This Hospital Bag Checklist is a one stop shop for everything you need when you walk in those hospital doors a Mom-to-Be…and walk out a Mom.
Wow. Just think about that. Whether it’s your first child or your fifth, there is something mind-blowing about walking in by yourself (or with your spouse, of course), and walking out with your new baby in tow. It’s incredible.
And you have probably spent the past several months nesting & getting everything under the sun ready for your baby on the way. But now, shift gears to you for a second & get your hospital bag knocked out. Because there are enough things out of your control right now (hellooo, body).
Your hospital bag & what to pack for labor is one thing you can control.
And have ready. In advance. For when you feel those contractions start (or if you’re like me, you feel that water break….btw, it’s nothing like it looks in the movies!).
So here it is: the Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist.
(I also offer this checklist as a free printable download at the bottom! Don’t miss it!)
It’s got what you need to pack for you, for baby, and for your spouse because even though they’re not doing the hard job you will be, they get inexplicably starving. Go figure.
Side note: I also have an Ultimate Baby Registry Guide that you don’t want to miss!
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Hospital Bag Checklist
Hospital Bag Checklist—for Baby:
- Car seat in the car (bonus points: practice with your car seat & a stuffed animal in advance. My husband & I truly couldn’t figure out our car seat when we first put our son in. The straps were way too tight & we didn’t know how to adjust them yet so our momentous leaving the hospital moment was delayed by car seat technicalities.)
- Blanket you want to be the special baby blanket
- A couple extra swaddle blankets
- A couple outfits for baby: Outfit you want to be the “first” outfit and the one you want to be the “going home” outfit. Don’t forget little socks/booties to keep those newborn feet warm.
- Hat/Bow: If there is a special hat or bow you want on your little one, don’t forget it! The hospital hat they provide is a total classic so I wouldn’t forego it, but you may want to bring a couple of your own, too. For my little girl, I loved this “girly” hospital hat because it matched the one the hospital gave my son when he was born.
- Diaper bag (if you still need one this one is my fave)
- Nursing cover: I actually only ever used swaddle blankets because I found them so much easier than a true nursing cover, plus I always had them with me.
- Burp cloth
- Baby book for footprints: If you bring a book with you they will stamp your baby’s footprints right in it, which is so much easier than doing it yourself later. These are my top 3 picks, in no order: Pick 1, Pick 2, Pick 3
- Bassinet: This is 50/50. I did take my rock n play (yes, the now recalled one) for my second baby to sleep in & I’m glad I did. But, I only took it because it’s so compact and foldable. I don’t think I would take anything large, you just don’t need anything extra to worry about.
- Pro Tip: Check with your hospital to see if they offer a photography service. At most hospitals there is a company that comes around to the rooms & takes newborn & family pics. DO IT. I know you may think it’s the last thing you want to do, but trust me—these are such beautiful, natural, special (& not to mention easy!) pictures & you do not want to miss the chance. The rates are usually great, they use the natural light in the room & you don’t have to “dress up.” I wore no makeup and just looked down at my baby & they are some of my favorite pics of my little family. See below picture.
- If you are doing any kind of cord blood banking, don’t forget the kit.
Hospital Bag Checklist—for Mama:
- Chapstick—OMG this. I have no idea why your lips get sooooo unbelievably dry during childbirth but they do. Be prepared.
- Extra hair ties & little clips to hold your hair out of your face
- Clothes: Warm cozy socks, slippers (these are my fave but you can also get cheapo ones you can toss after), bathrobe (so easy to slip on!), nightgown or comfy pjs (with buttons for nursing!) or nursing tank, underwear, yoga/sweatpants, slip on sandals/shower sandals.
- Pro tip 1: Pack dark items, at least for your pants. Trust me. Nothing to scare you but there is definitely some bleeding & there are definitely some monstrous pads, so just go dark on the bottom half so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Also you need granny panties. Leave the cheeky cut at home. (Don’t worry, you’ll bring them back one day. Promise.)
- Pro tip 2: Bring either high-waisted comfy pants or a gown/tunic/dress for C-section Mamas, because the lower rise ones will sit right on the cut. (& you may end up having an unplanned C-section)
- Nursing bra
- Breastfeeding Pump: If you plan to breastfeed, bring your pump with you to the hospital. Leave it in the car because your family can bring it in for you when/if you’re ready for it (you may not need it). The lactation consultant can help you learn to use it if necessary, too.
- Breastfeeding Pillow: It can be very helpful to have this in the hospital when you are learning how to breastfeed. (This is my fave nursing pillow). Again, you can leave this in the car until you need it. I loved having mine there.
- Cooling pads & nipple cream: bring them. When you first start nursing, it can hurt/sting. The relief from cooling pads & nipple cream is glorious.
- Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, moisturizer, brush, perfume/body spray. If you think you might shower then bring a hair dryer/straightener/curler if you want. (I took a shower/washed my hair right when I went into labor both times so I didn’t need to wash my hair in the hospital.) Dry shampoo FTW.
- Also, you may want to bring your own XL pads. The hospital ones are monstrous but they work. (Either way stock up on these for when you are home).
- Makeup bag: As bare bones or full throttle as you want.
- Nice roll of TP. Sounds silly I know, but that hospital 1-ply isn’t stellar.
- Your own blanket & pillow. I used what they had but this would’ve been nice.
