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How to Pack a Hospital Bag – The Best Hospital Bag Checklists for the Whole Family

Ready, set… Pack your bag(s)!


When it comes to packing, I tend to overprepare. Our hospital nurses asked me if I had packed for a European getaway. LOL. But I brought my essentials plus tons of fun things to put me at ease and make the birthing experience feel as comfortable as possible.


Since you’ll be checking into a hospital or birthing center, you’ll want to have specific items with you for comfort and necessity.


The hospital or birthing center will provide necessities, so don't panic and try not to overpack (although I did and honestly used most of the things)! Bring the essentials that make you feel at home.


When Should I Pack a Hospital Bag?

You don’t want to be caught off-guard at 40 weeks without anything packed. It’s always a guessing game about when a baby will enter the world. You should aim to prepare your hospital bag at around 36 weeks (slightly earlier if pregnant with multiples).


Good News! You can prepare the checklist for your hospital bag well before then. We’re here to help you make that list so that packing the actual bag(s) will feel like a breeze.


How Many Hospital Bags Should I Pack?

I keep mentioning “bags.” You’re thinking, “Don’t I need just 1 hospital bag?”


The answer is up to you. You can definitely pack 1 bag.


It helps to separate different essentials into different hospital bags—one for each person. You can also have one large bag with smaller totes inside to separate items. Check out this cute, labeled Mommy Bag that includes a smaller Baby Necessities bag and Mommy’s Treasures bag.


To help keep you organized, I’ve compiled my favorites and essentials to add to your hospital bag. Here are tailored hospital bag checklists with must-haves for moms, babies, and partners.


Hospital Bag Checklist Essentials for Moms

An expecting couple cradles the mother's belly next to a crib.

Logistical Items

  • ID card and/or driver’s license

  • Insurance card

  • Any insurance/hospital papers needed to be signed for your workplace maternity leave

  • Phone & charger

  • Birth plan (if applicable)

  • Any medications

  • Prenatal/postnatal vitamins

Clothes

  • A comfy outfit to wear home – something loose and soft

  • A robe

  • Slippers & grip-socks

  • Pajamas

  • Nursing bra or shirt, if you plan to breastfeed

  • Underwear you can wear with maxi pads or ice maxi pads

(No one talks about this enough, but it’s normal and pretty standard for women to wear adult diapers and/or large pads in the hospital and after birth.)


Personal Care

Many hospitals will give you a kit that includes shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. But you probably have your favorites, so it’s a good idea to pack what you’ll need.

  • Toothbrush, floss, & toothpaste

  • Glasses & contacts/contact solution/container

  • Shampoo, conditioner, body wash

  • Maxi pads (if you have a brand you prefer, otherwise will be provided)

  • Maternity panties (LOVED these and used them at home and at the hospital. And I still use them. I’m a lifer now.)

  • Hairbrush

  • Travel hairdryer

  • Flip-flops for the shower

  • Scrunchies, clips, hair ties

  • Sleep mask

  • Makeup

  • Chapstick

  • Lotion

  • Nipple cream, like Earth Mama Organics Nipple Butter

  • Colace (helps with constipation)

Snacks

  • Snack bars, like Macro Bars

  • Reusable water bottle

  • Crackers

  • Chocolate

  • Dried fruit

  • Chomps

  • Banana

  • Apple

Other Items for Mom

  • A birthing ball – (this was SUPER important for me. I used it to help move the baby down before contractions got really strong. I used a Champion ball, similar to this one. Size matters. I’m a shorty, so it was important to have a yoga ball that fit my body. The size chart helped me decide what size to order. For 5’0”-5’5”, the chart recommended a 55 cm ball, so that’s the one I purchased. I’m so glad I did. While some hospitals provide birthing balls, others don’t, so I highly recommend ordering one and double-checking that the size matches your height. You won’t regret it!)

  • A clip-on fan for the bed – to blow in your face when you’re hot and pushing. Similar to this one. It saved me! You can also use it as a stroller fan or on vacations for years to come.

  • iPad with some favorite shows downloaded

  • Headphones

  • Favorite pillow from home

  • Boppy nursing pillow (there are all kinds of cute patterns to choose from!)


Hospital Bag Checklist Must-Haves for Baby

 A newborn baby is gently swaddled in a blanket at the hospital.

