The Best Ever Hospital Bag™ Guide 2013

The Best Ever Hospital Bag™ Guide 2013

June 23, 2013 10:18 am 11,385 comments

dreamstimelarge_29740381Featuring the Best Pure, Clean Essentials

Keep baby green right from the start. Our Best Ever Hospital Bag™ Guide is chock-full of savvy tips and contributions from leading pregnancy professionals and respected experts. From expert advice to product recommendations to where to shop and more, we’ve got you covered from labor through delivery.


Bring your own products to the hospital to match your own philosophy!

Babytime! by Episencial has put together The Best Ever Hospital Bag™ Guide featuring expert advice and product recommendations for labor and birth to support your comfort and keep you and your baby healthy.

This no-nonsense, Mom, MD, RN, and Doula- approved hospital bag guide is loaded with savvy tips and contributions from leading pregnancy professionals and respected experts. We designed the Best Ever Hospital Bag™ Guide to be relevant to whatever type of birthing experience you want to achieve, in whatever setting you choose: hospital, birthing center or home.



  • Paperwork + Essentials
  • Birth Plan Tips
  • Just For Mom – Personal Comfort
  • Just For Mom – Recovery Support
  • Milk: Nursing + Pumping Gear
  • Eat + Drink
  • Media
  • Just for Baby
  • Just for Siblings
  • Just for Partner
  • Life Beyond
  • Top Expert Tips
  • Downloadable Checklist
  • Get the Free eBook

We guide you through everything you’ll need to support your birth experience: your hospital bag for labor as well as what you may want on hand post-labor, for your baby, your partner and siblings too. Plus, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite natural, organic and health conscious brands with special recommendations to address the needs of preemie and NICU babies.

Packing for your trip to the hospital is important! Your comfort is a top priority, as is the health of your newborn.

Lotions, creams, fabrics, diapers, hand-sanitizers and other products should be carefully chosen to reduce your baby’s exposure to toxins during skin to skin contact in those first precious days.  While we don’t advocate that you go crazy shopping — you may already have many of the items in our guide — we do recommend as a great retailer for this guide to conveniently find our favorite natural and healthy products.

Keep reading for tips on creating a happy, healthy, comfortable and safe stay at the hospital, birth center or home for you and your growing family.



•   Insurance Information: Bring a photocopy of both your insurance card and ID.

•   Hospital Forms: Complete ahead of time.

•   Cord Blood: Bring your collection kit if you plan on banking.

•   Glasses or Contacts: No matter how many forms you’ve gone through, there will probably be more, and they’ll be harder to complete if you can’t see!

•   Medications and Vitamins: Yeast-based probiotics can help offset discomfort from antibiotics. Prenatal vitamins continue to support your body while nursing.



•   Don’t snip your baby’s umbilical cord until it stops pulsing to help prevent iron deficiency.

•   Make sure everyone knows that your baby must be given to you for skin to skin contact for at least an hour after delivery, even after a C-Section. Everything your medical team might need to do for you and your baby can be done while skin to skin contact is happening except in extreme and rare cases.

•   Emphasize to the team that there will be no formula feeding if you plan to breastfeed.

•   Keep an advocate (like Dad, Grandma or a doula) by your baby’s side to make sure your wishes are known (and followed) by all.

•   Natural Products: Request that your team use non-petroleum stretching oil during birth to help avoid tearing. Make sure your baby’s first bath is safe. Bring Babytime! Playful Wash, by Episencial.



•   Facial Wash, Moisturizer, Body Care and Cosmetics: For a hospital birth, keep in mind that the environment tends to be dry because of heavy air-conditioning, so bring products that ward off dryness to help you feel more comfortable. We love Babytime! by Episencial, Weleda and Dr. Hauschka products for facial and body care.

•   Toothbrush, Toothpaste and Lip Balm: Dry air is tough on lips, so lip balm is an absolute must have. We love Babytime! Cheeky™ Salve for dry cheeks and lips.

•   Itchy Belly Product: There are few things itchier than a growing belly! Babytime! by Episencial Soothing Cream could reduce or eliminate the itch right up to your delivery. The formula is natural and organic, non-greasy, cooling and brings great comfort to dry, irritated or itchy skin. Plus, its gentle, natural formula is safe for baby!

•   Pillows: If you love your sleep, bring your own pillow. Make sure the pillow case is brightly colored so you and everyone else can identify it.

•   Bathrobe & Socks: You’ll definitely walk around, which means you’ll be happy to have socks (a few pairs) and slippers to keep feet warm and dry. Go for lightweight, organic, washable materials. Hospital gowns are thin and have an opening in the back, so a soft bathrobe can make you more comfortable and keep your backside covered as you mosey down the hall or wander around your room.

