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Daycare Ideas: Interior Design Inspiration for Your Childcare Center

Daycare Ideas: Interior Design Inspiration for Your Childcare Center

Daycare Room Setup Ideas: Interior Design Inspiration for Your Childcare Center

If you work in early education, you know that the design of your centers is critical for providing high-quality care for young children. Good interior design can help keep your program organized, encourage little ones to explore and learn, and provide a safe and nurturing environment for the children you serve.

Whether you’re starting your own childcare business or refreshing your current site, this guide will provide you with daycare room ideas on how to best design your space for both infants and toddlers.

In this article, you'll learn about the following topics:

How to decorate a daycare classroom by age group
Daycare room setup ideas for infants
Daycare room setup ideas for toddlers
Home daycare room ideas
Daycare classroom storage ideas
Where can I find daycare decor?
What other supplies do I need when starting a daycare center?
Additional resources for daycare ideas

How to decorate a daycare classroom by age group

The first step to designing the rooms in your childcare center is to carefully consider the children you serve and what their needs are based on their age. The decor and furnishings that you use should be functional, developmentally appropriate, and able to facilitate a wide range of activities and learning. 

Here are a few of the most common elements needed for daycare centers, broken down by age group.

Ideas for infant rooms (under 1 year): 

  • Cubby storage
  • Classroom storage
  • Station for changing diapers
  • Crib area
  • Feeding area
  • Adequate room for crawling and developmental play

Ideas for young toddler rooms (1-2 years old):

  • Cubby storage
  • Classroom storage
  • Station for changing diapers
  • Children’s toilets and sinks
  • Eating area
  • Crib or cot area
  • Adequate room for activities and developmental play

Ideas for older toddler rooms (2-3 years old): 

  • Cubby storage
  • Classroom storage
  • Station for changing diapers
  • Children’s toilets and sinks
  • Eating area
  • Nap area
  • Open, unrestricted area for activities and lessons

If your childcare center uses the same rooms for mixed ages, you’ll need to include all these elements in your interior design plans. 

Daycare room setup ideas for infants

When setting up infant spaces, consider these design elements: 

    • Colors that promote a calming environment. Walls, major furniture, and overall decor should include natural colors for a calming ambiance. 
    • Natural lighting – soft, warm light. Natural lighting that comes through windows is always the best source of light for young children. When using artificial lighting, stick to soft warm lights. 
    • Furniture designed for infants and adults. Infant rooms should have plenty of adult furniture throughout the classroom for proper back support. Floor chairs allow infant caregivers to be on the floor while supporting their back. Likewise, infants should have furniture that they can safely use and access as they become more independent and mobile.
  • Infant nap area. Best safe sleep practices, as outlined by the American Academy of  Pediatrics (AAP), and state licensing policies should be top of mind when designing a nap space to reduce the risk of sleep-related infant death. 
  • Supervision and safety. All design elements and materials should be vetted for health and safety. Stay on top of recalls. In addition, all furniture in sleeping, eating, and changing areas should be set up to maximize access to the children with supervision at all times.

Here are some successful daycare room ideas for infants. Take a look and see if they spark ideas for your center!

brightwheel_daycare ideas_infant 1Source: Pinterest

This infant room features ample crib space and an adjacent play area with soft flooring. Wall decals and hanging mobiles help to make the room warm and more inviting, similar to decor that you would find in a home.


Daycare Ideas for Infants - brightwheelSource: Pinterest

This infant room uses a low dividing wall to separate the sleeping area from the play area. Small shelves and mats create distinct activity spaces for infants to explore. 


Daycare Ideas for Infants - brightwheelSource: Calbert Design

This center maximizes the play area space by pushing cribs and drawers against the walls. Colorful toys and furnishings make the room more stimulating for little ones.


Daycare Ideas for Infants - brightwheelSource: Pinterest

This daycare center includes a separate changing room that can accommodate multiple infants at the same time. Playful wall decals help to brighten the space and provide infants with something fun and colorful to look at while being changed. 


Daycare Ideas for Infants - brightwheelSource: Pinterest

This layout uses strategic furniture placement to create a seamless transition from the play area to the crib area. The hanging cloth from the ceiling also helps to create a calm and peaceful ambiance in the room. 


Daycare Ideas for Infants - brightwheelSource: Leport Schools

This infant play area is simple but effective, and can easily be a home daycare setup. It includes ample crawling space, a mirror that’s safely affixed to the wall, and materials that support the development of gross motor skills. 


Daycare Ideas for Infants - brightwheelSource: Smart Kids Bilingual Daycare

In this center, a colorful foam mat covers the entire floor, creating a generous amount of safe space for crawling, playing, and learning. While child-size shelves with materials support young children’s independence and exploration. 

Daycare room setup ideas for toddlers

When setting up toddler spaces, consider these design elements in addition to the recommendations for natural colors, lighting, and supervision included for infants: 

  • Furniture designed for toddlers. Toddlers should have furniture that they can safely and independently use. Materials, puzzles, books, and manipulatives should be stored on shelves that are accessible. 
  • Activity centers. Toddlers should have dedicated spaces for reading, building, art, music, dramatic play, manipulatives, etc.

Here are some successful daycare rooms for toddlers that can help to inspire new ideas for your own facilities!

Daycare Ideas for Toddlers - brightwheelSource: Guardian Newstead

This open floor concept ensures that active toddlers will have plenty of room for play and exploration. 


