Printable childcare supply list for parents blog header

Printable childcare supply list for parents

It’s that time of year again. The dreaded back-to-school daycare supply list gets sent to your email, and you begin to sweat.  Now you have to go spend all this Monday on glue sticks and post-it notes and antibacterial gel and a certain type of eraser that only gets sold in one store 20 miles away. 


Because that’s what on The Daycare Supply List!

Trust me — I get it!  I’m a mom of four kids in three different schools with four different lists.

I have been on both sides as a parent and as an educator and I will say that a daycare supply list is so important (almost as important as daycare supplies!). That’s why we’ve prepared this handy daycare supplies list for parents to get everything on their daycare center list:

download supplies list

Why are lists so important, you ask? Here’s what every educator working at a childcare center want you to know:

Lists keep us organized! 

Supply lists are not meant to stress parents out. They are meant to keep us all on the same page with an idea of what to expect for the year so that all children feel ready. Without supply lists, parents would not know exactly what to send in, and you could potentially feel unprepared!

It also allows for educators to give you an idea about what foods are prohibited or what consumable items are used most throughout the year. Without lists, parents would be confused and educators would be frustrated.

Stick to the list!

I totally understand why some lists deserve the big eye roll for how specific they are. My oldest son’s educator requested a 2-inch Papermate pink pearl eraser. I mean, come on! How specific can we get?

I started to do the dramatic eye roll, but then I thought about it. Is it REALLY that big of a deal for me? If that is what the educator is asking for, there must be a good reason for it. Do I really need to get worked up over it?

Child chalk drawing

I started to think of it in the opposite light. At least it didn’t just say “eraser,” and then I would be left wondering if I got the right one! So listen, parents, if an educator requests Crayola brand, get Crayola brand. These saints disguised as educators do so much each and every day and spend so much of their own money. Let’s just buy the items and call it a day.

When it comes to getting supplies, don’t feel like you need to get it all in one outing. Look for good sales. One store may have amazing deals on folders while another has a great deal on glue sticks. What’s really great is that some centers have even given the option of purchasing the entire list through an online link. If sales aren’t a big deal to you and you’d rather pay for convenience, go for it!

With Multiple Children, Label EVERYTHING!

Did you read that? Label EVERYTHING! I’ll say it again for those in the back. Label. Everything.

This is for your sanity as well as for the educators! You pay all of this money for the best bottles, and then a cap or a piece goes missing. Ugh, where did it go? If it wasn’t labeled, chances are it got sent with another family with a similar bottle.

That goes for all things! Gloves, hats, jackets, spoons, extra clothing, lunch boxes, bibs, pacifiers, etc. If it goes to childcare, label it! If you don’t label it, chances are, educators will get a good ole sharpie marker and label it for you. But please don’t wait for that to happen. Educators have so much to deal with already. The last thing they want to do is have to label things instead of spending time with the children.

And guess what? In most places, it is required by licensing to have items labeled, especially bottles and personal items. So, go label crazy and help the educators out. (There are some great sites out there that sell personalized labels at very reasonable prices! Try or Mabels Labels!)

Check in on refills for daycare supplies

I know what you’re thinking: This lady has the audacity to not only give me reasons to like supply lists, but now she wants me to offer refills??!!

Just hear me out, okay? Children can be gross. It’s true, don’t deny it. They are sticky, gooey, drooly, and just overall gross. And that’s okay! But we go through A LOT of wipes and tissues each day keeping daycare equipment clean. A LOT! So feel free to check in on cleaning supplies as well as crafts supplies halfway through the year, especially around wintertime, to see if they are low on any items.

daycare craft activity

Something I try to do is any time I go to our local wholesale store for bulk items, I always send in a box of tissues, hand sanitizer, or baby wipes in my child’s bookbag for the classroom. I don’t wait for their teacher or daycare provider to ask. It doesn’t cost me much, and I know the educators are grateful.

This is also for items other than for cleaning, like craft supplies — glue sticks dry up, pencils wear down, crayons are used, and play-doh dries out. If you see it on sale, grab it and send it in. Your child’s educator will be so appreciative!

Ask for a daycare center wish list

Educators are some of the most generous and loving people on the planet. They are just another breed of humans. They are happy to buy things when they can, but we all know they can’t always afford them.

If your child’s educator doesn’t have a wish list, ask for one. I’m telling you right now, educators are always SO thankful for simple things like batteries, cleaning wipes, command strips, diaper cream, painters tape, pipe cleaners, pom poms, puzzles, books, dry erase markers, etc.

Do me a favor — don’t get these items as gifts. Instead, get them something you know they personally would enjoy. These wish list items can be sent in “just because.”

Daycare supply list (including art supplies)

Here are the essential items that educators will need for your child:

  • 3 bottles of hand soap
  • 3 boxes of tissues
  • 2 containers of Lysol/Clorox wipes
  • 2 sponges
  • Diapers/pull-ups
  • Wipes
  • Pacifier
  • Formula or breast milk
  • Water bottle
  • 2 sets of weather-appropriate clothes
  • Sleeping bag
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 1 box of crayons
  • Lunch box
  • Backpack
  • Yoga mat or nap mat

This list can vary depending on the age of your child (for example, older children of course don’t need formula/breast milk while younger children don’t need a sleeping bag). Download our printable supplies list to see items broken down by ages from 0 to 5:

download supplies list

For additional items to help with the new requirements resulting from the pandemic, see our COVID-19 Childcare Supplies List for Parents!

We can all admit that lists are annoying and demanding.  But centers without lists are unprofessional and end up costing more time trying to figure out what you need to send in.

At the end of the day, this list doesn’t have to be the daunting task.  It’s necessary for the classroom and keeps everyone on the same page.  If you have multiple children as I do, it can be really overwhelming if you allow it to be.

Something we started doing as a family is when we go grocery shopping, we buy a few things off of the list each week during the summer so that it doesn’t end up being a shopping frenzy on the day before school starts. If you have older children, try making it a fun outing by giving each child a part of the list and going on a “scavenger hunt” to find items. It will get your child excited for the new school year ahead! 

download supplies list

Finished buying everything from your list? Buy yourself a bottle of wine after checking everything off, and pat yourself on the back. Cheers to another school year!  

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Missy Knechel

Missy is a professor in the early childhood department at Eastern University and director of Victory Early Learning Academy, a childcare center that she started ten years ago. Prior to that, she taught Kindergarten and second grade for a total of 10 years. She has been married to her best friend, Jason, for 18 years, and together they have four beautiful children ages 8, 9, 12 and 13 in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time, Missy loves to bake, read historical fiction, sing karaoke and travel to Central America on short term missions.

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