•   Hair Ties: Ponytail holders and soft headbands keep hair fuss-free. Avoid clips, bobby pins and hard headbands which can poke you.

•   Comfy Clothes: You might prefer your own pajamas to a hospital gown. If you bring a 2-piece set, remember to make sure both the top and bottom are loose.

•   Your Grand Exit: Bring loose, comfortable, stretchy clothes to wear home. Your body will probably be similar in size to when you were 6 months pregnant.

•   Cosmetics: Many moms like to take a photo of their new family before they leave the hospital, so keep that in mind when thinking about what to pack. Even if you don’t bring your entire makeup bag, a hairbrush, some mascara and blush can make all the difference in feeling, and looking, a bit more like yourself.



•   Panties and Pads: The hospital provides disposable underwear and pads, but when you see them, you may find yourself desperate for your own supply! You will wear pads for several days after giving birth, and comfortable underwear is key.

•   Postpartum Spray: With the potential of having an episiotomy wound, tearing, or hemorrhoids from a vaginal birth, it is a great idea to be prepared with a product you actually want to use down under. Products provided by the hospital may contain parabens, fragrances, petroleum-based ingredients and other chemicals you wouldn’t choose for yourself. Consider Arnica pellets for internal and external wound healing. Always remember to get your medical professional’s approval on any products you use.

•   Organic Massage Oil: Soothing touch combined with moisturizing products will provide much-needed relief. The helpful triglycerides and essential fatty acids in massage oils could transfer useable nutrients to the rest of your body through the skin. Blood tests can show increased levels of these nutrients after massage with coconut and safflower oils.



•   Nursing Bra: If you choose to wear a bra, select one that is specifically designed for nursing. Remember, a bra is not necessary to successfully breastfeed.

•   Nursing Pads: Pads provide leak-protection. It is comforting to have extra protection as even someone else’s hungry baby sounds can cause you to lactate, and you never know where you might be when this happens.

•   Nursing Pillow: A great nursing pillow can make it easier to nurse your new baby, especially if you have twins. The latest research supports the use of a pillow to help comfortably orient your body into a slightly reclined position. Your own body then supports baby instead of using a pillow to support baby.

•   Nursing Wrap: If you prefer to cover while you nurse in public, you might enjoy the protection of a wrap.

•   Nipple Care: If you will be nursing, consider Babytime! Cheeky Salve, the Episencial solution to help soothe and protect sore nipples.

•   BPA Free Bottles: If you are pumping milk for your baby, be sure the storage bottles are BPA free. Consider bringing a pump to the hospital or birthing center. Many facilities have lactation professionals to teach you how to best use your equipment — both natural and mechanical.



•   Snacks: Good food can be surprisingly hard to come by in hospitals. Bring plenty of your favorite snacks and consider a little cooler bag, too. We love fresh, raw organic fruits and nuts, probiotic yogurts and Luna Bars.

•   Drinks: For a refreshing drink, our favorites are water and tea. Remember, water is what your body needs most. Coconut water is naturally packed with a wide array of electrolytes and nutrients to keep you hydrated and boost your energy during labor, delivery and breastfeeding. To satisfy a sweet tooth, try Zevia.

•   Hard Candies: All that breathing and panting can make for a dry mouth. Add to your comfort during labor with hard candy. We love candies made with natural sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar because sugar can make you more thirsty.



•   Music: You may want to have a special, sentimental and soothing mix of music prepared on your iPod or other device to play during labor.

•   Phone/Smartphone/Chargers: Be sure to bring chargers and/or batteries for your smartphone, tablet devices, camera and camcorder.

•   Reading Materials/Tablet: Magazines, books, tablets, music, mobile devices and cameras can turn hours into minutes. Light reading is best.

•   Baby Book and Memorabilia: Capture your baby’s footprints while you are still at the hospital.

•   Sanitizer: Media equipment can bring in unwanted germs. Don’t forget your alcohol-and-triclosan-free cleaning spray.



For newborns, adjusting to life outside the womb begins at the first breath and shortly after when the first bath is drawn.

Many popular baby care products provided by hospital maternity and neonatal wards may contain chemicals that you might normally avoid. Given that babies’ skin is as much as five times thinner than adult skin, there is risk of those chemicals finding their way into the body where they may have unintended health consequences.

More and more, parents and healthcare practitioners are seeing skin care products in a new light, choosing natural and organic products to care for newborn skin. Beyond skincare, we prefer clothing, bedding and blankets made of natural and organic fibers.

•   Babytime! Playful Wash, by Episencial: Give baby her first bath in this ultra-pure, pH-balanced, safe and gentle foaming wash. Babytime! natural, organic wash is already used by many hospitals, but if you aren’t sure what your hospital uses, bring your own!

