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 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.
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.
#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 laundry room. 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!