How to Prepare Your Breastfeeding Baby for Daycare: A Step-by-Step Guide

Getting your little one ready for daycare might feel like a big task. Transitioning your breastfeeding infant to daycare requires thoughtful planning to ensure a smooth experience. Here are some practical steps to prepare you and your baby for this exciting new chapter.

1. Establish a Feeding Routine for Daycare: To align with the daycare schedule, consider gently transitioning from on-demand breastfeeding to a more predictable feeding routine. This benefits both you and the caregivers, helping them anticipate your baby’s feeding needs. You may want to consider a virtual lactation consultation to help you with this transition. Daycares typically provide information on what to expect and help create a transition plan. For example, Kids & Company, a leading child care provider in North America, helps families create transition schedules that include nap times, diaper changes, in addition to formula or breast milk feeding times.

2. Introduce Bottle Feeding Ahead of Time: If your baby isn’t accustomed to bottle feeding, introduce this new method a couple of weeks before starting daycare. Offer breast milk in a bottle to help your baby become comfortable with the change. Remember: Patience is key! And get extra support from the pros if you need it.

3. Know Your Daycare’s Breast Milk Guidelines. Boost your breast milk freezer stash by pumping a little extra each day to ensure that you have a readily available supply when baby starts daycare. Then properly label and store the breast milk according to your daycare’s breast milk guidelines, which should tell you if breast milk must be frozen or refrigerated, how much breast milk they can store on-site, and for how long.

4. Familiarize Your Baby with Bottles: Let someone other than you feed your baby with a bottle. This helps your baby associate the bottle with nourishment, even in your absence. It might take a few tries to find the right bottle for your baby. We recommend a sample pack like the Babylist Bottle Box.

5. Familiarize Your Baby with the Daycare Environment: Visit the daycare center before your baby’s start date. Allowing your baby to explore and become acquainted with the surroundings can ease the stress for both of you. Take advantage of open house events and daycare tours! If you’re looking for child care, Kids & Company hosts open houses, typically the first Saturday of each month. Learn more here.

6. Communicate Your Feeding Preferences: Openly share your breastfeeding journey with the daycare staff. Discuss feeding cues, preferences, and any special techniques that work best for your baby. This information helps caregivers provide optimal care. 

7. Pack Essentials with Care: Prepare a well-stocked diaper bag with spare clothes, diapers, wipes, and comforting items like a lovey or favorite toy for your baby’s day at daycare. Transport your breast milk safely in a cooler, like The Cool Commuter, that will maintain refrigerated temperatures for your commute and other unexpected delays.

8. Stay in Touch: Establish a communication plan with your daycare provider, whether through daily texts or quick calls. Staying connected eases worries and keeps you informed about your baby’s day. Many daycares like Kids & Company use mobile apps for parent and corporate communication, allowing parents to stay up-to-date on things like feedings and diaper changes.

9. Embrace the Transition Gracefully: Transitions take time, so be patient with yourself and your baby. Offer extra cuddles and reassurance during this adjustment period!

10. Prioritize Self-Care: Taking care of your emotional well-being is crucial during this transition. Reach out to your support network, whether that’s friends, family, or online communities, for tips and camaraderie.

Remember that you’re embarking on a new chapter filled with growth and discovery, and you don’t have to do it alone!

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