- Miscellaneous/important Items: Credit card/checkbook, cash & change (for vending machines!), Driver’s License, insurance card, social security card, pediatrician’s info
- Electronics: Surge protector so you have enough outlets, long phone chargers (or extension cord) for both (bring one for you & your spouse, trust me you will both want to charge your phones for all the pics you’re about to take of the new baby you’ll be instantly obsessed with), bluetooth speaker if you want to listen to any music
- Camera or lbh—enough room on your phone. Seriously, make room for pics now.
- FOOD/DRINKS: All caps because this one is important. Pack snacks (& lots of them!), water, gatorade, candy, gum & mints. I brought a whole basket & we ate & drink every bit. You can’t eat when you’re in active labor but you will be STARVED and PARCHED immediately after. I seriously asked for a pop tart as I cradled my 5 minute-old newborn. And then my mouth was too dry to swallow it. But I was famished. And like I said before, for some reason you being labor makes your spouse the hungriest human alive. My husband munched (stress ate?) the whole time. Also, real talk: you might want to pack a straw or two in case the hospital doesn’t give the big straw cup I mention below.
- Battery operated fan: Several Mamas said this was a lifesaver for them because they always get hot.
- Sound Machine: Several moms also suggested bringing a sound machine to drown out all the noises–for you and baby. I didn’t think of this but I can see the appeal. This is my go-to sound machine & this is my go-to portable one. (I also got a few suggestions for ear plugs for spouse, but real talk I was kind of in the “we’re in this together” mindset so not sure about the earplugs, ha!)
Hospital Bag Checklist—for Spouse:
- Phone charger (yes I already mentioned it, but trust me you each need one)
- Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant
- Clothes: Sweatshirt (hospitals get cold), change of clothes, clothes for pictures if they want to wear something different (my husband just wore a dark shirt & it looked great)
- Glasses/contacts if needed
- Sleeping supplies: Good pillow & blanket(s). They will be sleeping on that couch/chair thing so anything to make them comfortable
- Note pad & pen to take notes (or they can use their phone, but sometimes it is helpful to have things written down for other family members to help keep up with)
Hospital Bag Checklist—for actual LABOR:
- Birth plan: You don’t have to actually print one out unless you want to, but just make sure you discuss it 1) with your spouse or whoever is going to be in the room with you and 2) with your nurse/doctor after arriving & getting going. (Things like: are you getting an epidural? are you okay with pitocin? BUT also keep in mind that things sometimes don’t go according to plan at all. And, that’s okay. I had an epidural with my first and a totally natural labor with my second…only because my epidural fell out immediately & no one noticed until it was too late. I was okay both times, and so were my babies. Have a plan of what you want but also know that you will likely need to roll with the flow, too. For a more general birth plan example, click here —and for a very detailed birth plan checklist, click here.)
- Focal point: A picture to look at if you want a photo to be your focus point. I had one with both labors and honestly it did help me to look at. I just printed an 8×10 and taped it on the wall.
- Bluetooth speaker if you want music.
- Essential oils/diffuser if that’s your jam.
- Labor props: If you want any of the labor “props” that might not be provided by the hospital, bring ’em.
Hospital Bag Checklist—for AFTER Labor:
- Get all the help & advice you possibly can from the nurses & doctors! They know what they’re doing. Let them teach you their swaddling mastery. Ask them what to do about things. Get their tips.
- Ask for a lactation consultant: Even if you don’t think you need one, ask for one to come to your room. The amount of help they can offer you is invaluable. They will help make sure your baby is latching correctly & help you understand what that latch is supposed to look & feel like. I wouldn’t leave the hospital without meeting with the lactation consultant if you are planning to breastfeed.
- Take any & everything the hospital gives you! Keep all the pads! All the ice packs! All the numbing spray! Squirt bottles! Diapers! Wipes! And definitely keep the giant water cup with the big straw because breastfeeding makes your thirst never-ending & that big water cup went all over the house with me the first couple months! (And I totallyyy did ask for extra cold packs & I’m so glad I did. If you know, you know. And if you don’t know, you will.)
A couple last Hospital Bag hacks:
- Pack in a rolling suitcase! It is SO much easier than trying to have one person strap everything across them & carry multiple heavy bags. I’d take 1-2 rolling suitcases over duffel bags any day.
- Bring a big foldable/compact extra bag (or 2!) for gifts & all the things you “steal” above. It just makes it so much easier to get everything out to the car when you leave.
- I brought a huge jar of Hershey’s kisses for the nurses and man did they love it. The nurses are your A-team, trust me on this. Individually wrapped candy goes a long way.
- Don’t be in such a rush to leave. I know being in the hospital isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. But, the flip side of that is that you have a lot of help when you’re there. Leave when you’re ready but also, take your time.
Want more on Pregnancy & becoming a New Mom? —> Have you seen my Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist?
Now that you’ve gotten your hospital bag checklist & your baby registry checklist figured out, I want you to do 3 things—
1. Go read my personal advice for Moms-to-Be. You’ll thank me later (I hope!). You can find it here: 10 Things to do BEFORE the Baby Comes (Pre-Baby Bucket List)
2. Now go read Parts 1-3 in this series: Best Advice for Mom-to-Be, Best Advice for a New Mom (because that’s about to be YOU, Mama! And a lot of it applies to you now.) & Best Advice for a Breastfeeding Mom.
3. And then hop over to my holy grail New Mom article: 14 Things Every New Mom Should get Herself. You need the things on this list. Trust me.