Best way to prepare bottles for daycare
Do you need to know how to prepare bottles for daycare?
It seems like it should be simple enough but believe it or not it can be complicated. Your process will depend on if you’re using formula or breast milk as well as the specific guidelines of your daycare.
Don’t let this stress you out!
You already have a lot on your plate as you prepare to return to work. So, we are going to make this transition to daycare drop offs and working as smooth as possible!
If you haven’t chosen a childcare provider, be sure to check out how to choose a daycare.
Okay, let’s get ready to prepare bottles for daycare.
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How to prepare bottles for daycare
Before you can jump into making the bottles, you have to do a little homework.
1. Decide on the type of bottle you’ll be using
If you’ve been breastfeeding exclusively and haven’t introduced the bottle yet, try to do so as soon as possible.
You don’t want to wait until the week before to make the introduction because your breastfed baby may very well refuse a bottle.
If you’ve already been using a bottle, make sure this is a bottle you want to continue using.
- Is this bottle easy to clean?
- Does the bottle hold enough milk for a full feeding?
- Will this bottle be easy to transport
- Do I have enough bottles for a full day of childcare?
- Can I easily replace this bottle if it gets loss (things sometimes disappear at daycare)?
If you do decide you need to buy bottles, here are some of mom’s favorite bottles for daycare.
2. Find out the breast milk guidelines for daycare along with the formula guidelines.
My daycare had strict requirements for breast milk. I had to label the bottles with my name, my daughter’s name, the date I pumped the milk and the current date.
They also threw away any milk that she didn’t finish in a feeding session. I didn’t know this at first and was very upset when I realized they were throwing away my liquid gold!!!! After that, I was very precise with the amount of milk I put in each bottle.
Keep in mind daycares also throw away unused formula.
By knowing the milk guidelines ahead of time you’ll avoid a lot of stress and frustration.
3. Ask about the daycare feeding policy.
Do they feed on demand or do they follow a feeding schedule.
4. Decide how much milk to send to daycare
Now that you know the milk policy and feeding policy you have a better idea of how much milk to send each day.
Think about your baby and their current feeding schedule. How much milk does he or she typically drink at one time?
Use this to help guide you in the amount of milk to place in each bottle.
Now, it’s time to actually prepare the bottles!
Preparing breast milk bottles for daycare
- Wash your hands
- Gather your bottles
- Get your breast milk
- Wash your hands again
- Pour the desired amount of milk in each bottle.
- Secured the nipple
- Turn the bottle upside down to be sure that nothing will leak
- Place the cap
- Label each bottle according to the daycare’s policies
Not sure what to use to label baby bottles? Be sure to check out how to label baby bottles for the best labels for daycare.
If you’re using frozen breast milk the process is a little different.
How do you prepare frozen milk for daycare
Frozen milk can be a little tricky.
It’s best to let it thaw overnight in the fridge. But if you are running short on time you can defrost it in water.
How to defrost breast milk in the fridge
1. Check the date and make sure your breast milk is within the recommended window. Not sure how long you can store frozen breast milk? Here are the storage guidelines.
2. Inspect your milk storage bag for cuts or tears.
3. Place the bag in the refrigerator. Never leave breast milk to defrost at room temperature.
4. Wait 12 hours and your milk should be fully thawed.
How to defrost breast milk with water
1. Once again, check the date of the milk and make sure it’s okay to use.
2. You definitely want to look the bag over and make sure there aren’t any nicks or tears.
3. Turn on the hot water and let it run over the storage bag until the ice is gone.
4. If you want to be conservative with your water, use a keurig instead. Simply use a large cup or bowl (I use the water pitcher from the hospital), run the keurig the same way you would if you were making a hot coffee or tea except don’t put a K-cup in.
Both the faucet and keurig way of defrosting milk is for times when you’re going to be giving the milk soon after. Remember, this milk will need to be consumed within 2 hours.
Always check the temperature of the milk before serving it to your baby.
Now that the milk is defrosted, follow the same process for preparing breast milk bottles for daycare.
You’ll also want to gently swirl the milk to make sure the different components combine appropriately.
Things to know about thawed breast milk
- Keep in mind that once your milk is fully thawed, you have to use it within 24 hours.
- Once the milk hits room temperature, it needs to be used within 2 hours.
- You can’t refreeze previously frozen milk.
How to prepare formula bottles for daycare
Dealing with formula is more straightforward than dealing with breast milk. There aren’t a lot of grey areas or conflicting information.
- Wash your hands
- Gather your bottles
- Get the formula container
- Check the expiration date
- Wash your hands again
- Follow the directions on the container
- Secure the nipple
- Place the cap
- Turn the bottle over to check for leaks
- Shake the bottle to mix the contents
- Label each bottle according to the daycare’s policies.
Formula can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Read this for more information on preparing formula safely.
How much milk do you send to daycare
We’ve already talked about daycare throwing away breast milk and formula. You don’t want that to happen with your milk! But how do you balance sending enough milk with not having your milk wasted?
Most daycares have a way of communicating what happens with your baby throughout the day, including how they fed.
A good daycare will keep track of each time your baby has milk and how many ounces they have at each session. You can use this information to help you decide how much milk to send each day.
At home what is the most milk your baby has had at one time? Initially I would make each bottle closer to that amount.
Baby’s feeding habits can be different when they are away from their mom, at least at first. Until they get comfortable in their new environment they may drink more than usual or they may drink less than normal.
It’s best to monitor their eating habits the first couple of weeks and then go from there.
If your breastfed baby seems to be drinking a lot more milk than usual, make sure the daycare knows how to properly bottle feed a breastfed baby.
How many bottles do you send for daycare
My daughter was at daycare between 8-9 hours a day. On average she would eat every 2-3 hours. I would send 3 bottles each day with a fourth bottle for backup. But, I didn’t make each bottle the same.
The morning and early afternoon bottles were the largest with 4 ounces. The 3rd bottle only had 3 ounces because I knew I would be arriving soon after. I would then nurse her before we left.
The backup bottle is probably the most important bottle. You never know what can happen (work emergency, traffic, spilt milk). The back up bottle helps take away the stress.
And if you are working and pumping, the back up bottle gives you one less bottle to have to worry about then next day!
Ultimately, the amount of bottles you send will depend on how long your baby is in daycare. A rule of thumb is to send 1 bottle for every 2-3 hours you’re away.
To determine the amount of milk for each bottle, use this milk calculator for exclusively breastfed babies.
If using formula, send the amount of milk equal to what baby drinks with you plus your backup bottle.
How do you take breast milk to daycare
Now that you have your milk bottles properly prepared and labeled you need to decide how to actually take it to daycare.
You can also use a baby bottle cooler. Both of them serve the same function so it’s just a matter of personal preference.
Baby bottle safety standards
Well momma now you know everything you need to prepare breast milk bottles and formula bottles for daycare.
That’s one more thing off your to-do list!
Pro tip from one working mom to another, preparing bottles in advance is going to be key for a successful morning. The last thing you want to be doing in the morning is preparing bottles for the day. Do all of that at night, include placing it the bottle cooler. You’ll thank me later!
Before I forget, if you haven’t taken your breast pump out of the box do it! You can learn all about how to use an electric breast pump here.
Now go and enjoy that baby and the rest of your maternity leave!
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