Daycare Hacks for Infants

Daycare hacks

We just got the notice yesterday. In one month, our baby girl will be transitioning into the Toddler Room at daycare. (Insert brief teary eyed realization that my baby is no longer a baby). With this new adventure coming before we know it, I was immediately overwhelmed and stressed about new challenges and changes. And, as a planner extreme, I immediately read through the Toddler Room packet – how do I prepare, what do I need to pack, what are the expectations? And you know what I realized, the Toddler Room requires SO MUCH LESS than the infant room. Cue happy dance music. But, now that we are breathing a little easier on the packing list, I thought I’d share some life hacks that helped us in those Infant Daycare Days.

Bring in Bulk (if allowed)

Abby’s daycare required the following items in the infant room:

  • 1 Crib Blanket (each day in attendance)
  • Bibs (typically 1 or 2 per day because babies are messy)
  • 1 extra of clothing (from head to toe) each day (meaning, shirt, pants, and socks)
  • 8-10 Diapers per day (and diapering needs – wipes, cream, etc.)
  • Bottles (if formula – prepared in advance for the day ahead)
  • Baby food (if needed)
  • Bowls and Spoons

Needless to say, it was quite a bit of items to bring in. Abby attends daycare full time – that’s five days a week, meaning she needed a total of 5 crib sheets, 5 sets of clothes and about 50 diapers each week! The best solution we discovered – the ability to bring everything in bulk as needed. The Friday before she started, we brought in a full month worth of items (including an economy size box of diapers) – it looked like we were moving in! And the teachers had plenty of room to store it – as long as it fit in her assigned areas. AMAZING solution. If you can bring everything in bulk – do it! Saves you headache and time on those mornings your are trying to rush out the door. The last thing you want to stress about is not having any diapers available.

Invest in Labels

Daycare requires labeling – constant labeling. Everything must have your child’s name on it – from sheets, to bottles, to diapers. If it’s not labeled, it will probably get lost. Sheets and (almost all) clothing was relatively easy to label – permanent marker on the tag, done! Except baby socks – I just gave up with those. I think they are made without the ability to label because babies hate them so much. It took 10 minutes to get socks on her, and about 0.10 seconds for her to pull them off and start chewing on them. Towards the end (prior to actual shoes), I literally would just show up holding socks, ensuring the teacher knew I tried my best to dress her from head to toe. But I digress. Labeling any food source item – bottles, bowls, cups – was an annoying battle. Most people suggested painters tape and a marker – easy and cheap solution (usually my favorite kind). However, Abby pulled that tape off with little effort AND when she would miss one, I still found myself having to constantly relabel because the tape would be worn from the dishwasher. So, I invested in bottle labels, and they really were the best decision. I know, I know – but they cost almost $10. Yes, I normally would find the cheapest option – however, these amazing little things, they withstand a toddler’s efforts to remove AND the dishwasher. Speaking of labels – for some reason, Abby had a ton of baby clothes that were tag-free, making it basically impossible to label. With the help of friends who have kids in camp, I discovered they make clothing labels too (iron free and sew free ones!) Side tip: Abby also owned a few baby items that were dry-clean only. Please don’t do that to a parent of a baby because babies are gross and usually all of their clothes end up with food or poop all over. 

Prep as much as possible the night before

This is one that we still haven’t mastered, but on those days when we do, the mornings are much more pleasant. Normal (non-prepped) mornings involved us rescuing a hungry Abby from her crib, preparing a bottle for her and coffee for us, running around looking for clean clothes, sheets and bibs, while simultaneously prepping all bottles for the day.  We had to prepare four 8 ounce bottles with formula every morning, yes FOUR bottles. And not those two part bottles – no, we had to prepare the “Dr. Brown – I have 8,000 parts to make feeding ever so much easier, kidding – bottles.” Don’t get me wrong, I loved these bottles, but cleaning them by hand and preparing took FOREVER. I was so happy when we were officially done with bottles. I found out recently they have a new kind without the blue insert – oh well. To save time, on Sunday nights, we would pack everything she would need for the week – 5 sheets, 5 sets of clothing, and bibs (and check the Daycare list to see if she was running low on diapers, wipes, or cream). Digging through a basket of clean laundry on Monday morning looking for five sheets with a screaming baby is no easy task – do it the night before, when she is sleeping. Every night before daycare, I’d also prep the four bottles for the next day with water – just water because daycare had specific rules about how long they would keep formula (tip: ALWAYS check the rules for formula and breastmilk storage in advance!). The following morning, I’d do the final steps of adding the formula powder to the bottles, and adding in the extra label (this one was painters tape), with the day and time (another rule of daycare).

