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Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Delivery

Here's what you'll need to make your hospital stay comfortable, plus some important picks for baby and your partner.
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Updated January 19, 2024
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You’ve probably spent the past several months eagerly awaiting the day you finally get to meet baby—and you’ve spent lots of time planning. You’ve stocked up on all the baby gear you’ll need, decorated the nursery and figured out how to properly install your infant car seat. But don’t forget one of the most important remaining third trimester to-dos: Deciding what to pack in your hospital bag. Wondering where to start? While you don’t want to leave out any essentials, there’s also no reason to overdo things. This is where The Bump baby hospital bag checklist comes in handy. Read on to learn when to pack that hospital bag and what to put in it.

When to Pack a Hospital Bag

While timing is important, you do have some flexibility in deciding when to pack your hospital bag. But, like so many other things, this will vary from person to person based on individual circumstances. “If a woman has a high-risk pregnancy and her OB feels she may go into labor early—for example, an expectant mom of twins—I’d recommend packing at around 35 weeks,” says Nicole Randazzo-Ahern, MD, medical director of the newborn nursery at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. “In other cases, I’d recommend somewhere between 37 and 38 weeks. This way your basics are there should labor begin early, and modifications can always be made if needed.”

Of course, if you want to get a jumpstart on things, by all means start earlier—when to pack a hospital bag is up to you! But it’s a good idea not to leave it for later than 38 weeks: You want to have that hospital bag ready to go whenever baby decides to show up.

The Bump’s How to Pack Your Hospital Bag Video:

Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom

On average, moms who deliver vaginally stay in the hospital for one to two days, Randazzo-Ahern says. If you deliver via c-section, you’d be looking at closer to three or four days. Keep the potential length of stay in mind as you select what to pack in your hospital bag. A tip for the thrifty: Ask your hospital what they provide for moms, and take those things off your hospital bag checklist. Otherwise, find deals and offers on the items you’ll need, and use the following hospital bag checklist for mom.

I recommend packing less—I wore the hospital gown the whole time I was there. Why not? It’s comfortable, easy to breastfeed in, and any outfits you bring you have to take home and clean.

Elli T., mom of two

Image: The Bump

Optional Hospital Bag Checklist Items for Mom

I really wish I had brought a breastfeeding pillow! Being a first-time mom, I didn't understand how important they were. But I was in the hospital for five days and my arm went sore trying to breastfeed—maneuvering the hospital pillows got really old!

Natalie G., mom of one

Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby

You know what you’ll likely need, but figuring out what to pack in a hospital bag for baby can be a little less intuitive. Here’s the good news: When you’re just starting out in life, you don’t need all that much. Here are the essentials you’ll want to add to your baby hospital bag:

My biggest tip would be to pack baby onesies in multiple sizes! You never know how big or small baby will actually be until they’re born. I only packed standard newborn outfits, and my baby was absolutely swimming in them! We didn’t even have smaller onesies at home because I didn’t think I needed them, so my husband had to race out to the shopping center late at night.

Elli T., mom of two

Hospital Bag Checklist for Partner

You’ve meticulously gone through the hospital bag checklist for yourself and baby—but don’t forget to make sure your partner packs a bag for themselves too! Since you’ll both likely be spending a night or two (or more) in the maternity ward, ensure your partner gathers up some overnight essentials, plus a few things to keep them occupied (labor can last for a good long while). Here’s what should go in their hospital bag:

I brought the comfiest clothes I could find, both sweatpants and basketball shorts, as well as multiple actual, physical books that I had been meaning to read (and I actually ended up reading some!)—I didn't want to be using a lot of screens while trying to make things calm for us and baby.

Nick C., dad of one

When you’ve gone through the hospital bag checklist and are satisfied you and your partner have packed what everyone will need, stash your hospital bag in your car or by the front door if you plan on taking a taxi to the hospital—and get ready for baby’s arrival!

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Sources

Nicole Randazzo-Ahern, MD, is Massachusetts-based pediatrician and the medical director of the newborn nursery at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. She earned her medical degree from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and completed her residency and fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center.

Learn how we ensure the accuracy of our content through our editorial and medical review process.

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