Essentials for your hospital bag checklist

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Simple luxuries, like a hand massage, will ease your mind and body during a hospital stay
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Include both practical and comfort items on your hospital bag checklist

A hospital bag can help make your stay in the hospital as comfortable as possible, whether you are planning to stay in the hospital for childbirth, inpatient surgery of another reason.

A hospital bag checklist will be very different from a casual weekend-away bag. A few small comfort items combined with practical necessities will make this a relatively small list, though you’ll want to bring enough to last the duration of your stay.

Hospital Bag Checklist


This is the most important item for your hospital bag checklist as it will contain essential information for your doctors. Include the following: list of your current medications, insurance cards, medical history, legal arrangements, contact name and number for a designated family member, list of current doctors and why you see them, list of dietary restrictions and allergies.

Comfort Items

No matter what time of year it is, hospitals get chilly. Pack warm socks and slippers, comfortable pajamas, your pillow and robe, lip balm, lotions and massage oil.

Hygienic Items

Some people are surprised to find that hospitals do not provide a number of hygiene items. Pack several pairs of underwear, tooth brush and tooth paste, floss, deodorant, hair brush, hair tie or barrettes and face moisturizer.


Not all, but many hospitals charge for phone calls. Bring your cell phone and charger so you can contact everyone you need to, and have friends send amusing photos and text messages while you’re recovering.


Bring a few books and magazines in case you feel restless or up to reading, as well as music, and a portable DVD player with DVDs. Consider bringing a journal and pen as well.

Things you’ll be glad to have

If you normally wear contact lenses, consider packing your glasses because hospitals can dry your eyes or you may be slightly dehydrated – which makes contacts quite uncomfortable. For after surgery or delivering a baby, pack plenty of snacks so you don’t get hungry between hospital meals. Good hospital snacks include dried fruit, crackers, cereal, juice boxes, muffins and trail mix. And it never hurts to have extra cash and change on hand for trips to the vending machines.

Homecoming Clothes

Choose your most comfortable clothes for your homecoming outfit. Whether you have people waiting to welcome you back or not, your comfort and recovery should be top priority. Choose loose cotton pants over jeans for maximum ease.

If you’re going to the hospital to give birth, you may want to encourage your husband or partner to refer to your hospital bag checklist and pack a small bag as well. Basic hygiene items, a comfortable change of clothes, pajamas and entertainment may or may not be needed, but it’s good to have these things on hand. And of course, don’t forget to pack a camera!

Hospital Bag: Checklist
New York Methodist Hospital: Surgery Bag Checklist (example)

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