As your due date approaches, you may be trying to figure out what to bring—and what not to bring—to the hospital for delivery. Conventional wisdom says to err on the side of caution and pack more than you think you might need, just in case. But the truth is, overpacking a hospital bag can make leaving the hospital with your little one all the more stressful. So, how do you strike the right balance between being prepared for delivery and not going too crazy with the hospital bag?
It’s a classic, first-time mom struggle. To help you prepare for the big day, check out the advice below on what to pack in a hospital bag for baby and mom. We’ve rounded up a list of must-haves and must-nots for a hospital bag so you can pack the essential items you’ll need to make delivery day more Zen-like and less hectic.
When to Pack a Hospital Bag
Before we dive into hospital bag essentials, let’s talk about when you should begin packing. How far in advance of your due date should you pack your hospital bag?
There is no specific timeframe to pack a hospital bag, but in general, it’s a good idea to have your hospital bag packed somewhere between 32 and 35 weeks into your pregnancy. If the baby happens to come earlier than expected, you’ll be grateful to have everything packed and ready to go.
Pro Tip: Once you know what you want to pack in your hospital bag, let your partner pack the bag. That way, they will know where everything is and can grab it for you in a pinch!
What to Pack in the Hospital Bag for Baby
Figuring out what to pack in a hospital bag for your baby can be tricky. How many baby clothes do you need? What about diapers? Do you need to bring baby blankets or does the hospital provide them for you?
Don’t worry—the hospital should provide you with all of the essentials you need for your new baby (minus the car seat, of course). That being said, many parents like to bring their own baby clothes and accessories to celebrate the special moment. If you’re not sure what to pack in a delivery bag, consider bringing the following essentials for your new baby.
- Bodysuits: Sure, there’s nothing wrong with keeping your baby in hospital-issued clothing. But let’s be real—you’ve waited a long time to dress your little one in Onesies® Brand Bodysuits that you picked out specifically for them. Most moms can’t wait to see their baby in their first “real” clothing. In any case, most hospitals expect you to bring your own baby clothes. Consider bringing bodysuits in different sizes since it can be difficult to know how big or small your baby will be.
- Take-Me-Home Outfit: Have you thought about what your baby will wear for the journey home? While a special outfit isn’t strictly necessary, many parents like to choose a take-me-home set for their little one to celebrate the big moment. Just be sure to keep it practical! You want to choose something that will be easy to take on and off when you get home. Additionally, pack a second take-me-home outfit as a backup in case baby has a diaper blowout before you leave the hospital.
- Hats and Socks: If your due date is in the fall or winter, consider packing a baby hat and socks in your hospital bag. These accessories will help keep your little one nice and warm in the cold.
- Swaddling Blanket: The labor and delivery nurses are total pros at swaddling babies. But as a new parent, you may struggle to wrap your newborn in the hospital’s unforgiving (read: non-stretchy) swaddle blanket. If you want to make things easier for yourself, pack a swaddling blanket that is new-parent friendly.
- Receiving Blanket: In addition to a swaddling blanket, pack a single receiving blanket in your hospital bag. These versatile blankets have many uses, one of which is to keep baby warm for the car ride home. They’re also ideal for covering baby during skin-to-skin contact after delivery.
- Diapers and Wipes: The hospital will provide you with complimentary diapers and wipes, which is great considering that babies go through 10 to 12 diapers a day throughout the newborn stage. However, some parents like to pack a couple of disposable diapers in their hospital bag—just to be prepared. If you’re using cloth diapers, be sure to call ahead to ask if you can use them at the hospital. Don’t forget to pack wipes!
- Sibling Gift: Newborns can be a big adjustment for any family. If you have another kiddo in the house, you may want to consider giving them a thoughtful sibling gift when they come to visit you in the hospital. Giving your firstborn child a gift and saying that it’s “from the baby” can help get them excited about your growing family. Books, toys and cute toddler pajamas all make great sibling gifts!
- Car Seat: OK, this technically doesn’t go in a hospital bag, but it’s still a crucial item to put on your hospital delivery checklist. After all, you can’t leave the hospital without it! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants should be transported in rear-facing car seats until they reach their car seat manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
- Pen and Paper: The doctors and nurses will give you lots of important tips and advice to help you care for your newborn, but in your sleep-deprived and exhausted state, you may have trouble remembering it all. Bring a pen and notebook so you or your partner can take notes.