Daycare Ideas for Toddlers - brightwheelSource: Early Childhood Fun 101

This daycare center uses simple decor, such as wall art and hanging planters, to create a peaceful, airy atmosphere. The table on the right doubles as additional storage space, as the two white lids can be removed to store toys and art supplies underneath. 


Daycare Ideas for Toddlers - brightwheelSource: Clever

This childcare center features a colorful mural that brightens the entire room. A simple shelf is used to split the room into a reading and learning area and space for playtime and crafts. 


brightwheel_daycare ideas_toddler 5Source: Apartment Therapy

This toddler play area is easy to set up in a home daycare. It uses wall art, green furniture, and other fun decorations to bring the outdoors inside. 


Daycare Ideas for Toddlers - brightwheelSource: Project Nursery

This daycare center uses low shelving to create four distinct play areas: a cafe, a reading area, an art corner, and a manipulatives area.


Daycare Ideas for Toddlers - brightwheelSource: Pinterest

Wall decals and hanging stars make this nap room cozy and comforting for little ones. In addition, using rugs and carpets in nap areas can be effective noise absorbers for sounder sleep.


Daycare Ideas for Toddlers - brightwheelSource: Pinterest

This childcare center utilizes multiple shelves and storage units to stay organized and to create distinct activity areas in the room.


Daycare Ideas for Toddlers - brightwheelSource: Inhabitat

By using an entire wall for storage, this daycare center maximizes the amount of space available for children to play and do other activities.


Daycare Ideas for Toddlers - brightwheelSource: Pre-K Tweets

This daycare classroom setup has a cozy reading nook that includes a rug, a couple of chairs and pillows, and a bookshelf, giving the room a homey atmosphere. 

Home daycare room ideas

Designing a home daycare requires a little creativity and ingenuity to find ways to turn living spaces into safe and stimulating environments for children. However, home daycares have the advantage of having warm decor, soft lighting, and a variety of textures that are familiar and comfortable to a young child and are important for a sense of belonging.

When setting up a home daycare, consider these design elements in addition to what can be adapted from the recommendations shared for infant and toddler classrooms at a center-based program: 

    • Use portable or multi-use furniture. Find portable furniture or furniture that can be used in multiple ways to transition from one activity to another with ease and without having to transport younger children. 
  • Create designated spaces for storage in your living space. Designate bins and shelves that remain as fixtures in the environment, so children can access them independently and safely as part of their daily routine. 
  • Rearrange furniture for safety. Check all furniture for sharp corners and furniture that would be inviting for children to climb (i.e., coffee tables, dining room tables, etc.). 

Here are some ideas you can use for your own program!

home daycare school bus

Source: Pinterest

In this home daycare setup, the children’s furniture is portable and could easily be moved to change the utility of the space.


Home daycare room ideas_2

Source: Pinterest

This home daycare setup takes a different approach to design and uses the space behind the living room as a dedicated space for the children and gates to limit the children’s access to certain areas. 

Home daycare room ideas_3

Source: Pinterest

This design works beautifully in a home. The space is inviting to both children and adults with movable materials such as rugs, bean bags, and pillows. 

Daycare classroom storage ideas

Effective storage and shelving solutions can help make a daycare center safe, inviting, and organized.


Daycare storage ideas - brightwheelSource: Pinterest

You can organize play stations, such as this toy kitchen area, by using floating bins and shelves that are safely affixed to the wall. 


Daycare storage ideas - brightwheelSource: Create Play Travel

Themed clothes hooks can help to keep a dress-up station tidy and more fun for children to use. 


Daycare Storage Ideas - brightwheelSource: Mrs. Jones’ Creation Station

This classroom uses a combination of shelving and colorful bins to keep toys and activity materials organized and easy to reach. 


Daycare Storage Ideas - brightwheelSource: Les Petits Gazette

Floating shelves and child-sized book bins can keep your reading corners clean and incentivize children to read more. 


Daycare Storage Ideas - brightwheelSource: Pinterest

This daycare cubby station includes multiple shelves for children’s belongings and hooks for backpacks and jackets. It’s a welcoming space with natural wood and a plant while also encouraging children to be tidy and independent as their belongings are within reach. 

Where can I find daycare decor? 

There are many online stores that sell furnishings, decorations, and play materials for childcare centers. Here are a few of the most popular online retailers for early education:

What other supplies do I need when starting a daycare center?

Whether you’re running a home daycare or a big, multi-location childcare business, you’ll need a variety of supplies to run smoothly and to make sure you comply with your state’s childcare licensing requirements. Here’s a list of recommended supplies to start with:

  • Safety supplies, including first aid kits, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, outlet covers, fire extinguishers, and an emergency preparedness kit
  • Cleaning supplies, such as disinfectants, gloves, and hand sanitizer for your staff members
  • Age-appropriate and safe toys, including toys that promote cooperative play and help to develop gross and fine motor skills
  • Daycare technology to help you run your center efficiently and smoothly, such as brightwheel—an all-in-one early childcare solution that partners with educators to streamline their center’s operations and build a great reputation!

Download our complete list of childcare and preschool supplies you'll need for your program! Childcare and Preschool Supply List Template - brightwheel

Download our free supply list for childcare and preschool programs!

Additional resources for daycare ideas 

For more inspiration on how to design your center and how to successfully launch your childcare business, check out these helpful articles:

You can also download our free hiring guide to start building out your team of amazing early educators

The Childcare Directors Toolkit for Hiring Great Staff

Download our free childcare director's toolkit for hiring great staff!


At brightwheel, we are immensely grateful for everyone making an impact in early education. Thank you for all that you do!

Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at mybrightwheel.com.

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