BONUS: Money Saving Tips

Daycare needs multiple sheets and sets of clothing. And, if you are anything like me, you do not want to be forced to do laundry multiple times a week to keep up with the daycare demands. I learned early on that Abby does not need to be dressed in her best when she’s at daycare – yes, she needs to wear clothes, but she doesn’t need to wear the super cute adorable dinosaur shirt with denim skirt that I love seeing her in. She also does not need the crib sheets that match her bedroom color scheme at daycare. My biggest tip for this – shop around and buy second-hand. Almost all of Abby’s extra set of clothes at daycare, are those I bought second hand, were once new but now have a marinara stain on them (hey, it’s still a shirt and it’s clean!), or I bought on a crazy sale. Yes, she may own 7 blue onsies that all live at daycare, but they cost me a total of $2 and she doesn’t seem to care. In terms of sheets – I have gotten a few questionable stares about purchasing sheets second-hand with the fear of bed bugs and whatnot. I have actually discovered, most second hand stores will ONLY sell crib sheets if they have never been open. Literally, I have purchased multiple sheets from second-hand stores that were factory sealed. It’s pretty amazing! (Side Money Saving Tip: If you formula feed, and your child has no issues – buy the generic/store brand formula. It will save you SO MUCH in the long run! AND, it’s usually the EXACT same. In the US, Baby Formula is so heavily regulated that it all must be safe: According to the FDADo “house brand” or generic infant formulas differ nutritionally from name brand formulas? All infant formulas marketed in the United States must meet the nutrient specifications listed in FDA regulations. Infant formula manufacturers may have their own proprietary formulations but they must contain at least the minimum levels of all nutrients specified in FDA regulations without going over the maximum levels, when maximum levels are specified. Source: FDA/CFSAN Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements July 2002.   Good luck on your next adventures! Let me know what are some of your daycare life-hacks!

Daycare, One Year Anniversary

Hard Truths About Daycare

We did it! It took 365 days, but we did it! We survived a year of daycare, meaning I’ve survived being a working mom for an entire year. That astonishes me. How did that happen? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I dropped my tiny (and I use that term loosely since my daughter has always been in the 99.9th percentile) at this foreign place, laid her down on a boppy and cried hysterically the entire ride to work. That first week was rough. And now that I’ve been around the block for a year, I can say this with confidence – Daycare was the BEST decision we could have ever made for our family. For those of you who stay home with your child/children, that is incredible, but for our family, for our needs, it wasn’t in the cards.

And since we are now “experts” (sense the sarcasm because, honestly, we are just making this up as we go – though it’s been working), I wanted to share some of the ugly truths about daycare that I wished I had known beforehand.

The first drop off will hurt

It may hit you in the parking lot. It may not hit you until your at work. It may not even hit until you’re driving home from that first day back at work, rushing to see that baby, but it will hurt. You’ll feel a pain in your gut that you’re a terrible person for handing your tiny beautiful baby over to a basic stranger. How will this stranger know if my child is hungry or just wants to be held? Will this stranger even have time to hold her? Does this stranger know that she likes to hold your hand when she drinks her bottle? Will my child hate me for leaving? So many thoughts will flood your head. My recommendation – on that first day, take a DEEP breath. If you can, go back to work part time to test the waters. If I could go back in time, I probably would have done that. Leaving your child for a full week, for the first time is HARD. But always remember, it will get easier.  Eventually, you’ll get into a routine. Every morning, you’ll prepare for the day ahead, survive drop off (and get in your goodbye hug and kiss), you’ll go to work, and you’ll come home to your baby. The beauty, I’ve found, you start to treasure that limited time between pick up and bedtime. You’ll get less distracted by your phone and soak in every moment you can in that short window before your baby rubs her eyes, ready to head to dreamland.

