Minimalist Hospital Bag Checklist - The Essentials For Mom, Dad and Baby (2024)

Minimalist Hospital Bag Checklist - The Essentials For Mom, Dad and Baby (1)

Minimalist Hospital Bag Checklist - The Essentials For Mom, Dad and Baby (2)

I originally wrote this blog post years ago when I was anxiously waiting for the arrival of my first baby. Fast forward to present day, I’ve had two babies and stayed in the hospital twice during my two labor and deliveries. I have basically re-written the majority of this blog post, now coming from the perspective of a more experienced mama.

My second baby was born during peak pandemic times and I had to deliver him by myself in the hospital. My husband was not even allowed to enter the hospital building. My son was born past 41 weeks which meant I was super pregnant and not in any mood to fuss around with extra baggage and things that weren’t absolutely necessary.

The hospital bag that I packed for delivering my second baby was truly in minimalist style with only the essentials that I knew I would need. It worked out well, I didn’t have to haul around a big heavy bag and I had everything I needed.

In this guide I’ve also included more third-trimester things to get done before baby arrives. Packing your hospital bag is one of the many steps in preparing for labor and bringing baby home.

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Top Things to Get Done in Your Third Trimester Before Baby Arrives

Every mother has a unique story about what happened when they went into labor. No matter where you are and the events that lead up to active labor, there’s always an element of drama (and probably anxiety too). The best way to combat these feelings is to be as prepared as possible. Doing your homework ahead of time will give you a sense of calm and feeling a little more in control.

Schedule Your Hospital Tour

Most hospitals offer tours of the birthing suites. Taking the tour really helps both you and your partner get oriented as far as where to go, where to park, etc. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and can answer a lot of specific questions about the facilities.

Making a Birth Plan

To be completely honest, the best birth plan is to be flexible and just go with the flow. Often times women go into labor thinking that they won’t get an epidural, and then later have a feeling of guilt when they decide that the pain is too much. So many factors can change while you’re in labor and you may even end up getting a c-section. If it makes you feel better, you can work out a birth plan with your doctor, but always remember to be flexible.

Postpartum Freezer Food Prep

You’re going to be extremely sleep deprived for the first several weeks after coming home from the hospital. If you meal prep and freeze in small batches, you can still conveniently eat healthy. Every morning I would take a couple meals out of the freezer to defrost so I could eat them whenever I got a free moment. The best types of meals to freeze are soups and stews, chicken and meat with rice. Also keep your freezer stocked with frozen veggies that you can cook up quickly.

In this guide I made some super easy to follow postpartum meal prep planners to help you eat healthy and lose the baby weight.

Planning for Siblings and Pet Care

Be sure you make arrangements to have family or friends take your other children and/or furry babies while you stay in the hospital. We dropped my dog Holly off with my parents when I was 39 weeks so that we had a less stressful final week.

When Should You Pack Your Hospital Bag?

You’ll want to have your hospital bag packed as early as 35 weeks and at the very latest 38 weeks. Babies do come early sometimes!

Scroll down to see my complete list of everything I needed and used during my stay in the hospital.

Prepping Baby’s Crib & Co-Sleeper

You never know when baby is going to arrive and it can add extra stress if baby arrives early and you don’t have a crib and co-sleeper ready. My daughter Scout would only sleep in my arms for the first few weeks and she absolutely hated her crib. It wasn’t until several weeks later that we purchased a co-sleeper and she loved it. It would’ve saved us a lot of stress if we had been prepared with one already.

When to Wash Baby Clothes Before Baby Arrives

Hopefully by your third trimester you’ve acquired all the necessary baby clothes, swaddle blankets and crib sheets to get you through the first 3 months.

Before baby arrives you’ll want to wash all baby’s clothes, blankets and crib sheets in unscented, skin sensitive laundry detergent. Traditionally parents have purchased Dreft detergent for babies, but it’s actually heavily scented and not the best option.

My advice is to have all the baby’s stuff washed and organized by 38 weeks pregnant. I definitely wouldn’t wait until the week of your due date to start on these kinds of prepping chores. It can add unnecessary stress if you wait until the last minute, plus you’ll be very tired at the end of your pregnancy.

Have Multiple Baby Clothes Sizes Ready

When I was pregnant they told me that my daughter was going to be over 8 pounds. So I was preparing to dress her in sizes 3 - 6 months. But when she was born she was actually only 6 pounds! Almost all the clothes I had for her were too big. Lesson learned, have multiple sizes ready to go!

