s age and size.

Daycares often have these items on-hand but may charge a small fee to use them if you run out. Make sure you know their policy.

2. Blanket or Stuffy:

If your child has a favorite blanket or stuffed toy, be sure to pack it in their daycare bag.

Having a familiar item can provide comfort and help them feel more at ease during nap time or quiet moments.

Many childcare centers will allow these for the first few days or weeks they are in care, but many also ask they slowly learn to live without them at daycare.

3. Snacks and Water Bottle:

Pack a variety of healthy snacks, such as fruit, crackers, or granola bars, to keep your child energized throughout the day. Don’t forget to include a refillable water bottle to keep them hydrated.

We often asked for fruit to be cut into bite-sized pieces and cherry tomatoes / cherries be cut in half to reduce the chance of choking. Many daycare centers are also nut free due to potential allergies.

Your childcare center should have a list of snacks to include in their daycare essentials checklist.

4. Medications and Emergency Contact Information:

If your child requires any medications, make sure to pack them in a labeled container along with clear instructions.

Additionally, provide the daycare center with emergency contact information in case of any unforeseen circumstances. I also suggest leaving a list with contact information in a ziplock back inside your daycare essentials bag.

Depending on your child’s specific needs, you may need to pack additional items such as special dietary foods.

Make sure you communicate information for any allergies or medications and provide the necessary documentation with the items for your childcare center.

Hygiene and Cleaning Supplies for Daycare

Don’t forget to check out my article on Medium for interview questions!

Maintaining proper hygiene is crucial in a daycare setting to prevent the spread of germs and keep your child healthy.

Here are some essential hygiene and cleaning supplies to include in your daycare bag:

1. Hand Sanitizer:

Pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer so your child can clean their hands when soap and water are not readily available.

This is a pro-tip for parents. Many times parents will get their hands dirty and wish to sanitize their hands.

2. Hand wipes:

Include a pack of hand wipes for quick and easy cleaning of hands and surfaces.

3. Tissues:

Pack a small pack of tissues for your child to use when needed.

4. Disinfectant Wipes:

Include a pack of disinfectant/ alcohol wipes for cleaning toys, surfaces, and high-touch areas.

By including these hygiene and cleaning supplies, you can help ensure that your child stays healthy and safe while at daycare.

Clothing and Accessories for Daycare

Daycare essentials include: clothing, diapers, food, and medication.

When it comes to clothing and accessories for daycare, comfort and practicality should be your top priorities.

Here are some daycare essentials clothing items:

1. Comfortable Clothes:

Pack a few sets of comfortable clothes that are easy to put on and take off. We love to see your children in fashionable clothing but make sure your child can play comfortably in their clothes.

As a general rule, opt for clothing made from soft, breathable fabrics that allow for easy movement.

Remember to check your clothes seasonally to ensure they are right for the weather and they fit properly.

2. Extra Socks and Underwear:

Accidents happen, especially with young children. Be sure to pack a few extra pairs of socks and underwear in case they are needed.

3. Sun Hat and Sunscreen:

If your child will be spending time outdoors, pack a sun hat and a child-friendly sunscreen to protect their delicate skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

4. Weather-Appropriate Outerwear:

Depending on the season, pack a lightweight jacket or a warm coat to ensure your child stays comfortable outdoors. We don’t usually advise scarves.

5. Comfortable shoes:

Choose a pair of comfortable, closed-toe shoes that your child can easily walk and play in. Avoid shoes with laces, as they can be difficult for young children to tie.

Remember to label all clothing and accessories with your child’s name to avoid mix-ups at daycare. This includes Crocs.

Feeding Essentials for Daycare

This child is eating a snack and reading a sweet book.

Proper nutrition is essential for your child’s growth and development, so it’s important to pack the right feeding essentials for daycare.

Here are some must-haves:

1. Bottles and Formula:

If your child is still bottle-fed, pack enough bottles and pre-measured formula for the day. Label each bottle with your child’s name and include clear instructions for the daycare staff.

2. Breast Milk Storage Bags:

If you’re breastfeeding, pack breast milk storage bags so that the daycare staff can safely store and feed your child with your expressed milk.

3. Sippy Cups or Straw Cups:

If your child is transitioning to a sippy cup or straw cup, pack one or two for them to use during snack and meal times.

4. Bibs and Burp Cloths:

To keep your child clean during feeding time, pack a few bibs and burp cloths.

5. Baby Food and Snacks:

If your child is eating solid foods, pack age-appropriate baby food jars or pouches, along with healthy snacks such as cut-up fruits or vegetables.

Remember to communicate with the daycare center about any specific feeding instructions or dietary restrictions your child may have.

Nap time Essentials for Daycare

Your daycare bag should include nap time favorites.

Nap time is an important part of a child’s day, especially for younger children.

To ensure a comfortable and restful nap time at daycare, include these essentials in your daycare bag:

1. Crib Sheets and Blankets:

If your child will be napping in a crib or cot, pack a fitted cot sheet and a lightweight blanket for them to sleep on.

