Are you getting ready to send your sweet baby to daycare? Here’s everything you need to know about how to prep breastmilk bottles for daycare – how to get them ready, how to label them, and how to transport them.
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First, find out your daycare’s system
Each daycare will have a different system for infant feeding.
Most daycares will want you bring in prepped bottles. Some daycares may be fine with you bringing in clean bottles and bags of frozen milk; others may want you to bring in one bottle for feeding and Thermos-type container of milk.
Find out as early as you can what your daycare’s rules and procedures are for breastmilk, because it might influence what you do before your baby starts there. (For example, some daycares require frozen breastmilk bags to be labeled in a certain way.)
Prepping the bottles
After you pump the milk, you need to prep the bottles for your baby to drink it.
If your baby drinks out of the same bottles that you pump into, this will be super easy – just pour milk from one bottle into another until you have the right amounts in each.
Note: If your baby won’t take the bottles that came with your pump, see if you can screw the bottles that your baby will drink from into your pump. (For example, you can screw Dr Brown’s bottles into Medela pumps.)
If not, see if you can get an adapter and make pumping into your baby’s feeding bottles work that way. Here is a great comparison chart to help you figure out if this is possible with your breast pump/bottle combination.
I recommend prepping bottles the night before if you can – I usually did it as soon as I walked in the door, before putting them in my fridge. Anything to make mornings easier!
I would get three sets of bottles if possible – one to send to daycare, one to pump into, and one to wash. If necessary, you can do two sets and have the wash/pump into be the same, but then sometimes you have to pack up bottles that haven’t fully dried.
Labeling your breastmilk bottles for daycare
Most daycares will want you to label your baby’s bottles with his or her name – obviously, you don’t want your milk to go to another baby (or vice versa)!
You can do this with a label like Mabel’s Labels (I used them and they are really cute!), or you can just put a piece of tape with your baby’s name on it.
Some moms also like to label their bottles with the time their baby should take the bottle or the order that the bottles should be fed in. This might be needed if baby takes a different amount at different feedings, or if a bottle will expire earlier in the day. (For example, if you drop baby off at 8am, and a bottle finished defrosting 20 hours ago, you’d want to feed it before noon.)
To do this, you can use painter’s tape, or a dry erase marker.
Transporting prepped bottles to daycare
Once you have your bottles prepped and labeled, you’ll want to put them in some kind of bag to transport them.
If you have a short trip to daycare, you can just put the prepped bottles in a zip-top plastic bag. If you have a longer trip or prefer a cooler bag, you can get one like this:
I would put the prepped bottles in the cooler bag in the fridge overnight with the removable ice pack in the freezer, and then in the morning when it’s time to go, just pop the ice pack in the cooler, and you’re all set.
Should you feed fresh or frozen milk at daycare?
In the big picture, it doesn’t matter – do what works best for your family.
The only thing I would suggest is not to freeze milk if you’re going to use it within the next five days – don’t freeze it just to freeze it. Fresh milk will be fine in the fridge for for that long, is easier to manager, and you don’t have to use a breastmilk storage bag.
What tips do you have for prepping bottles for daycare? Share them in the comments!