Your Hospital Bag Checklist

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
9:00 am

Packing your hospital bag may be the furthest thing from your mind while you’re baking that babe in the oven, but chances are you’re going to go into labor at a time when you least expect it. Our advice: Be prepared and pack your hospital bag(s) early, so you don’t have to scramble when it’s baby time. In fact, try to be packed several weeks in advance (around 34 weeks), incase you have an early visitor.

Now, if you’re like us, you tend to over pack, but you really only need the bare essentials this time around, plus some items that’ll make your stay much more comfortable. The hospital provides things like diapers and wipes, so you can leave those at home. Trust us—with five kids collectively under our belts, here’s our list of the only things you’ll need to get you through your hopefully short stay.

Mom must-haves:

  • Your pre-registration papers (filled out), identification, and insurance cards. Keep these things in an accessible spot so your partner can easily find them and deal with reception, while you concentrate on your contractions.
  • A robe (and a cotton nightgown if you’re not into hospital gowns). Chances are these things will get a little dirty or even ruined, so keep that in mind. But there are times when you may get cold or you may not be up to walking the halls in a backless gown, so a robe will become your best friend.
  • Anti-slip socks and/or slippers. Again, you’ll most likely be walking up and down the hallways and you’ll want something on your feet.
  • Maternity underwear and bras. Trust us when we tell you to bring your own undies. The hospital will supply you with some crazy disposable netted briefs that are pretty uncomfortable, so bring a few pair that you don’t mind tossing. And you’re going to want a comfortable maternity or nursing bra.
  • Lanolin or nipple cream. If you’re breastfeeding, apply this stuff before and after every time you nurse. It’s safe for baby to ingest and will make your breastfeeding experience a bit easier.
  • Hair ties.
  • Nursing pads. These were something we didn’t have our first go-round, but wished we did.
  • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, travel-sized shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. The hospital will supply you with these if you’re in need, but that first shower after birth is going to be an important one, so it’s nice to have your own products.
  • Gum.
  • Lip balm or chapstick. Your lips will thank you!
  • Cell phone and phone charger.
  • A few changes of comfortable clothes and slip-on shoes to return home in. Think elastic waistbands and comfy cotton.
  • Quarters for the vending machines. The hospital cafeteria may be closed when you get hungry and sometimes you just need a bag of chips.
  • Glasses, contact solution, and storage if applicable.

For the baby:

  • Infant carseat. You will not be able to leave the hospital without one. Make sure the base is rear-facing and installed into the backseat of the car beforehand.
  • An outfit to go home in, complete with hat and booties.
  • Warm blanket. The hospital will provide you with receiving blankets, but it’s a good idea to bring along a warmer blanket incase the hospital is chilly or the weather outside is cold.

Non-essentials that are nice to have:

  • A small sound machine. Hospitals are loud and it’s difficult to get a good night’s rest between the noise and the vital checks. A sound machine will help.
  • Extra pillows. These are nice to have and give you a little sense of home.
  • A book or some magazines to kill the time.
  • Maxi pads. The hospital will provide you with plenty, but they are HUGE.
  • Nursing pillow.
  • Camera, memory card, and charger. If you don’t have a camera phone or you want better quality photos, make sure it’s packed and fully charged.
  • Extra swaddling blankets for baby. Again, the hospital will provide these, but it’s nice to have a couple of your own.
  • A towel. Hospital towels are usually on the small side and not very soft.
  • Pen and paper. You may want to jot down some notes, track your baby’s feeding schedule, keep track of gifts delivered to the hospital, or play some tic-tac-toe while in labor.
  • Toilet paper. The hospital’s TP isn’t the softest and you will appreciate the comfort of your own.

Extras for your partner and/or older children: Your partner will most likely be by your and the baby’s side during your hospital stay. Make sure they have some clean clothes, toiletries, and a blanket. If you have older kids, it’s a good idea to pack some healthy snacks and entertainment for them during their visits. They will most certainly get hungry and bored. And, as a nice way to introduce older siblings to the new bundle of joy, some parents bring a special gift from “the baby” for them to open after he or she arrives.

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