What Should I Pack in My Hospital Bag?

Seriously though, what should I pack in my hospital bag to prepare for Baby Mac’s arrival? I had no idea, but after some researching, chatting with other new moms, and trying my best to “think ahead”, I’m here to report what I have packed and ready.

I’m no expert, but my hope is that this can be a starting point for others who may be struggling with this same dilemma.What should I pack in my hospital bag?

This List is NOW Updated
A complete guide to packing a hospital bag

I originally shared this post before I had Baby Mac but now that he is here (!!), I came back and updated the list on what I used, didn’t use, or forgot to bring. I added “UPDATED” notes so you can see my perspective post-baby vs. my perspective pre-baby. This is just my experience but I hope it helps you figure out what you should pack for the arrival of your little one!

What Should I Pack In My Hospital Bag?

First, let’s start with the basics…the actual bag. I realized that I didn’t really have a bag to use as my “hospital bag” because most of my bags were either too small (like a backpack) or too big (like a suitcase). I needed to get one that was more of a weekender size to fit everything without overdoing it.Lo & Sons Weekender doubles as a hospital bag with so much storage!

I actually didn’t mind buying a new one since I figured having a weekender tote would probably be very convenient as a family a three, especially for day trips in the summer. But keeping that in mind, I wanted to find something that either Matt or I could use/wear. I found some really great options but ultimately decided on this versatile tote (in midnight ash colorblock).Tips and Tricks to Packing a Hospital Bag

The size was perfect, the quality is amazing, the bag was 50% off, and I think the colors/style can easily work for both Matt and me. So first things first, get a bag!

What Goes Inside of the Bag?

I’ve separated the items I packed in my bag into 5 categories so let me break it down that way.

1. ClothingHospital Bag Must Haves, including a letterfolk sign or any other fun "props" you may want for newborn photos

  • Pajamas (preferably dark colors with a button front): This was my sister’s biggest piece of advice for my hospital bag. Both she and I are not people who wear “formal pajamas”, instead sweatpants and a t-shirt. However, the t-shirt thing didn’t work too well for her when she went to breastfeed in the hospital and she actually had to send her husband out after the baby was born to pick up some button-up pajamas so she could nurse without taking her top off in the hospital. No offense to Matt, but I would prefer to choose my own button-up pajamas (size, style, comfort) before the baby arrives.  I went with this super soft pair in black. I don’t want to get into too much detail but I heard darker colors are better for your bottoms… if you know what I mean. I also heard that you should order the size that you were at around 6 months pregnant.Packing maternity clothes in a hospital bag so you're comfortable and prepared
  • Oversized Cardigan (or robe): I’m not a robe person either, which is why I packed an oversized cardigan for comfort and warmth instead of a robe.
  • Socks
  • Nursing Bra: I had a hard time deciding on a nursing bra because how do you know what cup size to get?! I bought this one to get me through the first few days/weeks and figured eventually I can invest in a nicer one for the long haul. Update: I actually didn’t end up wearing a nursing bra since the tank had a bra built-in and was super convenient.
  • Nursing Tank: If you don’t want to commit to a bra at first, these nursing tanks have a bra built-in and a lot of the people I talked to said they used this as double duty for the first few days. My sister swore by these throughout her entire nursing experience, especially when she wasn’t wearing an “easy access” shirt. These allowed her to pick up her shirt and still have some privacy on her stomach.
  • Oversized Undies: For more than one reason… I went with these for now. I know they provide “hospital panties” (basically like one big pad… yikes) in the hospital but I wanted to have these on hand just in case. I also heard that you definitely should invest in some high-waisted underwear right away if you have a C-section since you won’t want anything coming close to the incision for a while.Comfortable Shoes, maternity clothes, electronics and everything else you need in your hospital bag
  • Loose Outfit to go home in: Don’t give up those maternity pants just yet!
  • Comfy Shoes: My feet were very swollen leaving the hospital and had a hard time fitting into my shoes! I was glad I brought shoes that were slip on and not tie up so I could put something on my feet leaving the hospital. This was definitely an unexpected “perk” of labor but something to note when choosing your shoe.

