Packing a bag to take to the hospital is a third trimester rite of passage. A quick Google search turns up plenty of packing guides and strategies for what you should pack, but what do you need for your baby? Are you supposed to bring diapers? Blankets? Clothes? What do newborn babies need in the hospital, and what are you responsible to bring with you?
You can bring anything you think you’d like to have with you, but in true Poppylist fashion, we’ve narrowed it down to a handful of basic items that will be optimally helpful (and take up just a little bit of space in your bag).
There’s one item you’re required to bring to your hospital birth–the car seat. Don’t forget it, as the hospital will not discharge you without it. If convenient, you can leave it in your car during labor and delivery, and your birthing partner can fetch it once you’re ready to buckle up baby and head home.
The hospital will have someone on staff who will come into your room at some point during your recovery stay to inspect the seat and answer any questions you have about using it safely. In most hospitals, this is a requirement that must be completed before you’re issued discharge paperwork. For more details on car seat safety, read this detailed article.
As far as must-haves go, if you’ve remembered your car seat, you’re set. You don’t actually need to bring anything else for your newborn with you. But there are a few more items most parents recommend.
After baby is safely earth-side, your hospital will supply you with everything your newborn needs to be safe, warm, and comfortable during the duration of your stay. This includes a bassinet, flannel blankets, diapers, and even little hats. There’s no expectation or responsibility to bring these items with you, but many parents like to bring a few comfort items from home. A bassinet sheet and receiving blanket are the most common nice-to-have items, especially if you want to take styled photos of your baby to share with excited family and friends.
So, what DO newborns wear in the hospital? You’re not responsible for bringing outfits for your baby to wear during your hospital stay. Most hospitals prefer to dress babies simply, either in just a diaper and swaddled in a flannel blanket, or in a side-snap bodysuit or basic gown. (All of these items will be provided for you.) This is preferred because nurses, pediatricians, pediatric specialists and other care providers will be by your room frequently to perform vital sign checks and other newborn procedures.
But there is one outfit that’s important to have–the going home outfit. Most parents like to pick out something special for this first outfit, but it’s completely up to your preference and taste. Keep in mind the baby’s umbilical cord stump will likely be clamped, so side-snap bodysuits, tops with tie closures, or gowns will be easiest and most comfortable. And, since it’s impossible to size accurately for a newborn, having a few options on hand is a good way to be assured you’ve got something that will fit.
Need more guidance on building your newborn wardrobe? Check out our comprehensive article and checklist here.
With these basics tucked into your hospital bag, you’ll be covered for the duration of your short stay. If the birth is uncomplicated, and mom and baby are both doing well, you’ll likely be discharged between 24-48 hours, and you’ll head home to snuggle, bond, and recover.