My Hospital Bag Must-Haves

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Fed & Fit

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Wondering what to pack in your hospital bag? In this post contains I'm sharing all of my hospital bag must-haves from my overnight bag, toiletries, postpartum care, linens, considerations for dad, what to bring for baby, and snacks!

My Hospital Bag Must-Haves

Note: This post was originally written in January 2018 after the birth of my first daughter, Graysen Joy. I've updated it to reflect what I'll be packing for the hospital for our second baby girl!

Hello, friends!! We are home with baby and life is so good and so, so sweet. Graysen Joy is now 3-weeks old nearly 5 weeks-old and I've finally woven together enough short spells to finish this post. (Feels like a real #momwin.)  If you want to see more of my pregnancy-related articles, check out my Baby Registry, Baby Announcement, 1st Trimester Recap, 2nd Trimester Recap, and 3rd Trimester Recap.

Today, I want to focus on the topic of the hospital bag. What to pack for the hospital was a pretty big mystery to me! I did a LOT of research and then (admittedly) totally over-packed. I had a clothing bag, a toiletry bag, a linens bag (for towels + blanket), and a snack bag. Although I knew I wouldn't use it all, I wanted to have the option to use it all so that I could report back with the nice-to-haves and the MUST-HAVES. Today's post only includes a list of what I really used!

Let's get to it!

Hospital Bag Must-Haves: Clothing

Long (dress-like) Button-Up, *Soft* Pajama Tops

I brought three of these to the hospital with me knowing that we'd likely spend a couple nights there. I brought one to possibly wear instead of a hospital gown while in the delivery room (which I wound up NOT wearing) and two more to wear in our recovery room. I like the dress-length pajama tops because I was in NO MOOD for pants. I wanted to wear my giant recovery undies (I'll go more into that later) and nothing else on my bottom. The dress-length allowed me to get up and shuffle around the room with some modesty while we had visitors. The buttons are a must-have if you plan to nurse your little one. I didn't own many button-up tops before and had to stock up! If you're looking for some comfy PJ options, here you go: Option 1, Option 2, Option 3.

2020 UPDATE: instead of long PJ dresses, I'm just bringing two sets of long sleeve + pant PJs. Specifically, I'm bringing a cute pink printed set (here's a shorts version, and here's a very similar pants version) and this incredibly soft set that I've owned for a few years. Even though I may only be in the hospital recovery room for a night, I like having at least one change of PJ's in case I need it. Whatever you bring, if you plan to breastfeed, make sure you have an easy-access top! Buttons make things pretty dang easy.

Robe

I absolutely used my robe and I'm so glad I brought it. I wore it on top of my hospital gown while I was in early labor and on top of my pajama dresses while in recovery. I love that it offered a little more modesty and warmth when I was out and on my feet. I LOVE my robe (click HERE to see it).

2020 UPDATE: I've debated skipping the robe this time in name of simplicity, but decided to bring this lightweight one after-all. It'll be nice to have something to cover my backside if I'm in a hospital gown. 

Nursing Bra

There are a bunch of options out there and you may have to experiment with what works for you. Here are a few of my favorites: Option 1, Option 2, Option 3 (not a nursing bra, but they work for me – be sure to order a size or two larger).

2020 UPDATE: I'm bringing two this time! One is a traditional nursing bra and the other is just a bralette that I used a lot during the 14 months I nursed Graysen, our 1st.

Going Home Outfit

Finally two days after giving birth (vaginally), I was ready to hop in a pair of *roomie* soft pants. I brought THESE amazing joggers from Target, a soft button-up top (again to help with nursing), a nursing-friendly bra, an oversized sweater, and my Ugg boots (because my feet were still a little puffy and didn't fit into many other shoes). Before going to the hospital, I'd fantasized about a Kate Middleton hospital exit where I'm wearing a fabulous outfit and holding our new bundle of joy. Real life looked a whole lot more like a really slow walk in almost pajamas. I'm SO GLAD I brought the almost-PJ look vs. anything less comfortable.

2020 UPDATE: I'm keeping it simple! Just a pair of stretchy black pants (that I love and wear weekly) and a flowy grey shirt from Hatch. I plan on wearing sneakers TO the hospital, which is what I'll wear on my way out.

Warm Socks

I found these essential! Our hospital room was on the cool side and having a cozy pair of warm socks made a big difference. Bonus if they've got some traction on the bottom, too.

