As you prepare to return to work or entrust your little one to daycare, pumping breast milk becomes a crucial aspect of the journey. Figuring out how to send milk to daycare can be intimidating for a new mom. In this blog, we’ll provide essential tips on starting pumping, storing milk, handling concerns about overfeeding, and fostering effective communication with daycare providers. Let’s make pumping for daycare a smooth and successful experience for you and your baby!
- How do I start pumping for daycare?
- How do I store, prepare, and send pumped breast milk to daycare?
- How do I address concerns with the daycare staff?
Table of Contents
How Do I Start Pumping For Daycare?
Preparing to pump for daycare requires some planning and getting used to the pumping routine. Here are the steps to help you get started:
Invest in a Quality Breast Pump:
Choose a breast pump that suits your needs and lifestyle. There are manual and electric pumps available, so consider what will work best for you. If needed, a lactation consultant can help guide you in the direction of a breast pump that will meet your needs and make sure it is fitted properly to you.
Practice Pumping at Home:
Before you start pumping for daycare, practice pumping at home to get familiar with the process and build up a small supply of stored milk.
Establish a Pumping Schedule:
Set a regular pumping schedule to mimic your baby’s feeding times. Consistent pumping helps maintain your milk supply and ensures you have enough milk for daycare. If you are going back to work learn how to prepare to be successful pumping at work!
When Should I Start Pumping for Daycare?
You should start pumping a few weeks before you plan to return to work or send your child to daycare. Starting early gives you time to build up a stash of frozen milk and allows your baby to adjust to bottle feeding. Before you head back to work, it may be helpful to learn about your pumping rights in the workplace. Learn about your rights here!
How Do I Store Pumped Milk?
Proper storage of breast milk is crucial to maintain its nutritional quality for your baby’s safety. Follow these guidelines for storing breast milk:
Storing Breast Milk At Home
Use clean, BPA-free bottles or breast milk storage bags to store pumped milk. Label each container with the date to keep track of freshness. Store milk in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6-12 months.
Storing Breast Milk At Daycare
The CDC recommends to transport pumped milk in a cooler bag with ice packs to keep it cool. At daycare or work, store the milk in a refrigerator or a designated cooler provided by the daycare facility.
How Much Should I Have Stored Prior to Going Back to Work?
The amount of milk you’ll need to be stored before returning to work depends on your baby’s age, feeding patterns, and how many hours you’ll be away. As a general guideline, aim to have about 1-1.5 ounces of milk per hour you’ll be separated from your baby.
How Do I Prep Bottles For Daycare?
Preparing bottles for daycare requires careful attention to provide your baby with the best care and nutrition while away from you. Follow these steps to get your bottles ready:
Prep for Fresh and Frozen Milk
If you’re using freshly pumped milk, follow these steps:
- Clean and Sterilize: Thoroughly wash the bottles, nipples, and caps with warm, soapy water. Rinse them well and then sterilize them by boiling them in water for about 5 minutes or using a steam sterilizer. Investing in a high-quality bottle sterilizer and dryer can help simplify the cleaning process!
- Fill with Fresh Milk: Pour the freshly pumped breast milk into the sterilized bottles, leaving some space at the top to allow for expansion when freezing.
- Date and Time: Label the bottle with the date and time the milk was expressed. Use the oldest milk first to guarantee freshness.
If you’re using frozen breast milk, follow these steps:
- Thaw Safely: To thaw frozen breast milk, place the bottle in the refrigerator overnight or use a bowl of warm water. Do not thaw or heat breast milk in the microwave, as it can destroy valuable nutrients and create hot spots.
- Warm Gently: If the milk needs to be warmed before daycare, place the thawed bottle in a bowl of warm water. Avoid using direct heat to warm the milk, as it can also compromise its quality.
Properly labeling the bottles will make sure your baby receives the correct milk. Use waterproof labels or tape and include the following information:
- Baby’s Name: Clearly write your baby’s name on each bottle. This helps daycare staff identify which bottle belongs to your child.
- Date and Time: Write the date and time the milk was expressed or thawed. This allows the oldest milk to be used first.
How to Send Bottles to Daycare
When sending bottles of breastmilk to daycare, safety and freshness are key considerations. A little preparation can help you to avoid wasting any precious breastmilk by using these tips:
- Insulated Cooler Bag: Use an insulated cooler bag with ice packs to keep the bottles cool during transportation. This helps maintain the quality of the milk and prevents bacteria growth.
- Notify Daycare: Inform the daycare staff that you’ll be sending breast milk for your baby, so they can make necessary arrangements for storage and feeding. You can discuss your baby’s feeding needs with the daycare staff before officially sending your child to daycare. This will help create clear expectations and put your mind at ease that your guidelines will be followed.
- Safe Storage at Daycare: Instruct the daycare providers on the proper storage of breast milk. Breast milk can be refrigerated for up to 3-5 days, so make sure the daycare has access to a refrigerator to store the bottles until feeding time
How Many Bottles Should You Send?
The number of bottles you should send to daycare depends on your baby’s age, feeding schedule, and how long they’ll be away from you. A general guideline is to send 1-1.5 ounces of breast milk per hour of separation. Communicate with the daycare staff about your baby’s feeding routine, so they can feed your baby according to their needs.
Check out this video to help you create a positive experience with your childcare provider.
How Can I Tell If Daycare is Overfeeding My Baby?
Signs of overfeeding in babies can include fussiness, spitting up excessively, rapid weight gain, and refusing the breast or bottle. If you suspect overfeeding, address your concerns with the daycare staff and consider adjusting the feeding amounts. Check out our post about proper bottle feeding to help educate the daycare staff to avoid overfeeding when feeding from a bottle.
How Can I Handle It?
Dealing with the possibility of overfeeding can be challenging, but open communication is essential.
- Talk to Daycare Staff: Express your concerns politely and ask about their feeding practices and routines. Ask questions rather than make accusations. For example, when opening a conversation with the daycare staff, you could start with, “I noticed that my baby has been having some tummy issues after coming home from daycare. I wanted to discuss their feeding schedule to see if we can find a better balance that matches their usual routine at home and hopefully, it will resolve their tummy troubles.” Or, you could start the conversation by asking the daycare staff how they feel the feeding sessions are going throughout the day. Once you hear their perspective, you can bring up your own perspective.
- Provide Feeding Guidelines: Share the appropriate feeding amounts and intervals with the daycare staff. Write out your baby’s schedule on paper and review it with the staff.
- Monitor Your Baby’s Feeding Patterns: Keep track of your baby’s feeding times, amounts consumed, and any signs of discomfort.
- Collaborate on Solutions: Work with the daycare to find a feeding plan that suits your baby’s needs and ensures they are not overfed.
Remember, open communication and collaboration with the daycare staff are key to making sure your baby’s feeding needs are met appropriately.
As you begin the journey of pumping for daycare, you are taking a significant step towards balancing motherhood and professional life. This can be a very tough transition full of emotions- the sadness of leaving your baby to head back to work, maybe the excitement of returning back to your job, exhaustion of balancing motherhood and career, anxiety as you leave your baby with someone new, etc. By following this guide, we hope it prepares you for this transition and sets you and your baby up for daycare success! Balancing work, pumping, and parenting can be demanding, so don’t forget to seek support from family, friends, or working mom support groups. You’ve got this, mama!
Kayla is a mother of two young children. She is married to her high school sweetheart who is a firefighter, paramedic, and nurse. Her professional background is in social work, advocacy, and non-profits. She is passionate about empowering and encouraging mothers to make informed decisions about their pregnancy, birth, and motherhood journey.