Hospital Bag Packing can be daunting. This is my second time getting ready to head to the hospital to have a baby. The first time we went to the hospital we definitely overpacked. Now I feel like I have a good grip on what we need.
What to Pack
Here is my recommendation on what to pack for Hospital Bag Packing. I have divided the packing into Mom, Dad, and Baby (+bonus sibling packing list).
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Going Home Outfit – This should be something loose-fitting and preferably darker colors like this outfit. Also, I recommend this being nursing-friendly. You never know how long discharge will take and you may have the nurse the baby in your going home outfit before you even leave. Easy access is key! Also, you want something loose-fitting because if an unexpected (or expected) c-section happens, you do not want anything clingy around the incision area. Darker colors just because you never know if an accident will happen and the pads are bulky under your clothes.
Nursing Bra – While in the hospital I just stayed in my hospital gown the whole time. It was nice to have a comfortable stretchy nursing bra for going home. I recommend these bras because they stretch and your breast change in size so much at least in the beginning as your milk is coming in.
Barre Socks/Hospital Socks/Compression Socks – These socks are 3 in 1. I brought these for my first pregnancy and LOVED them. The hospital socks always slip and slide too much in bed. Plus my feet swelled up after giving birth. These socks were perfect for all of the above + I could wear them to barre class after the fact (yay for more than single-use).
Pillow – Bring your favorite pillow from home. I used my pillow through delivery and the entire time I was there. My only recommendation- bring a dark pillowcase just in case you get some blood on it.
Towel – The shower towels provided by the hospital (at least at our hospital) are tiny and feel like sandpaper. I packed these towels and they were AMAZING. They are super thin so they don’t take up too much space and they actually feel nice and cover you. Plus we use these as pool towels when we are not at the hospital.
Shower Shoes – When you do take a shower you want to be able to wear shower shoes. Same concept as using a shower at the gym. Trust me, you will just feel cleaner.
Long Phone Charger – You will want your phone but you never know where the outlet will be. Having a long phone charging cord is amazing so your phone can literally just stay in bed with you.
Headphones/Earbuds – You may have a playlist that is comforting.
Nipple Cream/Nipple Shields – So when you start nursing your nipples get really raw. It was so nice to have both the nipple cream and the shields in the hospital as your nipples try to get used to the constant sucking. I used both of these with my son. I prefer the shields but it is really up to you which you feel is best.
Robe – This robe was awesome when I wanted some more coverage when visitors would come in. It was the perfect length and weight for the hospital. Also, I had to go to an in-person discharge instructions class for my first birth, and having some extra coverage was very nice.
Toiletry Bag – Pack all your essential toiletries: Toothbrush, Tooth Paste, Deodorant, Hairbrush, Lip Balm, Glasses, Contacts, etc.
Daily Prescriptions – If there are prescriptions that you take daily, make sure not to forget these.
Contact Sheet/Important Hospital Information – These are a few pieces of information I recommend bringing with you on a 1-page document and providing a copy to whoever is taking care of your older children (just in case). The full list is included in the free printables below.
Outfits for the hospital (2-3)– I recommend that dad brings comfortable warm clothing. My hubby will be packing joggers, t-shirts, socks, and boxers. You cannot control the temperature in the hospital and my husband was freezing during the birth of our first (probably because he forgot a jacket at home) so layers are good.
Jacket– Bring a jacket or sweatshirt. If you never wear it fine, but this was my husband’s biggest regret in forgetting to pack with my firstborn. He was freezing and could have really used it.
Pillow – Just like mama, having your own pillow can make all the difference when you are sleeping on some weird hospital pull-out bed.
Towel – same as mama. Dads need to shower too.
Shower Shoes– same as mama!
Phone Charger – This is so easy to forget but the support person is likely the one communicating with family and keeping them up to date on what is happening. Don’t forget your charger.