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Minimalist Hospital Bag Checklist - The Essentials For Mom, Dad and Baby (8)

Take a Baby Basics Class

If you’re a first-time parent, the reality of taking care of a newborn infant can be overwhelming. Taking a baby basics class offered by your hospital is an important way to know the safest and healthiest ways to care for baby. We learned all about soothing tactics for fussy babies, how to tell if baby is hungry, diaper changing, breastfeeding, swaddling and how to put baby down for bed safely. When you first come home from the hospital with your newborn, you will be thanking yourself for taking the class. At the very least, it will give you some guidance during a hectic time.

Have Advice Nurse Phone Number Handy

For the first few months at home with your newborn, you’re going to have many questions and concerns about how to best care for your baby. Often times these questions are not life-treating and don’t require a trip to the emergency room or even the doctors office. The advice nurse helpline is a great resource to ask questions about things such as diaper rash, when should baby get her shots, if a baby gets diarrhea, fevers, etc. These are all reasons why I’ve called the advice nurse and they gave me great tips and peace of mind. Trust me, you’re going to want to put the advice nurse phone number on speed dial.

Learn How to Instal the Car Seat Before Labor

Make sure you learn how to install your carseat before you go to the hospital. The base should be all strapped in and ready to go. The hospital staff did an inspection of our car seat before we were allowed to drive home. We have the Maxi-Cosi Zelia 5-in-1 Modular Travel System and we love it! I chose it because it’s one of the lightest on the market, heavy baby gear makes outings a drag.

Hospital Paperwork for Baby’s Birth Certificate

While I wouldn't want anyone to rush the delicate process of selecting a name for your baby, if you have your child's name already selected at time of birth it's much easier to complete the legal documents to obtain the birth certificate. The hospital has a dedicated specialist who comes to your room to assist you with completing the forms and then they file the paperwork for you. So much easier than dealing with the government directly!

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Minimalist Hospital Bag Checklist - The Essentials For Mom, Dad and Baby (10)

The Minimalist Packing List for Your Labor and Delivery Hospital Bag

As I mentioned above, this is a minimalist’s guide to packing a labor and delivery hospital bag. However, I do have a list of optional things to consider packing, depending on your own personal needs. I also have packing lists for baby, your partner staying with you in the hospital, and everything you can expect the hospital to provide for you free of charge.

How Many Days Do You Stay in the Hospital After Having a Baby?

With both of my babies I stayed two nights in the hospital after they were born. So you should plan on packing enough outfits and supplies for a minimum of 48 hours. If you end up having a baby staying in the NICU, your stay may be extended but you will most likely have the opportunity to go home to pick up things you need.

Hospital Packing List for Mom

  • Going Home from the Hospital Outfit - I’ve written a whole separate blog post on what to wear after giving birth here, so I’ll give you the highlights. In a nutshell, my recommended postpartum outfit is either black leggings or black jogger pants with a nursing friendly top. You will be breastfeeding about every 2 hours so you’ll need easy and quick breast access.

  • Nursing Tank Tops - Nursing tank tops are especially helpful because you don’t have to lift up your shirt and expose your very swollen belly. You’ll feel more covered-up and less exposed in a tank top where you only flip down the top.

  • Nursing-Friendly Pajamas - Pajamas that have a button-down front top make nursing easy.

  • Postpartum Underwear - I also have entire blog post dedicated to all the different types of postpartum underwear you can choose from. You will have heavy bleeding after labor and you’ll need either maxi pads, mesh underwear or disposable postpartum underwear.

  • Jogger Pants or Stretchy Leggings - Because of your heavy postpartum bleeding, you will have to wear a large maxi pad or diaper-like pull-up. So you want pants that have a lot of stretch. Jogger sweats give you more room in the crotch area so that you don’t feel like everyone can see your pad. If you wear leggings, I suggest you pair it with a long tunic that covers your butt.

  • Slip-on Sandals or Flip-Flops - After labor your feet get very swollen for a few days. You won’t be able to comfortably wear sneakers or shoes right after having your baby. I suggest you wear easy to put on sandals for your walk to the car from the hospital. If you live somewhere with very cold winter climate, I suggest you wear Ugg Boots.

  • Nursing Bras - Nursing bras are pretty self-explanatory, easy boob access for feeding the baby.

  • Charger for your phone and any other devices.

  • Toiletries - Face wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer, etc.

  • Showering Toiletries - Both of my hospital rooms had a private shower for mothers to use after labor. They provide very generic soap, shampoo and conditioner. If you’re particular about the brand then bring your own showering supplies.

