The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist for Delivering a Baby (2024)

Preparing for a baby can be stressful. You may feel like you have a never-ending "to-do" list and a quickly approaching deadline. If you plan to give birth at a hospital or birth center, one of those to-do list items will be packing a bag to bring with you for the stay. Worried about remembering everything you'll need? Don't worry, we've thought of everything for you.

Here is the ultimate hospital bag checklist to help you pack for labor and delivery to ensure you'll have everything you need for a smooth stay.

When To Pack Your Hospital Bag

Some pregnant people will begin packing their hospital bag at the start of their third trimester, which is great planning in case the baby comes early. But typically, you can safely start your packing preparations around 34 weeks as your estimated due date approaches. (Nearly 90% of pregnant people give birth sometime between weeks 37 and 41.)

Once you've packed your bag (and one for your partner, if you have one), try stashing it near your front door (or even in the trunk of your car) so that you'll always be prepared. In addition to creating a plan for what to bring to the hospital, plan for taking care of your home and pets while you're away. Enlist the help of trusted friends and neighbors to check on things in your absence.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests mapping out routes you'll likely take to the hospital and making a dry-run trip to help determine how long it will take to get there. They also say to consider how weather, traffic, and times of day can affect the timing.

The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist for Delivering a Baby (1)

Hospital Bag Checklist for Labor and Delivery

Everyone will have different needs and preferences for their hospital stay, but in general, here are some things you may want to consider packing in your hospital bag as you prepare to welcome your baby.

Important documents

Create a folder that has all of your documents in one handy spot. These documents should include:

  • Copies of your birth plan (if you have one)
  • Picture ID
  • Health insurance information
  • Hospital registration forms
  • Pregnancy medical files, pregnancy journals, or notes, if any
  • List of medications
  • List of emergency contacts

Even if you've already registered at the hospital, some need to confirm your records before they can admit you. Your doctor's office should have sent your paperwork ahead of time, so you won't need to worry about that.

Cash for snacks

Bring at least $20 in cash and change for snacks, gift store runs, and any of your miscellaneous cravings. Because…hospital food.

Smartphone and charger

We know: You're never without your phone. But be sure you (and your partner) pack chargers in the hospital bag, too. Besides needing a phone for obvious reasons (calling, texting, and updating your social accounts with your exciting news), you may want to download helpful apps, like a contraction timer and white noise. Bonus points if you have an extra long charging cord, so no matter where you plug in, you can still use it from your bed.

Music, movies, and magazines

Load up your smartphone or tablet with music and anything you might want to binge-watch on Netflix. Depending on how your labor goes, it may help distract you—and your partner—during a long labor.

Relaxation tools

Comfort items you might consider packing in the hospital bag for labor include a back massager, stress-relieving squeeze ball, your own blanket or pillow, and essential oil or lotion. You also can ask the hospital staff for single use heat packs once you get there.

Soft pillow

The pillows in the hospitals can be uncomfortable, and bringing one you're familiar with may help you relax. Don't forget one for your partner if they're planning on spending the night. To avoid any mix-ups, use a brightly colored or patterned pillowcase that will stand out against the hospital linens.

Snacks and candy

Keep everyone happy by bringing enough snacks for you and your partner to share. (Keep in mind that some hospitals may have different policies on what you can eat during labor, so be sure to check before noshing.) Lollipops and gum are especially great for conquering dry mouth during labor, so consider adding them to your hospital bag checklist!

The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist for Delivering a Baby (2)

Personal Care Must-Haves for Your Hospital Bag

Again, everyone is different and your stay may be a short one (24–48 hours for most vagin*l births) or longer (48–96 hours for C-section and high-risk births), so here are some personal items you may want to bring along.


Most hospitals will have the basics, but bringing your own deodorant, body wash, shampoo, facial cleansing wipes, toothpaste, and a toothbrush can be incredibly helpful. Don't forget lip balm and moisturizer—medical facilities are dry, and pregnancy has likely already taken a toll on your skin!

Hair care products

A ponytail holder, scrunchie, or stretchy headband will help keep your hair out of your face during labor. You'll also most likely take at least one shower during your stay, so stash any hair care products you want to plan around that, like your bonnet or dry shampoo.

