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Michelle Hainer

7 Baby Essentials to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Don’t leave home without these newborn must-haves.

Nursing bra? Check. Comfortable sleepwear? Double check. You may think you have everything you need for a stay in the maternity ward, but don’t forget—you’re packing for two now. Make sure you bring along these infant essentials.

1. Easy-access clothing This is a must, especially if this is your first baby and you’re still mastering those diapering skills. Baby clothes that are easy to open, like Carter's bodysuits with reinforced snap bottoms or sleeper gowns that can simply be pulled up, will make diaper changes a breeze. A side snap tee should also be on your packing list; it will allow a little breathing room for the sensitive umbilical cord area. And be sure to wash all of the clothing in unscented detergent before adding it to your bag.

2. Car seat The hospital won’t release you without a car seat installed. To be safe, it’s smart to set it up in your car at least four to six weeks before your due date, just in case you deliver early. It will also give you time to find a local checkpoint that can inspect the seat and make sure it’s safe (or show you how to install it correctly).

3. Swaddle blankets The hospital will also gift you their standard-issue blankets—you know, the white ones with pink and blue stripes—but why not bring one of your own that’s a little cuter? Plus, that extra blanket will come in handy to keep baby snuggly and warm in the car seat on your trip home.

4. Diapers and wipes Most hospitals will have these on hand for you, but if there are certain brands you’d prefer to use, it’s a good idea to pack these in your bag too.

5. Baby’s coming home outfit Let’s be real: The day you leave the hospital, you’ll probably take so many photos that your phone will run out of memory. So a cute and coordinated look is a definite must. Carter’s Take Me Home sets come complete with a Sleep & Play, bodysuit, pants and cap, giving you a couple of sweet outfit options. (And since baby can lose a ton of heat through his or her head, you’ll definitely need that hat.)

6. Mittens Don’t be surprised if baby is born with really long—and sharp—nails! Pack a couple of pairs of infant mittens (or outfits with foldover cuffs that flip up into mittens) that’ll keep baby from scratching his or her delicate face.

7. Sibling gift from baby If this is baby no. 2, pack a big brother or big sister gift you can give your firstborn that’s “from” the new baby. It’s a sweet and memorable way to start that sibling bonding early on and make your older child feel special and included.

The Bump and Carter's present Style Smarts, a sponsored series featuring clothes for baby that are both stylish and comfortable. Visit Carter’s to shop the Little Baby Basics collection.

By Michelle Hainer

PHOTO: iStock