Hospital Bag Essentials for You and Your Baby

By Nikki M

When packing a hospital bag, women tend to fall in one of two camps: the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink packer, or the crap-my-water-just-broke-grab-the-car-keys! (And a banana, I guess?)

You don't want to be overwhelmed by too much stuff – your hands will be full by the time baby arrives! But at the same time, you want to be well prepared and avoid sending your partner on emergency runs.

Here are some essentials to reach that happy medium. P.S. Save the banana for after you give birth – it's ice chips while in labor, in case you'll need a C-section.

The Bag

You want a diaper bag that's easily accessible with plenty of compartments. 

The Skip Hop Duo Signature has magnetic closures all around (velcro is the enemy of a sleeping baby!), and a hands-free, cross-body strap. It even has nifty shuttle clips that hook your bag onto your stroller for later.

For a more stylish option, check out Petunia Pickle Bottom's Intermix Backpack.  The bag has lots of roomy pockets, and even comes with a removable changing pad and a monogrammed wipes case. This bag is so versatile, you'll use it way past the diaper years – when you need to go back to work, the padded compartment in the back is perfect for a laptop.

Mom Essentials

A Robe

While the hospital will provide you with a maternity gown, you'll probably want something less . . . institutional. You'll be wearing this throughout your entire stay, not to mention your first few weeks at home with the baby. So pick a good one!

A cotton jersey robe is soft and drapes nicely. Silk is a luxurious option, although you'll probably damage it with all the – ahem – bodily fluids (yours and the baby's!)

We love Hatch Collection’s ultra-luxe cashmere robe.

Slip-on Shoes

You probably just see yourself baby-mooning on the bed during your stay at the hospital, but that's not the case. You'll walk during labor to get things going, take several bathroom trips, possibly move rooms, and want to stretch your legs when you're cramping up. Flats are ideal – dressier and more comfortable than slippers.


The hospital provides one-size-fits-all mesh panties that stretch out and bag like crazy. You're better off singing naked in front of a crowd than in one of these. Brief-style panties in a size up are modest, offer support, and hold up the dreaded:

Sanitary Pads

Again, the hospital provide you with some – 2 inches thick, and 2 feet long! (Maybe that's why they have the giant panties.) While you'll be bleeding a LOT, pads of this century know how to accommodate this.

Face Wipes

Kudos if you want to bring your 10-step skincare routine to the hospital, but facial wipes are quick, refreshing, and multipurpose.


Hospitals serve balanced meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Hungry in between meals? It's the vending machine for you. Pack your own nuts, dried fruit, cereal bars, and tea bags.

Phone Charger

Let's be honest . . . as much as you may want this birth to be an all-natural, spiritual experience, your phone will be your lifeline. You'll use it for entertainment while your cervix is dilating, call up your family and friends to announce the baby's arrival, and capture photos and videos of the first memories (although we still recommend bringing the DSLR, if you have one.)

Baby Essentials

A Swaddle

Aden + Anais make the best quality swaddles – 100% cotton muslin, large, breathable, and extremely adorable. You'll need to "burrito-wrap" your newborn for the first few days to keep them warm, give a feeling of security, and to calm them down when they're overstimulated. Bonus: these swaddles can be draped over strollers on a sunny day and serve as a picnic blanket, nursing cover, changing pad, burp cloth, and so on.

One Nice Outfit

As much as you want to put your little one in footie pajamas or in a 3-piece set, it makes things extremely inconvenient. There's a reason why hospitals dress babies in those unattractive long sleeve shirts (and no pants!) Doctors and nurses will constantly be checking on them head to toe, you'll be changing their diapers a LOT during the first days, and they'll want to umbilical cord stump to be undisturbed. Save the cute outfit for the trip home.


Really? Really! You'll be surprised when your baby comes out with talons. All the better to scratch their little faces with. You can pack infant nail clippers, but I assure you, you'll be terrified to use them near those delicate fingers. Get mittens that are snug (but not tight!) on their wrists.

A Fun Hat

This is where you get creative! Pick something printed, colorful, knotted, anything other than the generic blue or pink the hospitals give out. Pick a soft, stretchy cotton one for now, and save the crocheted animal heads for when they're a few months older. Etsy has a ton of unique handmade options.

Because diapers, wipes, burp cloths, formula, and other bulky items are all supplied by the hospital, everything listed should fit in your standard diaper bag. But if you're a maximalist at heart, go ahead and bring everything but the kitchen sink. After all, you need to feel happy and secure.

And if you’re wondering if your partner needs anything, check out Hey, Dads! Here's What You Can Bring to the Maternity Ward.

What will you pack in your diaper bag? Share with us!

Cover image via Béton Studios

Tags : baby   newborn   baby gear   

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