This post is sponsored by Mabel’s Labels, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.
For over two years, I was fortunate enough to have in-home childcare for my son. I’ve worked remotely since I was pregnant, so it eased my first-time mom anxiety to have him near me. However, I realized he was growing very restless and bored at home every day—and honestly, he was starting to get on my nerves too (WFH parents can relate). So we made the big decision to start toddler daycare so he could socialize, broaden his learning, and stop yelling “mama I have poop!” during my work calls.
I spent weeks scouring daycare packing lists for the right products, but I felt like most were geared towards infants or were so long it felt overwhelming. We were a little late to the daycare game, so ultimately I had to use my best judgment for what items he would actually use. Now that it’s been a few months, I have a good grasp on which items are absolute musts and which already need to be replaced. Here are the top 10 daycare items that are actually worth buying.
I know what you're thinking. "Why can't I just write their name with Sharpie?" Well, cause I tried that at first and it failed miserably. No matter how "permanent" a marker claims to be, they've got nothing on Mabel's Labels. All our editors rave about these name labels because they truly do last for years. Their combo packs come with tons of different sizes for various items and they have the cutest design options for every kid. We 10/10 recommend!
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This clothing stamp is probably one of my favorite products from Mabel's Labels. Toddlers often practice potty training at daycare, which means tons of extra clothes to send them with. We keep this clothing stamp near the front door so we can stamp our LO on the way out. Now that it's been a couple months pretty much all his clothes have gotten labeled.
These lunchboxes get a lot of hype and for good reason. I love that the cooling pack is included underneath the food tray so there's no need for an extra lunch bag and ice pack.
I made the grave error of getting his first backpack on Etsy, and when it arrived I immediately regretted it. While it was beautiful, it was also very tiny. Learn from my mistakes and purchase a backpack that has better size capabilities like these from Pottery Barn Kids. This one will fit all your kids' belongings and grow with them for years to come.
Your mornings will most likely be rushed and chaotic, so do yourself a favor and buy the slip-ons. Toddlers can learn how to put them on much faster because every second counts when trying to fly out the door.
This one is another oops on my part. We purchased him a stainless steel water bottle thinking it would be more durable, but the amount of dents and scratches that thing has is comical. The funeral is imminent and once it finally gives out, we'll be purchasing a plastic bottle with a metal lid.
A tote isn't often found on a daycare packing list but is a necessity. Daycare requires oodles of diapers, extra clothing, and even towels if your center has activities like splash days. It's easier to have a designated tote for transporting all the supplies back and forth. If you don't already have one lying around at home, then this mesh one has plenty of room plus pockets.
Toddlers love their independence so supplying them with a bit of self-sufficiency throughout their day can go a long way. Stick sunscreens are great for self application so those are the ones we send him off with.
Because your child WILL get sick. Constantly. There's no escape. The only thing to do is stock up on vitamins and sick kid essentials. I'm sitting in a mountain of tissues as I type this so just trust me on this one.
This one may seem random, but most daycare centers encourage parents to provide their littles with a family photo. Our son had a rough transition at first and looked at our family photo often. However, one day he dropped the frame and it broke, which was a whole tragic thing. So use kid-friendly frames like these to avoid those types of accidents!
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Mabel’s Labels, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.