Hospital Bag Checklist
Wondering what to pack in your hospital bag for labor? Here are the essentials you should gather together so there’s no last-minute rush to fill a suitcase between contractions.
Peace of mind goes a long way when you’re having a baby. Getting things organized beforehand (lasagna in the freezer, burp cloths washed and folded) can help calm any jitters you might have about this exciting, life-changing event.
And to this list of prep items, be sure to add a hospital bag that’s packed with the items you’ll need before you depart for the hospital or birthing center. Because — why wait? Your impending birth probably won’t be as frantic those seen in the movies, but your infant could still emerge faster than usual or even on the early side. So, hedge your bets and be prepared with a hospital bag that’s ready to go at least a few weeks ahead of your due date and leave it near the front door or in your car trunk.
The result? No scrambling to pack once you go into labor. For some advice on what to stash in your all-important catchall, check out what you’ll need for your own labor and delivery, as well as some smart gear for that baby-on-the-way and your partner, too!
What to pack in a hospital bag for labor
There are just a few bare essentials that you absolutely should include in your bag when it comes time to head to the hospital — and then there are some others that are nice to have on hand so you feel more comfortable. To help, we’ve broken down these lists accordingly.
Keep in mind that the hospital will likely provide you with some freebies like disposable mesh underwear, socks with a grip bottom, a gown to wear during and after labor, extra thick sanitary pads and a few basic toiletries (soap, a toothbrush). Still, you might prefer your own versions of these items or some extras, just in case.
Hospital bag essentials
- Drivers’ license or other identification card
- Insurance card and any hospital paperwork you’ve filled out
- Your birth plan, if you have one (bring multiple copies to give to your practitioner and various nurses)
- Your phone and a charger
- An outfit for your baby to wear home
- Clothing for you to wear home (think baggy, soft and comfortable!)
- Small tote for extra hospital supplies and any gifts you might receive
- Infant car seat (It should be sized for a typical newborn’s weight — and also installed correctly. A few weeks before you’re due, install yours and get it inspected by a certified technician, which you can find through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)
Hospital bag checklist for mum
Here’s a longer list of items you might like to pull from your bag, in each category:
- Hair ties, clips or a headband to keep your hair out of your face as you labor
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash
- Hairbrush, comb
- Glasses, contacts and saline solution if you wear lenses
- Lotion, lip balm, deodorant
- Extra-absorbent maxi pads (the hospital will provide them, but you might want to use the brand you’re most comfortable with)
- Shampoo, conditioner, face wash, soap, shower gel, makeup and whatever else it takes to make you feel refreshed after delivery
- Massage oils or lotion for labor if you have any you want with you
- Extra pairs of underwear suitable for wearing with maxi pads
- Nursing bra and breast pads for any leakage, in case you plan to nurse
- Nightgown or pajamas
- Lightweight bathrobe to throw on if visitors arrive
- Cozy socks with grip soles or slippers
- Cardigan, zip-front fleece or sweatpants in case you get cold
- Snacks to eat during labor (your own snacks will be limited and must be approved by your practitioner; your partner should pack sandwiches and nutritious nibbles so they don’t have to leave your side to find something to eat)
- Snacks for after delivery — don’t count on the hospital or birthing center to provide them in the middle of the night (think crackers, granola, carrot sticks, apples)
- Music or headphones that plug into your phone
- Diversions for a long labor, such as a juicy novel, crossword puzzles, magazines, a deck of cards, laptop or handheld electronic games
- A baby care book, like What to Expect the First Year (if you have room to pack it and think you’ll have a chance to look at it)
- A baby keepsake book so you can pen some first thoughts and memories
- Your favorite pillow or lightweight blanket to snuggle with
- Your cord blood banking kit, if you’re banking your baby’s cord blood (if you decide to bank your baby’s cord blood at the last minute, you can have the company overnight you a kit or ask the hospital if there are kits available for you to use)
- Any mementos you’ll want with you, such as family photos
- Your “who to call” list so you can share or text the good news
- A small basket of goodies for the staff to give along with the birth plan, if you’d like
Hospital bag checklist for baby
Your baby won’t need much more than something to wear home and his car seat, but here are a few other items to consider, depending on the weather and the size of your bag:
- Baby lotion, diaper cream and a diaper or two (though the hospital will provide plenty)
- Going-home outfit, including socks or booties
- A receiving blanket and a couple of burp cloths
- Extra layers like a sweater or bunting, plus a knit cap if it’s cold out
- A hat with a little brim in case it’s sunny
Hospital bag checklist for partners
Labor can be long — and there will be times when your partner doesn’t have much to do. Here’s what might come in handy:
- Phone and a charger
- Gum, mints, lip balm
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, spare contact lenses, glasses and other toiletries
- A travel pillow or bed pillow in case of a cat nap or overnight stay
- Sweatshirt or jacket for quick runs to the drugstore or deli
- A change of underwear and fresh shirt in case labor goes on — and on
- Pajamas in case of an overnight stay
- Snacks — and more snacks, especially ones that keep well (pretzels, trail mix, granola bars)
- Small bills or change for vending machines and the hospital cafeteria
- Reusable water bottle or another beverage (juice, Gatorade)
- A camera and/or video camera, if you have one and want to capture early memories
- Diversions, like a paperback, newspaper, magazines or Sudoku
Is there anything you shouldn’t bring with you to the hospital?
Yup, you can certainly overdo it when it comes to packing your hospital bag. Here’s what not to bring to the hospital when you’re ready to deliver:
- Too much clothing for you or the baby. Choose one outfit each and leave the rest home.
- Valuables! Don’t bring diamond earrings, the priceless watch your dad gave you or anything you’d be sad to lose. Hospitals aren’t hot beds of crime, but better safe than sorry.
- A bunch of cash (rely on your partner to pay for snacks).
- Lots of diapers, since the hospital will provide enough for the time you’re there.