Throughout pregnancy, there are a lot of special little moments that make the whole experience seem more real — your first ultrasound, finding out your baby’s sex, and (yes!) packing your hospital bag.

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When should you pack your hospital bag?

Throughout pregnancy, many special moments make the whole experience seem more real your first ultrasound, finding out your baby’s sex, and (yes!) packing your hospital bag. It’s one of the most important tasks on your third-trimester to-do list, and it can go a long way in helping you feel more prepared for your delivery. 

Of course, you can start packing your bag as early as you want. Try to have it ready at least a couple of weeks before your due date, just in case your little one decides to make an early appearance. If you’re at risk for delivering early (preterm labor), you’ll probably want to have your bag packed by at least week 35. If not, weeks 37 or 38 should be your cutoff.

Try to have your hospital bag checklist ready at least a couple weeks before your due date, just in case your little one decides to make an early appearance.

Hospital bag checklist for mom 

Let’s start with the essentials:

  • Driver’s license or other legal identification
  • Insurance card and hospital forms
  • Birth plan, if you have one
  • Glasses or contacts, if needed
  • Cell phone and charger (bonus points for bringing a portable power source in case outlets are hard to come by)
  • Daily prescription medications

Now, let’s talk clothing and accessories:

  • Change of clothes (remember, keep them loose and comfy!)
  • Two or three pairs of cozy, non-skid socks
  • Extra pairs of underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Sweater or robe
  • Flat shoes
  • Two maternity bras and nursing pads (for leakage)
  • Comfortable headband or scrunchie to keep your hair out of your face during labor

Other must-haves:

  • Toiletries (think: toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo and conditioner, soap, deodorant, face wash, lotion, contact solution) 
  • Chapstick
  • Nipple cream, if you’re breastfeeding
  • Earbuds and charger
  • Doctor-approved snacks and sugar-free hard candy for labor
  • Any snacks you want for after delivery!
  • Maxi pads or adult diapers, although the hospital should provide some

Optional, but nice to have:

  • Earplugs and eye mask (for when you try to catch some much-needed shut-eye)
  • Extra tote bag for any gifts you get at the hospital
  • List of people to call with updates
  • Phone or tablet with your favorite show or movie downloaded
  • Magazines, books, crossword puzzles, a deck of cards, or other activities to keep you busy during a long labor

Hospital bag checklist for baby  

The hospital should provide most of the things your newborn baby needs, like diapers and diaper creams. But you’ll still want to bring:

  • Going-home outfit (or two!)
  • Soft, warm receiving blanket
  • Burp cloths
  • Mittens, to keep your baby from accidentally scratching themselves
  • Infant car seat (okay, this won’t technically fit in your bag, but you should install it in your car the same week you pack your hospital bag)
  • Your pediatrician’s name, phone number, and office location, for any forms the hospital asks you to fill out

Optional baby items:

  • Brimmed hat to protect their eyes from the sun
  • Sweater or extra layers if it’s old outside
  • Bottles, if you plan on bottle-feeding

Hospital bag checklist for a partner

If you have a partner or co-parent, they’re likely to be at the hospital just as long as you are. It’s a good idea for them to pack their own little bag with:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • Pajamas and a change of clothes (if they’re staying overnight)
  • Toiletries and prescription medications
  • Snacks, so you don’t have to share!
  • Something to read, watch, or listen to for entertainment
  • Small pillow and lightweight blanket
  • Camera or video camera, if you’re not planning on using your phone for photos and videos
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Cash for the vending machines

Once you and your partner have packed your bags, you can put them in your car or next to the front door. That way, you won’t have to scramble around too much when it’s time to head to the hospital!

Waiting to learn your baby’s gender before you choose their going-home outfit? Check out our at-home Juno Birch™ Fetal Gender Test here.

November 30, 2022 — Stephanie McClintock