Hospital Bag Essentials

Baby Hospital Bag Checklist-The Essentials for Your Newborn’s Arrival


If you’re anything like me, the mystery of labor and delivery is the most frightening part of pregnancy, for a first time mom. In order to feel more prepared I would watch videos of other mom’s giving birth. Piece of advice, do not do this. Avoid these videos at all costs. The videos are often traumatizing, untrue, and exaggerated.

As labor drew closer, I remember feeling so scared and unprepared for what was about to happen in the delivery room. Becoming a mom is already overwhelming, and I was desperate for some sense of preparation and confidence. I have found that, the best way to prepare yourself for labor and delivery, is to feel ready and put together; therefore having a bag ready and knowing what to pack.

I remember having no idea what to pack for myself or for my new baby. I felt outraged that no one had informed me on what I should bring to the hospital and what would be provided for me. I wasted so much of my bag space, packing things that were already provided for me, by the hospital.

To help my fellow mommas, I have compiled a baby hospital bag checklist, which breaks down all the essential items your newborn will need, during your hospital stay. Learn from my mistakes, skip the dramatic labor and delivery videos, breathe, and have peace of mind knowing, that with this checklist, you will be prepared with everything you’ll possibly need for the arrival of your new baby.

#1 – Onesies & Sleepers


These were the best things I could have packed. Between monitor checks, and oxygen tests my baby was in and out of her swaddle all night. To keep her warm and make undressing easy, I simply dressed her in a plain white onesie with snaps at the bottom. These onesies also helped preserve the cute outfits I had dressed my baby in for pictures, by keeping the umbilical cord blood from staining through.

Along with onesies, I packed sleepers which are zip-up or button-up bodysuits. The best advice I received, in terms of baby clothes, was to buy pieces that either zip up or pull over the head and snap at the bottom. When learning to dress and undress a fragile little body, these features make this foreign process a little easier.

Another stellar piece of advice I was glad to receive was, to pack for a bigger baby, and thank heavens I did. My baby was two weeks early and had a birth weight of eight pounds, so while she did fit in the newborn onesies, I had to dress her in a 0-3 month sleeper.

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The typical hospital stay for a labor and delivery free of complications is about two days, so I use that as a guide when packing. Here is what I brought for clothing:

  • Two Newborn Onesies
  • Two 0-3 Month Onesies
  • Two Newborn Sleepers
  • Two 0-3 Month Sleepers

#2 – Socks


While a hat for your new baby is typically complimentary of your stay, socks are not (at least at my

hospital). Newborns lose body heat very quickly and depending on the season in which you give birth, it could be quite chilly when you deliver. Bring socks, and bring a lot of them.

Something my mom taught me was that socks can be used for more than just feet, they make surprisingly good mittens for tiny hands! Although our hospital room was not cold when my daughter was born, she already had a bad habit of clawing her face. These extra socks came in handy (pun intended) for keeping her from scratching herself.

Whether its to keep them warm or to stop them from scratching, socks are an essential item for your baby’s bag. Double up and bring two pairs for each day you are staying.

#3 – Pacifier


The subject of, if or when to give your child a pacifier, has become controversial. This is because some studies have shown that giving a pacifier too early may cause nipple confusion and therefore could potentially introduce problems with breastfeeding. Call me traditional, but I am okay with my baby having a pacifier right out of the womb. I have two main reasons for this:

  • The sucking motion helps prevent SIDS
  • Sucking on a pacifier could help prevent thumb sucking (its much easier to wean a child from a pacifier than a thumb)

In my case, from personal experience, I can say that the pacifier did not cause any nipple confusion. My baby actually had a great latch, however, I would later discover, that due to a tongue thrust issue (completely unrelated to the pacifier), I was unable to breastfeed.

Since there is a controversy concerning this subject, some hospitals may not provide you with a pacifier, so if you are like me and would like your child to have one, I would add this to your list of things to pack.

If you are worried about potentially interfering with breastfeeding, there are great pacifiers that closely resemble the shape of a mother’s nipple. Due to the closeness in similarity, these are the only pacifiers that my daughter will use.