2020 UPDATE: I'm just bringing a couple pair of my current favorite socks! You can find them on Amazon here.

Slippers

My husband and I opted to skip the baby's usual first bath provided by the hospital right after delivery so that we could (instead) bathe her ourselves 24 hours later. I'll go more into the details of why in baby's birth story, but having a pair of slippers to easily slip on for our walk down the hall was so nice! I was in no mood to bend down to tie on any more serious shoes and also didn't want to walk around the hospital in my socks.

2020 UPDATE: These are a must, still! I'm bringing these adorable pair of slippers that my hubby gifted me for my birthday.

hospital bag essentials

Essential Toiletries for Your Hospital Bag

Before we get to my list of toiletries, you have to know that I wound up *not* showering at the hospital. That being said, in hindsight, I do wish I had. I think that a quick rinse in the shower on my 2nd day in the hospital would have been so refreshing. SO, even though I didn't use all my toiletries listed below, I would still pack them all again!

Also note, all of the products listed below are what I consider SAFER. Switching to safer personal care products was important not only for my health, but for the health of our little one. From the shampoo I use to deodorant, moisturizer, and chapstick, all are safer options for myself and my family.

Shampoo & Conditioner

This is the *safer* shampoo + conditioner I personally use. I packed these bottles, but you could easily squeeze some of each into a smaller travel bottles.

2020 UPDATE: I'm actually bringing travel bottles of this Rahua set that I ordered from their website! My hair loves this cleaner shampoo + conditioner brand.

Simplified Skincare Routine 

  • The Charcoal Cleansing Bar is the bar I brought to use on both my face and my body. I find bars to be slightly easier to travel with than my Cleansing Balm (I don't need a wash rag to take it off) and knew that I'd want the especially detoxifying cleansing power of the charcoal bar on my face after the events at the hospital.
  • The Primally Pure Everything Spray is my toner. I apply it after washing and before the serum + moisturizer mentioned below!
  • The Countermatch Collection is the skincare regime I use! Though I admittedly skipped the eye cream and night cream for this occasion, I've found the serum and day cream to be ESSENTIAL in keeping my (sensitive, dryness-prone) skin looking moisturized and healthy.
  • 2020 UPDATE: though most of these items are still in my travel toiletry case, I know myself: I need to make it as easy on myself as possible. As such, I'm bringing makeup wipes and this really powerful moisturizer (moisturizing “soft cream” by Beautycounter) so I can keep the process to just 2 steps.

Primally Pure Deodorant

I wound up bringing a tube of their new unscented deodorant with me! It works for my sensitive skin (no irritation) and helps keep me feeling fresh. Though I LOVE the new charcoal & geranium deodorants in their line, I opted for unscented because I wanted to keep EO (essential oil) exposure to baby at a minimum. Note: I'm not sayin EO's are bad for babies, I just like the idea of keeping her environment as benign and unscented as possible while she's just beginning to take in the world.

2020 UPDATE: same plan! Except, this time, I'm bringing the Charcoal Deodorant in travel size. 

Toothbrush & Toothpaste

Bring the ones you like best! If you're looking for a slightly safer toothpaste option, THIS is the one I use. Note that it's not perfect in terms of ingredients. I've tested COUNTLESS options and just like this one best.

2020 UPDATE: Same plan!

Hair Care Products

I brought a hairbrush, some clips, hair ties, and one cute bow for my hospital exit (wanted to feel slightly put-together).

2020 UPDATE: Same plan! Though I'll probably live in braids more this time around. They're just so easy! 

Minimal Makeup

Though I brought both my tinted moisturizer AND my mascara, I only wore my mascara.

2020 UPDATE: My “minimal” makeup these days includes just 2 items: this brow gel and this primer + mascara in-one. 

Post-Delivery Care Essentials

There's a good chance your hospital or recovery facility will provide a version of the items below for you! If that's the case, and you're not too picky about what goes on you (down there), you can leave these items at home. I brought them with me to the hospital because I wanted to have the option to use these safer alternatives for my postpartum recovery. NOTE: I do recommend stocking up on the below to keep at home for after your return! Though I'll discus it more in my 4th Trimester Recap, I used the following products for a solid 2 weeks.

