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Opening a home daycare sounds super simple, but there may be more involved than you think. Check out this home daycare supply list of must have supplies you’ll need to get started. See if you think running a home daycare might be right for you.
Before you get started, check out the regulations in your area and see if you’ll be required to get a daycare license to watch children in your home. If it’s the law, like in Oklahoma where you cannot watch even one child in your home without a license from DHS, you’ll need to start there.
If you’re interested in opening a home daycare, check out this book to help you get started. It has everything you need to know about opening.
Once you check on the regulations, you may need to pay for things such as a background check, insurance, a physical, tb testing, CPR and first aid training, a license or certification and other training that may be required.
Once you have all of that determined and handled, what’s next?
You’ll need to start with safety. Keeping children safe is your first priority. You’ll need safety equipment such as cabinet locks, plug covers, door knob covers and locks, baby gates, fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, first aid kit, flashlights, and a portable radio.
You’ll need to make sure you have bandages, first aid cream, medical tape, gauze, disposable gloves, tweezers and cold packs too.
You’ll need soap dispensers, hand sanitizer, paper towels or individual towels, diapers and wipes (the parents may provide that if that’s how you set up your business), a potty seat, and a step stool for the bathroom.
Be prepared to see more messes than you’ve ever imagined. You’ll need a good broom and dust pan, a carpet cleaner if you have carpet, a vacuum, and a steamer or mop.
You’ll also need a sanitary changing area. I would suggest a changing table to save your back. They have wonderful ones with steps for the kids. I couldn’t afford one of those so I just set my step stool next to my changing table and the kids climb up on that.
You’ll also need a good storage solution for extra clothing and all the diapers and wipes you’ll be storing for daily use.
For the business side of things, you’re going to need a good printer and computer, lots of ink, maybe a scanner, copier and fax machine. You’ll need a good phone and a camera as well. You’ll also need record keeping and tax technology such as bright wheel, excel spread sheets, or whatever you choose to help keep track of your business.
Obviously, you’re going to need food and a menu for the kid’s meals. Also, a big box of wipes for extra messy meals or art projects is great to have.
There is certain equipment you’re going to need. You’ll have to check your regulations for sleeping equipment. You may need mats or cots, pillows, sheets and blankets for older kids. If you keep infants, you’ll need pack n plays or cribs. You’ll also need a baby swing, bouncy seat or exersaucer. (or all three) A music player and soft music is a big help too.
You’ll need high chairs for eating and bibs. You’ll need a child-sized table and kid’s tableware. Invest in some kid-sized plastic silverware to avoid losing all your real silverware. I don’t know where it goes, but it just does disappear! I like to have my dishes color coded so I can remember which cup belongs to which child and it can also help cut down on kids being upset about which ones they get. You don’t have to do that, but it can help.
You’ll need child sized furniture and soft places to relax.
Storage is a must for all of this equipment. Shelving, storage containers, cubbies, coat racks and the like are a great help!
Daycare Supply List
Now the kids will need something to do. I can totally recommend after more than 20 years in business. Less is more! Don’t go crazy and have to have every toy ever made. The kids just get overwhelmed and dump everything continually.
Minimalism is very calming for kids and helps a ton with behavior. Have something they can do inside to exert physical energy because there will be more bad weather days than you ever dreamed! Just remember this in your planning.
You’ll need a variety of play materials for kids to stay engaged with. Educational toys are a plus. I like to get as many wooden or natural toys as I can and limit plastic, but it’s really hard to do that with kids. Most things made for kids are plastic of course.
Dolls, doll accessories, old clothes to dress up in, gloves, table and chairs, kitchen set, housekeeping toys, mirror, puppets, doll house with dolls, hats (plastic not fabric to keep from spreading lice), sunglasses jewelry, tablecloth, blankets, picnic basket, play food, old phone, notebooks, cardboard boxes, play food and dishes, backpack, stuffed animals, doctor kid, purses and wallets, or a playhouse.
Keep your dramatic play items simple and sturdy. Things that toddlers can put on by themselves. Also, don’t always help them first. Let them try. Show them how to do things on their own. They’ll be independent sooner and more confident in their own abilities. You’ll be glad you did.
Dramatic play items should be gender neutral. Dolls are for girls and boys. Little boys grow up to be dads and they need to practice. Girls can play with trucks too. I try to avoid a lot of pink and purple toys and having a certain toy area or idea for boys and another for girls. We’re all people around here and boys and girls can do and be anything they want.