We always asked parents that they washed their blankets at least once a week.

2. Sleep Sack or Swaddle:

For infants and younger babies, pack a sleep sack or swaddle to help them feel secure and cozy during nap time.

3. Pacifiers or Comfort Items:

If your child uses a pacifier or has a comfort item like a stuffed animal or a blanket, pack those items to help them relax and fall asleep.

Again, I will caution this with a reminder that many schools will allow these items in the very beginning but do prefer children slowly learn to leave their comfort items at home. Also, regulations on these items vary by state so check with your provider.

Playtime Essentials for Daycare

Your daycare kit might include art supplies for crafts.

Play is an essential part of a child’s development, so it’s important to pack toys and activities that will keep your child engaged and entertained at daycare.

Here are some playtime essentials to consider:

1. Age-Appropriate Toys:

Pack a few of your child’s favorite toys that are suitable for their age and development stage. Choose toys that encourage exploration, creativity, and imaginative play.

Check with your provider to make sure these are allowed. Many home providers allow toys from home but many centers do not.

2. Books:

Include a few age-appropriate books for your child to enjoy during quiet moments or story-time in the daycare reading corner.

Check with your provider to make sure these are allowed. Many home providers allow books from home but many centers do not.

3. Art Supplies:

If your child enjoys drawing or coloring, pack a small set of crayons and a coloring book or blank paper.

Remember to rotate the toys regularly to keep your child engaged and interested in their playtime activities at daycare.

There are some daycares that require parents bring in art supplies to keep at the center such as, play dough, play dough tools, and crayons.

Check with your facility for more information.

Safety and First Aid Supplies for Daycare

A small first aid kit with cute band-aids is useful for your daycare bag.

Safety should always be a top priority when it comes to your child’s daycare experience. Here are some essential safety and first aid supplies to include in your daycare essentials bag:

1. First Aid Kit:

Include a small first aid kit with basic supplies such as band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and children’s pain reliever.

Some daycares will NOT administer medication unless they have permission from the parent/caregiver, so make sure your contact information is up-to-date.

Daycare centers will have their own first-aid kits on hand, but it is good to keep a small one in your daycare essentials bag.

2. Emergency Contact Information:

Provide the daycare center with up-to-date emergency contact information, including your phone number, an alternate contact, and any relevant medical information or allergies.

Again, I would laminate a sheet of paper with the information and put it in a pocket inside your daycare bag or print it on a sheet of paper and put it in a ziplock bag. That way if it gets wet, the information is accessible.

3. Sunscreen:

If your child will be spending time outdoors, pack a child-friendly sunscreen with a high SPF to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

4. Allergy Medication:

If your child has any known allergies, pack their allergy medication in a labeled container along with clear instructions for the daycare staff.

By including these safety and first aid supplies, you can help ensure that your child’s daycare experience is as safe and secure as possible.

Additional Items to Consider for a Smooth Daycare Experience

A family photo in your daycare bag is comforting for children when they miss their families.

In addition to the essential items mentioned above, there are a few additional items that can enhance your child’s daycare experience.

While not necessarily must-haves, these items can make the transition to daycare easier and more enjoyable for both you and your child. Here are some additional items to consider:

1. Family photo:

Pack a small framed family photo that your child can keep in their cubby or on their desk. This can provide comfort and a sense of familiarity during the day.

If possible, I would include this instead of the stuffed animal or toy. A photo is less likely to get damaged during play time.

2. Communication Notebook:

Some daycare centers provide a communication notebook where parents and staff can exchange important information and updates.

If not provided, consider packing a small notebook where you can write down any instructions or messages for the daycare staff, and they can do the same for you.

3. Extra set of clothes for emergencies:

Accidents happen, and having an extra set of clothes at daycare can save the day. Pack a complete set of clothes, including underwear and socks, in case your child needs to change unexpectedly.

4. Comfortable shoes:

Choose a pair of comfortable, closed-toe shoes that your child can easily walk and play in.

Remember, every child is unique, and their needs may vary. Consider your child’s individual preferences and requirements when deciding on additional items to include in their daycare essentials bag.

Avoid shoes with laces, as they can be difficult for young children to tie. We should always be prepared for emergencies, and shoes are important if children need to evacuate.


Ensuring you have everything in your daycare bag is important to keeping your day stress-free.

Packing the perfect daycare essentials kit is an essential step in ensuring a smooth and happy daycare experience for your child.

By following our comprehensive checklist, you can feel confident and prepared when dropping off your little one at daycare.

Remember to customize the list to suit your child’s specific needs and preferences. With the right daycare bag in hand, you can rest assured that your child will be comfortable, engaged, and safe throughout the day.

So, go ahead and assemble the ultimate daycare essentials kit and make your daycare drop-offs stress-free and enjoyable! Don’t forget to download yours today! Click on the photo to download your daycare essentials checklist!


I am an educator with almost 15 years of experience teaching in Japan, Hawaii, and in Los Angeles. My goal is to change education and the way we view literacy instruction in America.

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