How Many Baby Bottles to Bring for Daycare? [Complete Guide]

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.


Planning for your little one going into daycare involves getting organized! Diapers, wipes, pacifiers, change of clothing, and of course, bottles all need to be prepared and packed every day. Which gets parents thinking about how many bottles for daycare need to be sent to keep their baby happy while they’re at work. 

Depending on your baby’s age, you’ll need to send 2 to 4 bottles for a 8 to 9-hour period at daycare. Most daycares recommend packing 4 prepared bottles plus an additional one for backup. Each bottle should be pre-prepared with the right quantity of infant formula or breast milk. 

Key takeaways

  • The age of your baby will determine how many bottles you need to send to daycare every day.
  • Younger babies need more bottles to meet their growing and nutritional needs.
  • The same bottles can be used for both breast milk and infant formula depending on your baby’s feeding preferences.
  • Always prepare the baby bottles the night before going to daycare.
  • Factors such as overfeeding, leftover milk being discarded, feeding schedules and patterns, and the length of stay determine how many bottles need to be sent. 

How many baby bottles should you send for a newborn in daycare?

In their first days, a newborn will drink between 1 to 2 ounces of formula every 2 to 3 hours. As your little one grows, their belly grows too and they’ll demand more infant formula to satisfy their hunger. The quantity of infant formula or breast milk will increase to 2 to 3 ounces every 2 to 3 hours.

If your newborn is spending 8 to 9 hours at daycare, you’ll need to prepare and send 3 to 4 bottles of infant formula or breast milk. At this stage, you’ll be using the 4 to 5 fl. oz sized baby bottles. 

2 to 4 months old baby

By the time your baby reaches two months old, they’ll be drinking 4 to 5 ounces of milk, every 3 to 4 hours. During this stage, you’ll need to prepare and send 2 to 3 bottles to daycare if your little one is spending the whole day there.  

4 to 6 months old baby

From four to six months, your baby’s feeding needs will increase to 4 to 6 ounces every 3 to 4 hours. Transitioning to bigger bottles in sizes 8 to 10 ounces is recommended. For this age group, expect to prepare and send 2 to 3 bottles

6 to 12 months old baby

By the time your baby reaches six months old, they should be consuming 6 to 8 ounces of infant formula or breast milk every 3 to 4 hours. You may be transitioning your little one to solids between six to 12 months but they still need 7 to 8 ounces of milk every 4 to 5 hours. This means packing 2 to 3 8-ounce bottles for a full day at daycare. 

Why Younger Babies Need More Bottles for Daycare 

Your baby’s feeding needs are based on age, weight, and appetite. Younger babies are growing rapidly and their nutritional requirements change as they get older. Newborns up to 2 months old need to drink more often, between 2 to 3 hours which means more bottles.

Most childcare centers recommend one bottle for every 2 hours no matter the age of your baby. This means sending in 4 bottles if your child is in daycare for 8 to 9 hours. An additional bottle is recommended as a backup for those days your little one is extra hungry. 

Do You Need Specific Bottles for Breastmilk and Formula?  

While breast milk and infant formula differ vastly in composition and texture, you can use the same bottles when bottle-feeding your baby. Breastfed babies latch better on bottles that share features similar to mom’s breast and using natural teats reduces the risk of nipple confusion. 

Babies who have always been fed infant formula will be comfortable with most bottle types. However, if they battle colic, reflux, or gassiness, consider comparing Dr. Brown vs MAM anti-colic bottles for easing these symptoms. 

Nipple size could change depending on the feeding pace of your baby as well as the consistency of the formula. Y-cut nipples are best for thicker infant formula. 

You can mix infant formula and breast milk in the same bottle if you want to give your child the best of both worlds! This saves you from having to send separate bottles to the daycare. 

How to Prepare Your Baby’s Bottles for Daycare

Always do your bottle preparations the night before to save the mad rush in the morning! The following steps should be taken when preparing your baby’s bottles:

  • Clean and sanitize: Handwash the used bottles with warm water and mild soap or place them in the dishwasher so they’re clean and sanitized for the next feeding round. Leave them to air-dry before adding breast milk or formula. 
  • Fill each baby bottle with the correct amount of milk: Measure out the infant formula and water for each bottle. Do the same with pumped breast milk. Place them in the refrigerator overnight. 
  • Keep all baby bottles in a sealed cooler bag or container: Place the labeled baby bottles into a sealed cooler bag or container which also has your little one’s name on it. Using a bag with dividers prevents bottles from leaking while keeping them upright.  
  • Add a flask of boiled water: This can be used by the childcare worker to reheat your baby’s bottle before feeding if they don’t use warm running water from the tap.  

Before joining a daycare, find out how the facility handles bottle-fed babies. This way, you can prepare the bottles according to their requirements while ensuring your baby gets the food she needs when being cared for by someone other than you. Moreover, make sure you avoid the problem of your baby not willing to take the bottle at daycare, for example because your little one has been fed exclusively by the mom. That’s what I wrote about in a separate article, giving tips on what to do.

This video demonstrates how to prepare bottles in advance.

Factors that influence the number of bottles to bring to daycare (besides age)

Preparing the right number of baby bottles prevents overfeeding at daycare 

By preparing the right number of baby bottles for your little one’s day in childcare, you can rest assured she won’t be overfed. It also means they’re getting the nutritional balance they need for growing and developing into healthy children. 

The daycare doesn’t clean or prepare bottles

Most daycares don’t prepare or clean bottles after feeding. By sending in the right number of bottles every time your baby goes to daycare, you can rest assured she’s getting fed properly. You also know the bottles are clean and sanitized as you did before preparing them for daycare. 

Unused breast milk or formula is thrown away

Once your baby has finished feeding and there’s leftover breastmilk or infant formula, the carer will throw this away instead of retaining it for the next feed. This is to prevent any risk of contamination to your child. Preparing the right number of bottles with the exact quantity of milk not only ensures your baby gets her daily feeding requirement but saves on wastage as well. 

Matching your the daycare’s feeding schedule

Knowing the daycare’s feeding schedule is important when it comes to sending the right number of bottles to daycare. If the daycare feeds on demand, you could add an extra bottle to keep your little one in the eventuality she gets extra hungry during the day.

The daycare monitors your baby’s feeding patterns

Most daycares will monitor your baby’s feeding patterns and will share this information with you. This will help you prepare the right number of bottles in advance especially once your baby settles into a comfortable routine at the childcare center. Depending on this feedback, you’ll be able to prepare and pack the right number of bottles for your baby’s feeding needs. 

The length of time your baby is in daycare

The length of time your baby spends in daycare will determine how many bottles you need to send. This article mentions how many bottles are required for a full day of 8 to 9 hours in daycare. Based on this information, you can calculate how many bottles are needed if your child is only in daycare for the morning or afternoon


Knowing how much breastmilk to send to daycare and also how many bottles that translate to every day gives you peace of mind your baby is getting her daily nutritional requirements without going hungry. One bottle every two hours is a good recommendation. 

When deciding how many baby bottles (and nipples) you need when bottle feeding, factor in the amount of time your little one will be spending in daycare! This way you never have to worry about running out at the last minute.

Photo of author


I’m Balint, founder of this site and a father (and dad) to a baby-turned toddler. I found the world of babies so fascinating that I started a blog dedicated only to that topic. By the way, I studied physics, engineering (PhD, MSc), and therefore I do a thorough research when I write about something. Since it’s a blog, of course I also write about my personal experiences.

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