Packing the Hospital Bag


Do a little digging, and you’ll find all sorts of advice about what to include in your hospital bag. Most of the guides ignore a number of cardinal rules. Like (1) you’re going to forget things; (2) it won’t be that big of a deal; and (3) if you’re packing a “hospital bag,” it’s unlikely that the kid is going to be born terribly far from stores that sell things.

With all of that said, packing a hospital bag can be more important from a psychological standpoint than it is from a material standpoint. It’s one of the last “nesting” events, and the one most immediately relevant to the actual act of having a baby.

Mom should put basically whatever she wants in the hospital bag; particularly anything that she things she may want during the process of giving birth. Oils, massagers, songs, clothes, whatever. This probably isn’t the area to make any strong suggestions or demands.

On your front, pack for a 2-3 day hospital stay, and make sure you address some of the boring, logistical bits. Like phone chargers and phone numbers for the dogsitter. Also, don’t forget that just the process of giving birth can take over a day. Bring water bottles, bring food (that you may need to eat on your own, in the hallway, if your wife is sensitive to food smells or if she’s preparing for a c-section).

Items for the Hospital Bag

  • Phone chargers and a phone power pack; expect lots of downtime where you might be screwing around on your phone, and calls/facetime with family members. If you want to come off as really smart, bring an extension cord, since often the plugs next to hospital beds are reserved for Important Things.
  • Mints for you, since you’re going to spend a fair amount of time with your face next to her face
  • Space on your phone for photos
  • Space in your bag to bring baby supplies home; the hospital will send you home with lots of them
  • Pens for baby paperwork. Getting a kid onto the grid involves a fair amount of paperwork
  • The baby book if you’re into that sort of thing
  • Chapstick
  • Small bills for vending machines
  • Comfy socks and a hoodie
  • Earplugs! Hospitals are noisy. Throw in an eye mask too.
  • Coming home outfit or two for baby
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, and whatever other toiletries you’d bring on a long weekend trip
  • A button-down shirt for yourself to make skin-to-skin contact easy.

Finally, take with you the possibility that you may pack all of these things and use absolutely none of them. If you’re a planner, that doesn’t mean this was all a useless exercise. But like I said before, the benefits could end up being more psychological than physical.