Your Essential Baby Hospital Bag Checklist
We’ve put together this comprehensive hospital bag checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything ahead of the arrival of your bundle of joy.
This guide will help make sure you’ve packed everything you might need for your labour and hospital stay to keep both you and your little darling comfortable and prepared.
There are a few factors that might influence how big a bag or suitcase you decide to pack, such as how far away from the hospital you live and whether you can expect support people to bring you extras during your stay.
When to pack your hospital bag
When to start packing varies depending on what you feel personally comfortable with.
As a guide, most advice states having a bag packed and ready from 30 – 32 weeks of pregnancy. If you have a history of baby’s arriving early, you may want to pack even earlier.
For my first born, I had a bag packed around the 30 week mark, but for my second, I was far more relaxed and left it until around 37 weeks to put my hospital bag together. This is partly because my first born arrived late and partly because we live in such close proximity to the hospital.
What to pack for baby
Of course this is the first thing to jump to mind for us at NappyLuxe. Your newborn baby may get through up to 12 nappies per day, so for a 3 day stay you will need 36 nappies. However, bear in mind that with NappyLuxe snap & go style modern cloth nappies, when it’s just a wee nappy you are able to simply switch out the insert, so you may be able to get away with bringing 36 inserts but fewer nappy covers. Another important factor to bear in mind is that NappyLuxe nappies are a one-size-fits-most nappy, designed to adjust to fit the average sized newborn all the way up until toilet training age. It’s pretty impossible to know exactly what size your baby will be before he or she arrives, so it’s possible your baby may be below average size and too small for these nappies from the get-go.
We therefore chose to pack some newborn sized disposable nappies too. If you really don’t want to use any disposables, you can purchase newborn sized cloth nappies from some retailers, but bear in mind that your baby won’t fit these for very long before they’ve outgrown them. Another option is to use terry flats, but be prepared to learn how to fold these first.
For my own stay, I packed just 12 cloth nappies and 12 disposables, knowing that I only live 10 minutes drive from the hospital and I’d have plenty of support people able to drop off more nappies of either kind if needed.
Newborn babies produce meconium poo which is extra dark and tar-like. If you’re concerned about this causing possible stains to your nappies, bamboo disposable liners are a great way to place a layer between your baby’s bottom and the nappy to keep it well protected. This may be especially important if your washing routine goes amiss for a short spell while you’re in hospital and recovering.
These are reusable water-resistant bags that can be used to take home dirty cloth nappies and clothing. We packed just 2 standard sized wet bags, but I’d recommend more if you live far away from the hospital.
Portable change mat
A portable change mat is very different to the large changing pad on top of your changing table in your nursery. The portable change mat rolls up super small to fit in both your hospital bag and in your nappy bag when baby is older and you're wanting to venture out the house. It is made up of a water-resistant under-layer, perfect for changing baby's nappy on a bed and protecting the bedding from mid-change leaks. It also has a soft bamboo top layer to lay baby on top, to keep them happy and comfortable.
We use cloth wipes full-time at home with our oldest daughter. We therefore packed a handful of cloth wipes, as well as a pack of disposable wipes for convenience whilst at the hospital. Your baby will likely get through the same amount of wipes as nappies, if not far more.
The size of your baby is usually a bit of an unknown until he or she makes an appearance, and clothing labelled the same size can still vary a bit between brands. Therefore we packed around 6- 8 little outfits for our new arrival, as well as 3 different cute hats to choose from.
Wraps and blankets
The hospital usually provides blankets for the baby but you’ll no doubt want your adorable little baby in a cute wrap of your choice. So we recommend packing at least a few different wraps and/or blankets for your baby. We love the beautiful Australian designed baby swaddles from Pop Ya Tot.
It’s unlikely your baby will develop nappy rash so quickly but it never hurts to be prepared. This natural bottom balm nappy cream from Willow By The Sea is made with beeswax to soothe irritated skin.
Syringe and/or colostrum
If you’ve been collecting colostrum in the freezer, take a small amount with you. Your baby is born with an absolutely tiny tummy so it’s best not to take too much as some might end up going to waste, especially as it can’t be re-frozen. Regardless of whether you’ve collected colostrum or not, if you have a syringe it doesn’t hurt to take this along with you to try again in the hospital if your baby has any issues latching.
Bottles and formula
For those intending on breastfeeding, you really don’t need to take anything extra to feed your baby. If you intend to bottle feed, pack a few bottles and the formula you intend to use. Most hospitals will provide formula and bottles if needed, so if you're wanting to go with the flow, don't stress if you change your mind last minute.
