When you’re pregnant there are so many things to remember to do before the baby is born. You want to get the nursery ready, buy all the essentials, wash all the new onesies you’re collecting, and maybe even squeeze in a few moments for yourself. That’s what you’ve been reading, right? How to get some “me” time in before you take on your new mommy role.
Between all of these things, you also have to get your hospital bag packed. This is one of those things that you don’t want to put off until the last minute. While you have your due date you’ve probably been told that babies have minds of their own. They’ll come a few weeks before their due date just for the heck of it.
While you can start packing it as soon as you’d like, it’s often recommended to do before you reach the 35th week of pregnancy. When we say have it ready, we mean have it ready. Your partner should be able to grab it and go, not trying to throw in a few last-minute items.
What should you be packing in your hospital bag? What is your baby going to need when he or she is only a couple of days old? If you’re feeling frazzled, we’ve got you covered. Keep this hospital bag checklist handy so that you don’t forget anything!
In this article
- Hospital Bag Must-Have Checklist for Mom
- Essential Paperwork
- Cord Blood Collection Kit
- Feminine Products
- Medication List & Any Essential Medicines
- Eyeglasses or Extra Contacts
- Lip Balm or Chapstick
- Music or Movies
- Hair Ties or a Headband
- Cell Phone Charger
- Extra Camera
- Comfy PJs and Slippers
- Nursing Bras & Nursing Pads
- Nipple Cream
- Your Own Toiletries
- Flip-Flops for the Shower
- Postpartum Underwear
- Going Home Outfit for You
- Your Own Snacks
- Pen and Paper
- Bag for Dirty Clothes
- Don’t Forget Your Partner!
- Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom- The Maybe List
- Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby
- Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby – The Maybe List
- Bag vs. Suitcase
- Final Thoughts on Packing Your Hospital Bag
Hospital Bag Must-Have Checklist for Mom
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While the thought of packing one bag for the hospital may be overwhelming, some people pack two, one for the actual labor, and one for their hospital stay. If you don’t want to lug around two bags (who really wants to do that?) you can get a bag that’s big enough with two compartments to separate items and make them easier to find. I didn’t do this the first time around but did the second time. It really does help to keep things organized.
Let’s start off with the simple, necessary stuff. This includes your personal identification, insurance card, and a birth plan (if you have one). Most likely the hospital had you pre-register and has your insurance information. But, it doesn’t hurt to have it just in case.
Cord Blood Collection Kit
If you’ve chosen to bank your cord blood, you need to bring along the collection kit that was sent to you. This needs to be given to the nurse before the baby is born. The nurse and doctor will make sure everything is filled out properly and the cord blood is handled appropriately.
The hospital will provide you with large pads for after you give birth (vaginal or C-section). But, if you want specific ones, bring them along.
Medication List & Any Essential Medicines
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If you are still taking approved prescription medication, bring along a list with the strength and dosage as well as the actual pills. Be sure the nurses have this information and that any medicine you intend on taking is safe for you and your baby.
Eyeglasses or Extra Contacts
If you wear contacts, you may want to take them out and wear your glasses. You don’t know how long labor is going to last and you don’t want your contacts drying out or causing other problems.
Lip Balm or Chapstick
There’s a good chance your lips are going to get dried out from all the breathing you’re going to be doing. While you can have ice chips, some lip balm or chapstick is always a good idea.
Music or Movies
If this is your first child and you’re going to have a vaginal birth, you could be in it for the long haul. Many labor and delivery suites allow you to bring a DVD or tablet to stay entertained. If you’re getting an epidural there may be some downtime when the contractions aren’t too fast or furious. Hearing your favorite song or being able to watch a movie you love can help to relax you. It’s all about you (until the baby comes), so be sure to pack things that you love and that will help you chill out as much as possible.
Hair Ties or a Headband
They don’t call it labor for nothing. You’re not going to want to fuss with your hair while you’re pushing. Bringing some hair gear will help you feel more comfortable during the process.
Cell Phone Charger
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You don’t want your phone to die if you plan on handing it off to record your baby’s first few minutes of life. Ask what the hospital allows when it comes to photography and video. Many won’t allow your partner to record during the actual birthing process.
While everyone does everything on their phones these days, you may still want to have an old-school camera to capture those precious moments. Make sure the batteries are charged and you have a decent-sized memory card. New parents tend to take a lot of pictures of their new baby. I remember taking pictures of almost every breath my kids took. It’s a new parent thing, embrace it!
