Inside: Packing a hospital bag is daunting when you have so many other things to think about when pregnant. Check out this hospital bag checklist to help make it easier on you!
Disclaimer: All of these thoughts are my own. However, as an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission if you purchase from one of the links below.
Whether you’re a planner or someone that flies by the seat of their pants, packing a hospital bag is a must-do for any woman close to labor.
I packed mine around 8 weeks before my due date. I was already in the throes of new mom anxiety, and I wanted to be ready for anything.
I’m also disabled which means I needed to plan everything carefully ahead of time. From making sure that I had a top-of-the-line, hospital-grade breastfeeding pump to a bra that didn’t require snaps, I had everything packed (or ordered) weeks in advance.
Are you prepared for your baby’s first doctor’s appointment? Be sure to check out 15 Questions to Ask the Pediatrician Before Your Baby’s First Visit and download the FREE PDF!
I’m a self-proclaimed research feign, and because of that, I wanted to share all of the best tips I found through research and personal experience. Take the anxiety out of planning, and follow this hospital bag checklist below.
Let’s get started…
When should you pack your hospital bag?
The best thing to do is have your hospital bag packed and ready to go as soon after the baby shower as you can. You’ll probably get a lot of gifts from your baby shower that will be great for your hospital bag (so, make sure and add these items to your registry).
In terms of weeks, you should aim to have your hospital bag packed by 32-weeks-pregnant.
What type of hospital bag should I bring?
The amount of bags you take to the hospital are totally up to you. Honestly, just do whatever makes you feel comfortable. As long as you have someone with you to help trek in the bags, then let them deal with it…
Don’t forget to check out the complete guide on how to get your baby to sleep through the night by 12-weeks-old at How To Create A Baby Awake Time Chart For Better Sleep.
Just know that there isn’t a ton of space in the recovery room, so it might get a little cramped.
Here are some great hospital bag options:
- 21″ Weekender Bags Canvas Leather Duffle Bag
- 22″ Women’s Large Duffel/Weekender Bag with Shoe Pocket
- Softside Upright Luggage Set
- Diaper Bag Backpack
Don’t forget to check out my roundup of The Best Advice for New Parents: From 39 Moms with Disability and Chronic Illness. It’s packed with tons of valuable information to help you get through the first year of being a new mom.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Babies
If you haven’t heard it yet, newborns don’t actually require that many things. In addition, a lot of the necessary baby essentials will be provided by the hospital, so don’t go overboard with packing for baby. You’ll definitely want to save room for more of the stuff that YOU need.
You will NOT NEED things like diapers, wipes and milk (if formula feeding).
Baby Bag Must-haves
- Coming Home Outfit – Let’s start with the most important part of the baby bag, the coming home outfit! Be sure to research the types of clothing that are best for newborns before purchasing you’re coming home outfit. I chose a Magnetic Me kimono and pants. But, heads-up, Magnetic Me runs very large, even in newborn sizes. Asher weighed 7 lb 14 oz, and the newborn size still swallowed him. I would recommend purchasing a preemie outfit in Magnetic Me if you want it to fit your newborn.
- 3x Swaddle Blankets – Our hospital gave us one swaddle, but it’s wise to bring a few more to help keep your baby warm. These swaddle blankets can double as burp cloths or blankets when in need.
- 3x Burp Cloths – It’s always a good idea to have a few extra burp cloths lying around for those inconvenient times when your baby spits up.
- 3x Onesies – Not every hospital will put a baby in an onesie, so make sure and bring a few.
Baby Bag Optionals
- Easy-to-Use Swaddle – My husband did virtually no research before having a baby, so he mistakenly thought he would just be able to wrap Asher up in a muslin swaddle without any practice. His first attempt was a disaster. If you want to make sure that your baby is swaddled without the help of nurses, you might want to bring an easier to use swaddle like these.
- Newborn Booties – Newborns lose a lot of heat through their bodies, so it’s important to keep them warm. If you’re worried about your baby getting cold (especially during the winter months), then pack a pair of newborn booties.
- Pacifier – Not everyone will want their babies using a pacifier, but, if you do, make sure to bring one for your newborn. Also, the nipple shape you start with is the one that your baby will probably get used to.
- Scratch-Free Baby Mittens – We didn’t bring scratch-free mittens, and maybe that makes us bad parents? Some babies will be born with long fingernails and will end up scratching their faces. If this worries you, then make sure to bring a pair of scratch-free baby mittens.
Hospital Bag Checklist for Moms
Okay, let’s move on to your hospital bag must-haves. While this day is kind of about your baby, it’s mostly about you. So, don’t go ham packing your baby’s essentials when you’re the one that needs to feel the most comfortable!
- Birth Plan – Don’t forget to bring your birth plan, if you’re making one!
- 4x – 6x pairs of Socks – You will go through A LOT of socks. Hospitals are cold and you’ll want something on your feet for all of the trips that you will be making to the bathroom throughout your labor. In full transparency, there will be a lot of fluids leaking from your body which may result in them dripping on your socks. Trust me, you’ll want extra pairs of socks for when you have to throw away the ruined ones.
