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The Dad Bag: The Best Hospital Bag Checklist for Dads

Dad holding newborn at hospital




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

You're about to become a dad. Welcome to the parents club! As a new dad-to-be, there's quite a bit to get your head around, and one of the very first things is going to be packing your hospital bag. Yes, that's right – moms aren't the only ones who need a bag full of essentials for the big day. You also need a well-stocked dad bag, and packing hospital bags is an important item on your third trimester checklist. But don't you worry, I've got you covered with the best hospital bag checklist for dad, tried and tested based on two birth experiences my husband has been through. This checklist helps you navigate this exciting journey with confidence and ensures you're ready for the big day when you're off to the hospital to meet your newborn. Consider this your ultimate packing list for everything you'll need in your Dad hospital bag.

Best dad hospital bag checklist

What's the Difference Between a Hospital Bag Checklist for Dads and Moms?

Yes, there are some differences between a dad hospital bag checklist and the one for mom. While some items like toiletries may be similar, dad's checklist should include items like snacks, sleeping support, and comfortable clothing.

The Importance of A Hospital Bag for Dads

So, you might be wondering why a dad even needs a hospital bag. Simple. As a supportive partner and co-parent, you'll be there cheering on your partner during labor and delivery. And during those long labor hours, you'll need your stuff within reach – think comfort items, change of clothes, snacks, a light distraction like an iPad or a book to keep your energy up, and some relaxing songs for the first hours after the baby arrives.

When and What Essentials Should be Packed First?

Packing your hospital bag isn't a last-minute task, believe us. It's best to have it ready by the 38th week – just in case your little one decides to make an early entrance. This gives you enough time to gather all the essentials you'll want for the hospital or birthing center, and eliminates the stress of scrambling for items at the last minute when you'll meet your baby for the very first time. Trust us, it’s a great idea to be ready to go as early as four weeks before your due date.

Clothing Must-Haves for Dads

  • Socks
  • Joggers
  • 2x T-shirts
  • 2x underwear
  • Beanie/Hat
  • Sweatshirt
  • Swimsuit (If mom-to-be is planning to use the bathtub during labor and doesn't have a doula, a swimsuit is a good idea)

Important Paperwork to Remember

  • ID
  • Insurance information
  • Copy of birth plan (if you have one)
  • Copy of birthing support resources (if you took any classes – we brought a support guide from our class with pictures of pressure point and massage techniques for Jason)
Best dad hospital bag checklist

Packing for Comfort During the Stay

You'll want to ensure that you're ready for a few nights away from home.

Snacks and Hydration Essentials

  • Your favorite snacks – hospital food is terrible, and if yours only lets you get partner specific meals… don’t even bother placing an order
  • Easy-to-eat, healthy snacks like granola bars, protein-packed trail mix, or fruit (vending machines only have so many options)
  • A refillable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your stay (Mamas will get one of those souvenir water bottles from the hospital 😉 but dads don't get this gift)
  • Instant coffee packets for a quick pick-me-up during those late-night hours (or tea if you're like my husband who doesn't love coffee)

Items to Make a Few Nights Stay Comfortable

  • Slippers – highly recommend taking the disposable ones from the hotel on your babymoon
  • Pillow with a colored pillowcase – as to not confuse your own pillow with a hospital pillow
  • Cozy blanket
  • Inflatable Mattress Pad – yes, I know this may seem extra, but let’s face it, the sleeping accommodations for new dads are anything but comfortable. Jason brought this for our second birth, and has since recommended it to so many friends who have thanked us for the recommendation

Practical Items Not To Be Forgotten

  • Toiletries (recommend bringing these in a hanging toiletry bag since there is little to no counter space typically in postpartum recovery room bathrooms) – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, travel-sized body wash, hairbrush
  • Medications
  • Glasses/Contacts
  • Laptop – there is a lot of downtime during labor and in the postpartum recovery room, you can use the laptop to watch shows or for practical purposes such as scheduling your first pediatric appointment or adding your baby to your health insurance
  • Designated folder for important paperwork – new parents are often required to complete numerous forms after the delivery, making it convenient to have a dedicated folder to keep everything orderly and protected
  • 10ft phone charger
Man in a black t-shirt holding a baby
Photo by Tim Mossholder

Need a List for Mom, Baby and the Room?

Of course, dad's bag isn't the only one to consider. Check out my minimalist approach to a hospital bag packing checklist.

Nervous About The Big Day?

Can a Well-packed Bag Help Dads Stay Calm?

Absolutely! Knowing that you're prepared can be a huge stress relief. Packing well isn't just about having the items you need – it's also about feeling ready to tackle your new role as a dad. So, take your time to thoroughly organize your bag, and know that each item you pack is another step towards feeling calm and ready for this amazing journey.

Is a Checklist Enough to Feel Prepared?

A checklist is a great start, but feeling prepared goes beyond just packing the right items. Be sure to also take time for self-care, mentally preparing yourself for your new role, preparing a thorough baby budget and open communication with your partner. Feeling prepared is about more than just having the right stuff – it's about feeling ready to embrace the joy and challenges that come with parenthood.

What Can Dads Do to Make Moms More Comfortable?

When it comes to making mom more comfortable, it's all about being attentive, supportive, and patient. Offering a comforting word, a hand to hold, or a shoulder to lean on can go a long way. A little bit of humor can help lighten the mood and alleviate stress. Being there, both emotionally and physically, can make a world of difference. Additionally, bringing a portable speaker, like a hospital-approved one, is a great way to enhance the comfort level even more. The speaker can be used to play mom's favorite tunes or a birthing playlist downloaded from a music app, creating a soothing and relaxing atmosphere during her hospital stay.

The journey into parenthood might seem overwhelming, but rest assured, you're better prepared than you think. Packing the right items in your hospital bag, from clothing to snacks and comfort items, is one of the best ways to ensure you're ready for the experience ahead. More than just being physically prepared, being emotionally ready to support your partner is crucial. Understand that your presence, patience, and support can make a significant difference during this remarkable journey. Trust in yourself, your partner, and the bond you share. This is an incredible moment in your life, welcome to the journey of parenthood. Beyond packing for just you and your partner, you need to pack clothes for your new baby, too. Take some time with your partner to plan out a special going home outfit for your newborn, and be sure to pack that outfit (plus booties, scratchproof mittens, hat, diaper bag, a pacifier!), and a comfortable robe in your bag for the inaugural trip home.

Best dad hospital bag checklist

Featured image by Barbara Mighdoll


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