Must-Have School Supplies For Toddlers

What To Get For A Toddler Starting Preschool

Toddlers in Pre-School

My two and a half year old son recently started day camp, pre-school and an after-school program for the first time in his life. In the past, his only similar experience was at home or with babysitters. This is an exciting new milestone. Since this is my first child, I did not know what to get him in preparation for school. I spoke to the pre-school administration, and was told that I would receive a letter in the mail with a list of supplies needed. A few days before he was scheduled to start, I got the letter in the mail with a list of supplies to get before the first day of school. With very little time, I rushed around with my husband to a number of different stores, looking for the products that I needed. On this page, I will share my experience and lessons learned during the process. I hope that this will help other first-time parents with getting the pre-school supplies necessary for their toddler, prior to the first day of school.

Below I will provide the list that I was required to produce for my child. I added in notes and edited it to apply to others as well. I will then narrate my experience shopping for the items at the last minute (the list was sent to me at the last minute, when it was too late to order on-line). I went shopping at Babies R US, Toys R US, Kohl's, Amazing Savings, The Children's Place, The 99 cents store, Staples, and scrambled for other items as well. I wished that someone would have given me the list in advance, with instructions regarding where I can buy it. If you have a few days to wait for shipping, you can purchase the items directly through the links on this page.

Intro Image Credit: abbybatchelder on Flickr source

What You Need To Send To Your Toddler's Pre-School

  • Diapers/ wipes (if necessary)

    If your child is not toilet-trained, and if the pre-school accepts children that are not toilet-trained, you may need to send along diapers and wipes for your child. Alternatively, you may need to toilet-train your child.

  • Smock

    A Smock is a protective garment which is worn above your child's clothing to protect it from paint, ink, markers and other residue. It is generally worn when children are doing arts and crafts, or painting or coloring. It can also be worn by adult artists and painters. It is similar to a plastic apron or a big bib. It is also known as an Art Smock, an Artist's Smock, or an Arts and Crafts Smock. They usually have front pockets for storing pens, markers and brushes.

  • Swimming Supplies

    Swimwear includes a bathing suit for a girl, swim-trunks for a boy, swimming diapers for kids in diapers, sun screen, a towel, and crocs or water slippers. My son's pre-school specifically asked for crocs.

  • Shoe box with a change of clothing

    Get a shoe box and pack up an extra shirt, pair of pants, and socks. This is useful for when children have accidents or otherwise soil their clothing. This is kept in the school as an emergency back-up.

  • Label Everything

    You can use sticker labels, sew in labels, or use a magic marker on different items, as applicable.

  • Health Form

    Pick up the standard medical form from the school and drop it off at the doctor's office. This must be filled out and returned to the school prior to the first day of attendance. Make sure to inform the school staff and your child's teachers, of any allergies or special health considerations for your child, and make sure that your child is up to date with immunizations.

  • Payment of Balance (Sorry, I can't help you with that).

    Mail in or drop off a check for the amount required. You may have to pay a deposit upon registration, and find out when each month's tuition payment is due. Some schools have after-school hours with a separate payment schedule. The school and summer day-camp generally have different fees and different hours.

  • Food?

    Confirm whether Lunch and snacks will be served. Make sure to feed your child the necessary meals, and possibly send along food if your child will not eat what they serve, or has allergies. Check whether the school allows you to send food from home. Some schools don't allow it, and some may require it.

  • Miscellaneous

    Check with your child's school to see if there is anything else that they require or recommend that you send. It is important that your child should be accepted and well-liked. Therefore, you should make sure that he has everything necessary, that he looks good, that his items are nice and clean. A child with an old and ugly looking smock or bathing suit, could end up being an outcast, teased and taunted and looked at with disgust. This is unfortunate, but could happen. Therefore, try to get your child things that will help him to fit in and to be well liked. Nobody wants their child to be bullied. You want your child to have good self-esteem and to feel proud of what he is wearing. Plan accordingly.

My Quest To Get The Items On The List

Baby Peeking Out Of Towel: Public Domain
In my quest to get all the items on the list, my first stop was at Babies R Us. There, we were able to get a number of the items that we needed. We already had a lot of diapers, and we got an extra pack of the wipes that we always use.

There was a wide selection of sun screens. We looked for one that had a high SPF (at least 40 or 50), meant for toddlers, which can be applied to the face as well as the skin all over the body, and was meant for use in the water, so that it would last longer and not be immediately washed off.

Next, a towel. Although we had regular towels in our house, I was looking for something better for him, and I found it. A towel with a hood to go over his hair, and for the towel to be wrapped around his body, like a bathrobe. I got one that looked like a good length and width for that purpose. It did not have sleeves like a bathrobe. You can choose whether you want to get a terry bathrobe, or a hooded towel, or a regular towel. I recommend that you get one that will do a good job with keeping your child warm, soft and dry after swimming. Don't get one that is too long or too short. Get one that will go approximately from his shoulders to his lower leg. It shouldn't drag on the floor, because you don't him to trip on it, and it shouldn't be too short, because then it won't fully do it's job. It should also be soft and thick, for maximum comfort.

