Packing for childcare: 6 things kids need

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Packing for childcare can be confusing especially if this is your first time sending a child off to preschool. You want to make sure he has everything he needs, but you don't want him to lug an unnecessarily full or heavy bag around, either.

When it was time to pack her three-year-old son's bag for preschool, Pauline Lim admits she went overboard. "I put everything in there but the kitchen sink!" recalls the 33-year-old account executive with a laugh.

"I basically stuffed his bag with books, soft toys, snacks, his favourite blanket, and other random things that he insisted on taking with him. I wanted him to be comfortable and happy, so I didn't consider if he'd even be able to carry his bag on his own.

Pauline continues, "When he was finally ready to leave the house, I realised how ridiculous he looked, with his heavy, stuffed-to-the-brim bag. I took out half the items inside and off he went."

Here's what our experts recommend.

WATER BOTTLE

This is essential to help your little one stay hydrated throughout the day, says Fiona Walker, chief executive officer and principal of schools of Julia Gabriel Education.

Being dehydrated can lead to lethargy, headaches, and a loss of concentration. Encourage him to sip from his water bottle throughout the day. This will also get him into the habit of drinking water regularly.

SUNSCREEN

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A small bottle may come in handy, says Fiona. Show your child how to apply it and remind him to put it on when he's outdoors and exposed to the sun.

Again, you want to help him develop good personal habits - in this case, protecting his skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure.

BATH TOWEL AND A CHANGE OF CLOTHES

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Fairuniza Alias, principal of Learning Vision at CET East Campus, says that having a towel and an extra set of clean clothes on hand will help your child feel refreshed for his afternoon activities, or if he wets or soils himself.

You can also include a plastic bag for him to store his wet or dirty clothes in. If he is still being toilet-trained, pack a few diapers and spare underwear as well.

HEALTHY SNACK

Even if his school provides a snack, it's good to pack light bites that he can munch on during his journey home, says Fiona.

Young children need to eat more frequently than three times a day, so a healthy snack will prevent him from feeling lethargic and hungry.

Try a piece of fruit, a small container of cereal, a small wrap or sandwich, or a handful of baby carrots.

TOOTHBRUSH AND TOOTHPASTE

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Encourage your child to brush his teeth after lunch and before his afternoon nap every day, so he gets used to maintaining oral hygiene, says Fairuniza.

You may also want to include a small mug with a cover so that he can rinse his mouth easily.

HIS FAVOURITE BOOK OR TOY

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Besides giving comfort to your little one if he misses home, a book or a small toy also provides a welcome distraction during his journey home, says Fiona.

Make sure these items are clearly labelled with his name to avoid misunderstandings with other kids.

This article was first published in Young Parents.