Between nurseries, registries, baby showers, and car seat research, packing dad’s hospital bag might not be at the top of expecting parents’ to-do lists. But it’s so important to make sure both parents’ needs are covered for the hospital stay, especially with dad—he’s on his own for a whole lot more than mama is!
10 Items Experienced Dads Recommend
If this is your first baby, you might be wondering what needs to be in dad’s hospital bag. I surveyed a bunch of experienced dads for their must-haves, so you can take the guesswork out of the process.
During labor, dad will be doing a lot of support work and he’ll need fuel, so pack lots of grab-and-go snacks in his hospital bag. After delivery, he’ll have to forage for his own survival while mom orders hospital food, so make sure he has plenty of options. High protein snacks, cash for vending machines, and an account with a meal delivery service like Door Dash will be incredibly helpful.
#2: The Basic Essentials
“You’re spending the night for however many days.”an experienced dad
Whatever it means for your unique needs, bring the basics like toiletries, contacts solution, and underwear. If you’re feeling stuck, just pack as if you’re going away for a long weekend.
For items that can’t be packed until the last minute, make a list of exactly what’s needed and post it on the fridge so you don’t forget anything important when you’re trying to get out the door.
Related reading: 6 Tips for Packing Your Hospital Bag
#3: Phone Charger, Extension Cord, and Headphones
Dad’s phone charger needs to be easily accessible in his hospital bag. Unless he’s cool with charging it across the room and going without it for a while, bring an extension cord so the charger can reach to where he’s actually sitting or lying down. Finally, bring headphones so he can zone out if he needs, play music or white noise for sleep, or dive into entertainment if you have down time.
#4: Pillow and Blanket
Mom will have the bed, hospital sheets and blanket, and a pillow or two, but dad will be stuck on the couch. Hospitals rarely provide blankets, sheets, and pillows for anyone but mom, so be sure to bring a blanket and pillow (easily identifiable as personal items) so he can sleep a bit more comfortably.
#5: Warm Clothes
“All of our babies have been born in the summer, but in the hospital, it’s winter year-round! It took me until the third baby to figure out I need to pack sweatpants and a sweatshirt no matter how hot it is outside.”an experienced dad
I was freezing the whole time I was in the hospital! Make sure you’re prepared for a range of temperatures. Dad will be covered if he has layering options and warm clothing in his hospital bag.
Entertainment really comes down to what kind of birth you’re trying to have and whether things go according to plan. Some dads I talked to wished they hadn’t brought things like dense books and work computers, while one dad happily brought along a Rubik’s cube (and actually used it).
My advice is to pack a little for each possibility. If you’re getting an epidural, bring a few streamlined options for entertainment, like a magazine and a tablet with books and movies already downloaded—but don’t go overboard in case your epidural doesn’t take or things happen too fast. If you’re going medication-free, be merciful on yourself and your partner by packing some entertainment anyway, in case you need an epidural in order to progress.
If you pack for both down time and no down time, you’ll have all your bases covered no matter what happens.
Related reading: Visitors After Birth | 4 Things to Consider Before Making Plans
“I unfortunately forgot to pack it this time, and 36 hours without sleep + coffee withdrawal gave me a killer migraine.”an experienced dad
Remember that Dad is on his own when it comes to most necessities, including pain management. If he gets a headache, he’ll be relieved to have medication in his hospital bag instead of having to hunt for it at the gift shop.
#8: Ear Plugs
One dad suggested bringing earplugs, and I wished I’d heard that brilliant idea before our daughter was born! People will be coming into the room at all hours to check mom’s blood pressure and temperature, and there’s often no reason dad needs to be woken up for that, too. Help him sleep by blocking the noise.
#9: A Large Empty Bag
Pack one in both of your bags. You’re going to leave the hospital with more stuff than you had going in. Plus, the bags you packed so meticulously will be a whole lot more disorganized when you leave, so give yourself room for overflow.
Related reading: 10 Items You Need for a Short-Term NICU Stay
#10: An Eye Mask
You’ll take sleep when you can get it, including in the middle of the day, and hospital blinds only do so much. Make sleep a little easier by packing eye masks.
Seriously, that’s pretty much all that these dads recommended bringing in their hospital bags. It’s refreshingly light compared to recommendation lists for mom’s hospital bag! But hey, if dads want to keep it simple, that’s great! Having a baby is complicated enough as it is.