Comfy PJs and Slippers
Once you’re brought into your room after the baby is born, you’re going to want to ditch the hospital gown. Pack a robe, a comfy nightgown, and slippers. You may want to skip the pajama pants and go for a nightgown since you’re going to be sore whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a C-section. While those socks they give you in the hospital can be comfy having a pair of slippers is always nice too.
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When you’re in the hospital bed, your feet may get cold. Having some comfy socks can make you feel better. Although the hospital may provide you with some, many women like to have their own.
Nursing Bras & Nursing Pads
While the bra may be optional when you’re in the hospital, the nursing pads aren’t. Leakage is a thing and those pads will come in handy. The nursing bras are good to have because you may want support or just want to get used to wearing one before you go home.
New moms are not going to be used to breastfeeding. This can cause nipple soreness. That’s why it’s important to pack nipple cream in your hospital bag. While the hospital may have a few samples lying around that they can share with you, don’t expect it. It’s better to be prepared.
Your Own Toiletries
Some hospitals will provide you with shampoo, toothpaste, and the basic toiletries, but if there’s a brand you’re partial to, bring it along. Sometimes small comforts from home like your favorite shampoo and conditioner are nice to have along, especially in the hospital.
Flip-Flops for the Shower
While the hospital shower should be clean, having a pair of flip-flops for the shower is a good idea. This way you can be sure that you won’t step on something you should have or expose your feet to anything unnecessary. For some reason, this is an item that many women tend to forget to pack in their hospital bag. But, when you really think about it, it’s something that’s much needed!
Don’t expect to be able to wear your cute underwear after having a baby. They’re not going to be comfy and honestly, you don’t want them to get messy. The hospital will provide disposal underwear for right after you have the baby, but depending on how long you’re staying, you’re going to want to bring your own. Choose ones that have plenty of elastic and that are comfortable.
Going Home Outfit for You
Anything with elastic will be your best friend for a going home outfit. Opt for stretchy leggings, t-shirt, and sweatshirt. You just want to be as comfortable as possible. When packing this outfit, don’t pack something in your pre-pregnancy size. Just because you had the baby doesn’t mean your stomach is going to immediately shrink. You’ll want to have your maternity-size clothing for your going home outfit.
Your Own Snacks
While you won’t be able to eat much before you have the baby, it’s a different story after. Sure, there’s the hospital meals that they’ll provide for you, but we all know hospital food isn’t the greatest. If there are certain snacks you’re going to want, pack them along. Be sure they’re non-perishable because no one wants to deal with rotting food!
Pen and Paper
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Although there is the notes section on your phone, having a pen and paper handy is also a good idea. You may get some ideas for the baby’s room or things that you want to buy that you don’t want to forget. Having a pen and paper handy makes sense, especially if your phone is charging or it’s not right next to you when an idea strikes.
Bag for Dirty Clothes
Having a bag handy for your dirty clothes makes it easier for when you get home. It can just go in the laundry room and won’t get mixed up with your clean stuff. Plus, it’s just more sanitary.
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Don’t Forget Your Partner!
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When you’re packing your bag, don’t forget your partner. Chances are he’ll be spending at least the first night in the hospital with you. Some partners stay the entire duration. Either way, he’s going to want to have his own items. You can decide if he’s going to share your bag or bring one of his own. Whichever you decide, you’re going to want to have these items.
Cell Phone and Charger
You may be too tired to call everyone and share pictures of the new baby, but he won’t be. New dads are always super-excited. Be sure he has his phone with him and it’s fully charged. Bring along any charging equipment for when the battery gets drained.
Change of Clothes
He’s going to need to change his clothes. Pack something comfy for him as well. He’s going to be sitting around a lot, so he’s going to want to be comfy. Also, be sure he packs a sweatshirt. It can get chilly and his hormones won’t affect his body temperature like yours.
If you and the baby are trying to catch a nap and he’s wide awake, he’s going to need something to pass the time. This can include a book, magazine, tablet, or computer. It may be wise to invest in a subscription service so he can watch a couple of movies when he’s in the hospital. Include earbuds too. The whole point is for you to rest…that is unless you want to watch too!
Snacks are important for your partner, especially since your meals will be included in your hospital stay and his will not. Protein bars, pretzels, and easy snacks are a good idea. Don’t forget, he can always run out and grab something while you can’t. So, he may not need as much substance, but it’s always a good idea to have something rather than have nothing.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant..these are all things that your partner is going to want to have with him, especially if he’s planning on staying with you for the duration.
