Mom checking off her hospital bag checklist while packing

As you put the final touches on the nursery, it’s also time to start planning what to pack in your hospital bag for the big day. The countdown is on! In just a matter of weeks (or maybe even days), you’ll be bringing home the wonderful bundle of joy you’ve been looking forward to meeting over the past nine months.

From the labour room essentials to going home must-haves, you’ll find expert advice on what to pack in your hospital bag for you and baby. Let the adventure begin!

You can also download a full list of everything you need to check off as you shop and pack.

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Your Complete Hospital Bag Checklist


Essentials for mom


Essentials for baby


Clothing essentials

Personal care and toiletry essentials

Birth Partner

Partner essentials

A few more must-haves

Extra essentials

Tips for packing your hospital bag

A well-established Toronto-based Certified Childbirth Educator and mother of five, Shelley Pett is an expert in prenatal education and taught prenatal classes at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre for over 13 years. When packing your hospital bag for labour and for baby, keep these pro tips in mind to help you pack all the essentials.

1. Start packing by 37 weeks of pregnancy. 39 weeks is considered a full-term pregnancy,[1][2][3] but you’ll likely want to start planning your hospital bag a couple of weeks earlier to give you enough time to get what you’ll need. You may want to start planning even earlier if you’re buying online and need to factor in shipping time. “If your doctor says you’re at risk of pre-term labour, or if you’re having multiples and know you’ll be having your babies earlier, you should pack sooner,” Pett suggests.

2. Bring only what you need. Pett recommends bringing one bag to the hospital for your immediate needs and stay, while keeping a separate bag at home or in the car that can be brought to the hospital when mom and baby are ready to go home. It makes it easier instead of over packing and lugging too many bags in the hospital.

3. Comfy clothes are a must. Don’t forget to pack loose, comfortable clothes in your hospital bag. You’ll need it while you’re in the hospital, especially in the daytime and for the journey home. Her advice: no underwire in bras as it can block milk ducts and don’t forget comfy slip-on shoes and a warm sweater. During the day it seems hot, but at three in the morning it [feels] cold,” she says.

4. Pillows are important. Be sure to pack enough pillows to make you comfortable. “It’s really important because usually you’re only issued one small hospital pillow, which is not good enough,” Pett says. “Be sure to bring a couple of good-sized pillows.”

5.  Bring electronics and entertainment. Since birthing rooms can be boring, Pett recommends bringing some kind of entertainment for both you and your birthing partner. Books, magazines, an iPad or tablet with movies and music should come in handy especially in early labour for both you and your birthing partner.

6. Load up on toiletries. Pett says expectant moms should pack all their toiletries including a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Some hospitals usually provide basic toiletries, but vary in their policies, so you might prefer to use your own.[4] “A lot of people like to bring lip balm because it gets dry in the hospital,” she says. Bonus: in addition to packing essentials for yourself and baby, it’s recommended partners pack for themselves too—like they’re going away for the weekend.

7. Make the hospital room extra comfortable. Essential oils and lotion are good items to bring in case you’d like to be massaged during labour. If you have a small diffuser, the essential oil will help feel relaxing. An ice pack, hot water bottles and a small fan (for when it gets too hot) can also help make the room a little more comfortable.

8. Plan what to pack for the baby. Baby hospital bag essentials are just as important as mom’s. “You should bring baby accessories like an infant hat for baby to go home with,” she says. Pett suggests that your baby hospital bag should also include undershirts, one-piece sleepers, receiving blankets, diapers, wipes and a going-home baby outfit. Don’t forget to have the car seat installed too!

9. Remember to have a list of loved ones. You’ll surely want to keep friends and family updated once your little one arrives. Preparing a list ahead of time will ensure that nobody gets forgotten and you’re at ease.

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Article Sources

  1. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Know Your Terms: Full-Term Pregnancy.
  2. Healthline. Will Babies Born at 36 Weeks Be Healthy?
  3. Baby Center. Full-term Pregnancy.
  4. Baby Center. What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag.