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  • Writer's pictureChickadee Contributor

The Ultimate Daycare Packing List for Toddlers

Photo by Yan Krukau

If you’re sending your toddler to daycare soon, you’re probably wondering what you’ll need to include in their backpack on a daily and weekly basis.

Your daycare provider should give you a list of what your child will need. In case they haven’t yet, here is an overview of what you’ll likely need to send every day.

Diapers, Wipes, Underwear

Whether you do cloth or disposable diapers, or a mixture of both, leave enough for your child each day/week. Children between ages one and four might need anywhere from 4-8 diapers each day.

Ask your daycare what their storage area can hold—if you can bring in a few weeks' worth of diapers you’ll be less likely to forget them when your child runs out. Include enough wipes for a couple weeks as well.

If your child is potty trained or potty training, pack a few pairs of spare underwear in their bag each day. Potty training can take time, and accidents will continue to happen for a while (even after it seems they’ve got it down). Plan to always pack extras.

Most daycares will have some backup diapers, wipes, and underwear in case of emergency. But it’s not their responsibility to provide this for your child on a regular basis.

Diaper Cream, Lotion

Don’t forget to pack the diaper cream! Even if your child is past the infant stage, they can still get diaper rash and irritation for many reasons. If your child is full-time the likelihood that they will develop diaper rash or some irritation during the day is high.

Lotions like Aquaphor are great to send as well. They are all-purpose and can be used for dry skin, chapped cheeks, or diaper rash.

Naptime Essentials

What you pack for naptime will depend on your daycare’s sleep setup and your child’s age. You will probably be asked to send two types of naptime essentials:

  1. Bedding—this includes a sheet, blanket, and optional pillow.

  2. Sleep comforts—if your child is old enough to sleep with a stuffed animal or lovey, send this along. For the first few weeks you might also consider sending one of your t-shirts for them to cuddle. Every child is different, so communicate with your daycare about what might help them sleep best in this new environment.

For most young children, naps in a new place can be very difficult. Many parents find the transition is made easier by sending the same items that you have at home. Every bit of familiarity can help soothe and comfort a tired toddler. Plan to buy two of each thing so you don’t have to make any extra trips if an item is forgotten—this includes sleep sack, sheets, blankets, and even their lovey.

Food, Snacks, and Drinks

Packing lunch, snacks, and enough food for your picky toddler everyday can be difficult. Sending nourishing foods that will give them lasting energy is the most important thing you can do. Here are some tips:

  • Send familiar foods. You don’t want an allergy to be discovered at daycare!

  • Play to the hits. Pack foods you know they’ll eat so that they get enough energy throughout their day.

  • Include a variety. Try to include lots of colors in their snacks. This is the best way to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need.

  • Don’t send junk. If you do allow your toddler to have juice, chocolate milk, sweets, or candy, keep those at home.

Extra Clothes

The hope is that your child is exposed to lots of developmentally appropriate play and encouraged to explore both inside and outside. This means, they may get messy! They may get dirty outside, wet from a water pouring station, sticky from mud, or colorful from paint.

While it may seem like a chore to do some extra laundry, messy play is one of the best ways for your child to learn and develop social and cognitive skills. It also means they’ll need some extra clothes on hand!

Your daycare may let you leave extra clothes in the facility, but some may want you to pack them in their bag each day/week. If you can leave extra clothes at daycare, be sure to restock every few months. Not only do kids grow out of them quickly, but they need to be seasonally appropriate.

Some daycares will have some loner clothes for emergency scenarios. But it’s not their responsibility to provide this for your child on a regular basis.


If your child needs any medication, whether for a chronic illness or just a cold, you need to communicate this clearly with your daycare.

Send enough medicine each day. Be sure to include the following:

  • Send medicine in the amounts that your child will need to take if possible. This eliminates any confusion.

  • Include dispensers, enough for them to have a clean one for each dose if possible.

  • Label everything! Make sure your child’s name is on the medicine, dispensers, and any bags or containers that you send.

  • Include a clearly written sheet with dosage information, time of day, and numbers to call in case of any issues or emergency.

Label everything! It bears repeating. Without your child’s name on the medicine, there is a greater chance of mix-ups.

Some daycares may have you bring certain types of medications to have on hand. These include pain or fever reducers, teething ointment, creams or lotion for sensitive skin.

Miscellaneous Items

If your child is at daycare full time, they’ll need some specifics to get them through each week, depending on the season.

  • Sunscreen is an essential item for warm weather.

  • Seasonally appropriate gear is needed to make sure they’re comfortable. Rain pants, snow boots, a sun hat, even sunglasses might be necessary for some kids. Check to see what activities your child will be involved in to make sure they come prepared.

  • Milk is an optional item to send. It depends on your child’s preferences and your daycare policies. Some toddlers still take a bottle or sippy cup of milk. If this is true provide milk for your child as they need it.

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