- 5x Underwear – Underwear was actually an optional item for me., but many women swear they prefer their own pair of comfortable, full-bottomed cotton briefs. I preferred the hospital underwear because they were big and heavy-duty enough to ensure no leaks, and I could throw them away after each use.
- 1x Robe – It’s really convenient to have a robe that you can throw on whenever random people are coming into your room to check on you and your baby. It’s probably the easiest way to nurse your baby and cover yourself at the same time. I got this one from Amazon and really liked it.
- 3x Comfy Pajamas – I would recommend bringing three pairs of comfy pajamas. Make sure to only gets ones that are easy to nurse in, if you’re breastfeeding. I brought three options from the H&M maternity line.
- Going Home Outfit – I wanted to be as comfortable as possible, so I purchased these joggers on Amazon to go home in. I threw on a T-shirt and a baseball cap and called it a day.
- Nursing Bra (if breastfeeding) – I would definitely recommend only bringing nursing bras if you plan on breastfeeding. Nursing bras were really tricky for me because I couldn’t close the snaps next to my armpit. I had to find other bras that would allow me to easily pull down the cup without having to snap anything back in place. Something like this may work better for moms with dexterity issues.
- Hair Ties – I don’t really need to go into detail as to why hair ties are a must-have. Because induction was scheduled, I actually booked an appointment to get my hair washed and braided the day before. Since I have limited mobility of my arms, I didn’t want my hair to be in my face and not be able to put it back behind me. This also meant I didn’t have to wash my hair while I was in the hospital!
- Lip Balm – Hospitals are really cold and you’ll be doing a lot of breathing in and out of your mouth. Your lips are destroyed by the end of labor. Make sure and bring a couple of tubes of lip balm.
- Shampoo and Body Wash – Most hospitals have shampoo and body wash, but, in case they’re not, you might want to bring a travel size of each. If you don’t feel like showering, then bring dry shampoo!
- Deodorant – You’ll be doing a lot of moving and shaking, so don’t forget to bring your deodorant! I use Native and love it. It’s all-natural, aluminum-free, and I never get stinky. Be sure to check out my post on why it’s so important to use aluminum-free deodorant.
- Cleansing Wipes – For when you’re not able to make it to a shower during labor, bring some cleansing wipes with you to help you feel refreshed. (I was in labor for 36 hours, so these were essential!)
- Nipple Balm (if breastfeeding) – If you haven’t heard about cracked and dry nipples from breastfeeding, let this be your warning! If you plan on breastfeeding, nipple balm is an absolute must-have. I love anything from Earth Mama.
- Nipple Pads (if breastfeeding) – You’re already not going to feel like your best self, and having leaking nipples isn’t going to help. Save yourself some stress and make sure to take nipple pads, so you can prevent leakage from ruining your bras and clothing.
- Pads – I would definitely suggest packing some overnight heavy duty pads. I combined these with the hospital underwear and felt secure. Another alternative to wearing pads is wearing disposable leak-proof underwear. I actually preferred this, because I liked throwing away my underwear after each use.
- Labor Gown – A labor gown is optional since they’ll give you one at the hospital. However, I wanted to be as comfortable as possible, so I purchased this one from Amazon. I loved it! Also, when searching for a labor gown, make sure it has snaps in all the right spots so the nurses can conveniently open and close the fabric whenever they need to.
- Makeup – After 36 hours of labor, the last thing I was going to do was put on makeup. I couldn’t have cared less how I looked in those first photos with my baby. However, I understand this may not be the case for everyone, so make sure and bring makeup if you want to get some pretty pictures!
- Flip Flops – If walking across hospital floors wearing only socks disgusts you, then make sure to bring a pair of flip-flops.
- Perineal Spray – The hospital will probably give you a little spray bottle filled with water to help clean you. But, it’s probably a good idea to bring some soothing perineal spray with you, too!
- Pillows – I brought my big pregnancy pillow, but didn’t use it. I also brought my boppy into the hospital to help make nursing easier from the get-go, which I would definitely recommend!
- Essential Oils – Some claim that clary sage helps stimulate contractions, so I brought this just in case it works! (I should add that it didn’t seem to help stimulate any kind of contractions from what I noticed.)
Last-Minute Items to Pack:
- Insurance Card & ID
- Phone & Charger
- Tooth Brush
- SNACKS – Snacks are crucial. While you can’t eat anything during labor, you’ll be hungry afterward. Just a heads up – in my experience, I was treated like a queen while in labor. However, after I had my baby, I once again became your normal average Joe. The hospital even forgot to bring my dinner one night. I called several times and never got anything different. So, yes, snacks are just as much for you as they offered dad!
Final Thoughts on Everything You REALLY need on Your Hospital Bag Checklist
Okay, that’s it! I think we’ve covered everything.
I hope this hospital bag checklist helps you organize your thoughts (we all know how forgetful pregnant women can be) and feel confident that you got everything you need for your big day.
Please let me know if I missed anything in the comments below!
Allie Schmidt is a rare disease advocate and disabled mom living with motor neuron disease. She founded Disability Dame in 2020 to provide tips to other moms living with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
In her spare time, you can find her traveling with her husband (she's been to 38 states and 16 countries!), watching reruns of Survivor, or tending to her near-constant sunburn from spending too much time outside. You can follow her adventures here.