What to Pack in the Hospital Bag for Mom
Hospital essentials for baby: check! Now, it’s time to figure out what to pack in a hospital bag for yourself.
By this point, you’ve probably given a lot of thought about how your labor and delivery experience will go. But have you thought about the specific items you might need on the big day? If not, check out our list of hospital bag essentials for mom to get some ideas.
- Birth Plan and Other Important Documents: Although your doctor should have your birth plan on file, it doesn’t hurt to make extra copies for anyone who will be with you during labor. Don’t forget to make copies of your insurance card, hospital paperwork and your photo ID.
- Phone Charger and Extension Cord: Whether you’re using your cell phone to snap a cute picture of your newborn or to share the good news with friends and family, you’ll want your phone to be charged at all times. Pack a spare phone charger in your hospital bag early so you don’t forget it. You’ll also want an extra-long extension cord for your phone charger so it can reach your hospital bed.
- Blanket: There is nothing better than snuggling up in a nice, warm blanket. Although many hospitals provide blankets for expecting mothers, they’re usually pretty thin. Pack a fuzzy blanket for the hospital—you won’t regret it.
- Mood Lighting: Hear us out: Mood lighting can make a huge difference to your birth experience. Hospital lights can be super bright and uncomfortable. To make the hospital atmosphere more comfortable and relaxing, consider bringing your own LED candles or battery-powered Christmas lights (check with the hospital first).
- Hair Ties: If you have long hair, you’ll probably want it out of the way and not sticking to your face during delivery. Pack several hair ties in your hospital bag and give one to your partner so they can hand it to you when you need one.
- Comfy Robe: After delivery, you’ll probably want to get out of your itchy hospital gown ASAP. A comfy robe in a chic print feels amazing, looks great in photos and provides easy access for nursing.
- Socks: Even if you normally go barefoot in your own home, pack a warm pair of socks just in case. Hospitals are cold!
- Flip Flops: These are entirely optional, but flip flops will definitely come in handy for a hospital birth. You can wear them while walking the halls or use them as a pair of shower shoes (if you plan to use the hospital shower).
- Pajamas: Sleep will be difficult to come by at the hospital. To make things a little easier, be sure to pack a pair of pajamas that will keep you comfortably clothed at night.
- Change of Clothes: The good news is that, unless you’re Kate Middleton, nobody expects you to emerge from the hospital looking fabulous. That being said, you may want to look somewhat presentable for the big moment. A simple shift dress or a cozy pair of joggers and a t-shirt will do the trick.
- Yummy Snacks: Delivering a baby is hard work! You’re probably going to be starving afterwards, so do yourself a favor and bring nutritious snacks that you can scarf down quickly. Granola bars, trail mix and dried fruit are just a few great options.
- Toiletries: Don’t forget to pack toiletries in your hospital bag. Consider bringing a toothbrush and toothpaste, a hair brush, deodorant, lotion (hospital air is super dry), lip balm, shampoo and conditioner and face wipes.
What NOT to Pack in a Hospital Bag
When it comes to packing a hospital bag, some items are better left at home. Here are some things that you shouldn’t bring with you to the hospital.
- A Nice Camera: Having a baby is stressful enough without worrying about keeping track of a DSLR camera. Besides, most phones these days have excellent cameras that will do the job just fine.
- Fancy Baby Clothes: Though it may be tempting to dress your little one in fancy clothes, you’ll probably regret it later when your baby is wailing while you struggle with their outfit. Keep it simple with a Onesie bodysuit and a pair of pants or a blanket sleeper.
- Jeans: Seriously, don’t even attempt it. Opt for loose-fitting clothing when leaving the hospital. You’ll be much happier.
It’s important to point out that every birth experience is different. While some moms may be too focused on their newborn to care about packing face wipes or makeup, others may find it to be a huge morale boost. We encourage you to tailor this list to your specific needs. If you’re unsure about packing a specific item in your hospital bag, reach out to the hospital to double-check whether it’s OK to bring it.
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