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  • Writer's pictureChickadee Contributor

What Not to Send to Daycare


Photo by Chris Hardy on Unsplash


Sending your child to daycare for the first time is a big change. It is a major transition and it can feel like there is a lot to prepare. Your daycare should provide a list of items to send with your child each day. There are also some things they may not explicitly tell you not to send.


In order to keep you child happy, and their teachers happy, here are a few items that are better left at home.


Special Occasion Clothes

Everyone loves a dressed-up kid. But daycare isn’t the place for clothes that you want to keep nice. The teachers don’t have time to follow your child around to make sure their clothes stay just right.


Expect your child to get messy at daycare—messy play is one of the best ways they learn. You should send them in clothes that are easily washable and comfortable. They’ll have more fun if they are able to explore and play without worrying about getting messy.


Things That are Hard to Use/Open

Pack items that your child can easily use. While your child may still be learning fine motor skills, daycare teachers appreciate it when you send items that your child can easily use.

  • Lunchboxes and snack items that they can open themselves.

  • Water bottle they can open on their own, and sip out of easily.

  • Shoes that are easily slipped on and off.

  • Jacket and hats that your toddler can put on by themself.

Send items that daycare teachers can easily use as well. This goes for babies too. Don’t send overly complicated bottles with a million parts. The simpler the better. Daycare teachers are managing a lot all day long—by sending your child with simple items makes their job that much easier.


Items That Aren’t Labeled

Label. Every. Item. Anything you want to make sure comes back home, put a label on it. Lunchbox, clothing, gear, shoes, bedding, stuffed animal, hats, everything should have your child’s name on it.


Complicated Shoes or Clothing

Lace-up shoes and overalls are dreaded by daycare teachers. Clothes that take a long time to get on and off can make diaper changes take forever. If your kid is potty training, expect more accidents if you send pants that are anything but easy on and off.


Time fussing with clothes, takes time aways from play and activities. It can also make transitions harder than they need to be.


It's best to keep any complicated clothes at home, this includes clothes and shoes with lots of buttons, snaps, back-closures, laces, or multiple layers.

New Foods

For full time kids, it can be hard to pack enough food that your child will reliably eat. Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, so packing a variety of healthy food can sometimes feel difficult.


Don’t send any new foods to daycare. This poses a risk if the food is an unknown allergy or too hard to eat.


Don't send food that you hope your child will eat to daycare. This is a recipe for a hungry child. If they don’t eat enough throughout the day because they don’t like the food you’re packing, they’re more prone to having meltdowns.

Candy or Juice

Your child will likely need lunch or at least a few snacks sent to daycare each day. Pack food that will give them lasting energy. No cookies, sweets, candy, juice, or chocolate milk. These will give them an energy spike and then crash. Best to leave foods like potato chips at home too.

Anything to Share

Snacks for the class and unprompted gifts for other kids aren't welcome at most daycares. Some daycares will accept this within certain parameters.


If there are occasions that your family celebrates (like your child’s birthday or Valentine’s Day) and you want your child to bring that celebration to the classroom, talk it over with the teachers well in advance. Consider bringing stickers or small toys instead of food or sweets. And be sure you bring enough for everyone to share.

The Wrong Gear

Have you ever consoled a toddler who isn’t allowed to go to the playground because their parents didn’t pack warm enough clothes? It’s not fun.


Make sure you pack seasonally appropriate gear and clothing for your little one, so that they can fully participate in daycare activities. A few tips:

  • Make sure clothes fit properly. Try them on at home first.

  • Comfort is key. Make sure your child can move around and play freely in what you send.

  • Get simple items. Don’t send anything that has complicated buttons, straps, or buckles.

  • Less is more. A single rain suit or snow suit with full coverage is so much easier for teachers to help put on than gear that’s separated into many parts.


Some examples of seasonally appropriate gear include, a sun hat, sunscreen, snow jacket and boots, rain pants and rain boots.

Special Toys

Try and send your child with the essentials (diapers, wipes, food, extra clothes, medications, etc.) but nothing superfluous. There are so many toys, books, and activities at daycare.


Many toddlers get really attached to certain items, and it may be hard to keep them at home. But the risk of those things getting taken or forgotten at daycare is big. Any special toys, sunglasses, stuffies, or cherished items shouldn’t come to daycare.

Difficult Diapers

Daycare teachers don’t have all day to help your child with a diaper change. When they are changing multiple kids, multiple times each day, make it easy for them by using simple diapers.


Pull ups that have the break-away tab are better than the ones you must slide off. Cloth diapers should have simple snaps or fasteners.

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