You will miss firsts

I know this is hard to hear, and believe me, it was one of my biggest fears about daycare, but the truth is, you aren’t around your baby 24/7, which means you will miss things. You wont be there the first time glitter is introduced (though, honestly, I can’t imagine that is a positive experience for someone with animals and very limited time to clean). You won’t be there the day your baby decides one nap is all that is needed. And, if you’re anything like us, you wont be there when your baby girl takes her first steps.

That’s right. The first time Abby walked, the first time she let go of someone’s hands to take a step, neither of us were around. And, it was hard realizing we had missed it. We didn’t get to see the excitement on her face when she first figured it out. We didn’t have a video to proudly display. I honestly felt like a terrible mother because I had missed such an impeccable moment in my child’s life. We only found out because her teacher told me during pick-up. And, because she is stubborn like her mommy, Abby refused to walk in front of us. Not only did we miss the first steps, we missed out on a week (maybe more) of her walking. However, I must say, the day she did walk at home, for us for the first time, she beamed with pride. It was almost as if she were rehearsing for a big show at daycare, and didn’t want mom and dad to see until opening night. And now, she runs! Toddlers seriously have no fear, and no sense of direction – that poor girl has fallen so many times and walked into so many walls. Once again, another trait she got from mommy.

One day, your baby won’t say goodbye

This was and continues to be a hard one to swallow. Shortly after she learned to crawl, Abby refused to sit still. And now that she’s running everywhere, it’s nearly impossible to catch her. And, the day will come, where you’ll put your baby down at daycare and she will not look back at you. There’s a new toy in the corner that needs to be chewed on, or a few books that have not yet been ripped to pieces, or just another child to interact with. And there you are, standing in the doorway, with no goodbye hug nor kiss. And you’ll start to think your baby, the one you have cared for every day, prefers the teachers over you. Every day when I drop Abby off, she runs (no sprints) to her teacher to give her a morning hug, eventually turning to me to say “BYEEEE” with barely a glance in my direction. I wont lie, it stings. I do make it a point to walk over to her for a goodbye hug, despite if she is distracted, because I’m human and I need my goodbye snuggle before I deal with the morning rush hour. But here’s the thing, it’s actually a good thing that your baby runs to the teacher, or immediately decides to play with a child, or grab a toy. It means your baby feels at home at daycare. It means that your precious baby is in good hands. I have been told that eventually, they start to revert and will cry as you leave. I’ve seen this with the older kids. And then, a magical thing happens. The hysterical child will see mom or dad leave, look around, and begin playing. I’m not sure if this will make me feel worse or better once that time comes around.

But here’s the thing, you know what makes up for missing out on that goodbye hug and kiss, or not having a child screaming for you to stick around – the welcome you receive at pickup. No matter how stressful my work day may be, or how frustrated I was by the insane amount of traffic, or how nervous I am about the to-do lists flying around my head – when I walk into that classroom and see that smile on my baby girl, it all melts away. And Abby is not a special case. Every child I have seen during his or her own pick up, lights up immediately when mom or dad enter. Abby now sprints to me, yelling “MOMEEEE”, and often trips on a toy, but jumps right back up and begs for a hug.

So, for any parents worried about surviving daycare, focusing on how hard drop off may be, the fear of missing out, the worry of being replaced, always remember your baby loves you. It will be hard. It will be stressful. But your baby will love you no matter what.

Happy one year anniversary to us! 

Poop, boogers, and a fever – just another mom week

sick day

So last week was a week of many firsts. It started with a call from daycare and ended with me in bed with a fever.

