The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist: Things to Pack & What You Shouldn’t Forget
Are you getting ready for your little one’s delivery? We’re excited for you, too, mama!
Because babies rarely arrive exactly on their due dates, you’ll want to make sure that your hospital bag is ready before your due date. But what should you pack as hospital bag essentials, and what are the things you shouldn’t forget?
Here’s a hospital bag checklist to help you prepare everything you, your baby, and even your partner or support person will need:
Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom
Unsure about what you should and shouldn’t bring to the hospital? Some essentials might slip your mind while packing your hospital bag, especially if you’re a first-time mom.
Create a checklist for the ultimate hospital bag so you don’t forget to bring everything you need for your hospital stay.
Here’s a checklist for what you’ll need in your bag, mama:
- Photo ID. The hospital will require some form of identification before you can check in.
- Insurance card and information. Don’t forget your insurance card and relevant information.
- Hospital forms and other paperwork. It’s best to put everything inside a folder or envelope for easy access and safekeeping. (Or pre-register with the hospital beforehand digitally.)
- Birth plan (if you have one). It’s a list of your goals or plans for your baby’s delivery.
- Your baby’s pediatrician name and contact information
- Shortlist (or final pick) of baby names. You’ve probably decided on a name for your baby by now. But if you haven’t settled for one, you can make a list of the ones that appeal most to you, then decide once the baby is born.
- Credit or debit card
- A small amount of cash. Most facilities accept payments using your card. So, you won’t need to bring a lot of money. But some cash will come in handy if you need to buy from the cafeteria, gift shop, or the vending machine.
- Medications & Supplements. Many hospitals typically provide the medicines you need throughout your stay, including maintenance medications. But you can bring what you need for your stay, just in case that the hospital doesn’t have stocks for that particular medicine. Also bring 1-3 days’ worth of your regular supplements such as prenatals, vitamins, iron, choline, iodine, fish oil, vitamin D, magnesium, or whatever you usually supplement with.
- Medications list. The hospital staff usually asks for information about the medicines you’re taking. Bringing a list makes check-in easier. You can also add this to the items on your birth plan.
- Folder or envelope. This can keep the handouts, receipts, lab results, copies of records, and other documents from the hospital.
Labor and Delivery Essentials
You’re likely to stay at the hospital for a day or two for uncomplicated vaginal delivery but extend to four days or more for a C-section. Bring enough of the following:
- Personal hospital gown. You can actually bring your personal hospital gown (costs around $30 to $60 depending on the brand), especially if you’d like to wear something pretty to look your best for the camera while your partner or support person documents your baby’s birth.
- Nursing-friendly pajamas and comfortable clothes. You’ll want to feel comfortable while waiting for your baby to arrive and comfy to breastfeed once you’ve delivered.
- Flipflops or slippers. It might be more comfortable for you to wear flipflops inside your hospital room. Hospital toilets and shower areas are cleaned regularly, but you might feel secured wearing your slippers while showering.
- Non-skid socks. Some hospitals provide socks, but you can also bring your own non-skid socks to be sure.
- Underwear and your own postpartum undies. You’ll likely be provided with the hospital’s mesh underwear. That’s great, especially for heavy postpartum bleeding. But your own undies might be more comfortable. Consider bringing some that are one size bigger because you’ll be wearing thick sanitary pads for at least a few days.
- Nursing bras or sports bras
- Bathrobe or lounge robe
- Postpartum leggings
- Compression socks
- Cardigan or sweater. Bring one just in case you’ll feel cold in the hospital.
- Dirty clothes bag
Toiletries & Personal Items
- Sanitary pads. Don’t use tampons. Hospitals usually provide thick sanitary pads, but you can opt to bring thinner ones that might be more comfortable. Just make sure to bring extras because postpartum bleeding will be heavier than your regular period.
- Makeup kit and skincare items. You can bring a makeup kit so you can doll up for the camera, especially for a photoshoot after the new baby is born.
Hospitals might provide basic toiletries, but you can also bring your own:
- Lip balm. Your lips can dry out inside the hospital. Bring a lip balm so you won’t have cracked lips.
- Headband and hair ties. These can be useful when you’re all sweaty during labor.
- Hairbrush or comb
- Shower gel
- Bath soap
- Face wash
- Dry shampoo. This can be useful if you can’t take a shower because it can help make your hair clean and smelling nice even without water.
After Birth Essentials
- Maternity or nursing bra. This bra is different from your regular bra because it has snaps or hooks that can be undone so you can feed your baby without removing the entire bra.
- Nipple cream. Breastfeeding can cause sore nipples, especially during the first few days.
- Nursing pads or breast pads. These will help prevent leakage and stains on your clothes.