In Babies R Us, I did not find the correct size clothing that I was looking for. I also did not find the smock, swim trunks, or crocs. As I was checking out, I asked the cashier if they sell smocks. Her response was "I don't know what that is".

Pampers Splashers or Huggies Little Swimmers

Which Swim Diapers Should Parents Get?

For swimming diapers, the main options are Pampers Splashers and Huggies Little Swimmers. We got Pampers Splashers, but we might try out the Huggies Swimmers next time. Try it out and see which one you like better. Some people say that they are very similar, and some parents are adamantly for one over the other. 

Which one do you think works better, and why? Tell us Here.

Compare quality, design, price, effectiveness, or any other factor in you decision.

Which Swimming Diapers Would You Buy, and Why?

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Pampers Splashers

Huggies Little Swimmers


Save Yourself The Trip- Order Online

Swimming Diapers, Sun Screen, and a Terry Bathrobe

Getting The Swim Trunks

Swimming Trunks

Toys R Us was attached to Babies R Us, but they only sold Toys. (Why don't they have a Toddlers R Us?)

Kohl's was next door, so we tried there next. 

At Kohl's, we were able to find toddler boy swim trunks size 3T, which is meant for the average 3 year old toddler. If you have a girl, get a bathing suit that you like.

Although they did have crocs for children, they did not have any that were small enough for my son. I asked an employee where I can find a smock, and he asked me, "what's that?". When I explained it's similar to a plastic apron or a big bib for arts and crafts for a toddler, he directed me to the section with bibs, which of course, did not have what I was looking for.

After asking numerous people in different stores, each of whom did not know what a smock was, I began to wonder whether a smock is an English word, or just a term used in my community. For those of you wondering: yes, "smock" is an English word.

While at Kohl's, I asked the cashier whether they could label the clothing with the child's name for school. She recommended that I go to the tailor or cleaners to stitch in the labels.

Swim Trunks, 2T and 3T

Disney Baby OR Toddler Boys' Mickey Swim Trunks - UPF50+

Sorry! We can't find product B00B9X351I

In Search For Toddler Crocs and an Art Smock

I tried Amazing Savings, The Children's Place,The 99 cents store, and Staples

My next stop was at Amazing Savings.  There, they had crocs of different sizes, but none that were the correct size for my toddler. 

We then went to the Children's Place. They did not have crocs and did not have a smock.

While traveling to the next destination, I got a call from the pre-school staff, reminding me to bring in the necessary items for school. I asked the caller where I could get a smock and crocs. Surprisingly, she suggested that I try Staples and the 99 cents store.

The 99 cents store had crocs of different sizes, from babies to adults. I got two pairs of crocs: one in his current size, and one the next size up, for when he grows. Toddlers grow quickly, so it's good to be ready.

My next stop was at Staples. I doubted that they would have the elusive smock, but I decided to give it a try. While shopping there, I met someone from my community, and asked her "Is there an English word for smock? Nobody knows what I'm talking about." She recommended that I try asking for an apron. However, an apron is usually made of cloth, while a smock is plastic and not exactly the same. Luckily, the Staples employee knew what a smock was, and directed me to it. Boy, was I glad to have finally found a smock! There were only two left, and at a couple of bucks each, I bought the last two on the shelf.

Image:Smock (Credit: simplyla on Source

Toddler Crocs and A Smock

Crayola Art Smock-
Binney & Smith $3.79

Are You Wondering What a Smock Looks Like?

Check Out These Pictures of Toddlers In Smocks

The Importance Of A Smock

A Smock Makes Art Messes Less Scary

Many people that I spoke to, had no idea what a smock is... and these were people working in children's stores! Therefore, I decided to share with you these short you tube videos displaying a smock's features, and the importance of a smock, for both home and school use.

YouTube Video thumbnailYouTube Video thumbnail

Medical Form, Box of Clothes, Labels and Payment

Bag With Swimwear
We dropped off the Medical Form at the doctor's office, and were told that it would be ready in a few days.

I found a box in my house, and chose a set of clothing to put in. 

There are label machines where you can print your own label stickers, and there are tailors that can stitch labels into your child's clothing. However, I didn't have the time for that. I used a Sharpie permanent black marker, and a Sharpie permanent marker that was specifically meant for fabrics. Using these two markers, I labeled almost every item with my child's name.

I wrote out a check for the amount due and dropped it off at the school.

Phew! The list was finally done.

A Permanent Black Marker for Laundry

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Check out the article below regarding what to expect when your child starts preschool!

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0 leaves
1103 forum posts
Bonita on said:
Great list of supplies for toddlers! That little striped smock with the markers in it is so cute.
102 leaves
2127 forum posts
bill on said:
Our daughter just 2 years 3 months, so she's gearing up for preschool soon. The past two years have flown by, it doesn't seem real. Hopefully we'll have more time to prepare to buy the essentials for preschool. Excellent work!
61 leaves
1275 forum posts
Rochelle on said:
Thanks for pinning my leaf, Bonita!

Thanks for the placement, Bill! Enjoy your little girl- I know what you mean, they grow up so fast! Every age and stage is to be cherished.

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