(This post was updated Nov 2021 to reflect the importance of labeling for daycare in post-pandemic life)

The end of maternity leave is a very sad time for many mothers. It can make you feel sick with a mix of emotions; guilt, anxiety, sadness and fear. It’s also liberating for some moms, those who feel the need to get their life and career moving again. Moms can be really excited to have new challenges outside of the home. Yet, however you feel about it we can all agree that the logistics are hard. From packing, to pick-up times it’s not an easy transition to make. Nobody can take the anxiety away, but we can help ease the logistical challenge and steer you in the right direction with getting more organized for the next step.

Why Label for Daycare?

This is a question we used to get quite often at Mabel’s. Today, in post-pandemic life it goes without saying. We want to avoid germy mix-ups. This is, by far, number one reasoning for labels. We know these days that a runny nose can lead to many days at home, and (after heading back to work especially) this is just feasible for many parents.  

Secondly, the daycare will require it.  And lastly, you’ve spend a lot of money on your kids items you don’t want them getting lost or going home to the wrong house.  

Why do I need to label the stuff I send to daycare?

1. Lost daycare items will cost you! 

When you’re thinking about packing for daycare, you are considering and investing a good amount of time and money into extra clothing, shoes, pacifiers, blankets, bottles, stuffies, diapers, wipes and more. You want to make sure your baby has everything they’ll need to be comfortable when they’re away from you. You also want to make sure that your child’s onesies don’t get mixed up with another’s and that the right stuffy gets tucked in with them at nap time. This can be a big investment (on top of all your daycare costs) and replacing lost items make the costs add up even faster. So, when daycare asks that you to label your baby’s items, it’s not just to help them, it’s for your own financial benefit, too!

2. Germy mix-ups lead to sick babies

It’s important to understand that labeling for daycare isn’t just about mixed-up and misplaced items. The past few years have taught us so much about the importance of keeping our kids safe, and keeping our childcare workers safe too. They’re essential workers, truly essential, and we must ensure they get a safe environment too.   

Germs can cause a lot of stress to parents these days

One of the biggest fear’s moms feel during the first few months of daycare is the new germs their kids are picking up. You went from experiencing very few colds, to not really knowing where one cold ends and the next one begins. Trying to avoid daycare germs feels like an exercise in futility, but as moms we want to do everything we can to protect our little ones from being miserable with the sniffles (or a rash, or a flu, or a stomach bug). Labeling is an easy way for the daycare provider to quickly look and check the name on a pacifier or sippy cup before handing it to your baby. It’s the very first step in avoiding those unwanted germs. It’s simple and easy, yet crucial and important.

3. It’s a matter of safety, for kids and staff

Name labels for baby bottles are an important part of the daycare centers health and hygiene practices. This isn’t something you want to be negligent with. Babies and toddlers are highly susceptible to illness. It’s important as parents that you do your part to ensure that the daycare center can implement the policies and procedures needed to keep your child safe.

A few things to consider when starting at daycare and labeling bottles:

  • Consult with your daycare and ensure you make them aware of the nutritional needs of your child are being met. Double check the procedure to ensure that this happens (whether it be through breast milk, cow’s milk or formula). This will help you decide if you need date-stamped labels or name labels for whatever nourishment you’re sending. Open communication is key to having the feeding procedure run safely and smoothly, and it will also help ease your mind.
  • Most commonly, bottles need to be labeled with name/date and time. The best baby bottle labels are ones that have your baby’s name and a spot to write and wipe-off dates. Make sure to get ones that are dishwasher and sanitizer safe!. Those are exactly what your daycare center needs to ensure they’re adhering to their procedures on feeding your babies. Plus, it will make the process much easier on you and more organized for everyone involved.

How to Label Common Daycare Items:

So, what do you need to label when you’re packing your little one’s bag for daycare? The short answer: Everything that goes to daycare needs to have a label. Everything. To help you break it down, here’s a sample daycare packing list and some instructions on how you can keep everything identified:

  • Diapers, Diaper Cream and Wipes: Don’t worry, you don’t need to label individual diapers! The daycare will keep them in your child’s cubby or diaper bag (hence why that should be labeled). It is a good idea, however, to put some kind of identification on your wipes and diaper cream. You’re guaranteed to have the same ones as someone else in the center.
  • Diaper Bag or Backpack: You’ll need to send some kind of bag to hold all your child’s items in the daycare centre. Attach a personalized tag to the loop or zipper so that the center knows which cubby the bag should live in and always has a bag to corral your things in.
  • Extra Clothing: You’ll need to send a spare change of clothes in case of any accidents or spills. Invest in a set of childrens’ name labels for clothes (there are peel-and-stick or iron-on varieties available) and make sure that every single item of clothing is labeled. It’s hard for a busy caregiver to distinguish whose sock or onesie is whose!
  • Outerwear: Mitts are like socks, you’ll always end up with strays! Similar to your kid’s indoor spare clothes, washable clothing labels are the best way of labeling all clothing, including outdoor accessories like mittens and hats. There are peel-and-stick or iron-on varieties and they’ll stay on through the washer and dryer so you don’t have to keep re-labeling them over and over again.
  • Indoor Shoes: Believe it or not, shoes are easily lost in the busy in-and-out shuffle that happens at daycare. Make sure the inside of your little one’s shoes are labeled so that they don’t end up in the lost and found pile.
The crucial stuff:
  • Pacifiers: Depending on the type of pacifier, you should be able to fit a small waterproof label on the front of it. Pacifiers differ so greatly that it’s difficult to say what will work best for your exact one. TIP: If you’re trying to label a silicone pacifier, no kind of adhesive labels will stay on it, so you’d be better off to attach it to a pacifier clip and label that.
  • Sippy Cups and Bottles: Sippy cups and bottles are some of the most commonly lost items, so labeling them is definitely a priority. They’re also a big culprit of viruses spreading, so make sure whatever name label you stick to them is large and highly visible! A dishwasher-safe label or personalized silicone bottle band is key for these kinds of items.
  • Pumped Milk/Formula: Whether you’re sending breast milk or formula to childcare, your daycare will request that it be well-labeled. If you’re sending formula, don’t forget to also label the container, lid and even the little scoop (you don’t want it to go missing, to avoid cross-contamination).

Head back to work feeling prepared

In post-pandemic life, keeping a safe environment for staff, babies and their families is more important than ever. It can be fearful, but with some organization and preparation you can head back to work feeling ready and excited.

Labeling your kid’s stuff is such a simple and easy task that can have big benefits to how smoothly your daycare experience will go. With all the stress and anxiety surrounding your maternity leave coming to an end, anything you can do to help with organization will be beneficial.

The more organized you feel, the more you can ease your worries. Most importantly, above all that is good-and-labeled, go easy on yourself! Daycare drop-off is hard, emotional, traumatizing and an internal battle with yourself and your guilt. And just remember, it’s okay to ugly cry.


Mabel's Labels is the leading provider of personalized labels for the stuff kids tend to lose.

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