Props for photos
We live in an era where beautiful photos are easy to capture on our phones in an instant, and you may have a perfect photo in mind to welcome your new baby to the world. We absolutely love this rattan changing basket from Raja Homewares, for a cut boho look.
What to pack for yourself
Breastfeeding friendly nightie x 2
Regardless of whether you plan on breastfeeding or not, you will need some comfortable sleepwear to change into when you’re back up and walking post-delivery of your baby.
For those who are planning to breastfeed, make sure you choose something with easy breastfeeding access. We love this Nursing Slip Nightie from Peachy Mama, and that it will look fantastic to continue wearing beyond the breastfeeding years.
If you are in a warm climate you may only want a thin silky gown such as these beautiful robes from Peachy Mama. Again, these are ideal to wear long beyond your hospital stay
Large underwear and nursing bras
You will bleed after your delivery so you’ll need underwear that can accommodate large maternity pads. These hardly take up any space so there’s no harm in bring multiple spares.
To keep your feet warm and allow you to walk back and forth to the toilet once you’re up and moving again.
If you live in a hot climate and rarely wear socks, they can easily be missed off your packing list. However, you'll be surprised how quickly your feet get cold while you're in labour, so definitely pack a pair or 2.
The hospital will likely provide these for you, as they are required after surgery. But if you do have any lying around, might as well reuse what you’ve got.
These reusable breast pads from The Comfort Mama are just gorgeous. It can take a fair while for your milk to come in so it’s possible you won’t need to use any at all during your hospital stay, but handy to have some to hand just in case.
Any dirties can go in your wet bags (listed under what to bring for baby).
You can buy reusable menstrual pads that are easily washed in the washing machine, like these ones from Planet Revive. If you’re already planning to use reusable cloth nappies, they can be washed together for ease.
This organic nipple balm from Willow By The Sea is a great natural option, made with mango, shea butter and avocado oil.
Giving birth has a huge impact on your body both externally and internally, so it's important that everything is still functioning as it should, including your bowels. Stool softeners are often provided to you during your stay but if you’d rather be prepared, there’s no harm in having some ready.
Again these are usually provided to you by the hospital during your stay, however you may want to be extra prepared.
Outfit to leave the hospital
If breastfeeding, make sure you’ve chosen a going home outfit that’s nursing friendly such as these vibrant and unique dresses from Bohemama.
Also remember that you will likely still have quite a bump – contrary to what instagram may have you believe, the bump takes a while to disappear.
A few toiletries you may like to pack includes: makeup to leave the hospital, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and makeup remover.
Consider an extra long cord or a battery bank to avoid having to get up unnecessarily from your hospital bed.
Present for older children
If you have another child/children, depending on their age it’s sometimes a good idea to get them a present from the baby to help alleviate any possibly jealousy and start the relationship off on a positive note. After all, this new baby will be taking up a lot of the attention that used to be focused solely on them. If you’re running out of space in your hospital bag, perhaps someone else can bring this present when they bring your older children to meet the baby.
If you’re a fussy eater and might not like everything that’s on offer at the hospital, pack a few healthy snacks that don’t need to be kept refrigerated such as muesli bars, sultanas, or other dried fruit.
It's pretty impossible to anticipate how long your labour will be or what you'll feel up to doing, but it's better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. You therefore may want to consider things to entertain yourself such as an iPad with some shows/movies downloaded, magazines, a book, crosswords, a small speaker to play some calming music, whatever floats your boat. Chances are that after baby arrives, you will be preoccupied caring for your new baby, going through the various regular medical checks, entertaining visitors, and getting in whatever sleep you can. You may also want to bring some toys to entertain any older children who visit, but again this could be something that your support people can bring rather than taking up space in your hospital bag.
After you've mastered packing your hospital bag and have brought your bundle of joy home from the hospital, it's time to master packing a nappy bag to prepare for trips out the house. Learn more about what to pack in nappy bag - tips for new parents.
We hope you find this hospital bag check list useful. Get in touch if there's something you think we should add.
Meet the Author
Natalie, Founder of NappyLuxe, is an eco-conscious mother and entrepreneur who discovered the benefits of cloth nappies for her family and the environment. With a mission to create the ultimate cloth nappy, she spent years researching and testing various designs before launching NappyLuxe - a range of high-quality, easy-to-use, and ultra-absorbent cloth nappies. Natalie is passionate about sharing her experience and expertise, helping parents make informed decisions and embark on their own sustainable parenting journey.