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? How do I know how to bring when I have no idea what size they'll be? What do newborn babies need in the hospital, and what are you responsible to bring with you?

Of course, 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) from baby coming-home outfits to swaddles.

Newborn Swaddles or Gowns

Newborn Swaddle from Lou Lou & Co

So, what DO newborns wear in the hospital? Surprisingly to some, 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. Non complicated outfits are key, and frankly, more comfortable for your baby (who has never worn clothes!).

Poppylist parents love the newborn swaddle blankets from Lou Lou & Co.

Bassinet Sheet and Receiving Blanket

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/swaddles, 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.

We love these baby blankets from Kyte Baby. They're cut from bamboo rayon, and are super cozy and buttery soft to the touch. The stretchy material is warm, breathable, and perfect for cuddling your newborn baby! It comes in over 20 colors, too!

We'd suggest washing all outfits, blankets, and swaddles in hypoallergenic detergent before bringing them to the hospital, as packaging/manufacturing can often cause the fabric to irritate your baby's sensitive skin. Here's one option from Seventh Generation.

Baby Coming Home Outfit

But there is one outfit that’s important to have— the going home outfit for baby. 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 (maybe one in 'newborn' size, and one in 0-3 months) is a good way to be assured you’ve got something that will fit. Parents also sometimes try to coordinate their robes/pajamas with their newborns, so that's an option too (but of course up to personal preference)

We've curated our favorite new baby outfits to bring them home in style (and comfort):

Baby Girl Coming-Home Outfit

  1. Footed Onesie in Peony by Bonsie Baby (Use promo code POPPYLIST for 12% off!)
  2. Matching Swaddle & Top Knot in Foam Stripes by MakeMake Organics
  3. Newborn Footie & Hat by Little Me Baby
  4. 100% Organic Cotton One-Piece Coverall & Hat by Burts Bees Baby

Baby Boy Coming-Home Outfit

  1. Organic Cotton Kimono Onsie & Pant Set: in Plaid by Make Make Organics
  2. Baby Bundle Bag Set in Star by Bonsie Baby (Use promo code POPPYLIST for 12% off!)
  3. 100% Organic Cotton One-Piece & Hat by Burts Bees Baby
  4. Unisex Layette Set by Monica & Andy

If you're having a rainbow baby, then this is the Primary rainbow stripe set going-home outfit your newborn baby needs! Need more guidance on building your newborn wardrobe? Check out our comprehensive article and checklist here.

More Hospital Essentials

Car Seat

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.

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.

Breastfeeding/Nursing Support Essentials:

  1. Haakaa Colostrum catcher. We have a lot of Poppylist moms who love this product, but I didn't end up using it at the hospital or even after. Not for any specific reason, but I felt like my baby was latching well and getting the colostrum she needed. It didn't appear that I had any extra to collect.
  2. Frida Instant heat warmers. My milk didn't come in for almost 5 days post-birth, and these instant heat warmers provided so much relief during those first few days while my milk was coming in and then in the weeks after. It always helped with my breast milk letdown, and I love how easy they are to reuse. This is one of those baby products I didn't have with my firstborn and wished I had!
  3. Lansinoh Latch Assist, nipple everter. If you struggle with flat, inverted nipples that don't stay hard for a long time, then this breastfeeding product is for you. I used during every nursing session the first few weeks, and it's incredibly helpful to draw out colostrum in those first few days. This is one of those 'must-haves' and a must-have just in case!

For a comprehensive list of everything mom needs for the hospital, click here to read: Hospital Bag Checklist: Overnight Essentials You Need For Mom and Baby.

Additional Resources: 

  1. The Baby Registry: A First-Time Parents Guide
  2. What Clothes Do I Need for a Newborn?
  3. Poppylist's Top 20 Most Registered Baby Items of 2023
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