When I had my first child, I headed to the hospital with a huge duffel bag full of stuff that I was told I would need during and after labor. I went through checklists given to me, in books, and from pre-birth classes. I ran around town buying and borrowing things like a handheld fan and a water bottle with a straw. It turns out that 80% of what was in the bag was completely unnecessary
When I was due with my second baby, I packed a much smaller bag, but never even had time to get it from the car in the crazy rush to get to a delivery room before my daughter Amber appeared. Then, just before my sister-in-law had her first baby, she asked what you REALLY need for your hospital bag, so I created this list from my experience and to include Sprout Approved versions of items that I’d recommend. You’ll notice that most items are for after the baby is born, as most hospitals really do provide everything you need for labor, including a water bottle with a straw! —Suzanne Price
What to Bring in Your Hospital Bag
- Diaper Bag – You’re going to be carrying a diaper bag everywhere you go for a while, so you might as well start by using it for your trip to the hospital. All those compartments make it a great way to keep all these things organized. We love the Marindale Backpack.
For You & Your Partner
- Personal Care Products — Deodorant, Toothpaste, and Toothbrushes for both of you. The hospital is not a hotel and won’t be providing this for you. You’ll probably want to shower after the birth and you should bring whatever products you would normally use, or keep it simple and use the same Shampoo & Body Wash we recommend for your baby below.
- Lip Balm – They’ll probably only have Vaseline for you to use if you forget your own.
- Nipple Butter — For help getting started nursing.
- Nursing Bra
- Robe — It can get chilly in the hospital room.
- Nursing Cover – You may feel more comfortable being slightly covered up with visitors there.
- NapiNol Booty Balm & Beyond — This is great for so many things from diaper rash to nipple care to dry skin and beyond!
- The Fridet — A specialized sprayer for postpartum perineal care. The angled neck on this one makes it way more user-friendly than the standard-issue one that hospitals have.
- Perineal Spray — a soothing touch-free herbal mist for pregnancy and postpartum use.
- Hair Ties – The last thing you’ll want is hair in your face during labor or when you’re trying to nurse.
- Granny Underwear – Whether you have a c-section or deliver naturally, you’ll be wearing a pad for a while afterward. Nobody tells you this before.
- Comfortable Nightgown or Pajamas
- Loose Pants & Nursing Tanks –You will likely be nursing often and want something easy to remove and if you plan to have visitors, you may not feel so comfortable socializing in your open hospital gown. Also, contrary to what you may wish, you will not fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans as soon as the baby pops out. Plus you may not want that gown in all of your pictures with your newborn.
- Change of Clothes for Your Partner – Don’t forget that your partner will be around too and if you have your own room they may even stay over for the few days you are there. They should bring another outfit (or two) so they won’t have to go home if it’s not necessary. (A tip: My husband says that if you have a cot in the room, you should take the mattress off and put it on the floor.)
- An iPad or Laptop with Movies – If you end up having an epidural, you may have a lot of lying around time. Also, you may want to create an email list of whom you’ll send your baby news to so that you don’t have to try to remember everybody while you are in the hospital.
- Flip Flops or Slippers – You’ll want something comfortable to slip on to take walks down the hallway.
- Camera, Extra Memory Card, & Battery Charger – You won’t want to miss any of your baby’s first adorable moments so make sure the camera is packed and ready!
- Cell Phone Charger – There’s a good chance your battery might not survive all the excited calls to and from your friends and family members.
For Your Newborn Baby
- Baby Shampoo & Body Wash – We are suggesting you bring something most other lists won’t mention. A typical hospital will wash your newborn baby in Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo, once presumed to be the most gentle. Though the company pledged to remove cancer causing ingredients from their shampoo (including antibacterial agent triclosan and the preservative quaternium-15 which releases formaldehyde), we prefer products that never had harmful chemicals in them from companies with transparent labeling. (Read more about Johnson & Johnson.) We recommend you bring your own and politely ask your nurses to use that for the first bath. The travel size Earth Mama Natural Non-Scents Body Wash & Shampoo is perfect for your go-bag.
- Hand Sanitizer — Your visitors will need clean hands to hold your baby and most sanitizers contain triclosan – not an ingredient you want on your newborn’s skin. We recommend you pack a Cleanwell Hand Sanitizer for visitors to use. (Learn more about avoiding triclosan.)
- Take Me Home Outfit – A special outfit for baby’s first trip home! You’ll take so many pictures of the momentous day, and later you can show them the tiny outfit they came home in. We recommend an organic cotton top & bottom set, so that nothing is rubbing against the baby’s umbilical cord stump. Organic cotton is breathable and prevents the possibility of pesticides rubbing off on baby’s porous skin. Footed pants take away the need for socks that will fall off, and kimono tops are easiest at this stage as they don’t need to be pulled over a baby’s head. Wash it before hand in an all natural detergent, or if you are superstitious or don’t know the sex, have a family member hold on to it and wash it while you are in the hospital. A favorite set is the organic pima cotton Kimono Top and Footed Pant in Jadeite. Check out our whole layette range.
- Infant Hat — You may also want to bring your own organic hat for the baby. This White Knit Hat is perfectly sized for a tiny newborn’s head.
- Swaddles — Bring the ones you plan to use regularly so the nurses can help you perfect your swaddling technique! We recommend one in super-soft organic pima cotton, like the Jadeite Swaddle, and one in organic muslin, like the Cosmo Swaddle, so you can get a feel for using both while you’ve got the pros there with you.
- Infant Car Seat – Clearly not for your bag, but you will need this! Hospitals won’t let you check out without a safe way to get home, so make sure you have one that’s installed and ready to go, so you’re not scrambling at the last minute! At Sprout, we recommend avoiding fire retardants anytime you can. See all our Sprout Approved Infant Car Seats.