Choosing what to pack into a hospital bag can be a daunting process. Knowing from past experience, you can end up packing the up the kitchen sink and some! Obviously, the idea of a hospital bag is to ensure that you have all of the essentials, that is ready to grab at the last minute.¬†Whilst it is tempting to grab all and sundry, believe me, you don’t want to.

When should you pack your hospital bag?

Ideally, in our opinion, the best time to have your hospital bag all packed up and ready to go is about three weeks before your due date. However, this will mean that you will want to ensure that you have everything to hand at least four weeks before – there will always been some last minute purchases that you are going to need to make. To ensure that you really are ready on time, start your list and shopping about 6 weeks before the due date. By this point, you really are not going to want to go around the shops – this really is when Amazon becomes your best friend.

There will also be some perishable items that you will want to pack so make sure that they are on hand and ready to go at any moment!

Packing a hospital bag for baby

How big should your hospital bag be?

This is a question that is asked quite a lot. There’s no denying it, there is a fair amount to fit into a hospital bag and what you don’t want to happen is to have one so big that you end up not being able to find anything. If you really feel the need to take in a lot with you, then it may be an idea to pack two bags. One for the labour and delivery and one for the stay afterwards. At least this way, you can leave one in the car during the labour and fetch it when baby has arrived. If you are going to only take one then compartmentalise so that things are easier to find.

You will also want to ensure that your bag is a sensible size to carry around with you as you might be moving around the hospital prior to giving birth. Ideally, you will want your partner to be supportive and helping, not to be worrying about carrying a bag around big enough to go on a two week holiday!

Essentials for Mummy

By far, when you go to pack your hospital bag, Mummy is going to need the most items. This does seem like a long list of things to take and some of them you may not end up using. However, give yourself that comfort that you have more than you need and you will worry about nothing.

  • Birthing Plan & Medical Notes
  • Maternity pads
  • Maternity briefs (disposable ones)
  • Shower essentials – Shower gel and shampoo. Non fragrance if you can
  • Deodorant – roll on if you have it – prevents particles flying around
  • Toothpaste and Toothbrush
  • Lip balm – hospitals have a tendency to be warm and this will help you stay comfortable
  • Maternity bras – take two or three
  • Hair clips or har band so that you can tie your hair back
  • Loose and lightweight clothing – dark colours are best
  • Some small snacks
  • A bathrobe and hoodie – handy to have if you want to go for a walk
  • A few T shirts that you won’t mind throwing away afterwards
  • Breast pads
  • Face flannel – great for freshening up
  • Pillows! Sometimes the hospital may not have enough so worth taking some with you and leaving them in the car to get later.
  • A going home outfit
  • Clothes for when you are on the ward
  • Mobile phone charger – this is one thing you won’t want to run out
  • Towels – always best to have a couple spare and for when you shower
  • Slippers – you’ll regret this one if you forget it
  • Any medications that you are taking

Non essentials but nice to have with you:

  • Hairbrush
  • A good book or magazine
  • Headphones – don’t forget to create the playlists before!
  • Makeup
  • Ipad
  • A buttoned shirt – great for the early days of breast feeding

Essentials for baby

Newborn baby sleeping - packing a bag for hospital

Believe it or not, baby won’t actually need that much in the early stages but there are a few things that you are going to need to pack into your hospital bag for baby.

  • Cotton baby vests – you will most likely want 3 or 4. Take one nice outfit for the obligatory hospital photos
  • Cotton body sleep suits – you should only need to take about 3 of these.
  • Baby hat – newborn size
  • Scratch mittens
  • Socks and mini booties
  • A going home outfit for baby
  • A shawl or blanket for baby – home knitted ones are gorgeous!
  • Muslins
  • Plenty of nappies – hospitals don’t readily supply them – make sure you get a size that will suit the size of your baby. It will be a best guess.
  • An outdoor suit if it is cold
  • Going home outfit
  • Some cotton wool ball or pads for changing
  • Nappy sacks – can be useful but not essential
  • Car seat – best to have it in the car the week before – just in case
  • Cuddly toy – great for cute pictures!

Essentials for partner

Your partner is going to need to bring some things along with them too. Depending on the type of birth that you have, might mean that your partner stays with you for a longer period of time than expected.

  • Car seat – just to make sure it is on the list
  • Understand how the car park works – will you need change?
  • Bottled water – it won’t be easy to leave the maternity area if your partner is in labour
  • Snacks
  • Phone and charger
  • Phone battery pack – for a long labour
  • Digital camera if you want better quality shots that what your phone can take
  • Lightweight clothing – clothes you are prepared to get dirty.
  • Wash bag – with all essential toiletries – in case you are there for a period of time.

As you can see, there is a lot to take into consideration. Some of the items, you could quite possibly do without but remember this is going to be a big deal and you will want to make sure that you are prepared as can be. Even if there are some items that you are not going to use, packing them into your hospital bag will give you that piece of mind that they are there if you need them.


Other things to consider

Pregnant woman making packing list for maternity hospital at home

Make lists

Whilst ‘baby brain’ is often a common saying, when it come to remembering what to you’ve done, it is worth while writing a list. Having a list of all the things that you have packed in your hospital bag along with all the things that you still need to get will be extremely important. This will also give you the reassurance that you have actually packed it – will save a lot of time routing through the bag doubting yourself. Believe us, you will end up doing this if you don’t have lists. Also make lists of the jobs to do around the home – both for you and your partner.

Phone numbers

There will be a key amount of phone numbers that you have to hand before the big day. It might be worth writing them down outside of your phone. This way, if you go into labour, someone else can access them. Key ones to note down:

  • Partner / birthing partners phone numbers
  • Midwife’s telephone number
  • Birth units telephone number – at the hospital
  • Hospital number – in case someone needs to quote it for you
  • Any immediate families number such as parents


Whilst not something that you will take to hospital with you, make sure that you have some meals that are prepared at home for when you get back. Cooking something and freezing it will mean that all you have to do is heat it up. Both you and your partner are going to be exhausted and you will want to ensure that you are still eating healthily following the birth.

The NHS also has a lot of content on their site along with local hospital information.

What else do you pack into your hospital bag? We’d love to hear it.