a blog about parenting, home daycare, adoption and life in general.
Home Daycare

Must-Haves For Home Daycare

Running a home daycare in your home is so different than working at a daycare center.  There is limited space in your home, space that you don’t want to be completely overrun with daycare stuff: high chairs, cots, blankets, sensory items and toys … did I mention the toys?

I was able to narrow down to the absolute essentials, since space was at a premium in my house.  Here are some of the must-have items that I used everyday in my own home daycare that not only made my life easier, but that saved a ton of space!

Daycare Must Haves

1. Ikea Tableware – The colour-coded cups, bowls and cutlery from Ikea are perfect for reducing the amount of dishes used each day.  Each of my daycare kids had their own colour.  They used the same cup each day for juice and milk (with a rinse in between, of course), and each had a matching water bottle for when we were outdoors.  Each child knew exactly where to sit at the table by where their colour was, and each one knew the other children’s colours.  I’ve seen similar sets at Walmart and Dollarama, but the prices at Ikea are perfect for when you’re first starting out.

2. Cots – I wouldn’t survive a daycare day without naptime.  These cots are amazing – easy to move around, easy to disinfect, and comfy for the kids.  Use a standard crib sheet on each one to save on buying custom sheets ;-).

3. Bibs – These washable bibs from Summer are perfect for using day in and day out.  They can be quickly rinsed or washed and ready for the next meal – no washing machine required!  Or, pop them in the dishwasher to give them a really good clean.   I had 5 or 6 in green (gender neutral) and used them for so many babies and toddlers, I lost count!

4. Playpens – Playpens are a necessity if you have little ones that won’t sleep safely on a cot.  I usually made the transition at about 18 months, depending on the child.  Until then, however, using playpens with canopies was essential.  The high walls and canopy (until the child was old enough to pull it down) kept the kidlets safe and in a quiet space for naptime.

5. High Chairs – I can’t recommend the Ikea Antilop high chairs enough.  Super easy to wipe down, dishwasher safe, minimalist design (which means no nooks and crannies for food to get trapped in) — and get this, they’re STACKABLE!  Yep, you heard that right!  If you’ve got 4 babies that need high chairs, no worries — at the end of the day, stack them all up and you’ve got your kitchen back!

6. Shelves with Cubbies – The Ikea Expedit shelves laying on their side are amazing for keeping toys in order.  Putting one or two medium size toys or a basket with smaller toys in each cubby is a great way to keep the toys organized, accessible, and not overwhelming for the kiddos when it came to tidy-up time.  Larger toys can go on the top.  The cubbies can also be used for Tot Trays or other Montessori-style activities.

What products did you find were essential in your home daycare or with your own children?


Article written by:

Megan is a WAHM to 3 (and then some) kids, who spends the majority of her time working as an Administrative Assistant, blogging and washing dishes. She loves to write about her adventures in parenting, running a home daycare, adoption and whatever else strikes her fancy!


  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    I have never seen those kind of cots before. Those are wicked cool.

  2. daytodayMOMents

    I think these are all great essentials, not only for daycare but for a mom with multiple kids. hehe 😉
    Go check out daytodayMOMents’s latest post! Big Hero 6 -Baymax Themed Brunch #BigHero6 #FunLunchforKids #d2dKidsMy Profile

  3. Jess Scull

    I love those bowls and such from IkEA! I am definitely going to have to grab some for my house

  4. Rosey

    I think the playpen for nap time is an awesome idea. It’s not so easy for the kiddos to get up and about if they’re not quite ready when it’s officially nap time. 🙂

    • Linda

      Where can they be purchased?

      • Megan Elford

        Hi Linda! Any department store will have them (Walmart, Target, etc) or you can look for used ones on Craigslist or Kijiji or at yard sales 🙂

  5. Lisa Rios

    I agree, running a home daycare is entirely different that working. These are great list of those very important must-haves for any day care as well as family with more kids.

  6. Yona Williams

    I wouldn’t mind having the IKEA cubby-hole shelves in my own home. I can see so many possibilities for that. Those colorful kiddie cots are cute.
    Go check out Yona Williams’s latest post! 10 Gifts You Personally Cannot Ship via U.S. Postal MailMy Profile

  7. dickvincedorry

    i love to have that ikea expedit shelves

  8. Eliz Frank

    I can’t imagine anyone running a home daycare center without those must haves… Good thing you listed them so others won’t forget.

  9. Kim @ Mom On Duty

    I love all these Ikea stuff! Unfortunately, we don’t have Ikea in the PH. If I wanted anything from there, I’ll have to order from their Singapore branch which can be SO expensive.

  10. kim

    i am wondering where you got the mats at i think it is a good idea to have

    • Megan Elford

      I actually bought mine used, but there are several places online where you can buy them. Just Google “daycare cots” 🙂

  11. FRAnziska

    i have carpet and for naps i put down yoga mats with light blankets, already use the kallax sheves and antilop highchair as well as a playpen

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