•   Babytime! Massage Serum, by Episencial: Massage and skin to skin contact are especially important from day one. Avoid fragrances, mineral oil and other petroleum byproducts.

•   Babytime! Soothing Cream, by Episencial: This super-hydrating, all-natural, scent-free cream is enriched with probiotics and perfect for developing skin. Jojoba oil, neem oil, calendula and aloe vera work to moisturize, protect and help optimize skin immunity. Like all Babytime!, by Episencial products, this doctor-approved cream is loaded with Actively Healthy™ ingredients.

•   Babytime! Nurturing Balm, by Episencial: A great diaper cream is a must for any hospital and diaper bag. Prevent discomfort and help soothe extra chapped, cracked or irritated skin with this high-level barrier of organic coconut and calendula to seal out wetness.

•   Non-toxic hand and surface sanitizing supplies.

•   Organic, unbleached diapers and wipes in preemie/ newborn size.

•   Baby Wipes: Use warm water and organic cotton pads for cleaning the diaper area whenever you can instead of diaper wipes, which can contain drying ingredients like alcohol.

•   Clothing: Dress baby in an organic onesie, gown or buttonfront top along with socks and a hat (babies lose a lot of heat from their heads). 100% organic cotton is produced without the use of pesticides.

Your newborn baby’s skin is very sensitive and, unlike adult skin, it is thin and not fully developed. With this in mind, we recommend using a Babytime! 3-Step Skincare Routine along with organic clothing to protect baby’s delicate skin.

•   Linens: A soft blanket made from organic material is our go-to choice. Bring organic blankets for swaddling and for your baby’s bed or incubator. Organic cotton’s stretchy feel makes it easy to swaddle your little bundle, and it’s safe for sensitive skin.

•   Allergens: Nearly 100% of babies will have dermatitis which includes skin conditions like eczema, diaper rash, cradle cap and baby acne. Help reduce your baby’s risk by avoiding known skin irritants like “fragrance” in skin products and the nickel snaps commonly found on onesies.



Bringing a new baby into the family is a wonderful and yet emotional transition. Help your new baby’s sibling feel like an important part of the process by including them in the welcoming of baby! Since there is always a bit of downtime at the hospital, bring some entertainment. Include siblings in the excitement by offering a gift from baby and parents to big brother or sister. Ask parents and close friends to do the same!

•   Creative Supplies: We love the classics like pens and paper. These supplies may come in handy for you too.

•   Travel Toys: We love Tegu blocks and Green Toys products. An older sibling can pack his or her own bag with you (while you pack your own) to feel like a big part of the experience.

•   Mobile Games + Extra Headphones: As much as we love happily entertained children, we may not always choose the same sounds. Headphones help keep a peaceful environment in the hospital.

•   Camera: Their own camera provides an opportunity for them to participate. Later, you’ll have special insight into how they experienced the big day.

•   Kid-Friendy Snacks: We love Plum Organics, Happy Baby and Peeled Snacks. Well, okay, we love food, especially when it’s organic.



Other than taking care of you and your needs during the birth, your partner can play a big role in preparing for baby by engaging in some thorough research and even a little gear shopping before the big day.

•   Ambassador: Ask your partner to communicate your wishes to friends and family. It is A-OK to ask visitors not to wear perfume when they come visit you. Synthetic fragrances can interfere with hormonal communication between baby and mom as well as potentially interfere with the development of baby’s new sensory and nervous system during skin to skin contact.

•   Stroller: When it comes to walking with baby, we always advocate wearing baby as the first choice. There is nothing better than skin to skin touch. When wearing baby isn’t possible, then we vote for strollers that keep baby facing you instead of away from you. When your baby faces you she is very likely to be less stressed, have a lower heart rate, fall asleep more easily and smile or laugh more often. According to the latest research, when you keep baby facing you in the stroller, you are helping to support her development and improving her long-term mental and physical health.

•   Infant Car Seat: Make sure your car seat is installed correctly. Local police or fire stations often offer a service to ensure that your car seat is correctly installed and they do it for free! There are also specialists who can come to your home for the installation. Whatever you do, don’t forget the instruction booklet.



