Just when I'd gotten comfortable with what we'd need to leave the house....I went back to work and Carter started day care. This introduced a whole new series of questions about what he would need, since the day care has rules against things we normally use (swaddles, pacifier clips, etc.) and it would be the first time that Carter has to nap somewhere other than his crib. I asked around to friends of mine who are working moms, as well as consulted the daycare staff, to determine what to buy and pack for Carter each day. After 3 weeks, we're in a pretty good routine and I've figured out what he needs each day. Here's what works for us:
1. Daycare bag
I don't send my main diaper bag to daycare, since it has way more stuff in it than he needs at daycare; we use a monogrammed seersucker backpack as his daycare bag to transport his stuff each day.
2. Bottle cooler
We use a matching seersucker lunchbox cooler to transport Carter's bottles to daycare each morning. Some bottle coolers are too small to hold 4 bottles, or too short to hold bottles with the nipples and caps on (our daycare requires bottles to be fully pre-prepared), so make sure the bottles fit in the cooler you buy!
3. Gerber First Essentials bottles
These bottles are cheap, cheap, cheap and Carter takes them, so these were a no-brainer for us; there's no sense in using expensive bottles if the cheaper ones work! We have 12 of these bottles, which is 3 days' worth in case we get behind in bottle washing at night.
Our daycare requires us to provide our own diapers (some daycares we interviewed provide diapers for an additional monthly fee, but this one doesn't). I send a jumbo pack at a time, since they store them in small cubbies for each child (there isn't enough space to send a giant box); they notify us when we need to restock his diaper supply.
5. Ice pack
We use the Medela ice pack in his bottle cooler to keep the milk cold!
6. Bottle Cap (and other stuff) Labels
I ordered these personalized Inchbug Mini Rectangle labels to label the plastic caps on Carter's bottles (as well as anything else plastic, like the ice pack in his cooler). They're just stickers but they don't fade or fall off in the dishwasher.
7. Bottle Labels
We use these Orbit personalized rubber-band style bottle labels for Carter's bottles; they are embossed with his first and last name so there's no confusion in the fridge at daycare! These are more durable than writing his name on his bottles using a Sharpie, which can wash off over time. We have 8 labels total (4 for bottles and, in a few months, an additional 4 for containers of pureed baby food, since I plan to make my own baby food).
Carter take a pacifier at naptime and prefers MAM pacifiers; this pacifier will be dedicated to daycare use, so it will stay in his daycare backpack. Our daycare doesn't allow pacifier clips.
9. Wipes and Reusable Wipe Box
We sent a reusable wipe box, which allows us to refill it using the giant packages of wipe refills instead of constantly buying wipes in boxes (which are more expensive).
10. Clothing Labels
I ordered these personalized Inchbug Tag Pals clothing labels to label Carter's sleepsacks and extra outfits; they're just a sticker that you put on the clothing tag, which seemed easier than the iron-on or sew-on variety, and they don't come off in the laundry. I don't label all of his clothes (that he wears to daycare each day) - just the extra outfits in his backpack and his sleepsack in case it gets mixed up with other kids' stuff.
11. 2 pairs socks
We send Carter to daycare wearing socks everyday, but I have 2 extra pairs in his backpack in case they fall off and get lost or get dirty.
12. 2 extra outfits
I pack 2 extra weather-appropriate outfits in Carter's daycare backpack in case of diaper blowouts or excessive spitup. I keep them in a Ziploc bag that they can put his dirty clothes in if they have to change him!
13. Halo Sleepsack
For SIDS/liability reasons, our daycare does not allow swaddling during naptime; only zip-up sleepsacks (with the baby's arms out) are allowed. We bought 3 cotton Halo sleepsacks to rotate between daycare and home (so we can always have 1 for daycare, 1 at home, and 1 in the laundry). We also bought 3 fleece sleepsacks for the winter.
14. A+D Diaper Rash Ointment
We sent a tube of A+D diaper rash cream to keep at daycare in the event he gets a diaper rash; sending it upfront to keep on hand at daycare is easier than remembering to go out and buy a new tube when he gets a rash!
Our daycare provides crib sheets, bibs, and burp cloths, so I don't need to send those - but every daycare is different, so check to see what yours provides in order to determine what to send!