Let’s start off by saying, when daycare calls, they are not calling to just chat, or tell you how amazing your daughter is at sucking her toes (which she is excellent at by the way) or ask you if you have finished binge watching “Defenders” yet on Netflix (Yes, Yes I have in fact. And, by the way, if you haven’t, go watch it, it’s amazing. Jessica Jones is basically Veronica Mars meets Superman mixed with a TV-MA rating. And if you haven’t watched Veronica Mars, then really, what are you doing with your life? Go, watch, now. I’ll wait.) Anyway, so if Daycare calls, it’s typically because something bad has happened – someone’s hurt, someone’s sick, there is a zombie outbreak, the children have tied up all of the teachers and are demanding a ransom of pacifiers. In our case, Abby had the magic number of diarrheas. I know what you are thinking – “there’s a magic number?” Yes, yes there is and that magic number is three. Yep, she had three diarrheas, which means, she needs to be picked up and needs to remain out of Daycare for 48 hours once the symptoms clear up. I completely understand the rules and have no problem agreeing to them, but you have to understand, I JUST started working again. John used most of his vacation time for paternity leave. If I took off more time, it would be at less pay. It’s a little heartbreaking to realize that. And, of course I was worried about my baby all at the same time. But I know her poop. She normally has “runny poop.” Luckily, her teacher knows our daughter (and her poop) too. She hadn’t noticed any changes in her mood – Abby was smiles as usual. So, we got a warning – phew. We basically spent the next two days trying anything to ensure she didn’t have three diarrheas in one day. Daycare is Monday through Wednesday, and my mom watches her Thursdays and Fridays. We just had to make it to Thursday. And then it was my mom’s problem (ha! – love you mom!)
Now that I have spent an entire paragraph discussing poop, let’s move on to Wednesday. So, we did it! We were in the clear. Wednesday, I dropped her off. She had no issues all of Tuesday and she was in bright spirits on Wednesday. Then, of course, I notice one of the other babies has a cold. And in a matter of seconds, Abby was, of course, chewing on a toy this girl had just finished chewing on. Thursday morning she wakes up with boogers down her nose and super congested. However, she was still smiling as Abby always does. I seriously wish I could smile through that much congestion. So Thursday and Friday she spent the days at my mom’s house, and spent the nights with us, sucking snot out of her nose. Seriously, how does something so small create so many boogers! This also meant she had difficulty sleeping, then, in turn, so did we.

So, Saturday comes, she’s still smiles and is reaching the end of the sickness. THANKFULLY! Then, of course, out of nowhere, it hits me. That afternoon, I’m achy, snotty, and basically every sickness related word that ends with a “y.” Thermometer reads 101.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Super! So I spent Saturday and Sunday basically lying on the couch, recovering. And in true the world hates you fashion, it was the nicest weekend I had seen in weeks. Now, I’ve had my fair share of sickness in my life. But this was probably the hardest because of Abby. I couldn’t comfort her when she needed me. She was hungry and usually one of us can soothe her while the other makes a bottle, but I could barely stand up. Plus, I didn’t want to expose her to even more illness. Then, on Sunday, John went out and we decided to have my mom watch her so I could recuperate. And I missed her ALL day. But I just had to sit there, and get better, knowing I couldn’t be with my baby. I wanted to be selfish because I wanted her to cuddle with me and soothe me and make me feel better. I didn’t even get to say good morning or goodbye to her that day. It was hard. I’m thankful that John took care of me and her while I was sick, and my mom watched her while I recuperated, but I missed her. Sometimes I just want to be selfish. I don’t get her that much during the week so the weekends I soak in as much time as possible, and I felt like I missed the entire weekend. And then of course, I feel terrible because if she had remained home, I risked infecting her more. No answer seemed correct.

But, when she came home, she smiled at me and let me hold her without squirming to roll around, as she normally does now. I think she somehow knew I needed it.

Here’s hoping this week is a little less exciting. Or, at least, involves less boogers and less poop.