There are few moments more exciting than when you realize it’s actually time to go to the hospital—your baby is coming. That big day is one you’ll remember for the rest of your life, and you don’t want to have to pause and wonder, Did I pack everything I need?
Avoid any unnecessary drama with our hospital bag checklist for mom and baby.
Hospital Bag Checklist
Your birth plan
A comfortable outfit
Flip-flops or Slippers
Phone and charger
Toiletries (lip balm, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush)
Did we miss something on our list? Let us know in the comments below. (You can download and print this checklist if you prefer pen and paper.)
#1 Cute and Comfy Clothes
This is top on our hospital packing list because, while we can’t all be Kate Middleton with a team of stylists to make us look fabulous hours after giving birth, we can all pack something comfortable that we won’t mind being seen in.
People are going to visit and pictures will be taken, and you don’t want to be stuck in a hospital gown. A great pair of maternity yoga pants or stylish pajamas are both great choices. Comfy underwear is a good idea too. Postpartum underwear and maternity pads will go a long way in keeping you more comfortable.
#2 Nursing Bras and Nursing Pillow
Nursing is going to be a whole new world for both you and your baby, and when your milk comes in, you don’t want to be caught in a regular bra or without a bra altogether.
A nursing bra like the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra will be comfortable and easy to unhook for nursing, and it will support you through milk supply ups and downs. (Breast pads and nipple cream are important to get you through the beginning of nursing, but most hospitals will supply samples.)
If you choose not to breastfeed your baby, a nursing bra can still be helpful for when you pump for baby or just to relieve the pressure. This really is a must for your hospital stay.
A nursing pillow can also make nursing a whole lot easier for both you and your new baby. There are a variety of pillow shapes and options to prevent your back and shoulders from getting sore and to keep your little one comfortable. We like the well-reviewed and simple Boppy Nursing Pillow.
Hospital staff knows every woman gives birth differently, and they want to do their best to help you have the experience you want. The easiest way to do this is by bringing your birth plan with you. Some moms opt to drop off their birth plan before the delivery date and have the hospital keep it on file. It’s a good choice to keep one in your hospital bag too, just in case.
#4 Comfort Items
You should also bring anything that makes you more comfortable. Some moms bring a robe—others can’t live without their mascara or a specific shampoo and conditioner.
Many moms bring a book or favorite movie. We even talked to a couple moms who brought a teddy bear. Whatever you need to feel comfortable and ready to meet your baby is okay to bring.
#5 The Basics
While you’ll spend most of your time in the hospital recovering, you don’t want to underestimate the importance of being prepared for labor. To make labor as comfortable as possible, remember to bring these essential items:
Your phone and charger
Candy Crush can be a great distraction during early labor! And you’ll definitely want to text family and friends to keep them updated.
Your lips can really dry out during labor.
You’ll feel better if you can freshen up with things like deodorant, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a hairbrush or comb.
Flip-flops or slippers
They’re more comfortable for swollen feet when it comes to walking through contractions.
#6 A Doula or Other Support People
All right, you can’t fit a doula in your hospital bag, but it’s worth mentioning here because more and more expectant mothers are opting to bring doulas or birth coaches with them to the hospital. Recent research shows that having a doula may not only make labor more comfortable, it might actually make it safer and faster.1
A doula can bring anything you forgot, they can help you and your partner keep breathing, and they’ll be able to answer questions and coach you through labor.
Hospital Checklist for Baby
#1 Car Seat
You’ve probably heard stories from grandparents about bringing babies home in a basket or in their mother’s arms, but those days are long gone. Most hospitals won’t let you leave with your baby until they see and inspect your car seat.
You can leave the car seat in the car until it’s time to go, but make sure you’ve got one. Our top choice for an infant car seat is the Chicco Keyfit, but you can check out our car seat buyer’s guide to see other great options and find the right car seat for you.
Hospitals do a great job of providing you with most of the baby basics for your stay, like diapers and wipes, swaddle blankets, binkies, and even cute little knit hats. But when it’s time to go, you’ll need an outfit for baby and a blanket to cover the car seat with. We don’t recommend layette gowns for going home (it’s harder to get the car seat buckles around), and your little one won’t need a onesie yet (you have to watch out for the umbilical cord stump). Simple footed pj’s are best, like this Little Me Footie Set.
This might be mostly empty when you bring it, but you’ll definitely need something to carry all the odds and ends home in. Many hospitals will send you on your way with a few diapers, wipes, and diaper cream samples. A diaper bag is a great way to stay organized from the get-go. We like backpack-style diaper bags because they’re easier on your back and can be more dad-friendly than a purse-style diaper bag.
Should I buy a pre-packed hospital bag? This is a new trend that some parents are opting for, and these can be great gifts to give a parent-to-be, but we think it’s best to pack your own. You know you best. Take the time to make your own list and pack what you really need.
What should I not bring to the hospital? A lot of first-time parents bring way more stuff than they need. You don’t have to bring a baby book or a baby wrap or toys for your newborn. Definitely leave expensive jewelry or heirloom items at home. The only valuables you really need are your car keys and wallet. Stick to the basics. You can get by with just the essentials listed above. We promise.
What about my partner? Do I need to pack for them too? Your partner’s job is to support you through labor and delivery and to get to know that new baby. They should bring a few things for themselves, and it’s probably best if they pack what they’d like. They probably need a change of clothes, a toothbrush and toothpaste, snacks, a water bottle, and a good sense of humor!
What if I forget something? Don’t worry—you will. But that’s okay! Being a parent is all about doing your best with what you have. Nothing will be perfect, including your delivery. Do your best by packing your bag ahead of time, and then let it go. Most hospitals have all the essentials on hand if you need them.
What else should I do to make sure my baby’s delivery goes safely? You don’t need to do too much—it’s the hospital’s job to make sure everything goes smoothly. The best thing you can do is relax and trust your body and your nurses. When you get home . . . that’s a different story. You can read up on our baby safety resources for more ideas about home safety.
When it comes right down to it, you actually don’t need a complicated maternity packing list. There are a million things to think about with a baby, but you don’t have to think about them all at once—and especially not before the baby is born! Remember to pack the essentials, then take a deep breath and enjoy the process.
Laura is a writer, teacher, and mother based out of Utah. She is passionate about making and maintaining strong, safe, healthy communities. To learn more, visit her website at lauraehilton.com. Learn more