Snacks – Honestly, the snacks came in most handy for him during delivery. When I was in labor for 20 hours and could not eat, I would remind him to grab a snack. It was the last thing on his mind but why should both of us be hungry. Check your hospital’s policy on:
- outside food
- if the support person is provided with meals like mom
- if a cafeteria is available
- Can dad leave to get outside food (ex. Takeout from a nearby restaurant)
- Any policy changes: Our hospital only allows prepackaged snacks. This means nothing homemade. For the birth of our first child, he was not provided meals, the cafeteria was open and you could bring in takeout. For the birth of our second child (in the midst of COVID), the policy is the same on snacks but the support person is now given meals just like mom and we do not know if the cafeteria will be open or not. This is always good to check.
Camera – You can totally use your phone camera but if you have a nicer camera, you may want to bring it to capture those special first moments.
Toiletries: Toothbrush, Tooth Paste, Deodorant, Comb, Lip Balm, Glasses, Contacts, etc.
Daily Prescriptions – same as mama
Contact Sheet/Important Hospital Information – same as mama
Car Seat – No car seat, then you cannot take home baby. When you are packing your hospital bag, this is the perfect time to get your car seat installed in the car. Then you do not have to think about it! This is my favorite infant car seat.
Portable White Noise Machine – This machine was nice for both the baby and us to get some sleep. While in the hospital there are all kinds of noises. It is so nice (especially at night) just to drown out the hustle and bustle of the hospital.
Swaddle – The hospital provides babies with diapers and blankets. The nurses are amazing and wrapping those babies tightly in the blankets. That said, I found it was nice to have my own swaddle for the baby while in the hospital. This is what they will be wearing when they are home anyway, might as well start the sleep habits now.
Going Home Outfit – In the hospital, they are basically just in a diaper and blanket/swaddle. This makes it easier for skin-to-skin bonding as well as all the various doctors’ visits/wellness checks. However, when they go home they do need an outfit (you cannot swaddle in a car seat). For my son, I brought one size 0-3month outfit. He was swimming in it! It was fine for our short car ride but for the second time around I recommend 2 outfits (1 size newborn, 1 size 0-3 months). You never know how big this baby will be when it comes out.
Burp Cloth – Just pack 1 in case your baby spits up and you need it on the way home.
What Not to Bring
- Diapers (for you or the baby)
- Postpartum Care (i.e. pads, tucks, perennial spray, etc)
- Delivery Gown
How to Pack
Hospital Bag Packing can be done in many ways. I recommend having baby and mama’s items together in one rolling suitcase and dad’s items in a duffle.
While the duffle bags are adorable, I find that something that rolls just makes things easier as you never know what you will be feeling when you enter the hospital. Pack dad’s things in a separate bag. This is not necessary but it is nice to have it separate. I don’t know about you but my hubby just throws everything everywhere when he is looking for something. While my husband definitely got me stuff out of my bag, it was just nicer to know he was not digging through all of my clothes to find his missing sock.
When to Pack
As your due date approaches, many mamas begin nesting. You may begin getting anxious about the delivery. Getting your Hospital Bag Packing done may give you peace of mind.
The general rule of thumb is 3 weeks before your due date. That way just in case you go into labor early you do not need to worry and rush pack and risk forgetting something. That said, as you get closer to your due date, the doctor may be able to indicate if the baby may come much earlier and you need to prepare earlier. My suggestion, do what makes you comfortable but do not procrastinate this step.
Also, put your packing checklist (found in free printables below) on the suitcase. Make sure your partner knows that anything left unchecked needs to make it into the bag before you leave for the hospital (ex. Don’t forget your pillow).
Don’t forget to pack for your kids that will be taken care of by a relative or caretaker while you are away at the hospital. Depending on their age, consider letting them be involved with the packing so they can get excited about their special time.
- Outfits (3)
- White Noise Machine
- Sleep Sac
- Favorite Books or Toy for comfort
- Bath Soap
- Slumber Pod
- Pack N Play + Sheet
- Tooth Brush
- Tooth Paste
Free Printable Hospital Bag Checklist
This includes a packing list for:
- Dad/Support Person
- Contact Sheet/Important Hospital Info
- Babysitter Info sheet