  • Sitz Bath Spray – this is pure heaven in a bottle. If you deliver vaginally, this spray helps soothe some of the sensitive parts. I sprayed it on at every visit to the bathroom.
  • Witch Hazel Pads – MORE HEAVEN. Grab a jar of these and, as your nurse will likely guide you, layer them on the pad before application. It's cooling and soothing.
  • Overnight Pads – these organic overnight pads worked really well! They were really large (just like the ones from the hospital) but made with materials I felt good about.
  • Panties – I'll never forget my SIL telling me to “buy a couple packs of cheap white, giant undies that you can throw away after.” Such great advice. Though I'm usually a size small, I ordered a large in these undies so that nothing was too tight.
  • 2020 UPDATE: Though the hospital had most of everything I needed while I was there, I'm bringing the following just in case: Rael overnight pads, 2 pair of cheap white undies (see above), TUCKS witch hazel pads, and Earth Mama spray.
  • Nipple Balm – though I didn't really need it for my nipples while in the hospital, I do like this nipple balm because it also doubles as chapstick! It's made without EO's and is incredibly gentile, so I applied it to my lips as needed and kissed my baby without fear.
    • 2020 UPDATE: bringing it just in case again! This baby balm is the one I loved most when I nursed our 1st.

Emery Board + Cuticle Clippers

Maybe this is just me, but I like to take an emery board + cuticle clippers with me on ANY overnight trip. Nothing bums me out like a painful hangnail, so I like to have a tool available to help relieve the pain immediately. Apparently, during labor, I'd nervously picked at a few of my cuticles (like I do unknowingly when watching a scary movie) and was SO THANKFUL that I packed these tools when I got into my recovery room. Note: the emery board could be great if your little nugget is born with long nails! Gray had some good-sized nails and I found the emery board much easier to help buff them down than her infant nail clippers (her nails were just too soft).

2020 UPDATE: these are still in my hospital bag! 

Linens

Note: all the linens listed below are likely provided for you! I brought an extra set to help our stay feel a little more like home.

  • Towels – I brought my big fluffy towels so that I could wrap myself up in something extra soft.
  • Blankets – I brought a couple blankets and I'm SO GLAD I did. I loved having THIS crazy soft blanket on my bed and my husband was thrilled that I brought him one for his pull-out bed, too.
  • Pillow – though I had plenty of pillows, my husband was happy to have one for his bed!
    • 2020 UPDATE: honestly, I'm skipping this section entirely this time. If I stay the night, there's a good chance I'll be there solo (so my husband can come home to be with Graysen). 

hospital bag essentials for baby - baby wash, blanket, swaddle, and carseat

Hospital Bag Essentials for Baby

Baby Clothes

  • Newborn Cap – all hospitals (and I assume birthing centers) will provide baby with a little cap to put on right after their birth in an effort to help keep the little one's head warm. While those are cute, I couldn't help myself and ordered a couple other options online. I got THIS ONE with a big bow and THIS ONE that is slightly larger, just in case her head is too big for the other. I also liked that I could pre-wash them with a fragrance-free detergent first.
    • 2020 UPDATE: those caps are still adorable! I'm bringing a couple caps, but there's a chance they're too big for her little noggin.
  • Going Home Outfit – this was so fun to shop for! Though she only wore the outfit for about 2 full hours, getting her dressed before going out into the world was such a sweet, special moment. Because babies umbilical cords need some breathing room until they fall off (between 1 and 2 weeks), classic body suits or other newborn wear aren't great options for early clothing. Instead, we opted for a long open-toed dress-like outfit (like this one) instead. We just hiked it up a bit so that we could fasten her carseat.
    • 2020 UPDATE: I'm packing two footed ZIPPER jammies for baby girl! Though newborn gowns are adorable, they're impossible to use in a carseat (because you'll need to clip her in between her legs). I'm bringing two because you never know if you'll need an outfit change.