2. Toiletries/Personal CarePacking the right toiletries so you are ready for your hospital stay with your baby

  • Shampoo: Showering essentials. I bought travel sizes of everything so I wouldn’t have to lug the entire bottle, plus I can always reuse them on future trips.
  • Conditioner
  • Soap/Deodorant
  • Dry Shampoo: If you don’t have a chance to shower right away, dry shampoo to the rescue!
  • Hair Products: I’m someone who needs hairspray. My hair is a hot mess without it (even in a pony) so I will be bringing a small bottle with me. Am I crazy?!#dontanswerthat <– I actually used these and was so happy to have something to make myself feel a bit pulled together when visitors arrived.Blow dryer -- check! Be sure to pack these necessities in your hospital bag
  • Blow Dryer/Straightener: I know, I know… who the heck has time to get ready at the hospital? Maybe I’ll feel the same way, but some of my friends report that they felt a million times better when they finally had a chance to shower and blow dry their hair. Obviously, the hospital isn’t a salon but feeling halfway decent for visitors (and hospital baby pics) may be worth packing these necessities just in case.
  • Minimal Make-up: Same idea with the makeup. I don’t plan on putting on a full face of makeup, but I also don’t want to look like a wreck the entire time I’m in the hospital… especially if some visitors will be stopping by. A little mascara doesn’t take up a lot of space in the bag and may make you feel just a little more “put together”.
  • Nipple Cream: Just the fact that everyone I have talked to insisted that this is a hospital bag necessity makes me nervous, but I guess it comes with the territory of breastfeeding. I’m taking their word for it and packed it… I’ll keep you updated.
  • Oversized Pads: (TMI?) I never thought I would be writing about oversized pads on the DIY Playbook but I guess there’s a first time for everything. I heard you don’t have to necessarily pack these in your bag since the hospital will provide the necessities for these “issues” but I did go out and buy plenty of these to have on hand for when we bring baby home. I know that’s probably waaaayyyy too much information (it’s TMI for me, so I can only imagine your reaction right now) but I just wanted to throw it out there so you can plan in advance. Update: The hospital had everything I needed in this department so you don’t need to bring your own, but I would advise you to have these waiting for you when you get home. I would also suggest taking as many as you can from the hospital. They had disposable underwear that were so convenient and so I definitely took some of those home!

3. ElectronicsLaptop, chargers, phone, camera are all necessities in your hospital bag

  • Camera (as well as the battery charger… just to be safe!).
  • Laptop: I actually did open my computer once. I didn’t necessarily need it but I was happy to have it with me just in case!
  • Chargers (phone & computer): Through our hospital tour, the instructor really emphasized the importance of bringing all the chargers, especially for your cell phone. She said that you’re going to be getting so many calls/texts and taking so many pictures, you want to make sure your phone is always charged!

4. Baby’s Essentials

  • Swaddle: The hospital will provide this but if you want your own, be sure to pack one. I washed mine with baby detergent (as well as everything else I packed for the baby) before adding it to the bag. I had no idea there was a specific detergent for babies! Where have I been?! If you’re looking for an amazing swaddle, be sure to check out Monica + Andy.  They are a company with adorable and super high-quality items for your baby (and growing toddler). I got a layette“, which is a box of everything you need for baby’s first three months and I’m obsessed with everything in it!
  • Hat: The hospital will provide this too, but if you want your own be sure to pack it. The hat I packed in my hospital bag was part of my layette and I love it because it’s soft, adorable and adjustable for any size head!
  • Going Home Outfit: I once again went with a few staples from Monica + Andy for Baby Mac’s “coming home” outfit. I love that most of their newborn outfits have little socks and gloves built right into the sleeves and legs so you don’t have to worry about bringing (and losing!) those extra items. Plus most of their newborn stuff is either button or tie front so you don’t have to worry about pulling the outfit over the little one’s head. #GENIUS
  • Footed One Piece Sleeper: I heard ones with a zipper or buttons are the best. My heart is currently melting over all of these. What should I pack for my baby in my hospital bag?
  • Anything you want for newborn pics: If you plan on taking newborn pictures in the hospital, be sure to bring anything you want in these pictures. A special blanket, a sign, a stuffed animal… just a thought!
  • Carseat: The hospital will check your car and confirm you have a car seat before they allow you to leave with the baby, so be sure that is installed and ready prior to delivery. And if you’re anything like me, you may want to practice… a lot… to make sure you know how to work the darn thing!

5. Odds & Ends

  • Snacks
  • Drivers License, Insurance Card
  • Birth Plan
  • Dad’s Necessities (probably in his own bag)
  • A few folders or some type of organization system for all the paperwork you get!!
  • A pen/paper or some place to take notes (we used our phone) to take notes on ALL the information you are bombarded with from nurses, doctors, birth certificate representatives, etc. etc.A fully stocked and prepared hospital bag will help make your stay a lot less stressful!

Am I missing anything?! I still have some time to add whatever I may have missed to the bag so to all the mommas tuning in, help a sister out! For my fellow soon-to-be moms, I promise I’ll update this post if I missed anything or with any notes post-baby. I recently asked on Instagram and here are some other tips you may find helpful.

Other Hospital Bag Ideas

  • Leave room in your bag so you can take extras from the hospital
  • Bring your own pillow
  • Bring a boppy for breastfeeding
  • Bring your own towel from home and flip-flops for the shower
  • Bring an extra long charger so it reaches your bed
  • Download a white noise app to help drown out some of the hospital sounds when you’re trying to sleep
  • Don’t forget chapstick
  • Eat before you get to the hospital because they won’t let you eat when you get there
  • And one of my personal favorites, don’t pack any expectations… just enjoy the experience!
  • Also, be sure to check the comments below for even MORE amazing advice from all the experienced moms tuning in!! Thank you!!!

For more tips from these amazing moms, check out this post! And for all of our followers who have already weighed in, thank you!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.