  • A hair brush and lots of extra hair ties.

  • Soothing lip balm is a must. Your mouth and lips will get very dry after labor.

  • Photo ID, insurance card, credit card, cash and any necessaryhospitalpaperwork.

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Minimalist Hospital Bag Checklist - The Essentials For Mom, Dad and Baby (12)

Hospital Packing List for Dad or Partner:

Most hospitals will allow one adult to stay with you in your hospital room during and after labor. Both of my birthing suites had couches that doubled as makeshift beds for your partner to sleep on. When you take your hospital tour, you can ask about sleeping options for birthing partners.

  • 2 changes of clothes, including comfortable clothes for sleeping.

  • Toiletries for an overnight stay.

  • Pillow and blanket if the hospital doesn’t provide any for guests. You can ask about this during your hospital tour.

  • Snacks.

  • Some form of entertainment during downtime such as iPad, a book to read, smart phone, etc.

  • Chargers for electronics.

Hospital Packing List for Baby:

  • An installedcar seat.

  • Clothes to bring baby home inmultiple sizes. I wouldn’t automatically make the assumption that your baby will fit perfectly into the newborn onesie size. Smaller babies need a premie sized onesie and bigger babies would need a size 3-6 months.

  • Baby socks, a newborn baby knit hat, and baby mittens so they can’t scratch their face.

  • Diapers and wipes are provided by the hospital so it’s not necessary to pack some.

  • Hospitals no longer recommend giving newborn babies a bath until at least 24 hours after birth. They are born covered in a thin biofilm called vernix caseosa which serves as a protectant. I wouldn’t plan on giving baby his first bath until after you get home from the hospital. If your baby has a blowout diaper that is particularly messy, then a light sponge bath is probably the most you would do. Their belly button and umbilical cord needs to heal before it can get wet in a bath.

Optional Items for Your Hospital Packing

The following items are not the true bare essentials but are things that you may want to consider packing for a more pleasant maternity hospital stay.

  • Healthy snacks - The hospital will have food but your selection of foods and the hours when you can order will be limited. Having a few of your favorite snacks available can be helpful when you’re in a pinch.

  • Eye mask- Inside your hospital room there will always be some lights on so your nurses can see, and also for you to be able to attend to your baby quickly. If you need a completely dark room to sleep, I recommend packing an eye mask so that you can get some quality rest.

  • We take our Baby Shusher everywhere we go. This compact little sound machine makes baby soothing “white noise” that helps calm fussy babies. It also helps adults sleep too!

  • Lightweight Knit Maternity Robe - You’ll be doing a lot of skin-to-skin with your baby, which means baby will be laying down on your bare chest. A light robe can help you quickly cover up when guests and nurses come into your room.

  • Makeup - It’s hard to know ahead of time if you will be up for taking photos of yourself with the baby while you’re in the hospital. Having some basic makeup essentials in your bag might help you freshen up for some cute family photos.

  • Camera and new SD card to capture sweet newborn baby moments.

  • Headphones or AirPods to listen to music or watch a movie on your mobile device.

Things You Can Expect Your Maternity Hospital to Provide For You:

  • Newborn diapers and wipes are provided for you.

  • Receiving blankets and swaddles are provided and you can take them home. Keep in mind that they are not very cute but they’re functional.

  • One set of baby clothes including a onesie, a hat, socks and possibly a small knit sweater wrap.

  • Socks for mom.

  • Maxi pads and mesh underwear.

  • Basic toiletries for an overnight stay.

See More Pregnancy Related Blog Posts:

  • Non-Maternity Dresses to Wear During and After Pregnancy

  • Gender Reveal Photography Ideas

  • How to Build a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe with Pregnancy Clothing Essentials

  • When to Take Maternity Photos - A Complete Guide to Planning Your Maternity Photo Session

  • 25 Baby Bump Friendly Boho Dresses

  • How to Dress During Pregnancy without Maternity Clothes

See More Baby Related Blog Posts:

  • How to Plan Your Newborn Photos

  • Checklist and Shopping Guide for Second Baby

  • 10 Ways to Celebrate Baby's First Christmas

  • How to Adopt a Dog When You Have Small Children

  • Review of Honest Company Diaper Subscription


Minimalist Hospital Bag Checklist - The Essentials For Mom, Dad and Baby (13)


Gennifer Rose

Modern Mama, Pregnancy


Minimalist Hospital Bag Checklist - The Essentials For Mom, Dad and Baby (2024)


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