Our top 5 most important tips for keeping your baby free from the bad stuff once you get home:

1. Use an organic crib mattress.

2. Use non-toxic cleaning and personal care products.

3.  Get a HEPA air filter for the nursery or room where your baby sleeps.

4.  Keep breastfeeding for as long as you can.

5.  Try to eat organic fruits and vegetables and avoid processed foods.



Massage therapy combined with gentle chiropractic adjustments during the final weeks of pregnancy can improve pelvic function and decrease your body’s resistance to the baby’s natural downward motion during labor. Bring your partner to your visit to learn helpful labor massage patterns
— Dr. Elliot Berlin

A clear and simple birthing plan is the most effective way to be sure the desires of both you and your partner are understood. Discuss ahead of time with your medical provider so everyone on your team understands your guidelines. 
— Alisa Donner, MSW, LCSW, Mother, and Co-Founder of Pregnancy Awareness Month®

Wash all baby clothing and bedding with an unscented, plant-based, non-toxic detergent. Store plant-based products in a dry, cool area to maintain shelf life. Any product that changes texture or has an off smell should be discarded immediately.
— Healthy Child Healthy World

To be completely prepared for D-Day, have your hospital bag packed and ready by week 32. It will give you a semblance of order and control. Make your quarters and yourself, comfortable with little touches from home. A cozy shawl or blanket is soothing for the hours of labor you may endure.
— Amy Tara Koch, Author of Bump It Up

To successfully breastfeed, all a mother really needs is support, the ability to rest, and to be close to her baby. There are some products that can make life easier in certain situations. Get a suggestion from your local CLE or IBCLC so you don’t buy unnecessary items. Take a class on breastfeeding to learn all you can about this special relationship between mother and baby.
—Tracy Wilson Peters, CEO CAPPA

Organic clothing is especially important as preemies are even more susceptible to permeable toxins which may be in non-organic cotton and cleaning supplies.
— Kathi Salley Randall, RNC, MSN, CNS, NNP-BC

The latest information on breastfeeding is that using a firm large pillow to keep your body upright and your baby’s body horizontal does not allow for deep latch and often leads to shallow latch and reflux. Even if your body is fully upright, it is better for your baby not to be nursing from a horizontal position.
— Tracy Wilson Peters, CEO CAPPA

Even breastfed babies can have diarrhea, which often leads to diaper rash – especially if you or your baby are on antibiotics. Protect your baby’s skin before this happens by using zinc-based diaper cream.
— Kathi Salley Randall, RNC, MSN, CNS, NNP-BC

Did you know that your baby imprints strongly on flavors from first milk? Your early food choices are among the most important determining factors of your baby’s favorite foods as she grows. What do you want him to love? Now, eat that.
—Alan Greene, MD

Some moms love to have a special aromatherapy spray prepared for linens and washcloths and the room in general. My favorite is lavender and lemongrass mixed with distilled water.
— Val Peterson, San Diego, CA Doula

Great music can relax our moods, provide needed energy, and strengthen our mental focus to support the mind and body during labor. I love Prem Joshua: “Sky Kisses the Earth” and anything by Snatam Kaur.
— Anna Getty, Mother of two, Author, Founder Pregnancy Awareness Month

Most ancient cultures practiced an under belly treatment, surrounding the abdomen and pelvis in warm materials such as heated sand to restore heat lost during the birth. Bring a warm pack or warm water bottle to restore balance and comfort.
— Dr. Elliot Berlin

A mother’s scent is soothing for babies in the NICU and for any baby while they’re away from Mom. Hold or sleep with baby’s pajamas. Your scent will help comfort your baby when you aren’t there.
— Kathi Salley Randall, RNC, MSN, CNS, NNP-BC

A child of a new sibling will be delighted to know that you depend on her to be your little helper. Ask her how she thinks the new baby will act once they come into the world. Confirm that this new beginning will be both rough and fun. Ask her if she’s willing to help you teach the new baby about all the wonderful things she knows. Empowering kids empowers the world. 
— Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT, Licensed Child and Family Therapist

Don’t fall into the “my friend has it” trap. Choose product based on YOUR lifestyle. Babies really don’t need that much in the beginning. Allocate your money for the important categories: car seat, baby carrier/stroller, a safe place for baby to sleep, feeding support and supplies (be it breastfeeding or supplementation), swaddle blankets, organic skincare and diapering supplies. 
— Jamie Grayson, Baby Gear Guru, Stroller Traffic Expert

Hospitals often use harsh detergents (and chlorine bleach) to clean hospital clothing, bedding and baby blankets, which can transfer into baby’s delicate, thin skin. So keep them covered up with materials of your choice.
— Linda Storm, Director, Infant Massage Institute USA

A chemical called chlorinated tris, which was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s due to cancer concerns, can still be found in one-third of traditional baby products and car seats. Look for brands that meet California flammability standards without the addition of chemical flame-retardants to avoid airborne volatile chemicals.
— Healthy Child Healthy World

Even iconic brand baby products can contain formaldehyde and other carcinogens, and many body care products may contain fragrances and harsh chemicals. It is important to seek out actively healthy products that prevent over-exposure to unnecessary and potentially toxic chemical ingredients. I appreciate resources like Kim Walls’ Best Ever Hospital Bag Guide for providing moms with a great place to find reliable information about safe products for mom and baby.
— Stacy Malkan, Author of Not Just a Pretty Face



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