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What to pack for nursery, playgroup or a childminder

If you’re feeling unsure about what you need to pack to see them through the day, check out our list below of all the things you might need.

Nurseries, childminders and playgroups might ask you to bring different things. You usually get a list of exactly what you’ll need from them, but if not, give them a call to check.

Things you should pack

Each child usually gets their own peg and bag, or cubby hole, with their own name and picture on it, where they can hang up their coat and keep their stuff.

Spare clothes

One thing children really love about nursery is all the fun and messy play they’ll be able to get stuck into. So you’ll probably be asked to pack a spare change of clothes (vests, socks, trousers and t-shirts) for them just in case.

Nappies, wipes and nappy rash cream

If your child is using nappies, some places will use their own nappies and wipes, others will ask you to bring them for them to store. They might also ask you to bring in your own nappy rash cream. Ask if your ELC are happy to use reusable/cloth nappies if that's what you're using at home. 

Special toys or comforters

Your wee one might have a special toy or comforter that they use at home to get them to sleep. Your toddler might find it nice to have it in nursery to help settle them and for nap times.

Other things that you might need

Food, milk and snacks

A lot of places will offer your child a range of meals, but it might be a good idea to check if you need to bring snacks with you. If you plan for your child to be in childcare in the morning, check if breakfast is offered - something else that could save you some time in the morning. If you're picking your wee one up in the afternoon, you may even want to bring a small snack with you for after nursery - especially if it's a walk or bus ride home.

If your baby or toddler is drinking breast or formula milk, you'll need to give this to your nursery. If you're sending them in with breastmilk check if there's a fridge for it.

Outdoor clothing

Sun creams and hats

It doesn't happen every day, but when the sun is out your child will need hats and sun cream. Your childcare might have sun cream they use, which they’ll usually ask you if it’s ok for your wee one, but you might need to bring your own.

Wellies, all in one waterproofs and a jacket with a hood for rainy days 

Plus hat, scarf and gloves for the winter weather. Some places have spare wellies or waterproofs so it's always good to check!


Before your child's first day, speak to your childcare provider about their medicine policy. 

Some packing and time saving tips...

Tip #1: Mess friendly clothes

“I always keep a drawer full of nursery clothes – anything like jeans, joggers, leggings, t-shirts, basically anything that’s navy or a dark colour!  Letting them choose what to wear in the morning (usually) helps to avoid the tantrums.”

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Tip #2: If you need to prepare snacks

Prepare your snacks the night before. You could try something like honey roasted snacksfruit kebabs with yoghurt dip, or even cinnamon and berry cereal bars! Have a look at our recipes for some ideas. 

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Tip #3: Sun cream storage

Save any small travel bottles you get and fill them with sun cream to save space in your bag. You never know when we'll get a nice sunny day! No one does.

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Tip #4: Waterproof and wellies

“A lot of the time they’ll be playing outside even if the weather’s not great - so make sure they’ve got waterproofs and wellies.”

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Tip #5: Pack plenty

“I try to remember to pack a nursery bag full of clothes on a Sunday evening (full of socks, trousers, vests and t-shirts) so my kid has a change of clothes to last a few days at nursery. It means I don’t need to worry about it every day and saves a panic on Monday morning” 

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Tip #6: Let them carry something

To get out of the house quicker, try seeing if you child can be really helpful by carrying something for you - it could be their wellies or the car keys.

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Thinking about how are you going to pay for any extras?

If you’re worried about how you’ll be able to afford all the bits and pieces they might need, have a look at the Best Start Grant Early Learning payment, as you might be eligible to get this payment to help with any extras.