Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Preparing For Nursery: Our First Days and What To Buy (Plus Giveaway)

As she left the house wearing her new bag Little was excited to go to nursery, in fact she had been waiting at the front door for a while as her sister and I finished getting ready. It was a struggle to persuade her she had to take her bag off to get in the car seat, but she eventually conceded to holding it on her lap (before emptying out the contents during the car journey). Throughout the school drop off, the walk to nursery and the wait for the doors to open Little was happy, but as soon as they opened the door she ran the other direction. I eventually persuaded her to go in, but she clung to me and asked me not to go. The staff coaxed her over to the play dough and while she was distracted I disappeared out the door with a promise from the staff they would call if she got too upset.

Back view of a toddler wearing the Skip Hop Zoo Dinosaur backpack, a purple coat and pink wellies

She was fine, of course she was fine. The next nursery session she ran in and was happy to say goodbye to me. Little has been going to nursery a month now but only for 3 hours a week. In contrast her Big Sister started full time the day after she turned 1. When I left my eldest for her first day at nursery there were tears from both of us. I’m not sure whether mine were due to leaving her at nursery for 50 hours a week, the £1000 plus I would pay for the privilege or because I was heading back to work full time. If you are going back to work you might find this post on how to choose childcare helpful.  Having experienced and visited a number of different nurseries I thought I would share my knowledge about what you need to buy to start nursery. There is also a giveaway at the end.

What Do You Need To Buy For Nursery?

Nurseries vary in what they provide and it's one of the things to ask when you go on an initial visit. Big Sister's private nursery provided everything she needed and we just had to put a change of clothes in a bag. Another nursery I looked at asked you to provide: bedding, nappies, wipes, calpol, suncream and possibly more. Whatever they do or don't provide there are always two absolute essentials you need: a bag and name labels.

A Fantastic Backpack

Both my girls have had Skip Hop Zoo bags when they started nursery. They love the bright, fun backpacks that are small enough for them to carry themselves. Big Sister had the Owl and Little chose the Dinosaur. The JoJo Maman Bebe we were in had some other great designs including the unicorn, fox and monkey, and we were surprised she chose the dinosaur, but that's children for you. The Skip Hop Zoo backpacks are the perfect size for a toddler, but there is enough space for everything they need to take to nursery each day. Like all the Zoo backpacks it has a small insulated front pocket and large main pocket, both of which zip up with a fun leaf. There is a side pocket you can put a drink into and adjustable padded straps. Little loves the backpack and I think she finds getting it out the cupboard the most exciting thing about nursery days, she even loves to show it off to anyone who comes round our house. The bag easily has enough space for a couple of changes of clothes, some nappies and wipes.  We could even use it on a day out to take everything we need, but I’ll be sticking with my Babymule backpack for a little bit longer as it’s more comfortable for me to wear (and lets face it, whoever leaves the house carrying the bag, it will be me that ends up carrying it at some point).

A sheet of coloured name labels in yellow with green writing saying "Little" next to a chameleon

Name Labels

If your nursery doesn't have a uniform I would strongly recommend putting your child in old clothes: they either get stained or go missing. I bought bundles of second hand clothes from eBay just for nursery. Painting, meal times, water play, toilet accidents and more can mean multiple changes of clothes during the day. The removed clothing might make it to their bag or peg so you can take them home and decide if they can be saved, but it’s not always the case. I was met by my eldest child on several occasions dressed in clothes I had never seen before because at nursery clothes without a name label are fair game. If you want to stand a chance of seeing an item of clothing again: label it. 

I remember having to sew name labels on to my school clothes as a child and my Dad must have sewn on hundreds before I was able too. Fortunately there are now easier options including iron on and my personal favourite: stickers. You can get stickers which easily go on the label of clothes and don’t budge or fade no matter how many times you wash them. They aren’t all created equal though and I know of some parents reporting the names fading after just a few washes. Big Sister has boring black and white labels with her name on, but when My Name Tags offered us some for Little we went for a more fun and colourful design with a chameleon on. Their coloured name labels can have up to 3 lines of text (15 characters per line) giving you the option of first name, last name and telephone number or class, but I decided just to have her name.

The My Name Tag labels also stick onto hard surfaces so they are great for anything else you send in to nursery. They stick well to plastic and clothing labels, but the not the main clothing fabric, if you want labels on to the clothes themselves then their iron on labels are a better option where they offer a guarantee that they will stay on for 10 years! I’m not sure how often you will need a label to last that long. The stickers are suitable for washing, going in dishwashers, microwaves and sterilisers.

Wellies, a giraffe lunch bag, apple, giraffe drink bottle and dinosaur backpack lined up on a step

Lunchbag and Waterbottle?