Diapers & Wipes

  • Diapers – these will (almost certainly) be provided, but we wanted to use THESE diapers, so we brought our own and asked that the nurses use them instead.
    • 2020 UPDATE: still bringing a bag of Bambo Nature size 1! We cloth diaper after the newborn size and these are my favorite disposable. 
  • Wipes – our hospital actually had water wipes on hand (awesome!) but we brought a package of THESE just in case

Bathing & Grooming

  • Baby Emery Board – just in case your little one is born with long nails, this emery board can come in handy. I've found this infant-special one to work even easier on her little nails than my larger board. To use it, I just waited until she fell asleep and gave them a gentle file.
    • 2020 UPDATE: skipping! I'm bringing a pair of nail clippers that I can use if she comes out with really long nails, but my guess is we won't need it.
  • Baby Soap – this one was really important to me. First, we opted to perform our own bath at a delay of 24 hours after birth. Because we opted to perform it ourselves, we were able to make sure that we got to use a soap of our choosing. THIS is the soap I chose! I love that the ingredients are especially gentile and free from aggravators. Believe it or not, most commercial baby soaps contain several ingredients that are known (and some suspected) endocrine disruptors.

Blankets and Swaddles

  • Swaddle x2 – I just like to have two of these on hand at all times! We use them to swaddle her or as a light cover while she's riding in her carseat.
    • 2020 UPDATE: I'm bringing two swaddles I found on this cute site! Two because, again, you never know when one might get dirty.
  • Blanket – we brought a baby blanket to lay over baby on our way out just in case it was chilly!
    • 2020 UPDATE: skipping! The weather is really nice right now and I can use a swaddle to cover her in the car.

Carseat

  • Carseat – you'll need a carseat to safely get baby home. THIS is the carseat we opted for and you can see the rest of our baby gear choices on my Baby Registry Post. Remember to install the base before you visit the hospital (if possible) and visit someone who can help demonstrate how to use it safely. Local stores, baby groups, or even the fire department can all aid in this.
    • 2020 UPDATE: same carseat!
  • Carseat Shield – this one was IMPORTANT to me because hospitals are a hornet's nest for the ill, so I wanted to make sure our brand new daughter was as protected as possible as she went from the nursery floor to our car. We carried her out in her carseat and I made sure that she was thoroughly covered as we walked her out into the halls and atrium, just in case we passed anyone ill on the way While you can absolutely use a swaddle draped over the carseat, I liked having a separate special carseat shield.
    • 2020 UPDATE: same carseat shield, actually! 

More Baby Essentials

2020 UPDATE: I'm also bringing a couple of pacifiers (though, she'll have unlimited access to me), a pacifier clip (for use likely in the car), a little bow (maybe for a photo), this soft baby hairbrush, a nosefrida, a bulb syringe, and a tube of this baby balm (just in case). 

hospital bag essentials - phone charger, reusable cup, chocolate, and sheet masks

Other Hospital Bag Essentials

Phone Chargers

Don't forget these! Though, if you do, it's not the end of the world. A friend or family member can always bring a replacement. I drained my battery several times answering texts from friends and family. Pro tip: bring an extra-long cord (like this one) so that your plugged-in-phone can reach your bed in the recovery room.

2020 UPDATE: same. With the chance that I'll be in the delivery room on my own (if spouses aren't allowed due to the ever-changing viral climate), I'll be on Facetime A-L-O-T. I'm bringing a long cord so that I can easily access the phone from my hospital bed if needed.

Gift for Nurses

Totally optional, but really thoughtful. I do recommend checking with the hospital first, though. I had planned on gifting all of our labor/delivery + nursery nurses a hand cream, but after inquiring, I learned that gifts of that sort were frowned upon. Instead, they suggested something edible! A sweet treat (donuts, cupcakes, cookies, etc.) is a nice way to thank these precious people for their loving care. I almost get weepy-eyed thinking of how much our team of mama + baby nurses helped us in those first few days as parents. THEY'RE AMAZING.

2020 UPDATE: More than ever, I want to shower the incredible humans who are working during this climate with whatever signs of appreciation I can. I'm bringing 6 gift sets that will include: hand cream, chapstick, 3 powdered electrolyte packs, a sheet face mask, and a bag of chocolate truffles

Book, iPad, or Computer

I found some kind of entertainment helpful in the delivery room! I'll share more (again) in Gray's birth story post, but I was in labor when we got to the hospital but my pain levels were really manageable. In that early-ish labor phase, I was happy to have some kind of entertainment to help pass the time. THEN, when they broke my water and labor pains really began and my focus turned to working through the contractions. A book is nice or, if your significant other is there with you, you could also pull up a TV show (or movie) on an iPad or computer so that the two of you can snuggle up together.

