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Hospital Bag Checklist: A Minimalistic Approach

A beige duffle bag sits packed next to a chair




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

As an expectant parent, it can be overwhelming to prepare for the arrival of your little one. From setting up the nursery to buying adorable baby clothes, there are so many things that need to be taken care of before your due date. On top of every Mama’s third trimester of pregnancy to-do list before their due date: packing your hospital bag!

I don’t know about you, but I always end up over-packing for any occasion….”oh I’ll just throw one more shirt in” turns into an extra 3 outfits and 2 pairs of shoes. Here’s a tip: take the minimalistic approach to your hospital bag to avoid adding one more piece of chaos to entering the hospital while in labor (or stress if you’re going to be induced). Not to mention less unpacking once you are home and focusing on baby is always a good thing!

With endless checklists and must-have lists floating around the internet, it's easy to get caught up in the idea of having a fully stocked hospital bag. However, as experienced parents will tell you, less is often more when it comes to packing for the hospital. So after two birth experiences at a hospital, I've created a minimalistic approach to packing your hospital bag.

Best hospital bag checklist for moms

A Guide to Avoid Over-Packing Your Hospital Bag

When it comes to preparing your hospital bag, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. First and foremost, prioritize items that will provide you with comfort and facilitate a smoother labor and delivery experience. Additionally, think ahead to what you will require during the recovery period after giving birth at the hospital. Consider the needs of yourself, your partner, and your newborn on the delivery day and for the journey back home.

When Should You Start Packing Your Bag?

At 36 weeks my bag was packed, and by week 39 I had unpacked and packed it again. If you're like me and need to feel prepared and ready in order to remain calm, pack early on. Overall, it's a good idea to have it packed by week 37.

What Are the Essential Items to Include in a Hospital Bag Checklist?

What do you actually need to bring with you for your hospital stay? Honestly not much, the hospital has almost everything needed for mom, baby, and your birth partner. You should ask your hospital or birthing center what is provided to you to avoid packing unnecessary items. Very few items were actually used from my original hospital bag packing for my first birth and I was there for 4 nights and 5 days. The things you need are really to make yourself more comfortable: music, diffuser, skincare, nursing bra, your own pillow, blanket, comfortable clothes, etc.

Now that I’ve been through 2 stays for the births of both my babies, I’ve broken down this super-easy and organized checklist by category for Mom, Partner, Baby & The Room. This ultimate hospital bag essentials for mom checklist is below and you’ll find details on products and tips further on!

Best Hospital Bag Checklist for Moms

hospital bag checklist for mom, baby, partner

What Should You Pack in Your Hospital Bag?




Other essentials

  • Visual birth plan
  • Insurance cards and important paperwork (these should be on your partner's list too!)
  • Honey sticks (for when you can’t eat anything after an epidural)
  • Heating pad
  • Pillow with colored pillowcase to stand out from the hospital pillows
  • Barefoot Dreams comfy blanket

What Should You Pack for Your Partner in His Bag?

  • Slippers
  • Socks
  • Joggers
  • 2x Tshirt
  • 2x underwear
  • Beanie/Hat
  • Sweatshirt
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant
  • Pillow with colored pillowcase
  • Blanket

For a complete list of what should be in the “Dad Bag” read this.

What Should You Pack for Your Baby?

Checklist for Your Hospital Room

Optional Items to Pack

Items You Won't Need to Pack

  • Nursing pillow – the nurses and lactation consultants will show you how to use hospital pillows instead. You know I am obsessed with my Snuggle Me nursing pillow and brought it everywhere while I was breastfeeding, but its not necessary to lug it with everything else
  • Pants – HA! The last thing you’ll want to put on because 1) night sweats 2) bulky situation down there 3) swelling
  • Headphones
  • Medications
  • Postpartum supplies: disposable underwear, perennial ice packs, maxi pads, witch hazel spray, peri bottle, etc.
  • Nipple gels
  • Belly band
  • Breast pump
  • Robe – use a comfy cardigan instead
  • Laptop (your partner may want to bring one)
  • Water bottle – the hospital will provide you a giant cup
  • Baby book – you'll have plenty of time to fill it out once you're home and settled. Enjoy those first few days with your new baby without worrying about documenting everything.
  • Breastfeeding cover – the hospital will give you privacy if needed, or use a light blanket instead.
  • Diapers
  • Wipes designed for newborns or sensitive skin (but for sure stock up on non-toxic wipes for home!)
Best hospital bag checklist for moms

Tips for Packing Your Bag

I highly recommend packing a cooler with snacks (grab this cooler ahead of time, which is also my favorite for traveling on airplanes with breastmilk). Try making some simple wraps since these hold up great after several hours. Other good healthy snacks: grapes, blueberries, carrots, pretzels, protein bars, individual peanut butter or almond butter packets, and granola bars. Hospital food is not great and meal service ends early, you and your partner may need the snacks in the middle of the night.

Additionally, when packing your bag, consider including loose, comfortable PJs that allow for easy access for blood pressure checks and skin-to-skin contact with your newborn. Don't forget to bring some small toys or a “big brother” or “big sister” t-shirt as gifts for older siblings when they visit.

I don’t know about your partner, but my husband was hesitant about packing more than a few things in his bag and didn’t originally pack a blanket, pillow or towel because it was bulky. For our second baby, he knew better and packed a pillow, sleeping bag, comfy blanket, and even brought a tiny blow up mattress pad. Encourage your partner to pack these essentials.

Fair warning if you don’t want to bring your own towel, our hospital towels were the size of my arm and paper thin. Ask for an extra “blanket” which is essentially just an extra thick sheet and use it as a towel instead.

Best hospital bag checklist for moms

What Bag Should You Bring to the Hospital?

Okay, now for what to pack all this stuff in! Using a weekender bag or a rolling suitcase is a personal preference and really what you think your partner can handle carrying for you. Regardless of which direction you go, be sure to use packing cubes to keep your stuff organized. This helped my husband easily find things in my bag when I asked for them. 

How Many Bags Will I Need?

A good option to consider is packing two separate bags – one for labor and delivery items and another for after-birth essentials.

  1. Rolling carry-on suitcase for mom + hospital room stuff
  2. Weekender bag for your partner
  3. Diaper bag for baby (I am OBSESSED with the Caraa Diaper Bag, but also recommend the Mina Baie Stevie for a more traditional, elevated leather look)

Plus you’ll need the infant car seat, but your partner can grab that last minute out of the car right before you head out with the baby.

Here are some of my favorite weekender bag picks:

And if you are in the market for a small carry-on suitcase, after MUCH research I bought the July Carry On Pro suitcase and am in love! I also think the CALPAK Hue Front Pocket Carry-on and the Beis Carry On are great options.

Time to go get your hospital bag ready Mamas!

Hospital Bag Packing Checklist by New Modern Mom
Hospital Bag Packing Checklist by New Modern Mom
Hospital Bag Essentials

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash


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