The truth is, you do not need much for your baby at the hospital. Additional items you bring are for your comfort. Everything you need for your baby is provided, except a going-home outfit and an outfit for newborn photos if you choose. After reading many blog posts, I was way overpacked. I genuinely thought I minimized my hospital bag, but I could have shrunk it by half. I will walk you through each item I packed and used, and they will be listed by what I found most important.
I bought these lightweight nursing nightgowns in green and grey to wear in the hospital, and to this day I still wear them both. I love these and I'm getting so much use out of them. I'll tuck away the gowns after I'm done breastfeeding/pumping. These are the perfect things to wear at the hospital.
I bought these slippers during the cold season last year and they are amazing. I wore them during my hospital stay, but I love wearing them when I go on trips and walk around hotel rooms. They are heaven. I love that you can wash them like socks.
My mother purchased a matching set from Caden Lane a few months before I had Brooks. She sent me a swaddle, maternity robe, and a knotted gown that also included a hat. If you choose your baby's name beforehand, you can have some of their items personalized. I loved having the matching set for all the photos we took in the hospital. The knotted gown was also nice because it covered Brooks' hands, and long fingernails so he didn’t get scratched, and his feet. It kept him warm and was cute to boot. Their blankets are stretchy and nice for swaddling a newborn.
I ended up not needing this in the hospital, but I absolutely loved having it when I got home. I used everything in it by the time Brooks was two weeks old. It includes icepacks, postpartum underwear, cooling pad liners, and healing foam—which I still use.
Packing for the Hospital
I also started packing my hospital bag when I entered my third trimester. I wanted to be prepared if our little Brooks entered the world earlier than expected. I recommend having your bags for the hospital ahead of time to grab and go when needed. I am thankful I entered my nesting phase and got everything settled when I was nearing Brooks’ birth. I recommend cleaning a little every day, if possible, to have everything cleaned and organized before your baby arrives.
If you plan to breastfeed, pack 1-2 nursing bras. Breastfeeding can be overwhelming when starting, and I found it to also be a little messy after my milk came in. These are my favorite for comfort, and these are a close second.
I brought some from the Frida Kit to the hospital, but I didn't use it. I used the hospital’s mesh undies and ice packs until I got home. BUT, I loved the entire Frida Kit when I arrived home. The Frida Kit is a nice 'treat yourself' for moms. It will definitely be a must-have for the next time I am pregnant. I lived in the briefs they provided for the first two weeks. They are much more comfortable than the mesh undies from the hospital and thick enough to provide coverage.
Just stick with comfy nursing gowns in the hospital. Pack at least 2 pajama sets. If you stay longer, you can have someone bring you extras. I would look for nursing-friendly pajamas with snap buttons, like these and these. These gowns will come in handy throughout postpartum, and it doesn’t hurt to buy them a size up for extra room. I also loved these because it was easy to undo the back and have skin-to-skin with the baby.
ROBE & NEWBORN OUTFIT
Personally, I hardly wore a robe in the hospital, but I loved taking pictures with Brooks in his matching outfit. If you have your baby’s name picked out, you can pick a swaddle blanket with their name on it for a more personalized photo and to announce the name.
My skincare was a must for me. It was a small way for me to feel good and take care of myself. Pack your daily toiletries. For example, an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, hairbrush, scrunchie, deodorant, your prenatal/vitamins, etc. Try to pack sample or travel sizes, so you don’t have to worry about packing those essentials when you start going into labor—you can grab them and go.
Bring an extra long and/or a portable phone charger if you have one. You never know how far away the outlets will be in your room! This was one thing we were grateful we brought for each of us.
These are things I didn’t pack or use in my hospital bag, but you may want to consider them for yourself depending on your preferences:
Towels – I saw this on many packing lists, but I found it unnecessary. I got by with the hospital towels for the short stay.
Makeup – I didn’t use my makeup once, even though I packed it. I think it's nice to have in case you need to touch up yourself for photos.
A Pump – I didn’t bring my pump, but many people do. I also recommend starting to pump early to help bring in your milk faster.
Nursing Pillow - I saw this on a lot of lists on Pinterest. I didn't bring mine or find it necessary to pack and have it in the hospital.
WHAT TO PACK FOR BABY
The hospital provides you with everything you will need for your baby. The only items you will want to bring are an outfit to go home in, a car seat, and an outfit for newborn photos (this last one is optional). The hospital will provide diapers, wipes, and a whole lot more! I brought a diaper bag with the medical files and records we needed. I used Brooks’ diaper bag for anything additional we received from the hospital for him. The nurses restock the room and cart once you leave, so if you opened a pack of diapers and wipes, you might as well pack them in the diaper bag. After all, you did pay for them!
The hospital will provide a traditional blanket that they use to swaddle. If you are not a pro at the traditional swaddle, I recommend bringing your own or if you want a certain one for pictures in the hospital. If you ever find it hard to swaddle your little one in the dead of night when you are sleep-deprived, Zach and I love these zip swaddled.
Brooks was in a diaper for most of the hospital stay, and they had on a onesie top to cover him. You do need a going-home outfit for your baby. If you decide to do a knotted gown, you will have to untie it for the car ride home for car seat safety reasons. If you want to take newborn photos in the hospital, don’t forget an outfit, name tag, or any other photo props you will use!
The most important of them all! We installed our car seat as soon as we started packing our bags. We didn’t want the frustration of figuring it out when leaving the hospital. If it is your first, you will also want to practice placing your car seat in and out of your car before your delivery. This can make the discharge much less stressful.
Most of what you will need for the baby will be provided, but there are a few other things you could bring simply for comfort. You could pack a few different outfits for your baby in different sizes depending on when you are delivering. You may need preemie sizes if you deliver early. Other moms suggested bringing your own burp cloths and car seat cover for when you leave the hospital. These were not must-haves for me, but maybe nice to pack.
WHAT TO PACK FOR DAD
The dads don’t seem to need nearly as much for the hospital, but there are a few essentials that will help to make their stay more comfortable! The important item they need is to have all their essentials, the same way they would pack for an overnight trip.
CHANGE OF CLOTHES
If anyone leaves the hospital to grab food, it’s likely to be dad. It’s important to make sure they have a change of clothes. I recommend something comfortable.
You will have nurses and doctors in and out of your room throughout the night. He will likely feel more comfortable if he is in pajamas or sweats.
PILLOW + BLANKET
Unfortunately, men get the short stick when it comes to any hospital perks. The “bed” for the men is more like a couch. I would highly recommend he take his own pillow and blanket to help make his stay a little more comfortable. We will definitely be packing these next time.
When packing your hospital bags, I suggest starting with a list of what you use every day. Then if there is extra room in your hospital bag, consider packing additional items from the lists above based on what is most important to you! You can download and print the hospital bag checklist above or save the images below to Pinterest to easily reference later. Feel free to forward this to an expecting mom friend too!