If your partner takes any prescription medication, bring this along well. It may not be a bad idea to have some over-the-counter pain reliever on hand. Headaches may pop up, so it’s better to have something handy to ease the pain.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom- The Maybe List
While the above items are all items you’re definitely going to want when you go to the hospital, there are some other things you may want to bring along too. It’s really up to you, but it’s a good idea to know what some of those options are.
A Birthing Ball
Some women swear by this to help them with contractions, others, not so much. You could have this ready to go with you, but it is a bit clumsy and you have to make sure there is enough air in it, or at least bring along an air pump. With so much commotion that can go along with getting out the door and to the hospital, you may want to already have this in the car if you intend to bring it along. You can also check with your hospital to see if they provide them.
Your Own Pillow & Bath Towel
Hospital pillows are not known for their 4-star quality. If you think bringing a pillow from home will help you rest better, bring it along. You can also ask someone to bring it to you after you give birth if they’re coming to visit you at the hospital. It’s one less thing to have to bring along.
The same goes for a bath towel from home. Hospital towels are not large or luxurious. If you want one that is, bring it from home. You’re not going to be taking many showers at the hospital, but some people like to have as many comforts from home as they can.
Nursing pillows are great for when you’re home with your baby, so you might want to bring it along to the hospital. This is another item that you may not have to necessarily bring with you when you go to have the baby, but one that someone can drop off.
Earbuds or earplugs
If your baby is spending time in the nursery at night and you’re in your room, you may want to bring along a set of earbuds or earplugs to drown out the noise. It’s going to be a while before you get a good night’s sleep, so do what you can now. It may be a nice idea to invest in wireless earbuds since you may be still hooked up to some hospital machines. It will make things much easier for everyone.
On the same thought as earbuds and earplugs are eye masks. Hospital lights can be bright. Having an eye mask to cover your eyes can help you sleep better. Remember, get that quality sleep now while you have extra support for the baby. Once you get home, you’re going to wish you could put that eye mask on at night…and during the day!
This is a definite maybe. While some women like to have their makeup basics with them for photos and visits, other women could care less. If you do choose to bring makeup, just bring the basics. There’s no need to bring different shades of foundation or different colors of eyeliner. No one expects you to look like you just came from the salon. You just had a baby and that’s some hard work!
But, some women like to bring their makeup along because it makes them feel better. Do whatever suits you. There’s no right or wrong here.
If there’s a step-sibling or other child in the mix, bringing along a small gift for them is a nice idea. They may feel left out amid all of the excitement of the new baby and this new family that’s forming in front of their little eyes. Having a gift with you that you can say is from the baby can make them feel special as well.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby
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Besides packing for you, you also need to pack for your baby. Here are the must-haves to include.
An Approved Car Seat That’s Properly Installed
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We know this is not going to be in the bag, but it needs to be in the car. The hospital won’t let you take your baby home without one. It needs to not only be an approved car seat, meaning that it is rear-facing but also needs to be installed properly. Many local police departments will install car seats for free so that new parents can feel confident that they’re installed correctly. Put this on your to-do list weeks before you’re due.
A Going Home Outfit
This is one of the fun things about preparing for your baby’s arrival. Choosing the baby’s going home outfit is exciting. Pick something that’s right for the season and one that’s going to be big enough. You don’t want to squish your new baby into it. That’s not going to be fun for anyone. Although you won’t know your baby’s exact size, you can buy either a newborn size or one that is 0-3 months. You may even want to buy both just to be safe. Get them in enough time that you have time to wash them at home.
A quick side note…be sure to keep this outfit once your baby outgrows it. Although I’ve given away many baby clothes, I’ve kept both of my girls’ going home outfits in their special memory boxes. Trust me, it’s something you’re going to want to keep.
Hospital blankets get the job done, but you’re going to want to bring along a warm blanket for swaddling or a special blanket for pictures. This could be one that someone has made or had personalized for you.
While some people may put this on the maybe list, you’re going to want to bring along a pacifier or two. Most likely the hospital will provide one, but you can’t be sure. Choose a couple of different designs because not all babies like the same pacifiers. Your baby may even spit it out and not want one at all, but it’s always important to be prepared.
Socks or Booties
Little feet can get really cold. You’re going to want your baby to be as warm as possible. He’s been in a warm cocoon inside you for nine months. When he gets out into the real world, it can be a shock to his system. Anything you can provide for extra warmth will help.