Some nurseries ask for children to bring in a drink, snacks or lunch. If your child has allergies you might want to send in your own food anyway to provide the reassurance that the food will be safe for them. Skip Hop do a cute range of lunchies and drinking bottles which are perfect for children. 

My girls love the Zoo Straw Bottle. Flip the lid to reveal a flexible straw and handily there is a spare included too in case the first gets damaged. The 350ml bottle can be carried around using the small strap or it can be popped into the side pocket of the back pack. Handily it can also be washed on the top rack of a dishwasher.

Lunchies are a lunch box in a soft bag form (so no hitting their friends round the head with hard plastic). They have an insulated lining, mesh pocket and handle with a clip so you can easily attach it to the back pack. I love that with the Skip Hop Zoo range you can have everything coordinating or go for a whole zoo of animals. You can buy them from lots of shops and online including: John Lewis, JoJo Maman Bebe and Amazon.


Ok, you can't buy superpowers, but you will discover that when you leave your child at nursery time moves at a different speed. Suddenly your ability to get things done increases ten fold. Not only will you rediscover the luxury of going to the loo on your own (although my cat has taken to saying hello mid wee), but you can eat what you want without sharing, whizz around a shop in minutes and drink a cup of tea without the worry of it being knocked over. So far Little has attended 2 full 3 hour session and 2 shorter ones and I have been amazed by my productivity. A warning though, this power doesn’t last. As it becomes more normal and you start taking having time for granted the achievement level declines. And don’t even think about planning tasks that you absolutely must get done in that time because that is the most likely way for your child to wake up ill on nursery morning or for you to receive a call saying you need to pick them up early.

Preparing Children For Nursery

How you prepare your child for nursery will depend on their age. Settling in sessions help to ease them into it and nurseries offer varying numbers of different lengths sessions to help, don't be afraid to ask if you feel you or your child need more sessions. Little is 2 years old and I found that talking to her about where we were going and what was happening helped her to be more relaxed. The most important message for Little is that I'm going away, but I will be coming back. I say this and she nods and says "Mummy come back".

Name Label Giveaway

My Name Tags is kindly offering a sheet of colour name labels to the winner of my giveaway. All you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Closes Sunday 15th April 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Disclosure: We were provided with the name labels, lunchie bag and water bottle for inclusion in this post. All thoughts and comments are my own. Amazon links are affiliate links, if you click on them and buy a qualifying product I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.***


  1. You may feel lost for the first few weeks- try not to worry about your little one and just make the most of your free time

  2. Just take every day as it comes

  3. You'll probably be feeling just as anxious and emotional as they are, but try to stay cheery and confident - children pick up on your feelings of apprehension.

  4. To try to make it as positive an experience as possible so they don't get too stressed out.

  5. From working in a nursery the best thing to do is just drop and leave. The parents that don’t leave make the child more anxious by staying

  6. Try and get to know your child's carers I think it makes you much more comfortable if you have a good rapport with them

  7. Sadiyya Maryam1 April 2018 at 15:21

    To be positive and communicate well with both your child and the staff.

  8. Play it by ear and go with the flow, if you make it stressful your child will pick up on it.

    Kirsty Fox

  9. For leaving and picking up always talk to the staff as it always made my daughter comfortable and secured

  10. try to make it a positive experience and make sure you have a good relationship with staff members

  11. I think it's important to remember every child is different. Take each day as it comes and greet with lots of cuddles if that's what they want.

    Alex Telford

  12. We sent in a little cup for the staff to top up with water throughout the day for our little boy. The biggest one was mentioned about the old clothes, we're noticing our son is doing more messy play so always comes home in his change of clothes (or other children's!)

  13. Make it as happy time, I still remember a bit about my nursery days with great fondness

  14. I think it is important to try and get the child to talk about their time at Nursery even though sometimes they can't remember what they have done!

  15. I remember it all feeling very daunting...and that was just me!! but it's amazing how quickly you all settle into it and it feels weird knowing what to do with yourselves during 'school/nursey' holidays. My advice would be to take a moment once in a while to appreciate it's a special it really does pass so quickly. x

  16. Ease them in, lots of reassurance, big hugs but don't linger around for too long.

  17. It does get easier - leaving my son at nursery and then school was so hard but he's made some lovely friends and now loves going to school x

  18. see if you can stay with them for a few little sessions until they are familiar with the staff and surroundings, a gradual ease in can sometimes help.

  19. remember they will be kept busy and will enjoy themselves, even though it may not feel like if if they cry when you leave.

  20. Take time out for yourself while they're asleep and make sure they're safe while you do xx

  21. have something lined up for you to do to keep your mind off worrying - whether its meeting friends or housework. Also once you say your goodbyes - don't linger - just go as it can be really tough on children if parents delay their parting.

  22. Make sure you reassure them your coming back