Does Daycare Provide Milk? (What To Expect and Official Guidelines)

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It’s the night before your little one’s first day of daycare and you are packing a diaper bag full of their essentials to have ready to go in the morning. Anxiously taking a mental inventory of everything your baby’s caregivers might need to care for your little one for a full day, you realize that you forgot to ask about milk! Does daycare provide milk? 

Daycare facilities participating in one of the many federally funded nutrition programs will supply milk to children in their care. Those not participating in such programs must adhere to state licensing requirements, which may or may not require them to supply milk. Daycares also have their own policies and procedures regarding milk supply. 

Read on for more information on whether daycare facilities provide milk, as well as a complete packing list for what to send with your little one.

Do daycares normally provide milk?

The fats in whole milk are great in helping your baby’s brain development (after they turn one), and many parents prefer to give their toddler milk with snacks instead of water or juice, but is it something you need to provide when sending your child to daycare?

If your little one’s daycare is part of a federally funded program, you can count on their daycare supplying them with milk to drink; otherwise, you will need to check your state guidelines and your daycare’s specific policies.

At the federal level, the USDA Child and Adult Food Care Program regulates daycare facilities’ milk requirements. Federal programs will supply milk that meets the specifications of the nutritional guidelines set forth by that program. If a daycare facility participates in a federal program but it requires them to purchase the milk themselves, the program will reimburse the daycare for the cost, and your little one will still get their milk.

If your daycare does not participate in federal nutrition programs, they will adhere to the child care licensing regulations for nutrition in your state. Nutrition requirements vary by state and may require your little one’s daycare to serve milk or require parents to supply the milk. For definitive answers, you can check your state licensing rules for daycare nutrition if it’s after hours or call your little one’s daycare directly to ask. 

What kind of milk do daycares provide?

If your baby’s daycare is not participating in a federal milk service program (such as the USDA Special Milk Program), the milk they supply – if they do supply it – will be controlled by your local state licensing requirements for daycare nutrition.

If your child’s daycare is part of a federally funded nutrition program, they will serve milk according to the following regulations:

Up To 12 Months Old

  • Low-fat or fat-free (skim) milk
  • Low-fat or fat-free (skim) lactose-free milk
  • Low-fat or fat-free (skim) lactose-reduced milk
  • Low-fat or fat-free (skim) acidified milk 
  • Low-fat or fat-free (skim) buttermilk

12-24 Months Old

  • Unflavored whole milk 

Aged 2 and Up

  • Low-fat or fat-free (skim) milk 
  • Low-fat or fat-free (skim) lactose-free milk
  • Low-fat or fat-free (skim) lactose-reduced milk 
  • Low-fat or fat-free (skim) acidified milk
  • Low-fat or fat-free (skim) buttermilk

How do you bring cow’s milk to daycare?

If the thought of lugging your baby’s milk to daycare has you stressed with visions of spilled milk soaking into the seats of your car, you are not alone. While perhaps not the easiest item to transport with your little one, it can be done.

If your baby’s daycare is not providing milk and you have a short drive to daycare, you can simply place your baby’s capped bottles of milk into a resealable gallon size bag and zip or seal it closed to make sure you don’t have any leaks in your car on the drive.

If your drive to daycare is a little longer, place the milk bottles in a small cooler or insulated lunch bag with an ice pack to ensure that the milk stays cold on the journey. 

For more information on travelling with milk, check out this article!

How much milk should you bring to daycare?

If you are sure that your little one’s daycare does not provide milk, you’ll need to figure out how much milk to pack for their caregivers to serve them.

When considering how much milk to pack for daycare, you need to think about how long your little one will be in their care and how many ounces they normally consume during that time. In general, 1 bottle for every 2-3 hours they will spend at daycare should suffice.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution and supply slightly more than you think necessary in case your little one is extra hungry that day or stays at daycare longer than you anticipated.

Complete packing list for what to send to daycare

Packing your little one for daycare can be stressful. You want to remember every little thing your baby or toddler might need, and you might not be sure of what you should send and what you should leave at home. All the while, you may be anxious about leaving them in the care of new caregivers.

In the hopes of reducing any stress you may feel, we’ve created a daycare packing list.

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:

Meals

  • Bottles or Sippy Cups
  • Bottle Bag or small cooler with a freezer pack
  • Food/Snacks
  • Feeding spoons
  • Bibs
  • Burp Cloths

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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