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#4 – Swaddles & Burp Cloths


Although my hospital provided swaddles for me, I did not consider bringing my own swaddles to be a waste of space in my bag. In fact, I count them as part of my essential items to bring for the hospital stay.

The hospital swaddles provided are not very cozy, they are stiff and smell like the hospital laundryroom. I was so glad I had brought my own swaddles from home because they smelled familiar and were soft and comforting to my newborn. I found that she even slept better when swaddled with a blanket from home.

As for the burp cloths, these were not provided to me, so I was thankful to have brought my own. These cloths have been life savers, even now with a seven-month-old. The secret to finding a good burp cloth is to get innovative. Now, there are a lot of cute burp rags with floral patterns and polka its, but i have found that those are not as absorbent as what I use.

My secret, is to use cloth diapers as burp rags. They may not have the frill and appeal as the designer rags, but let’s face it, they will be covered in vomit in no time, so does a fancy design really matter?

Have Confidence and Be Present

Becoming a mother is the most rewarding and gratifying thing in the world. There truly is no feeling that compares. The key to enjoying every moment is feeling confident in yourself and your abilities. Babies don’t come with a handbook or any set of instructions, so the best you can do is take it one step at a time.

Have confidence and peace of mind in knowing you are prepared with everything you could need for your new baby’s hospital stay. This baby hospital bag checklist will help you in preparing for the start of your motherhood journey, so you can be present at the moment you first meet your little one.

I have also created a complete printable packing checklist for mom, dad, and baby which you can find here.

I love hearing from other mommas, if you have any suggestions of items that you loved having for your baby’s hospital stay please leave them in the comments below!






  • Jen

    Hi Madysen, I love this, when I was going to the hospital I made sure to pack all the essentials, I probably packed too much, lol, I just wanted to be prepared because I knew I was having a c-section. I think your list is great. It’s just what you need, I also made sure to make a list of essentials I needed for myself. Some of the lists out there are way too much. You hit it right. Thanks for sharing your experience also, and congrats.

    • Madysen

      Hi Jen,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and giving your input, I appreciate it! Thats a great idea, I am currently working on a post that highlights the essentials I packed for myself. I have also linked a printable list of all the items I packed in my bag at the bottom of this post 🙂


  • Dino

    Hi Madysen,

    Such a great post here for all families who are expecting their little miracle of life to arrive. I wish me and my wife, had come across a post like yours when our little girls were born, 8 and 5 years ago.

    It’s such a great list of useful items that you have put together here, which gives piece of mind to the parents, who as you know are already on fire when the baby is due. Not having to drain your brain to think what is needed for the first days in the hospital or clinic when the baby or babies arrive, is just a luxury!
    Well done for your post!

    Many thanks,

    • Madysen

      Hi Dino!

      Congratulations on your two girls, I have a daughter of my own and know how special it is. I’m glad you liked this post and found it valuable. I am always looking for ways to simplify things and love helping others do so as well!

  • Danielle

    Hi Madysen

    Having a baby brings such joy for the new mom and dad. Thank you for providing the baby hospital bag checklist . There is a lot to think about as new parents and your list helps to reduce anxiety in one area.

    I have a niece who is expecting her first child. She is so worried about a lot of stuff.

    She lives in Australia. Do you think your list applies to all countries’ hospital bag checklist? Do you think hospitals in other countries provide for other things that other hospitals in other countries don’t? Just wondering.

    Thank you for your help.


    • Madysen

      Hi Danielle,

      Thank you for for your insight and congratulations to your niece! As far as giving birth in another country, I’ll be honest, my experience is extremely limited; however, I do think think my list applies to every new mom because it includes the most basic needs for every new baby.

      In terms of what each hospital provides, they all differ, so I have been sure to include footnotes on certain items, to indicate this. I hope this helps!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and questions.


  • Danielle

    I totally agree with you. The basics are the same for every baby and I suppose if there are really any other essential items any hospital needs the parents to provide, then they will say.

    Best of wishes

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