Hospital Bag Checklist 2021: What to Pack for the Hospital
Finding the perfect items to pack in your baby delivery hospital bag doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, I’ve got your printable hospital bag checklist for baby below. I wanted to share these ideas with you because the first time that I packed for the hospital, I brought all kinds of stuff that I didn’t need. But I understand that every mom or baby will need different things.
When Do You Need to Pack a Hospital Bag?
First, you’re probably wondering: when do you need to pack your newborn baby hospital bag? Babies can be very unpredictable so it’s a good idea to plan ahead in case your little one decides to come early. Plus, you need something to do in those last few weeks when you’re nesting and you’ve already rearranged the nursery twice!
I recommend having your bag packed somewhere between 36-38 weeks. If you are at risk for a premature birth, then do it sooner than that. It’s your call, really.
I had my first hospital bag packed around 36 weeks. However, some items won’t be available to pack until the last minute (like your favorite pillow). So, keep a list handy of stuff you need to grab before you leave on delivery day that you can’t pack now.
For my second baby, I don’t think I had anything packed until I was 39 weeks along. I didn’t procrastinate because I didn’t want to be organized. Rather, I was so tired from being pregnant and taking care of one child already.
But sadly, putting off the packing stressed me out needlessly. So, do yourself a favor and get this out of the way. You’ll have one less thing to stress about before you give birth.
Now, let’s cover what you need to pack.
What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for Baby: Hospital Bag Checklist
The hospital will give you nearly everything you need for your baby. They may supply you with diapers, formula (if needed), a hat, a baby blanket, and even a little outfit (this means that you may not need to bring a diaper bag because the basics should be provided). This is everything the hospital provided to my babies; however, check with yours to ensure you don’t need to bring any of these items.
Items for Baby – Hospital Bag Checklist
Because hospitals may provide you with all the necessities, you’ll can focus on the items that hospitals won’t have readily available.
A swaddle and an outfit
Most hospitals also have photographers come by to take pictures of your newborn baby. Because of this, I recommend bringing a cute swaddle and at least one outfit. If you’re bringing a going-home outfit, you can use this for the photos as well. In the event that you anticipate having a larger baby, you may also want to bring 3-month sized clothing, too. There’s always the chance that newborn clothes won’t fit, as most newborn clothes only fit babies weighing less than 8 pounds. You may also want to consider a swaddle-alternative, like a newborn sleep sack.
A car seat
One important thing to remember is the car seat. You’ll need the base (if you have a travel system) or the car seat itself (if it’s one unit) already installed before the hospital will let you leave.
There are two main types of pillows available for nursing and breastfeeding. A nursing pillow will help you to properly position the baby while you’re feeding them. I found positioning to be extremely challenging, and while the pillow didn’t solve all my problems, it was definitely a big help.
A warm blanket
The season in which you deliver will impact the items you pack in your baby delivery hospital bag. Another factor to consider is seasonality. If you deliver during the wintertime, you’ll want a warm blanket to wrap the baby in when you take them to the car.
Most hospitals do not have baby nail clippers or nail files. However, you will definitely want to bring these along. After delivery, you may notice that your baby’s nails are very long. Because babies don’t have awareness of their hands right away, they may accidentally scratch their faces with their long nails. Alternatively, you could purchase baby mittens to prevent face scratching.
Items for Mom – Hospital Bag Checklist
Comfortable items from home
Hospitals aren’t going to have your favorite pillow, so you’ll definitely want to bring that. Sadly, hospitals also have some of the smallest and most uncomfortable towels I’ve ever felt. If you’re going to shower at the hospital, you may even want to bring your own towels.
You’ll also need to bring any pre-registration paperwork that the hospital gave you. This paperwork could include your birth plan if you have one. I didn’t, so don’t worry if this doesn’t apply to you. 🙂
If you choose to breastfeed, you won’t want to wear a normal bra. And let’s face it: a normal bra may not fit anyway after you give birth. Your breasts will be filling with milk (even more so than before you gave birth). And, you may be swollen from any fluids or medications you receive during your stay. Plus, a breastfeeding bra will help you to feed quickly and on-demand.
Tank top options are also available.
Definitely yoga pants. If you’re like me, your pre-pregnancy pants probably won’t fit you, and neither will your maternity pants. Save yourself the frustration and pack a very comfortable pair of yoga pants (dark ones may help you to feel more confident and comfortable).
Any tops you bring to the hospital should make it easy for you to breastfeed if you’re planning to. Additionally, you may want to pack one long-sleeved and short-sleeved top because there’s no telling if you’ll be hot or cold in the hospital.
If your hair is long enough to get in your face, you’ll almost certainly want to keep it out of your face. So, I’d recommend a headband and a ponytail holder.
Pro tip: Try these items out before you bring them to the hospital. The headband I brought was useless as it became too stretchy once it was on my head.
Socks and flip-flops
The hospital will provide you with socks, so don’t fret if you forget them. In case you do remember them, get some super plush and comfortable ones. Your feet will thank you.
Additionally, flip-flops are always nice to have when you’re feeling hot and don’t want to walk on the hospital floor without footwear (plus, these may also be useful for showering).