- Nursing pillow. This lets you and your baby find a comfortable position for breastfeeding.
- Breast pump and/or pumping bra. This can help you collect colostrum and breastmilk for your baby and establish your milk supply.
- Cord blood collection kit. If you’re planning on banking your baby’s cord blood, make sure to bring your kit to the hospital because they might not have a collection kit available.
- Herbal perineal spray. Hospitals might provide you with a squirt bottle you can use for perineum cleaning, but a ready-to-use spray might be easier to use.
- Belly wrap or support
Snacks & Hydration
- Water bottle for you and your partner
- Electrolytes to help you stay hydrated
- Collagen peptides
- Nut butters
- Honey sticks
- Protein bars
- Bone broth
- Cooler with ice packs
- Cellphone and phone charger. You might want to stay connected even while you’re in labor. So, don’t forget to bring your phone charger, too.
- Bluetooth speaker. You can use this to play relaxing music during delivery and to keep you entertained in the hospital.
- Birth playlist. Bring your own birth playlist to listen to during the delivery. This can be soothing music, meditations, or any kind of audio.
- Water bottle
- Own pillow with an extra pillowcase. The hospital will provide standard pillows, but you can also bring one that you’re comfortable using.
- Own blanket. Although you can request extra blankets, you might want to bring your favorite blankie.
- Bath towel. The hospital might provide one, but you might prefer using your own.
- Essential oils. These may help you relax during labor: citrus blossom oil, clary sage oil, lavender oil, jasmine oil, red mandarin oil, bergamot oil, and peppermint oil.
- Book or any light reading material. Labor might take longer than you expected. So you can bring a book, any reading material, or any form of entertainment to keep you occupied while waiting for your little one’s arrival. A baby care book might be helpful.
- Hairdryer. Some facilities limit the electronic items you’re allowed to bring. Call ahead if you want to bring a hairdryer.
- Glasses, contact lenses, and supplies. If you wear contact lenses, make sure to bring supplies such as your case and a bottle of saline cleaning solution.
- Extra bag. Some moms also suggest bringing an extra bag for the freebies and extra hospital supplies.
- Flameless candles. To create a soothing ambiance.
- Goodies or gifts for the staff. It’s not required, but some moms might want to give the staff some small gifts to show their appreciation.
If You’re Having a C-Section
- Support underwear. Because you’ll have a wound on your belly, your regular underwear might not feel so comfortable after a C-section. Special support underwear can help with C-section recovery and are more comfortable over your incision.
- Compression wrap. Just like support undies, a compression wrap can also be helpful after a C-section. This can provide you with postpartum belly support.
- Loose clothing. You might prefer wearing loose clothing that won’t rub against your incision when you move.
- Special snacks. Moving your bowels can be a challenge after a C-section. You can avoid constipation by eating foods rich in fiber. So, make sure to bring high-fiber snacks if you’re due for a cesarean section.
Going Home Essentials
- Going-home outfit. Some parents might want to take photos at the hospital before going home. You can pick special clothes for the photo shoot.
- Goodies for your baby’s older siblings back home. If you have kids waiting at home, it might be a good idea to bring some goodies. Some parents suggest that this is one way that might help prevent them from getting jealous of the new baby.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Your Baby
It’s ideal to pack your baby’s items in a separate bag. These are the things your baby might need from birth until you’re ready to go home:
Hospital Stay Essentials
- Clothes, usually onesies or long-sleeve tops and pants. Check the hospital’s policy because many might require that your baby should always wear hospital-branded onesies until you’re discharged.
- Booties and mittens. Newborn babies often have long fingernails that can easily scratch their soft skin. So, some mamas like to bring mittens and booties.
- Bonnets or knitted hats
- Swaddling or receiving blankets. If you’re a first-time mom, you can ask the nurses to help you learn how to swaddle your baby. They might give you some swaddling pointers, too.
- Burp cloths
- Organic newborn formula. If you plan to give formula and the facility allows it, you can bring some to the hospital. (It might also be a good idea to bring 3 days’ worth of formula even if you’re planning to breastfeed just in case.)
- Bottles. If you’re formula feeding, bring some extra bottles to the hospital, too.
- Wipes. The hospital will provide some wipes, but you might want to bring something that you’re more comfortable using on your baby, especially if you prefer wipes formulated for newborn babies’ sensitive skin.
- Diapers (newborn or size one). Newborn babies will need a diaper change every few hours. So, make sure you’ll bring a pack of at least 20 diapers with your baby’s hospital bag.
- Diaper cream. This might help prevent rashes from developing on your baby’s sensitive bum.
- Baby lotion. If your baby needs lotion, make sure to choose a hypoallergenic baby lotion because they have sensitive skin.