Sleepwear, robe, and underwear

A cotton nightie (with easy nursing access if you plan to breastfeed) will be much more comfortable than a hospital gown, and a robe will come in handy for walking the hallways. Several pairs of undies are also a must for any hospital bag checklist (briefs, maternity, or disposables like Depends) if you don't want to wear the mesh underwear the hospital gives you after delivery.

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Slippers and/or thick socks

Keep your toes toasty and clean, whether you're in bed or strolling around on the cold tile floor. Bring a pair that's easily laundered, as they may get a bit dirty. Most experienced parents will tell you that comfy socks with rubber grips on the bottom will serve you well.

Flip-flops or shower shoes

Pack flip-flops for the shower or to wear home if your feet are swollen. Flip-flops (or shower shoes) can help prevent fungal infections such as athlete's foot from showering in public spaces.

Extra undies and extra-absorbent pads

The hospital will provide mesh underwear and large postpartum pads, but if you have sensitive skin or a preference for certain pads, you can bring your own. It might also be helpful to pack lidocaine spray or witch hazel pads (to relieve pain from tearing) in your hospital bag if the hospital doesn't provide those.

Nursing bra

Bring a nursing bra or tank top (buy them at the end of your pregnancy—most people are about that same size postpartum) that's comfy enough to sleep in. Your milk probably won't come in during your hospital stay, but your breasts will still start to swell thanks to your body revving up milk production.

Hospital Bag Items for Partners and Support People

When packing your hospital bag, don't forget to loop in your partner or support person! You'll want to make sure that they pack a few items to help them through the birthing journey, too. After all, it takes a village to bring a baby into the world. Here are some essential items to help your support person feel more comfortable at the hospital:

  • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush/comb, deodorant, hand lotion, body wipes, and anything like contact lenses (and solution) or other preferred items for personal comfort.
  • Changes of clothes: An extra change of clothes, including socks, underwear, and an extra shirt or sweatshirt for comfort. Consider comfortable slip-on shoes and pajamas if they will be staying overnight.
  • Entertainment: Pack a book or magazine, phone charger, download phone apps like games and puzzles, or fun photo filters to help pass the time.
  • Refreshments: Pack a reusable water bottle, cash for vending machines, favorite nonperishable snacks like granola bars or pretzels, gum, and mints.


If your partner will be staying overnight with you, have a list of favorite local restaurants on hand. Once the baby is born and you are cleared by a doctor to eat, having something you love to nosh on can feel incredible. Just make sure to ask what the hospital policy is on bringing in food from the outside.

Hospital Bag Essentials for Going Home

In addition to packing things for your stay, don't forget to pack what you'll need after you're discharged.

Homecoming outfit for your baby

Pack a newborn-size gown or sleeper so you can skip dealing with tiny pants and socks as you get the hang of diaper changes. You'll likely get a newborn hat in the hospital, so you can skip that unless you've got your heart set on a specific one.

Going-home outfit for you

Here's a hint: You'll probably still look about 5 months pregnant (which is totally normal as your uterus shrinks back down), so skip your non-maternity clothes and pack your favorite comfy maternity dress or leggings and a tunic.

An extra bag or two

With all the goodies from the hospital—diapers, blankets, and creams—and all the gifts from well wishers, you're bound to have more stuff coming out than you did going in, so an extra bag will come in handy.

An infant car seat

Many hospitals have specific policies around infant car seats—you might be asked to bring yours in to be inspected before you're allowed to leave the hospital. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infants are safest when riding in a car seat that properly fits them and is rear-facing.

What Not To Pack

Of course, there is such a thing as overpacking—or packing the wrong things. Here is a quick list of things to avoid bringing with you to the hospital.

  • Valuables: Don't bring large sums of cash, expensive jewelry, or expensive tech gadgets like a smartwatch, fancy camera, or expensive hand-held gaming systems.
  • Alcohol: Some folks will want to celebrate with a glass of champagne, but check with hospital policy on alcohol in delivery rooms. Not all hospitals will be on board with the bubbly.
  • Diapers and wipes: You won't need to bring your own diapers and wipes since the hospital will provide you with plenty during your stay. You might even end up with a goodie bag that has extra to bring home!

Key Takeaways

Having a hospital bag checklist can ensure that you don't forget anything important as you prepare for the big day (or night!). Not sure if you've packed too much or too little? Just stick to this checklist and when in doubt, ask a friend who has been there to take a peek and give you some advice.

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The Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist for Delivering a Baby (2024)


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