Similar to the baby needing season items like a warm blanket, consider bringing a jacket for yourself if you are expecting cold temperatures when you deliver.
Items that you can bring but aren’t really necessary:
A labor gown (the hospital will provide this), makeup (could be nice if you’re having a birth photographer, but I will warn you that most, if not all, will come off during the labor process. But if your hospital takes newborn photos, you may want to have makeup handy for these), and books/technology to keep you entertained (you should try to rest if you’re not laboring. Labor is exhausting, and any downtime should be used to give your brain and body a break).
Lip balm. I don’t know what it is about labor (probably all the hard breathing and lack of water), but you’ll want to keep your lips hydrated.
Toiletries. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, hair brush and whatever you normally use on a day-to-day basis.
Nipple cream. If you choose to breastfeed, it’s going to be painful in the beginning. If you proactively apply nipple cream from the get-go, you can potentially save yourself additional suffering down the road. I’m a big fan of coconut oil, but there are other options available too.
Breastfeeding pads. There are disposable and non-disposable options. I found that the bamboo breastfeeding pads ended up being the most economical solution for me. They are washable, breath well, and prevent leaks.
What Dad Needs at the Hospital – Hospital Bag Checklist
Camera. Put dad on picture duty! Having memories captured of the entire process (well, maybe not some of the process 😛 ) is nice for baby books (or any item you plan on keeping to hold your photos and keepsakes).
Cell phones. And since dad has the phones, he can also send updates to the family when the baby arrives. Suggestion: create a contact list prior to going to the hospital so that dad can send a group SMS or similar to everyone.
Charge cords. Ask dad to bring charge cords for cell phones and camera batteries (if it’s not a cell phone camera).
A Bluetooth speaker. If you would like to have any music playing during the labor, this is going to be a big help. Also, after the birth, you can use the speaker to play calming sounds around your baby. I didn’t do this, but in hindsight, I think it would have been amazing. Hospitals are noisy and the birth experience for the baby is likely overwhelming. I think these sounds could really help keep everyone calm and reduce unnecessary noise in the room.
Clothes and toiletries. Just like you, dad should bring anything he needs to stay comfortable. Tell dad to pack what he would usually bring if staying in a hotel.
Things to Have on Hand for Your Return Home with Baby
You may also want to prepare for your return home by having some items already ready to use in your house. This can be just as important as the items you take to the hospital with you. Typically, hospital stays are short, but then you and baby come home to finish recovering and bonding. And, if you have a c-section, you may need more recovery time, so for this reason, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got everything you may need.
Here are some recommendations:
Preparation-H wipes. Things are going to be very uncomfortable for a while, and these can help with clean up, but they can also help alleviate any pain due to hemorrhoids that you may have received as a result of being pregnant or laboring.
Padscicles. I made these for each of my labors. During both of my labors, I also had second-degree tearing, so these were a big help.
Basically, padscicles are just easy-to-make frozen pads. Here’s how you can make your very own padsicles:
- Buy 1 pack of overnight pads and 1 pack of regular heavy-flow pads that you can use during the day.
- Buy 1 bottle of witch hazel
- Buy 1 bottle of aloe
First, on a sanitized and clean surface, take each pad out of the individual packaging (and if there are wings, take those out too), then spray or pour a bit of witch hazel on each. Then, squirt just a bit of aloe on each after that. Next, carefully repackage eat one. Place all the pads in a Ziploc freezer bag or similar and then put the bag in your freezer.
After you come home, grab one of these pads each time you use the bathroom. They help to keep the bleeding contained and help numb any of the pain associated delivery.
Other Items for At-Home After Baby
Depends (very optional). These will be good if you think your blood flow will be so heavy that either an overnight or heavy-flow pad won’t be able to handle it. If that’s the case, you can use the Depends underwear as an overflow option.
Sitz Spray (get this if you’re not making your own padsicles). This spray will help to “cool” very the very tender after-birth areas.
Magnesium and/or stool softener. After-birth constipation is normal and it can be challenging to combat without supplements. Both magnesium and a stool softener can be used to help things move along.
Hospital Bag Questions From Readers
Should you bring gifts for your birth and post-partum care nurses?
It’s optional, but the nurses and staff will certainly appreciate it. If you’re going to do this, I’d recommend bringing your gifts with you to the hospital. I meant to come back to the hospital after things settled down a bit when I got home, but I never made it back. I felt guilty as our nurses treated us so well, and I really wanted to thank them. Some ideas are little goody bags or food (order pizza, have donuts and bagels brought in, etc.).
Now You Can Get Started on Packing Your Hospital Bag!
There we go! It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, since you may need or want additional things. And maybe some of these things don’t meet your needs. But it should get you started with some ideas to help you be better prepared when baby comes.
Now that you have some ideas and some advice for packing your baby delivery hospital bag, it’s time to get started. Use the checklist provided above and then add to it as needed to suit your needs. Have fun!
About the Author
Monica is a mom to two boys and creates content to help other moms, particularly those who are raising newborns and toddlers.