Hospital Bag: Must Haves and Leave Outs

Packing your hospital bag as a first time mom can be a daunting task. With virtually no idea what to *truly* expect, you may end up missing the mark… and I hope to help! I did a lot of research, chatted with a lot of mamas, and for a chronic over packer feel I did fairly well at my first attempt (with some minor tweaks I will share with you now!). I will put a master packing list at the end, but let me explain first…

MUST HAVES:

Nursing Bra: Even if breastfeeding comes natural for you, those first few days are HARD and will likely leave you feeling sore. Having a supportive nursing bra is a must for your hospital bag. Learn from my mistake and bring the bra linked here. I brought loose fitting and lightweight bras, and as soon as I got home sent my husband on a Target run to find something more supportive and haven’t touched the loose fitting bras since. I have loved the ones I linked ever since, and they are great for pumping too!

Pajamas & socks: If you plan to ditch the hospital gown once you hit the postpartum wing, you will want comfortable, button down pajamas. I brought two pairs… the first was a long sleeve and pant set, the second was a night gown. Both were amazing during our hospital stay and I’ve worn them virtually every night since returning home too. Toss in a pair or two of cozy socks as well!

Blanket for mom + baby + dad: My husband got my daughter and myself these incredible blankets as a gift. It was PERFECT in the hospital and we use them during our nursing and snuggle sessions now. Don’t forget to add in a cozy blanket for dad too – he needs his sleep so he can best support you!

Announcement outfit + name plate: If you know your little ones name in advance, order one of these cute name plates and thank me later! It now doubles as nursery decor, and was perfect to share her name with the world. For her outfit, we went with a bow and swaddle (with a knotted gown under). These fit sizes 5-15lbs, so I was positive it would work no matter her size which will help you cut back on overpacking. Pro tip: Do NOT forget little mittens and put them on immediately to save your baby from scratching themselves.

Polaroid camera: We loved capturing a few of those raw first moments this way! It’s a total preference item, but for us it was worth packing!

10ft phone charger: It’s hard to say where the outlets will fall, and you will want your phone nearby for feeding alarms and messages to family! Take the time to stay off your phone so you can sleep and soak it all in, but update your loved ones too!

Snacks: For mom + dad. Think healthy, recent cravings, and quick eats! You can always order food during open hours, but those middle of the night feeds may require a little extra fuel.

Light toiletries: Step back to the basics with your skincare routine (face wash, moisturizer) and bring a soft washcloth as well. Don’t forget your everyday items like deodorant and toothpaste, but otherwise keep it simple and minimal.

Nipple butter: apply after each feed – I have loved this one and still use it each time I nurse. It’s great because you don’t need to wash it off before feeding again.

One pair of postpartum underwear for mom: The items the hospital provides are GREAT for your stay, but you may want this to wear home because it is much more conformable and discrete.

Going home outfit for mom + baby: Comfort is key – a simple sleeper will work great for baby! I wore the same thing home that I wore to the hospital because I had a scheduled induction and only had them on for minimal time prior!

Car seat: The most important item of course – practice installing a few weeks in advance!

WHAT I WOULD HAVE LEFT OUT:

Camera/Tripod: We planned to setup our camera to record the delivery, but our hospital actually doesn’t allow that. If you plan to do this, call first to make sure it’s allowed and save yourself some potential weight in your bag. We used our phone for every photo we took (and a sweet nurse snapped some during delivery for us too!) because it was just so much more accessible.

0-3 month clothing: Unless you know your little one will be 9+ lbs, I would leave these out and stick to newborn size clothing. Our 7lb 1oz girl still swims in newborn sizes even weeks and ounces later. Bring an outfit for announcement photos, and a going home outfit… I think I brought 7 different options and 90% of the time she was swaddled in what the hospital provided. If your babe MIGHT be on the larger side, you can toss one of the bigger sizes in, but we knew our baby would be relatively smaller so I should have left some of these options out (first time mom move).

Full makeup: This one is totally personal preference, but as someone who wears daily makeup, I could not be bothered to reapply during our hospital stay. I would suggest bringing a few products just incase you feel better with some coverage, but during our short visit I let my skin breathe and felt totally confident in our newborn bliss. There is not right or wrong answer here – do what feels right to you!

In the end I still fully believe it is better to have too much instead of falling short with not enough, but hopefully this list helps! Your baby will be spending a lot of time doing skin to skin, changing, breastfeeding, and being checked on and tested by staff, so there is no need to pack an excessive amount of outfits for baby (and anything you do bring, make it minimal and simple to change diapers in!). We kept our girl swaddled in what the hospital provided to keep it easy for them other than during the time we were taking her announcement photo.

Shop my mauve hospital bag here – it was perfect size to fit both my stuff and baby girls! Don’t forget packing cubes for easy organization!

PACKING LIST (mama + baby): Items linked above by clicking name.

  • Hospital Duffle Bag + Packing Cubes 
  • Nursing Bra (1 or 2) 
  • Pajama Set (button)
  • Pajama Night Gown (button)
  • Socks 
  • Announcement Outfit (gown, bow/hat, swaddle) 
  • Name Plate 
  • Newborn Mittens 
  • Going Home Outfit (baby) 
  • Going Home Outfit (mom) 
  • Nipple Butter
  • Light Toiletries 
    • Face Wash 
    • Moisturizer 
    • Wash Cloth for face 
    • Toothbrush + Toothpaste 
    • Deodorant
    • Glasses/Contacts 
    • Light Makeup (if preferred)  
    • Postpartum underwear (1) 
  • Essential Oil Supportive Roller 
  • Blanket (mom, baby, dad) 
  • Snacks 
  • 10ft Phone Charger 
  • Polaroid Camera 
  • Car Seat 
  • ID + Insurance Card 

Happy packing! You’ve got this, mama!

xoxo, M

By clicking and/or purchasing items via certain links on this site and across related social media platforms, I may receive a commission. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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