Newborn Hospital Bag List!

I was having a conversation with my friend last week about what she should pack in her hospital bag as the due date for her baby is approaching. I looked back at my list for my two girls and laughed at some of the things I included but never used and some of the important things I forgot. I also reached out to my 5 sisters, who among all of us have 17 kiddos, to make sure this list was a great resource for those beautiful mommas having their babies soon!  Being an Ottawa Newborn Photographer, I also get the chance to chat with plenty of new moms and they all said a list would be super helpful!
I found being a first-time mom very overwhelming with so much information and different answers from everyone, so I hope that this list will be a good help to you so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute to make sure you are prepared. I had my bag packed a month before my due date mainly because I was nesting and always feel more relaxed when I am prepared. Please let me know if I missed something or if there was something funny you packed that you realized was totally unnecessary! I brought books and magazines because I thought it would be a relaxing experience. I never touched them as any downtime I had I used to catch up on sleep. Also to add to the excitement of your new baby, I wanted to share some of my favourite images from this gorgeous family and their perfect baby girl from their Lifestyle Newborn Session in Ottawa.

The List:

  1. Nursing pillow: I found the pillows at the hospital not firm enough to be supportive so was happy to have this.
  2. Water bottle: Although the nurses provide a cup with straw I felt bad bugging them all the time to fill it up and it was painful to walk in the beginning, so having a big water bottle was super helpful.
  3. Hair elastics: Hospitals are hot, especially in the summer. I used elastics the whole time I was there and it would have driven me crazy not to have them.
  4. Snacks: I got tired of Tim Hortons quick and the hospital food is no good. I would bring high calorie nutritious snacks as I was always starving after birth. Think protein bars, granola bars etc.
  5. Onesies for the baby – I would bring a light onesie (if in summer) as well as a couple sleepers. I also would bring a hat for the baby, especially if you are delivering in the winter. My girls were both gifted with massive heads (from their Dad) so the hats they gave us at the hospital did not work at all!
  6. Swaddles for the baby: I don’t know about you but I struggled hard with swaddling my baby tight with my first and she was constantly breaking out of it and waking herself up. I will link another blog post in which I discuss my favourite swaddles that are so easy to use.
  7. Toiletries: I needed a shower right away after both kids so I was happy to have all my products to clean up with. Don’t forget your tooth brush and lip balm! It’s so dry in hospitals so you will be happy to have it. 
  8. Nursing tanks: Bravado makes the best nursing tanks that are comfortable but also functional. I wore them the entire time at the hospital and find they are great for moms learning how to breastfeed for the first time so you aren’t fumbling with nursing bras and shirts. 
  9. Shoes: Either flip flops or slippers depending on the season. My feet really swelled with my first so I was happy to have something easy to slip on. 
  10. Clothes for mom: For winter I would have a couple pairs of sweat pants that are very loose. You will not want anything rubbing or touching you (trust me) so buy some extra large pants or borrow your man’s. For summer I found maxi dresses perfect!
  11. Giant underwear: That’s right, go to Walmart and buy the granny panties in a big size. You will be wearing a giant pad for the first couple days so that doesn’t work with your pretty underwear. An alternative is to just buy depends so you don’t need to wear both.
  12. Phone Charger: This is always something I forgot and it’s a pain because I want to take pictures of the baby and keep in contact with my loved ones! This is especially important to me being an Ottawa Newborn Photographer but for those with a camera bring that as well!
  13. Your heath card: You will need this as well as your hospital card. Another tip is to register at the hospital before you give birth so you don’t have to worry about it while you are in labour. 
  14. Wipes: My hospital provided some diapers but not wipes so I would bring that just in case.
  15. Nipple Cream: Lanolin is great to use while you are adjusting to breastfeeding. I would also bring breast pads so you don’t leak in your clothes.
  16. Baby soap: If you are planning on bathing your baby at the hospital, I would bring your own soap as they just use generic Johnson and Johnson. My favourite baby wash is Burts Bees. It smells amazing and never irritated my girls sensitive skin. I also brought baby lotion as they tend to be very dry. 
Ottawa Newborn Photographer, Ottawa Family Photographer


  1. Mandy says:

    This post is gold for all the expecting moms Gillian – such a comprehensive list!! And I love these images!!

  2. Winterlyn says:

    Great advice for new moms. I don’t think i had a quarter of the items on this list when I gave birth to my first child. Great blog for new parents and maybe an update for some others.

    • Gillian McColl says:

      Thank you so much! I definitely had way to much stuff with my girls and didn’t need half of it!

  3. Kristin says:

    Such sweet moments that you captured!!

  4. Jenn says:

    Such a great list! My first is due any day now, and I just used your list to cross-reference what I’ve packed. Perfect!

  5. Jen says:

    Gillian this is perfect for new Moms! And your photos are gorgeous as usual!

    • Gillian McColl says:

      Thanks Jen!! There is so much to prepare for when you have a baby, I wish I had a list when my girls were born!

  6. Emily says:

    So beautiful! What a sweet family.

  7. Tania Wicks says:

    I wish I had great advice like this before I had my babies! Very informative, Thanks you for sharing!

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