How to Properly Pack a Bag for a Hospital Delivery

pregnant woman packing bag

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Parents tend to overpack for a hospital labor and delivery, especially when it comes to items for their baby. By not packing too much, be it for baby, mom or dad, you can save the hassle of lost items and focus on the things that matter most to you. Learn what you need to bring with you and what you don't for a vaginal birth or c-section.

What the Hospital Typically Provides for Your Newborn

The hospital will likely supply nearly all your baby's needs during your stay—and may even permit you to take unused items with you. These include:

  • Simple t-shirts or onesies
  • Hats
  • Blankets
  • Diapers 
  • Nursing and formula-feeding supplies 
  • Pacifiers

If you intend on formula feeding, check with your hospital to see if they will provide the necessary supplies. Some hospitals are changing their policies regarding the availability of formula, bottles, and even pacifiers. 

Baby Essentials to Pack for the Hospital Stay

Be sure that you check the following essential items off before you head to the hospital:

  • A nursing pillow
  • Other breastfeeding supplies, like lanolin and nursing pads 
  • Scratch mittens. You may want to consider these if your baby is sent for any needle pricks or vaccines. Occasionally, babies have been known to scratch themselves during intense crying spells following uncomfortable procedures.
  • Baby nail clippers
  • Special blanket or heirloom baby item for pictures
  • Weather-appropriate going home outfit for baby
  • A newborn hat, though many hospitals will provide you with one that you can take home. Your newborn will have a difficult time regulating his temperature, and a hat is key to helping keep them warm and comfortable.
  • Blanket for baby
  • Car seat with instructions
  • Car seat cover

Take a list of everything you brought and double-check before you leave the hospital that you have everything on the list packed in the car.

Baby Items for the Car Ride Home

Many hospitals state that you cannot be released from the hospital following delivery unless you have an infant car seat. This is not an item you want to leave home without. You should have the seat installed in the vehicle in which the baby will return home. You may consider going to your local police station to have the seat installed, or to check that you have it installed properly.

Depending on the climate, pack warm blankets and/or a car seat cover. While little newborn coats can be adorable, you want to avoid using heavy outerwear because of the danger of coat compression. Heavy clothing can cause your car seat harness to function poorly in an accident. Bulky clothing should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A Word From Verywell

Keep what you pack simple. The less you have, the less you will forget, and the less you have to worry about.

Allow yourself to focus on your baby, rather than to be distracted by items that are more than likely unnecessary.

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.