2020 UPDATE: same plan! Follow along on Instagram to see what I'm reading right now, it's a moving target!

Cup with a Lid + Straw

Though the hospital provides this, I liked having one, too. This is the cup I own, here's the lid + straw, and here's the handle! After the delivery room, I was THIRSTY and sent my hubs to refill this cup a LOT.

2020 UPDATE: same plan!

A Bag

This is the overnight bag I used to store my goodies! It's a GREAT price and fantastic quality. If you travel by air quite a bit, know that this bag is also a good size for under the seat or overhead compartment. I love it!

2020 UPDATE: I'm actually bringing my rolling suitcase this time because (with the COVID-19 season), I want to make sure that (if I need to) I can walk out of the hospital carrying baby, carseat, and my luggage (with wheels) easily. So, my duffle bag is staying home this time.

 

snacks for hospital bag including protein bars, prenatal vitamins, graham crackers, and sweet potato chips

The Best Snacks for Your Hospital Bag

A snack bag was a MUST! After delivery, I was (first) THIRSTY and (second) really hungry. Most hospital kitchens close after a certain hour and, if you're in postpartum during the middle of the night, most restaurants are closed, too. Having a snack bag within reach full of my favorite foods made a big difference for myself and my husband.

  • Coconut Water – I brought 4 big jugs of this potassium-rich beverage and made it a point to drink at least one full one each day. We kept these in a cooler bag so that they were chilled.
  • Gluten-Free Graham Crackers – most hospitals will bring you graham crackers, but they don't always have a gluten-free option. I liked the idea of a tasty, easy-to-eat carb, so I brought a box of THESE.
  • Dried Fruit – tart cherries were my choice!
  • Protein Bars – for a quick meal replacement! I like THESE and THESE.
  • Prenatal Vitamins – though not a snack, remember to toss those in! THESE are the ones I chose. If you have questions about what prenatals are right for you, ask your team of baby professionals.
  • Dates
  • Peanut (or Almond) Butter – to put on the dates
  • Chips – in case I wanted something salty to snack on.
  • Green Pears – pears are actually known to help loosen stools a bit, which you'll be thankful for after a vaginal delivery. I ate one a day!
  • Cooked Meal(s) – though I brought this, I didn't eat it. I brought it in case I wanted a meal and everything was closed. Luckily, my family was able to deliver us food after Gray's birth. We kept our prepared meals in the cooler bag, too.
    • 2020 UPDATE: essentially the same plan! I will probably skip the honey and peanut butter, adding in sparkling water (because I love it) instead. 

I hope you found this helpful!! While you could get away with an abbreviated list of what I've got here, the items included in my hospital bag are what I think helped make my experience so smooth and comfortable.

Comments

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  1. Lauren says:

    Hello!

    My husband and I are wanting to start our family soon. I was wondering if there were any books or resources you turned to while you were planning to have a family and then when you actually became pregnant?

    Thank you! Love following you and your family!

    All the best,
    Lauren

  2. Teresa H says:

    Thank you so much Cassie! I am currently writing up my bag necessities for my due date in April because my hubby is a PLANNER and wants it packed just in case. This was truly helpful. Congratulations on your little one!

  3. Hannah Dixon says:

    Thank you for posting this! I am in the process of packing my hospital bag (36 weeks along) and your list is VERY helpful! Love following you for many reasons! : )

  4. Malori says:

    This was so fascinating!! I am obsessed right now with everything baby and pregnancy related, as we are hoping to start our family soon, so I have loved following your journey. Would you be able to expand on the essential oil thing? I’m an EO fanatic (lol) and am curious about the whole scent thing for newborns. Or can you point me toward resources that talk about having a scent-free environment for newborns? Haven’t really heard anything about this yet so I’d love to learn more. (I’m such a planner!) Thanks for being so open with your story!! 🙂

  5. Nicole says:

    Cassie, THANK YOU for sharing your journey! You have no idea how helpful all your posts have been for me as I don’t really have anyone I can relate to or who truly understands my lifestyle. I’m so thankful for your blog posts :).

  6. Jamie says:

    As a soonish-to-be first time mama, I so appreciate your insights and updates! I was wondering if (at some point) you’d share your experience with cloth diapering or a resource you trust. There is such a volume of information out there and it’s so overwhelming to look at as someone who’s never had a little one before. I trust your opinion and experience.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      First off, congratulations, Jamie! Thank you for the suggestion… we’ll certainly keep that in mind!!