Does Daycare Provide Formula (What To Expect and Official Guidelines)

Tomorrow is your baby’s first day of daycare! You’ve toured and carefully selected the perfect daycare for your baby. You’ve met your baby’s new caregivers and even placed cute little labels on all your baby’s belongings so that they are ready to go in the morning. And then it dawns on you. You realize that you forgot to ask about formula! Will the daycare provide it, or should you send it?

Daycare facilities may often have their own policies regarding formula supply for babies participating in their programs. They may opt to supply formula or hold parents responsible for supplying formula for their babies daily. If they participate in a federally funded nutrition program, such as CACDP, the daycare may be required to supply formula.

Read on for more information on whether to expect daycare to provide your baby with formula. You’ll also find a complete list of essentials to pack for your baby’s first day.

Do daycares normally provide formula?

All daycares do not necessarily have the same policies as to whether or not they or the parents are responsible for supplying formula for babies in their care.

Daycare facilities have the option of supplying formula if they choose or requiring parents to be responsible for providing an adequate amount of formula for each day their baby is in their care. 

If your baby’s daycare participates in a federally funded program, you can count on that program to supply the facility with infant formula. The USDA provides guidelines on formula supply at daycare through their Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Federal programs supply formula that meets the specifications of their nutritional guidelines.

If a daycare facility participates in a federal program but it requires them to purchase the formula themselves, the program will reimburse the daycare, and your little one will still have formula at feeding time.

Daycares that do not participate in these programs will adhere to your state’s child care licensing regulations for nutrition. Foodservice laws vary by state and may require your little one’s daycare to supply the formula or put parents in charge of sending it in.

To be sure, you can check your state licensing rules for daycare nutrition or ask your daycare (or prospective daycare) directly.

How do you bring formula to daycare?

Rest assured, while perhaps not the easiest item to transport across town with your baby in tow, traveling with formula can be done.

If your baby’s daycare requires parents to supply formula and you have a short drive, you can simply place your baby’s capped pre-made bottles of formula into a resealable gallon size bag and then seal it closed.

If your drive to daycare is a little longer, place the bottles of capped formula in a small cooler with an ice pack to be sure that it stays cold as you make the journey. 

How to prepare formula for daycare

While you may be accustomed to making your baby’s formula one bottle at a time at home, you will need to prepare it in bulk and make sure it’s ready to travel when sending a whole day’s worth to daycare.

When preparing your baby’s formula bottles for daycare:

  1. Make your baby’s formula according to the directions on the formula.
  2. Try to fill the bottles with the amount appropriate for your baby’s meal.
  3. Provide an extra 1-2 ounces in case your baby wants extra after their feeding.
  4. Label the bottle(s) with your baby’s full name, along with the date you made the formula.
  5. Be sure to refrigerate the formula once it is labeled.
  6. If you have a short drive to daycare, place the capped bottles in a gallon-size sealable bag to prevent spills or leaks. If you have a long drive to your baby’s daycare, put the bottles in a small cooler with an ice pack to keep the formula cold until it can be refrigerated.

How many bottles do you need for daycare?

If your baby’s daycare requires parents to supply the formula they’ll need for the day, you’ll want to figure out just how much you should pack for their caregivers to serve them.

When considering how much formula to pack for daycare, first consider the length of their stay and how many ounces they would normally consume during that amount of time.

In general, a newborn baby will need 2-3 ounces of formula every 4-5 hours. This amount will gradually increase as your baby grows. By the time babies reach 6 months old, they may need up to 32 ounces a day. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and supply slightly more formula than you think necessary. 

For more information on how much formula your baby will need during their first year, check out this resource all about formula feeding.

How do you mark bottles for daycare?

All daycares have rules requiring them to only feed babies from the bottles they received from that baby’s parent or guardian. This means that every bottle of formula that you lovingly prepare for your baby at daycare must be clearly labeled with their name and the date it was made to avoid any mix-ups during feeding time. 

To label your baby’s bottles for daycare:

  • Be clear about what information your daycare requires on the bottles
  • Purchase pre-made brightly colored labels or colored masking tape that is wide enough to write the required information 
  • Use a permanent marker to write the required information on the label or tape.
  • Make sure bottles are clean and dry before adhering the label
  • Place onto a visible place on the bottles and make sure it sticks

Complete packing list for what to send to daycare

In addition to your baby’s formula, you may be wondering what else you need to make sure your little one has packed for daycare.

Our packing list includes all of the daycare must-haves you’ll want to send with your little one at daycare, plus a few other goodies you may want to sneak inside that diaper bag to help make the day more fun:

Meals

Changing

  • Diapers (you may need to label these in marker with your little one’s name)
  • Wipes
  • Diaper cream

Clothing

  • Extra clothes (replace as needed to make sure they are seasonally appropriate)
  • Hat for sunny days
  • Seasonal apparel (winter hats, mittens, boots, etc.)
  • Sunscreen

Nap Time

  • Crib sheets
  • Sleep sack or swaddling blankets
  • Pacifier

Organization

  • Name labels for belongings
  • Ziplock bags

Toys

  • Rattles
  • Special stuffed animal or a reminder of home, such as a picture
  • Small musical toys

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