Logistical Items

  • Infant car seat (required to leave the hospital)

  • Pediatrician contact info (you’ll be asked for this)

Baby Care Items

  • ByeByeCry™ portable baby sound machine (start sleep off right in the hospital!)

  • One going-home outfit + hat

  • One outfit for pictures (many hospitals have a professional photographer come in to take photos of your little angel)

  • Swaddles

  • Diapers (will be provided, but if you are cloth diapering or have a specific brand you’ve picked out, bring a couple)

  • Baby blanket (great to bring if a family member or friend gifted a special one at your baby shower)


Hospital Bag Checklist Essentials for Partners

A hospital bag for a partner is a good idea to keep items organized and separate. Here's a packed bag ready to go.

Logistical Items

  • Car keys

  • ID card and/or driver’s license

  • Phone & charger

  • Any medications

  • Camera (if you use one other than your phone)

Personal Care & Clothing

  • Toothbrush, floss, & toothpaste

  • Shower kit

  • Glasses & contacts/contact solution/container

  • PJs

  • Sweatshirt (hospitals can get chilly, and Eddie, my husband, was FREEZING!)

  • A change of clothes

  • Underwear

  • Socks

  • A pillow (partners may or may not have a comfortable place to rest, so we recommend this!)

  • Light blanket or throw (as I said, it gets COLD in hospital rooms!)

Other Items for Partner’s Hospital Bag

  • Book or magazine

  • iPad & charger

  • Extra-long charger cords for iPhones

  • Headphones

  • Energy drinks (birth can take a while!)

  • Snacks

  • Reusable water bottle

  • An extra bag, like an IKEA shopping bag, to take home freebies from the hospital (partners can be in charge of this!)

  • Baby keepsake book (you can capture and save their first footprint)

  • Name sign for baby


Things to Pack In Your Hospital Bag for Some Extra Fun!

Our hospital room was the party room. All of the nurses wanted to be in our room because I tried really hard to create an enjoyable environment. We turned up the music on our portable speaker, had flashing disco lights, and had a big dance party… before the contractions got serious.


My husband was the DJ. He knew all my favorite stations and songs. This helped me stay calm and ultimately have a more zen and enjoyable birth experience. Here are some things I packed for extra FUN:

  • Gifts for nurses (These women are literal ROCKSTARS. I loved being able to show them some extra love and appreciation for all they did for us and our baby. I packed a ton of Bath & Body Works bags with my favorite scented soaps and hand sanitizers. Small candles are also a great gift option. You could pack little bags of $5-10 gift cards. I also had one larger gift for the nurse who helped me push the baby out. And I saved that until the end to give out since nurses change shifts a lot. If you don’t want to miss out on giving a gift, just ask when their shift will end.)

  • Christmas lights to decorate the room

  • Disco Party Lights

  • Extension cords

  • Bose Bluetooth speaker

  • Essential oils & diffuser (if you’re a fan and want a familiar scent. Peppermint oil can decrease breast milk supply for moms who aren’t planning to breastfeed. Lavender can also be calming.)

  • Diffuser plug-in


What NOT to pack in your hospital bag

  • Your whole closet (don’t overpack on clothes…)

  • Super fancy PJs (things you don’t want to get ruined or stained). I bought the NICEST THINGS and didn’t wear them. It’s a lot less glamorous than you’d think.

  • Too many clothes for baby (There’ll be times later in life when you’ll need a constant change of clothes. Coming home from the hospital isn’t one of them. Two outfits and hats are enough.)

  • Family heirlooms or expensive personal items

  • The kitchen sink… trust me – it’s easy to overpack, but just follow these hospital bag checklists, and you’ll be golden.


A new mom labors in a hospital room.

Packing a hospital bag will make the whole idea of birth suddenly very real. It’s happening! It’s such an exciting time in your life. And it can be easy and normal to feel overwhelmed. Turn on some fun music, check off each item, and take your time packing your hospital bag.


A friendly reminder: Plan ahead and make arrangements for pets and other kids during your time at the hospital (this is one we often forget to prepare for – especially for our pets).


Once your hospital bag’s packed, you’ll feel more organized. You’re one more step closer to welcoming the new addition to your family. Congratulations!

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