Packing & Preparing Our Toddler For Daycare

April 12, 2022

Prepping mom and babe mentally for the transition to daycare, with a packing list that we use daily.

If you saw my tearful update on IG about our last minute daycare plans, you’ll know that I scrambled in a weekend to get our 14 month old ready for her first day. It was an emotional change for me to think about not having her nanny around (who we trust and who Riley loves), and then also not having quality time with her during the week. That said, we got her all packed and ready, and she did really well her first week at daycare.

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Some Questions About Daycare:

Why did you choose to send her to daycare?

There are a couple of reasons. We started with a nanny two mornings a week in January (Riley was 12 months old) and although that initial separation was hard for me, it was a game-changer for me to have that break. I started taking on more client work and realistically, I just needed more time to get work done and still have time to do me-things like wash my hair and go to appointments, maybe even gym. With the government grant, it also makes the most sense financially to go the daycare route in Calgary. All that said, we weren’t expecting to start so soon as there seems to be a waitlist at most places. I didn’t question the timing because I didn’t want to lose the spot at the daycare.


Tips for the Transition?

The good thing about how we did it is that Riley had practiced some separating from me with her nanny so although I felt terrible leaving her, I felt like she was prepared. She is also an independent eater and sleeper with only one nap; AND she is completely weaned off the bottle making it easier for her carers. Making sure her routine matched that of the daycare running up to first day is helpful and practicing separation is a good start. When you do drop off your child, talk to them about where they are going and be excited for them (they pick up on your vibes). Do not sneak out; do not linger and always say goodbye — all great tips I was given by other moms and teachers.

How was the first week?

It actually went really well. I was expecting worse but for the most part she did better than expected. She did cry at handover but I would walk off after saying goodbye and just try hold my ground. I knew that lingering made it harder and I knew I had to build that trust that when I say goodbye, I come back later. The pick up would also be tear-filled as soon as she saw me, but she would settle and smile once in my arms. It did get better everyday and they say that 2 to 3 weeks to adjust is normal. However, I don’t know how it will go from now on as we have already had to take two days off now since Riley caught her first cold (and we’ve been home for a week).

Other Daycare considerations?

Speaking of being sick, you should be prepared for your little one to get sick more often now that they’re at daycare. I was expecting it, but somehow still didn’t expect it so soon. I’m not really sure how other moms who have office jobs handle the time off from daycare but it was super stressful for me to have Riley home for almost a week and a half (including statutory holidays). For my work, I’m going to try work ahead of schedule to almost bank on a week off a month as I have read that 6-12 of sickness in the first year is expected.

Daycare Packing List For A Toddler:

On the first day of daycare, I dropped off diapers, diaper cream (our fave!) and wipes along with a silicone bib for meals. Whenever I need to top up those items, the teachers will send me a note on the school app. The below items are what we use and pack on a daily basis.

Toddler Daycare Backpack

You can get smaller kids backpacks than this one but ideally you want something that will fit everything that you need to pack. At this stage, the kiddos are not carrying their own bags into daycare. I also feel like this is a good size to grow into for the next couple of years, but we will see how long it lasts.


Wet Bag + Clear Travel Bags

These clear travel bags have been amazing to organize the extra outfits and socks so that they are also easily visible for the teacher. It’s obviously not a necessity, just a nice way to organize the backpack. The wetbag is a good thing to pack, or at least some plastic bags, for any dirty or wet clothes.


Hydroflask Toddler Water Bottle

I was nervous to get this because it is supposed to be for 3+ year olds but I didn’t want to pack the straw cup we have that constantly leaks. Riley drinks really well out of it, but just a heads up, it is hard for her to hold and it’s a nightmare to fit into the side pouch on the backpack because of the silicone sleeve.


Sleepsack or Blanket + Lovey

Riley has a sleepsack for naps so I send one on Monday and then the teachers return it on Friday to be cleaned. I also send Riley’s lovey because it’s a great soothing tool that is helpful for the transition plus it’s an extra comfort for nap times.


Label Everything!

Number one rule for packing for daycare: label literally every single thing goes to daycare. I ordered some customized labels off Mabels for clothing and other items, and they’re so cute! The silicone bottle labels are ideal for the Hydroflask.


Extra Outfits + Socks

I pack two extra outfits and socks in her daycare backpack every day, and I pack them in the travel bags listed above. I save all my latest finds to this Pinterest board, so anything new I grab for Riley will always be on there. I put Riley’s shoes on when I take her in to daycare, so I don’t pack them but since we’re still in colder weather I do pack outdoor gear.


So grateful for your support here and I hope that this post was helpful with you and your little babe’s transition.

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