Bring a couple of pairs. The lost sock thing that we experience as adults can happen with babies. Especially if they try to kick them off. Remember, the sock thing is new to them! They may not appreciate your efforts to keep them warm.
You’re going to be surprised to find out how sharp little baby nails are, even when they’re born. That’s why they make those little hand mitts to put on your baby. These always looked like tiny socks to me because they have no finger separations as regular mittens have.
They just slide onto your baby’s hand so that if they go to touch their face (which they will) they won’t end up scratching their faces. You would be surprised at just how much damage those nails could do to a newborn face.
It’s likely going to be a while until you attempt to cut your baby’s nails because that’s an Olympic sport within itself. Having these mitts handy will keep your baby safe until you cut their nails.
Specific Brand of Diapers
If you plan on using a specific brand of diapers that are either environmentally safe or organic, pack them in your bag. Hospitals will provide you with diapers, but you’re not going to have a wide variety. They usually stock one brand in different sizes to fit all babies. But, you won’t be able to request a specific brand.
Also, if you plan on using cloth diapers from the start, bring those along too. The same goes for wipes. Hospitals will have plenty of wipes, but again, you’ll be limited to the brands they have. Many parents have one brand in mind that they want to stick with for the duration. If this is you, pack plenty in your bag. You’ll be surprised how many diapers such a little person can go through in a couple of days.
Related Post: Huggies vs Pampers: Which Brand is Best
Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby – The Maybe List
There are also some items you may want to have in your hospital bag for the baby. Everyone is different, but these are some other items that some new moms include.
Some people like to have their babies in fresh onesies during their hospital stay. Other new moms aren’t that concerned. You can bring one or two along, but don’t feel like you need to bring along the entire new wardrobe. While babies need a lot of things, clothes are not one of them. Newborns eat, sleep, and poop. They’re not walking any runways. No need to pack unnecessary pieces of clothing.
Burp cloths are also among the items that are on the maybe list when it comes to the hospital bag checklist. Sometimes no matter how well-prepared you are, your baby is going to burp and spit up all over the place. You may want to save all of those burp clothes you got for your shower for when you get home.
Bag vs. Suitcase
While everyone talks about the hospital bag, some people prefer to have a small suitcase for all their belongings. There are some pros and cons of each to consider.
Bags are easier to handle and good for a quick grab-and-go out the door. They also have more compartments to separate items. You can also choose to have different bags for you, your partner, and baby if you want to.
Suitcases can be better for people who are planning on putting everyone’s items together. You can pack everything in one spot. But, it may not be as handy to grab in the middle of the night. Lugging a suitcase down the stairs can be a bit annoying when you’re trying to rush to the hospital.
I’ve seen people do both, although I’m more of a bag girl myself. I found that the bag was easy to just grab rather than have to worry about my husband maneuvering the suitcase and helping me.
Final Thoughts on Packing Your Hospital Bag
As you pack your hospital bag and items for you baby and partner remember:
- Use this hospital bag checklist as a guide. We’ve included everything you’re going to need, things you may need, and things you may have also forgotten.
- Start packing early. Babies will come when they want. Schedules mean nothing to them.
- Don’t overpack.
- Pack the bag yourself whenever possible. This way you know what’s in there and have a general idea where things are.
- Leave the bag in an easy spot to grab. When you begin to go into labor, things get turned upside down. You and your partner don’t want to stress about where the bag is. Some people leave it in the trunk. If you do this, be sure it’s in the car you plan on taking. If it isn’t, that’s a disaster waiting to happen!
If you happen to forget something, no matter how well you planned, you can always ask your partner or friend or family member to pick something up for you. It’s not like you’re going on an exotic vacation. Whatever you forgot can most likely be picked up easily. People won’t mind helping out, especially since they’ll probably want to see the baby too.
It’s also a good idea not to pack any expensive jewelry or wear any yourself. Labor and delivery can get messy and chaotic. You wouldn’t want anything to get ruined or lost in the process.
Also, don’t bring along a lot of cash or credit cards. There’s really no need for them. While you’ll want to have some cash on you, you won’t be spending much during your stay. The only money you need would be for food ordered outside of the hospital or a drink at the vending machine. If you want, have one credit or debit card with you or use an app to pay for your purchases.
Most importantly remember to relax and stay calm. You’ve got this momma!