Unless a home delivery is planned, a few days will be spent at the hospital waiting for baby’s arrival. Due dates are nice in theory, but sometimes a baby decides when it’s time to make their appearance. Getting everything ready well in advance (and when things are calm) is a great idea. Here’s what to bring to the hospital:

Feeding essentials

  • For breastfeeding baby: Breast pads, lanolin/nipple cream, and a nursing pillow.

  • For bottle feeding baby: Bottles, formula, a bottle brush, and a nursing pillow.

For the delivery and after

  • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, bodywash, facial cleanser, moisturizer, and toilet paper.

  • Towels: Two towels and washcloths (plus some extras for the birth partner).

  • Hair care: Shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, and a hairbrush.

  • Flip-flops: A must for the hospital shower.

  • Pads and extra maternity underwear: Heavy-duty sanitary pads and several pairs of cotton briefs that are ok to be thrown away.

  • Eyewear: Glasses, lens cleaner, extra contact lenses, solution and case.

  • Sleepwear: A sweatshirt/sweater, two pairs of pajamas.

  • Robe or nightgown: Hospitals provide gowns, but there’s nothing like one from home.

  • Soft pillows: The hospital provides pillows, but they may not be very comfortable.

  • Comfortable clothing and a going-home outfit: 3 loose-fitting outfits, a few pairs of socks, underwear and comfortable bras are a must.

For baby

  • Going-home outfit: A footed onesie, hat and any other items suited to the weather.

  • Baby care items: Diapers, wipes, rash cream, socks, scratch mitts, and a hat.

  • Baby blankets and burp cloths: Some for swaddling, some for feeding.

  • Car seat: Make sure it’s properly installed ahead of time and know how to fasten it correctly.

  • Baby book: Capture baby’s first moments by putting their footprints in their baby book.

Electronics

  • Devices: Make sure everyone has their phones and chargers when heading to the hospital. If anyone plans to use a video camera or camera, bring that too.

  • Music and headphones: Create a few relaxing playlists before the big day.

  • Laptop/tablet/e-reader: Download some shows or books to help pass the time during a long labour and waiting for baby’s arrival.

  • Wi-Fi hotspot: Hospital Wi-Fi can be spotty; a personal hotspot can provide a backup.

For older siblings

  • Books/playing cards/puzzles: Pack a few things to help keep your other children occupied.

  • Photos: Bring photos of your other kids so they can see they’re on your mind, too.

  • Gifts for older siblings: Give big brothers and sisters a present “from baby”.

Leave these at home

  • Anything valuable: Jewelry needs to be taken off during delivery and nice clothing can become damaged or get lost, so might as well leave it all at home.

  • Hazardous items: Avoid safety risks for everyone – especially baby – by keeping toys and other objects with small or potentially dangerous parts away.

For birth partners, parents and surrogates

  • Snacks and drinks: The hospital only provides food after baby is born and only for the person who delivered, so be sure to bring some things for birth partners and for others to nibble on as they wait for baby’s arrival.

  • A journal or pen and paper: For keeping track of contractions, feeding sessions, or taking notes.

  • Picture ID, insurance information, and hospital forms: The hospital will ask for these.

  • Cash and change: Bring lots for the vending machines.

  • An extra bag: To carry gifts and items from the hospital to home.

  • Clothing: A change of outfit suitable to the weather.

  • Other essentials: Glasses/contacts/toiletries/etc.

For a handy printable version of this checklist, download the PDF here.