What to Pack in Hospital Bag?

How to Choose the Essentials and Leave the Rest at Home

The vast amount of pregnancy and baby supplies can feel overwhelming. From nipple cream to whirlpool baby baths—what do you really need at the hospital? Hint: You can leave the baby spa at home. Pack the essentials and don't worry about the rest. The most important items in your bag will increase comfort and meet the needs of you, your partner, and that sweet new baby.

For You

Pile of baby clothes, necessities and pregnant woman on bed in home interior of bedroom.

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Everything you put in your suitcase for the hospital should serve one primary purpose—your comfort. Your clothing, toiletries and extras should all increase your level of physical and emotional comfort in some capacity.

Yes, you will most likely be dressed in a hospital gown during much of your stay, but you will still need and want your own clothes. Warm socks and slippers are great accessories for that hospital gown. Clothing to wear home is essential. You will leave the hospital with an adorable new human being. You will not leave with your pre-pregnancy body. Pack comfortable clothing, like sweatpants and loose shirts. Elastic is a good thing. Bear in mind that you will be wearing a large maxi pad. This is not the time for leggings. Bring a nursing bra and shirts with easy front access. Newborns nurse every two to three hours. You will not want to wrestle with complicated tops while your baby is crying for his next meal.

You should have access to a shower during your hospital stay, and you will probably want to use it. Bring your favorite shampoo, soap and moisturizer. You will also want a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and a comb or brush. If you wear contacts or glasses, don’t forget the cases and solution. The hospital will provide some of those large maxi pads mentioned earlier, but you may want to bring your preferred brand. Nursing pads for leaks and lanolin for sore nipples can also be welcome additions to your bag.

There are plenty of “extra” items to pack in your suitcase. And while some of it boils down to personal preference, there are a few things that most women find useful. A phone and camera will capture your new baby’s every adorable first moment, and don’t forget your charger or extra batteries. A tennis ball or roller may help with back pain during labor. Some women bring MP3 players and speakers to set the right vibe in the hospital room. And feel free to throw a bottle of sparkling wine or juice in that suitcase—you earned it!

For Your Baby

You may have mountains of baby-related items at home from showers and well-meaning grandparents. Thankfully most of it can stay at home. Newborns don’t require many supplies in the hospital bag. Most hospitals provide diapers, a swaddling blanket and that cute little pink and blue hat. You will want a few outfits to change baby into for the trip home. Bring receiving blankets, especially if the weather is cold. An infant car seat is non-negotiable; get the car seat installed and checked out by your local fire station weeks before your due date. You do not want to worry about proper car seat installation after giving birth.

For Your Partner

Pile of baby clothes, necessities and pregnant woman on bed in home interior of bedroom.

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Unlike you, your partner will not be strutting his stuff in a hospital gown. He will want to bring extra clothes and pajamas, particularly if he is spending the night in the hospital. An overnight stay will also necessitate basic toiletries, and maybe an extra pillow or blanket. The hospital cots for dads are not known for their comfort. Your partner is going to be at your side for most of the labor, but to best meet your needs, he will need to cover his own basics as well. The hospital cafeteria may have limited hours. And you’re not going to want him standing in line for a bag of chips while you breathe through contractions. Pack plenty of snacks and drinks for the new dad. Trail mix, beef jerky and other protein-packed goodies will give him the energy he needs to be your best support.