Whether you’re running a small home daycare or a big, multi-location daycare business, one thing’s for sure—you need a lot of daycare supplies to make it through the day!
Staying on top of your daycare supply list can be challenging, so we’ve put together a list of common items you’ll need to start a daycare. We’ll also share other focus areas to tackle before you open your new center.
Creating a daycare supply list
Opening a daycare center and filling the empty space with everything you and your staff will need is exciting! Choosing the right supplies is your next step toward starting a successful daycare.
Your supply list should include:
- Health & safety supplies
- Cleaning supplies
- Furniture & equipment
- Play materials
- Daycare technology
Health & safety supplies
Keeping your children safe is your top priority. That’s why it’s crucial to always have health and safety tools among your daycare supplies.
Your stock of safety supplies could include:
- Smoke detectors
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Fire extinguishers
- Safety gates
- Corner guards
- Electrical outlet covers
- Child safety cabinet locks
- Child safety door knob covers
- First-aid kits
In case of a daycare emergency, it’s a good idea to put together an emergency preparedness kit. These kits typically include extra first-aid kits, an updated file with emergency contact numbers, diapers, cleaning wipes, tissues, ponchos, hand warmers, flashlights, drinking water, and non-perishable snacks.
Check your local government's emergency preparedness guidelines to ensure your daycare supply list meets all of the legal requirements.
A frequent cleaning routine is a must at daycares to keep children and staff healthy and safe. You’ll want to stock your daycare center with everything you need to keep surfaces, floors, and hands clean.
Your daycare cleaning supplies list might include:
- Hand sanitizer
- Liquid hand soap
- Cleaning sponges
- Disinfecting wipes
- Paper towels
- Broom & dustpan
- Multi-purpose cleaning sprays
With multiple children and adults using restrooms and touching surfaces, it’s important to develop a plan for regularly sanitizing toys and furniture. Some toys/areas in your daycare will need cleaning daily. Check your state’s website or Department of Health for guidelines to ensure you’re compliant.
Furniture & equipment
Your childcare center will need appropriately-sized daycare furniture for play, feeding, and sleeping areas. You’ll also need tables and chairs for older children and high chairs or boosters for the little ones.
Other essential daycare furniture and equipment to invest in could include
- Step stools
- High chairs
- Dining sets
- Nap Mats or Cots
- Rocking chairs
- Diaper changing table
- Outdoor play equipment
You’ll need other daycare equipment such as shelves or a storage system to hold your play materials and daycare supplies for your play area.
Children learn through play and exploration. It’s important to have open-ended play materials that spark curiosity and creativity throughout the day. Consider play materials that are age-appropriate and safe to support physical, language, social-emotional, and cognitive development.
Most childcare centers have a reading nook/library, an art center, a building center, a science center, a dramatic play center, and a writing center. You’ll need age-appropriate materials for these centers such as manipulatives, crafts, and art supplies for projects, science tools, and materials for pretend play.
If you have an outdoor space, you’ll need outdoor play equipment such as a sandbox or water table and other equipment that can support children’s gross motor development
Types of play materials to consider :
- Felt boards
- Sensory bins
- Craft materials
- Swing sets
- Props for dramatic play
- Headsets for audio listening
- Playsets (kitchen, dollhouse, etc.)
- Musical instruments
- Paint and paintbrushes
- Writing tools
- Building blocks
You can even buy toys for your daycare online from secondhand or other low-price stores to save on costs. Here are a few secondhand toy sources:
- Once Upon a Child (find a store near you)
- Goodwill (in-store and online)
- Discount School Supply
- Oriental Trading
- Giggle Time Toys
- Facebook Marketplace
- Play It Again Kids (Canada)
- Good Buy Gear (Denver and Philadelphia)
Remember to equip your outdoor areas for playtime, too. For example, you can set up a playground, garden, building blocks, and other tools for outdoor learning.
As the owner or director of a daycare or child care center, you’ll need to keep up with the number of administrative tasks you’ll juggle—from attendance tracking to billing your families.
Enter brightwheel, an easy-to-use daycare software, and app that will help you manage your daycare and stay in touch with families. For example, you can use brightwheel to record and track daily events and activities like naps, bottles, and diapers, and parents get real-time updates delivered to their mobile devices throughout the day.
This powerful daycare app also offers secure, digital check-in/check-out and an automated paperless billing system. A digital daycare management system is a great way to keep your families looped in on daily activities. Brightwheel will keep your parents happy and simplify your management tasks.
What else do I need to start a daycare?
When you open a new daycare, there are a few other areas to consider:
- Daycare name: Get ideas and inspiration for naming your daycare.
- Legal requirements: Check your state’s legal requirements for the type and size of your childcare center to ensure that your childcare center complies with the laws and regulations in your area.
- Program standards: Review the National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC) program standards.
- Director and employee compensation: Check out our salary guide to learn more about the average daycare director salary.
- Established policies and procedures: Create a parent handbook that includes information about your center's policies, rules, procedures, and approach to child care.
Your daycare supply list
Acquiring daycare furniture and other supplies can become expensive. However, local, state, and federal grants and funding are available for childcare centers, and some grants are exclusive to in-home daycares. These grants can help you cover startup costs, daycare supplies, and toys.
Outfitting your new childcare center with all the furniture, equipment, and daycare supplies you need to run a safe, efficient, and high-quality operation can seem like an overwhelming task. But take it day by day, collect items at a speed you’re comfortable with, and watch your new daycare center come to life.