Art supplies for daycare:
This is where I say splurge. The more mediums kids are exposed to the better. Its the most important daycare supply. Let them have plenty of sensory choices and things they can create with. Do art often. I don’t mean cookie cutter crafts that all look the same. I mean open ended, creativity building, confidence boosting exploration of art materials that become whatever the kids want them to be. The process is more important than the product.
You could offer crayons, markers, coloring books, finger paints, tempera paints, paint sticks, watercolor paint, scissors, glue, glue sticks, play dough, smocks and aprons, easels, paste, pipe cleaners, glitter, stencils, paint brushes, stamp pads, sponges, q-tips, small cups, popsicle sticks, feathers, butcher paper, construction paper, white paper, yarn, buttons, ribbons, old magazines, old greeting cards, colored pencils, rulers, markers, and chalk.
Remember when choosing art materials and projects to set up for the kids that not everything is for everyone. I have a friend who always hated markers. Fine, don’t give the kids markers. That’s okay. I hate paint. There are SO many hands and only one me. I paint with the kids about once a month and they get to use other mediums far more often. That’s okay.
I don’t have to do everything and neither do you. Keep it simple and do what works for you. I like to do the painting outside, that helps me. I also just found out about these paint sticks and they are going to revolutionize painting for us.
They dry in a few seconds instead of hours, but when the kids draw with them, they can immediately smear the paint with their fingers, so they get a different sensory experience similar to paint and they get to create with less mess for me.
Make sure when choosing art materials that you choose washable. Parents don’t appreciate all their kid’s clothing being ruined, so be mindful of that when you choose them.
Manipulative daycare supply
Kids need things they can build with and count, sort and stack. There are so many little counters or beads or disks you can use for that. You can also offer the kids blocks such as Legos, Duplo, Lincoln logs, tinker toys, wooden blocks and so many more. Remember to be safer with younger kids and be mindful of choking hazards.
Offer the kids puzzles, board games like candy land, chutes and ladders, or memory. You can use cardboard bricks, train sets, cars, houses and small people in the block area. Offer kids things they can dump and fill. Stacking rings, bristle blocks, lacing cards, peg boards and large foam blocks are great too. I love these waffle blocks for building and imagination as well.
Dressing boards are another great manipulative that helps kids build self-help skills and confidence.
Must have books
You’ll need a comfy little reading nook and a library for the kids to use. A bookshelf is a must. Picture books, a clock, flannel board and props, posters, board books, bean bags, and pillows can all be great for the reading area.
Musical instruments are a must for the daycare as well. Some thumping music in a variety of genres for dance parties is something I wouldn’t live without!
Sensory play is very important for young children. Having different types of fibers, maybe a garden area, a grassy area, some sensory tables ideas, water table, smelling jars, sand, whatever you can give kids that will help them experience their 5 senses helps them develop valuable brain connections for future learning.
Science is an important part of learning for kids. Besides your water and sand table, you can add measuring cups, funnels, eye droppers, strainers, straws, hoses, spoons, bubbles, magnifying glasses, prisms, magnets, seeds, shells, flowers, leaves, food coloring, bug jars and so much more. Think about all the things kids can learn from nature. A natural area is a must.
Outdoor supplies for kids
Last but not least, you’ll need things to do outside. Balls, ride on toys, swing set, climber, shovels and buckets, a place to run and anything else you can think of that kids can do outside. Your playground will be a place you’ll want to spend a lot of time, so make sure it’s accessible, adaptable and full of things to engage the kids.
Where to buy daycare supplies
You can get amazing early childhood supplies online from places like discount school supply and lakeshore. There are many things available at Walmart and target as well. Amazon has an amazing selection of products too.
Buy second hand if you can and you’ll save a ton of money. Online garage sale sites, Facebook, craigslist, and marketplace are great places to find deals on second hand equipment to save you a ton of money. You can also shop garage sales and second-hand stores.
Save your receipts, all of these supplies are expenses and you’ll be able to deduct them from your taxes at the end of the year, so make a place to collect them so you don’t lose those deductions. If you shop at garage sales, write up a receipt with the date and item description. Add the price and have the seller sign it. That’s as good as any store receipt according to Tom Copeland, the tax guru for family childcare providers.
Check out Tom’s books to help you with your record keeping too. The ones I cannot live without are my yearly calendar keeper, the record keeping guide and my yearly tax workbook. Get some for yourself, you won’t regret it. Tom is amazing.
These are most of the daycare supply that are needed. It takes a lot of love and a lot of things to do this job, but if it’s for you, it’s going to be a wonderful experience for you and the kids. Investing in the future is the most important job out there!
For more tips to make running your home daycare easier, click here.