- Baby nail clippers or nail file. You can cut your baby’s long nails using baby nail clippers or a small nail file that may be safer to use on tiny fingers and toes.
- Pacifier. If you’re fine with your baby using a pacifier, you can bring one to the hospital.
- Newborn hairbrush. Your baby’s head is delicate, so make sure you’re only using a soft, newborn hairbrush.
They’re not essentials, but you might also want to bring these items:
- Some baby announcement photo props
- Items you might need for creating a baby book. One example is a non-toxic newborn stamp kit for feet and hands.
Going Home Essentials
- Going-home outfit. You might want to take photos as you get ready to go home. So it would be nice to pick a nice going-home outfit for your baby.
- Diaper bag. Put some essentials in your baby’s diaper bag: some diapers and wipes, a few change of clothes with booties and mittens, a wet bag or trash bag, and your baby’s milk.
- Car seat. You should install the car seat before going to the hospital because you won’t be allowed to let your baby ride in the car without one.
- Blanket. This can be useful, especially during winter. But make sure to secure the blanket so it won’t go to your baby’s face.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Your Partner or Support Person
Even if you’re in a rush to prepare separate hospital bags for you and your baby, don’t forget this checklist for your partner or support person:
- Comfortable clothes
- Comfortable shoes
- A pair of flipflops or slippers
- Face wash
- Soap or bath gel
- Razor and shaving cream, if applicable
- Phone charger
- Multi-plug outlet. This is useful for charging several items at once.
- Book or any reading material
Comfort Amenities & Other Essentials
- Glasses or contact lenses and supplies
- Own pillow and blanket
- COVID-19 essentials (mask, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and other items required by the hospital)
- Bath towel
- Birth plan. It might be helpful to also provide your partner or support person with a separate copy of the birth plan so they can also study it beforehand. Pack another copy in their bag, too.
- ID. The hospital might need to verify their identity for security reasons, particularly if important papers need to be signed. So, they must also bring identification with them.
- Pen. This might be needed for filling out and signing documents.
Things You Shouldn’t Forget
- Your ID
- Your credit or debit card
- Your insurance card and other important documents
- A small amount of cash
- Your birth plan, if you have one
- Your underwear and some sanitary pads
- Going-home outfit for you and your baby
Things You Shouldn’t Bring
There are many items that you don’t have to bring to the hospital, but many facilities suggest that these are the ones that you shouldn’t bring:
- Wedding rings and other expensive jewelry. While hospitals try to be strict with security, thefts still happen from time to time.
- Lots of cash. Don’t bring lots of money that might get lost in the hospital if some thief enters your room.
- Lots of baby clothes. While in the hospital, your baby might not be allowed to wear other clothes, except hospital-brand onesies. Check with the facility because if they provide your baby’s clothes, then just bring two or three sets of clothes for going home.
- Lots of supplies. Your baby will need diapers, wipes, and other supplies. But most facilities also provide these items. So, just bring a few that will fit your baby’s diaper bag.
- Candles. While scented candles can make your hospital room smell nice, you’ll probably be prohibited from lighting them. Flameless candles could be the better option.
What Hospitals or Birth Centers Provide
Most birth centers and hospitals provide some basic items that you and your baby need during delivery.
Different facilities provide different items, but you can ask your local facility what’s included in their birth and admission pack.
In general, hospitals or birth centers provide these items:
- After-delivery care items (witch hazel pads, peri bottles, etc.)
- Basic toiletries (shampoo, bath soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste)
- Cups for water and ice
- Disposable mesh underwear
- Grip socks
- Hospital gowns
- Standard pillows and blankets
- Thick sanitary pads
- Basic wipes
- Flannel swaddle blankets
- Formula. Some “baby-friendly” hospitals don’t allow formula because they encourage breastfeeding. Check your facility’s policy.
- Hospital-branded onesies
- Preemie, newborn, or size one diapers
- Prescription and non-prescription medications, if needed.
- Standard knit hat
Some birthing centers also provide the following:
- Birthing ball
- Other labor tools (such as personal massagers)
When to Pack a Hospital Bag
Every pregnancy has a due date, but babies rarely arrive on that exact day. So, it might be a good idea to prepare your hospital bag at least a few weeks before your little one’s estimated date of arrival.
Babies usually arrive between 38 and 42 weeks gestation. So you can start packing on your 37th week.
But you can always start earlier and do it at week 35 or sometime during the third trimester. You can pack everything that you can, except for perishable foods, electronics and chargers, and other items you might still need for daily use.
For high-risk pregnancies, it’s always better to start packing early, at around 34 to 35 weeks gestation.