Even minimalists like to be well prepared. Packing for the hospital is one of the many preparations you have to tackle before baby arrives. If keeping things simple and practical resonates with you, take comfort in the fact that you can pack light! Outfit your hospital bag with just the essentials and know that you'll be well taken care of. Refer to this hospital bag checklist to help you pack for your journey into life as a minimalist mom.
Why Pack Like A Minimalist
You start feeling those first contractions and know that you are definitely in labor. Grab your partner, your hospital bag, and head to the hospital! If you've packed the basic necessities, you shouldn't have anything else to worry about except breathing and laboring.
In those moments of labor, nothing else in the world matters. You don't need anything outside of yourself and instead you turn inward. Pack a few basic comforts for yourself and baby ahead of time and don't fret over anything else. Babies don't need much beyond their mama in those first couple days of life! As long as everyone is clean, dry, clothed and fed you have met your needs.
Depending on where you give birth, they may provide many basic essentials for you. It is a good idea to ask ahead of time so you can be even more prepared. You might need to bring your own water bottle or they may provide you with one, for example. The less you have to bring, the better.
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 1900
What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag
Take this list and use it as a reference point, then tailor it to your own personal preferences for your basic needs. It includes the bare essentials with a couple of comfort items (like lip balm). I did not include personalized items like contact lenses/glasses or certain baby formula you know you would want to use if you won't be breastfeeding. As you pack, just keep in mind that you will probably not even have much time to dig into your hospital bag. You'll be either laboring...or laying in bed with a baby in your arms!
For Labor & Recovery
- Birth Plan, Insurance Information
- Slippers, socks, and robe
- Hair Ties/Headband
- Lip Balm (hospitals are dry)
- Water Bottle (for after labor, especially!)
- Nursing Bra
- Nursing Pads
- Nipple Cream
- Nursing Tank
- 1-2 Pairs of comfortable bottoms (leggings, etc.)
- Basic toiletries (soap, shampoo/conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste)
- Chargers for your phone/camera
- One comfortable going home outfit
- Some snacks to keep nearby if you get hungry between hospital meals
- Going home outfit
- Accessories appropriate for the season (hat, blanket)
The hospital may provide, or you can bring your own:
- Swaddle blanket
- Sleep gown for baby
- Soap for baby
- Diapers and wipes
Keep It Minimal, But Pack This!
What To Leave At Home
Many people would argue that bringing along their comfort luxury items is harmless and they see no reason to leave them at home. But for the minimalist way of life, the long lists of recommended items is overwhelming and unnecessary. I suggest leaving the following items at home to keep your bag light and your short stay at the hospital simple:
- bath towel
- pillow and blanket
- breast pump (it can wait until you get home)
- maxi-pads (the hospital will give you plenty)
- lollipops (believe it or not, these are on many packing lists!)
- lotion (your skin will be fine for a couple of days without it)
- paper, pens, thank-you cards, address book (relax, you'll be home soon enough!)
- pre-pregnancy clothing items (don't even try)
- books/magazines (bored? rest!)
Remember, you're only going to be at the hospital for a quick couple of days. Once your baby is born, you enter into the cycle of feeding, holding, diapering and sleeping. Your world will shrink down into the space between yourself and your baby - and nothing more will matter, anyway.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Michelle on April 18, 2020:
I actually brought a 1,000 piece puzzle with me and I was glad I did. I have pre-eclampsia so I was induced early and had to stay 3 additional days, 5 days total. I came really close to finishing the puzzle during those 5 days.
Angie on November 27, 2019:
Along with a CAMERA (which I consider essential as those early moments will never be again), I believe you should bring a BREAST PUMP to the hospital. I have only a small handful of photos of my firstborn’s first couple days of life because I wanted to travel light to the hospital so I ended up relying on visitors taking pics with their phones of my new son. And the breast pump. I had the same thoughts (no need to bring it to the hospital, there will be plenty of time for that at home...) well it turns out my son was born with a lip tie and he was unable to latch on properly. So here I am, a new mom, with limited pics of my newborn son and the anxiety of what I believed was poorly feeding the little guy for hours or days. Sometimes bringing along those seemingly ‘extra’ things are just what you end up needing the most. Fortunately I have learned my lesson and I am more prepared my second time around! These items are going straight in my hospital bag!!
Nicole K on July 03, 2018:
Thanks so much for this list! This is my third baby and I really want to keep things simple, but still be prepared. I'm going to use your list as my guide! I am going to pack a few essential makeup items, though, because it makes me feel better to put on a little makeup before I leave the hospital! A comfy "going home" outfit is definitely one of the most important parts to me, because of how tired and out-of-it I know I'll probably be! Being comfortable is a must!
Lula on May 19, 2018:
I really appreciate this list! All the other ones I’m finding are driving me crazy with all these extravagant things they recommend packing for just 1-2 nights! I will be bringing lotion though. My skin gets super dry, and I feel like lotion is important for allowing the skin to go back to how it was. Will also be bringing my own pads! I try to stay as close to zero-waste as I can, so I use cloth pads. I also love that they’re chemical free, so I’ll definitely bring my own super comfy overnight/postpartum cloth pads, so I don’t have to use the hospital’s disposable ones. (I also plan to cloth diaper my baby, though I have yet to see how practical that'll be in the hospital...)
Robin on September 27, 2016:
Thank you so much for this essentials only list. I have been reading list after list saying "no, no, no, why would I bring that?!" in my head. I was really starting to get frustrated. So this list and your minimalist philosophy was a real breath of fresh air for me.