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A Chronological Hospital Bag Checklist

December 16, 2015

Especially if this is your first baby, it can seem almost impossible to know what exactly you’ll need when the big moment arrives. You check-in at the hospital for 2 but will check-out as 3, and that in between time rarely goes exactly as you imagine.

I’ve found that the best way for me to prepare for anything is sequentially, so here is a hospital bag checklist in chronological order. Hopefully as you walk through each step, these suggestions will help you think of anything I’ve missed that will be helpful on your big day.


This is more like “early labor,” and it usually involves a lot of waiting. Whether you have an epidural or not, labor can take a long time until things progress enough to start pushing. If you do opt for an epidural or other strong pain relief medications, your waiting may be pretty uneventful for a while. Keeping that in mind, here is the pre-labor checklist:

  • Paperwork
  • Insurance card
  • Identification
  • OB and pediatrician contact information
  • Ear plugs (Some women are screamers. And that’s okay. But if you’re mentally preparing yourself for labor, their screams might not help the process)
  • Gum, suckers, or snacks if you have the OK from the doctor
  • Cash for the vending machine if no other food is available.
  • Forms of entertainment: book, laptop, iPad or tablet, etc.
  • Journal to record your feelings, emotions, and memories during this time. You will look back and probably realize what a blur your time in the hospital was, so take advantage of the time you do have to write down everything you can that you feel is important.
  • Chargers for your phone and other electronic devices
  • Camera with charger, extra batteries, and memory card
  • Warm socks. You’ll be in an open, flowy gown and if you’re like me, my feet can still be cold as ice even when I’m under a pile of blankets. The hospital will give you socks if you ask but they’re always stiff, I’ve found. You won’t regret packing your own.
  • Safe place for rings, jewelry, and other valuables.


When all of the waiting is over, things can actually happen pretty fast. Have the following things readily accessible so you don’t have to send your husband searching or digging for whatever you may need:

  • Birth plan
  • Exercise ball, aromatherapy, labor music, etc.
  • Hair ties, head band, bobby pins
  • Chap stick
  • Camera and charger


Once baby arrives, there are a few things you’ll want to have on hand for your new sweetie, as well as yourself and your partner. Here is a breakdown of what each of you might like to have with you in the hospital:


  • Snacks! Snacks! Snacks! You’ll be surprised how HUNGRY giving birth will make you, and the cafeteria and other nearby restaurants may be closed depending on when you give birth. For good measure, pack a good amount of your favorite snacks to get your energy back.
  • Big bath towel and your preferred showering products. The hospital will likely provide some travel-size shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc. but it’s not usually the best quality, and you’ll love the fresh feeling of being clean with your own favorite products.
  • Brush. Even if your hair is up in a tie or back in a headband, it will likely still need some care. Bring a brush – you won’t regret it.
  • Nursing bra and pads.
  • Lanolin or other nipple cream. This will help get your breastfeeding experience off to a good start.
  • Comfy MATERNITY pajamas. Your uterus will still be large for a few weeks or even longer after birth, so don’t get too excited and pack small clothing for the hospital.
  • Granny panties. Again, the hospital will likely provide some huge mesh underwear, and that will be great initially. But you’re going to want your own “delicates,” and make sure they can accommodate an enormous maxi-pad.
  • Zip-up hoodie. This will be awesome for skin-to-skin, but also keep you warm in the chilly hospital.
  • Robe and slippers. If you’re not quite ready to get out of the hospital gown, you may still want the robe to cover up when you have to use the bathroom.


  • List of people to call with the news. Figure this out in advance because once you’re at the hospital you will likely be in a daze and things will be happening so fast, but have it on hand.
  • Change of clothes, including PJ’s.
  • Button or zip-up shirt for dad for his skin-to-skin time
  • Slip on shoes. Baby may be taken in the middle of the night for tests or dad may need to run out for another reason, but having slip-on shoes will make it easier to keep up if he’s woken up and needs to run.
  • His own pillow and blanket that are easily distinguishable from the hospital pillows and blankets.
  • His preferred form of entertainment. Hopefully mom and baby will do lots of sleeping and resting, and dad too of course, but in the downtime he does get make sure he has something to do.
  • Toiletries
  • Snacks
  • Entertainment for older siblings. Any older siblings may find themselves hanging out at the hospital for a while, so having something fun for them to do will make all of you happy. It will also help them feel special when a new baby is receiving so much attention.


  • Your own preferred pacifiers.  The hospital can give you some, but your baby make prefer a specific type.
  • Soft snuggly blankets. Hospital blankets are stiff. Bring your own.
  • Sleepers. Keep baby warm and comfortable with new, soft sleepers.
  • Going-home outfit. Keep in mind newborn sizes vary by brand, and some babies may not even fit into newborn sizes depending on their size at birth, so plan accordingly.
  • Car seat. This should be obvious if you want to take baby home, but when you’re in a hurry to get to the hospital it can be easy to let things slip your mind.
  • Mittens. You don’t want to have to use weird hospital baby socks to cover their hands which will inevitably find their way to baby’s face and scratch it up.
  • Burp rags
  • Nursing pillow. This is a must-have. Otherwise you’ll be constantly shifting the hospital pillows to help support your nursing position, and it’s a pain.

Whew! That may seem like a lot, but you’ll probably realize several more items that fit your own needs to add to this list.

If you have any other must-have suggestions, please leave them below and we’ll add them to our list!

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Author Info

Avatar for Angela Silva

Angela Silva

Angela graduated with her B.S. in Exercise and Wellness and is a NASM certified personal trainer who specializes in postpartum fitness and recovery. She enjoys writing, cracking jokes, and spending time with her family, preferably while fishing. She shares many of her life adventures on Instagram as @angelagrams

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