What to pack in your hospital bag for baby and you

Mums-to-be are advised to have their hospital bag ready at least two weeks before the baby’s due date. It’s really exciting to pack a bag for both you and your baby. But it can also be a bit confusing – what will you need, what will your baby need, is it too much or too little? Our hospital bag checklist includes all the essentials, plus a few optional extras to make your time in hospital more comfortable.

Essential items for your hospital bag

Most women are encouraged to spend as short a time as possible in hospital after giving birth, so you probably won’t need to take too many clothes for you and your baby. Our top tip is to pack a large sleeveless front opening nightie for the final stages of labour, so you can easily open it to have immediate skin-to-skin contact once your baby is born. It’s normal to bleed for a while after the birth so you’ll either need disposable maternity pants, which have a built-in absorbent pad, or maternity pads.

Essentials checklist

  • Hospital notes
  • Birth plan
  • Clothes for you
    • Pyjamas or sweatpants
    • T-shirt or vest top (as you’ll get hot in labour)
    • Button-through nightie or long night shirt (for first skin-to-skin contact with your baby)
    • Dressing gown
    • Slip-on slippers
    • Socks (your feet can get cold when you’re not wearing anything on your bottom half during labour)
    • Nursing bras (bigger than your maternity bras)
    • Comfortable underwear and 24 maternity pads / disposable maternity pants
    • Going home outfit.
  • Toiletries
    • Wash bag with toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and moisturiser
    • Body lotion (not too perfumed, your baby likes the smell of you)
    • Breast pads (in case you stay in hospital until your milk comes in)
    • Maternity pads
    • Nipple cream for sore nipples
    • Make up and a mirror
    • Other: towels (dark coloured if possible), tissues, wet wipes, chemical-free lip balm.

Nice to haves for your hospital bag

Labour can sometimes be quite lengthy. Make sure that you and your birth partner have things to keep you occupied. A few of life’s little luxuries will not go amiss during and after labour. Our top tip is to keep the newspaper with your baby’s birth date on it. The front page will be a lovely addition to any baby memory book and your child will be fascinated to read about the world they were born into when they’re older.

Keeping busy

Staying comfortable

  • Water facial spray or facecloth to help you cool down during labour
  • Portable TENS machine for pain relief
  • A special feeding support pillow for breastfeeding and nursing
  • Massage oil.


  • Glucose tablets/Jelly Babies, bananas and cereal bars (to keep your energy up during labour)
  • Chocolate / biscuits (in case you get hungry after giving birth).

Baby clothes for your hospital bag

Midwives insist on a hat for the newborn when they are outside – this is because babies lose a lot of heat through their heads. Make sure you remove your baby’s hat as soon as they come inside, as babies can’t regulate their body temperature like adults.

Your birth partner’s hospital bag

Your birthing partner may be at the hospital for quite some time while you’re in labour and may even end up staying overnight.

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Change of clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Loose change for vending machines and car parks.

Top tips on packing and preparing for the birth

Space on the maternity ward is often limited and so try to keep your hospital bag to a minimum. If you can, fit your hospital bag essentials in one large tote bag. Some people like to pack a second bag, with more clothes, ready at home in case their stay in hospital is longer than expected. Remember, if you are going home from the hospital by car, you’ll need a Group 0+ Car Seat to take your baby home in. Read our guide on car seats to help you choose which one is right for you.

When you first come home from the hospital, you’ll probably want to concentrate on looking after your newborn baby and getting some rest. It’s a good idea to kit out the nursery with baby essentials like nappies, nappy bags, nappy rash cream and baby wash well before your due date. For ideas on what you’ll need in the nursery, read our guide on how to set up a nursery. Also, plan ahead and try to prepare some extra meals to freeze, so you don’t have to worry about cooking after giving birth. And stock up on household essentials like toilet rolls, tinned foods, cleaning products and toiletries.