Preparing for Baby: The Ultimate Mom-to-Be Hospital Bag Packing Guide

I don’t know that I experienced a true nesting phase when I was pregnant with Jane. It could be that we discovered we had to have our house tented for termites and that the soonest they could do it was when I was 36 weeks pregnant. Knowing we’d have to remove everything from her nursery kind of killed my desire to perfectly organize things…

What did I do instead you might ask? I made lists. Not just the old fashioned kind of paper and pencil lists, but fancy excel schedules. I mean, I even used formulas! I had a list for just about anything: everything you need to pack the perfect diaper bag, what you need to have a complete layette, a list of the freezer friendly meals to make before delivery, and finally a complete list of what you should bring for your hospital stay.

I went into this new pregnancy so confident because I was an experienced mom. AND, I had this amazing collection of overly analyzed lists at my fingertips. Imagine my horror when I checked in with my trusty computer to go through my lists and found that the entire file had been corrupted. Maybe the paper and pencil list-makers out there are on to something! As I work to build back my stash of spreadsheets, I thought I’d solicit the advice of my new mom friends to help create:

The Ultimate Mom-To-Be Hospital Bag Packing GuideHOSPITAL BAG edited

For Fashion and For Function

  • Pajamas and coordinating robe: I am the most modest person ever to live, so the thought of greeting guests in very thin, open-in-the-back hospital gowns made me uncomfortable. I opted for two simple jersey knit nightgowns in bright colors. I found a great patterned robe that kept me warm and made me feel as put together as one can feel in lounge wear.
  • Socks and slippers: It is freezing in those rooms and you might want to venture out into public (and by that I mean the hallway on your floor!).
  • Nursing tanks: It’s helpful to have easy access as you’re learning to nurse baby.
  • Granny panties: The bigger, the better!! Although, if you are like me, you will fall in love with those mesh undies they give you during your stay. Take as many as they will give you home with you!!!
  • Flip flops: Remember the showers in your dorm? It’s not much different…
  • A maxi dress: Who knew you would have your baby and still look six months pregnant? I’m sure there are ladies out there who can leave the hospital in their pre-preggo jeans, but I was not one of those lucky few. And I can’t imagine wearing pants at that point (hello episiotomy). Leaving the hospital in an empire waist maxi dress will let you enter the real world feeling like yourself while at the same time feeling comfortable.
  • A change of clothes for your hubby: Labor may go on for longer than you expected, so he may appreciate a shower and a change at some point.
  • A jacket or sweater for your hubby: Mine opted for a navy blazer and has never heard the end of it from our friends, but he was warm.

My Vanity is My Sanity

  • Your makeup bag: It might just be me, but I think a little makeup goes a long way to making me feel normal. It doesn’t have to be full on Kardashian smokey eyes, but a little blush, some eyeliner, and a touch of mascara make me feel up for pictures and for guests.
  • Chapstick: That cold, dry hospital air can make your lips feel like you’ve been on a ski vacation. I love Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment!
  • Your personal toiletries: These aren’t supplied for you, so don’t leave home without your brush, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo (many mommies I know prefer a dry shampoo like Oscar Blandi), facial cleanser (or cleansing wipes like Olay 4-in-1 Daily Facial Cloths).
  • Ponytail holders and bobby pins: Your labor may last just a few hours, but in the case it goes into over time you might want to pull your hair back.

Things That Plug In (And Keep You Plugged In)

  • Your cell phone: You’ll want to text everyone in your contact list a picture of that cute little face!
  • Your iPad/laptop: It’s great for entertaining you during labor and keeping you connected after the baby arrives.
  • Blowdryer: You may find yourself with a few moments to dry your hair. Do it! Once you get home, those moments are hard to come by.
  • Extra Phone Chargers: Someone is always looking for one!
  • An extension cord: I know the late, great Steve Jobs was the genius of our lifetime, but I will never understand why the phone charger cords are soooo short.
  • Camera/Videocamera: This will likely be the most documented moment of your life, so be prepared with fully charged cameras and video cameras.

Creature Comforts

  • Magazines: They’ll keep you informed of the latest celebrity fashions and gossip and keep your mind off your contractions.
  • Gum and hard candy: You will not be able to eat while in labor, so your favorite treats will help subside your hunger.
  • Snacks: You might find yourself delivering your baby in the wee hours of the morning. Remember, you’ve likely been eating lifesavers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A snack packed away may be your meal following delivery.
  • Your Boppy pillow: It’s a mom’s best friend! You can use it to help when nursing or to keep an arm free when holding baby.
  • Your pillow from home: Because if I could never leave home without mine, I wouldn’t.

A Little List for Your Little One

  • A Couple of Changes of Clothes: Baby can wear the sweet little gowns the hospital provides, but you may prefer to bring outfits from home including footed pajamas. Remember – it’s freezing in there!
  • A pacifier: I called ahead to see what brand our hospital provided and brought a few extra from home just in case.
  • Diapers: The hospital will provide you with newborn diapers, but if you prefer a brand like The Honest Company or will be cloth diapering, you’ll want to bring your own supply.
  • Going Home Ensemble: We had a special outfit for Jane to go home in consisting of a gown, a hat, and crochet booties.

One last tip: Leave room in your bag to take home a few treasures that seem to only be found in the depths of the labor and delivery supply closet: the suction bulb (baby boogie catcher) they give you is unlike any you will find outside of the hospital, the maxi pads that are the perfect size (and by that I mean the size of bed sheet) that only seem to be stocked in the most obscure drugstore in whatever town you live in, and the disposable undies whose waistband is tight enough to keep them up but loose enough not to hurt your post-delivery abdomen (seriously ladies, don’t you wish you had a secret supply of these to last you a lifetime?).

Did we leave anything off? What was your hospital must-have item?


  1. A huge cup for ice water and PJ pants were my personal life savers! I totally agree on the snack idea since vending machine food is – well – vending machine food.


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