essential-hospital-bag-checklist

The Essential Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom, Baby, and Partner

They go by many names: hospital bag, maternity bag, overnight bag, diaper bag. Whatever you call it, having a pre-packed bag of essential supplies ready to go whenever the Big Day arrives is key. You’ll be ready at a moment’s notice, and by packing in advance, you won’t risk forgetting anything.

Even if you’re not planning a hospital birth, it’s a good idea to have a hospital bag packed as you may need to go in unexpectedly. You should think about having your maternity bag packed by the time you are about 32 weeks pregnant (i.e., 8 months), as baby could arrive anytime after that. It’s a good idea to pack your bags together and double-check that each of you has everything you need. 

Here’s the ultimate hospital bag checklist, mom-tested and approved, as well as mini-checklists of things for a hospital bag for baby and a bag for your partner to pack, too. Check with your hospital or birthing centre to see what items they provide, and you may be able to leave out some items below. If space is a concern in your maternity ward, you can pack a small labour bag as well as a separate hospital stay bag which you can leave in the car or which can be brought to you later.

What to Pack in a Hospital Bag for Mom

For Labour

  • Battery-powered hand fan
  • Big cup with bendable straw
  • Birth plan
  • Coconut water (colder the better!)
  • Electric heating pad or hot water bottle
  • Electrolyte sports drinks
  • Exercise/yoga ball (check with your hospital—some have them available. Make sure any you bring are latex-free)
  • Glasses or contact lenses (if you need them)
  • Hairband or elastics
  • Honey sticks/straws (for a quick burst of energy)
  • Hot water bottle
  • ID and medical records
  • Instant soups, miso soup
  • Pillows (colourful patterns recommended so they don’t get confused with hospital bedding)
  • Socks, slippers
  • Tennis balls (for massaging back pains)

For Hospital Stay

  • Baby name book (in case you’re still not sure on a name!)
  • Books, magazines
  • Breast pads
  • Change for vending machines
  • Comfortable daytime clothing (many women prefer loose-fitting day clothes rather than PJs all day)
  • Cough drops or lozenges (recovery rooms can be very dry and hard on the throat)
  • Disposable ‘grannie’ panties
  • Eye mask and earplugs (in case you have a shared room)
  • Face cloth
  • Fibre-rich snacks or fibre supplements
  • Front-opening shirt (for breastfeeding)
  • Glasses and contact lenses (if you need them)
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Instant soups, miso soup
  • Large zip-top bags
  • Loose-fitting going-home outfit
  • Mesh underwear (help wounds breathe)
  • MP3 player or tablet loaded with music, podcasts & favourite TV shows to watch while you wait
  • Nightgown or oversized t-shirt
  • Nipple cream
  • Nursing bras (2-3, nothing with underwire)
  • Pen & paper (there’s a lot to remember!)
  • Razor
  • Robe, dressing gown, wrap sweater
  • Sanitary pads or disposable adult underwear
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Towel
  • Toiletries
    • Deodorant
    • Hairbrush
    • Makeup
    • Medications
    • Soap, shampoo, and facial tissue
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Unscented lotions

What to Pack in a Hospital Bag for Baby

  • Baby nail clippers & file (those little claws are sharp!)
  • Beanie or baby toque
  • Burp cloths
  • Car seat
  • Cold weather clothes (for Fall and Winter babies)
  • Diapers (just a few—the hospital will provide these)
  • Going-home outfit (a stretchy onesie is best—there will lots of time for fancy outfits later!)
  • Receiving blankets
  • Socks or booties
  • Two or three sleepers for baby to wear in the hospital

What Your Partner Should Pack in a Hospital Bag

  • Books, magazines
  • Camera
  • Change for vending machines
  • Change of clothes
  • Chargers for electronic devices (labelled with name and phone number)
  • Comfortable shoes (you’ll be on your feet more than you realize!)
  • Comfortable sleepwear
  • Glasses and contact lenses (if you need them)
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Important phone numbers of family and friends
  • Instant soups, miso soup
  • Medications
  • MP3 player or tablet loaded with music, podcasts & favourite TV shows to watch while you wait
  • Small pillow & small blanket (colourful patterns recommended so they don’t get confused with hospital bedding)
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Swimwear (for water births)
  • Toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.)
  • Watch (for timing contractions)