If you are planning to cloth diaper, you may be wondering if you can start in the hospital, immediately following the birth of your child. The answer is yes, you absolutely can. So what all do you need to take with you to the hospital, and exactly how many cloth diapers will you need to bring?
Cloth Diaper Hospital Bag Checklist
- 24 Cloth Diapers
- 4 Covers
- 24 Cloth Wipes
- Large Pail Liner or Wet Bags
- Cloth Safe Diaper Cream
This diaper cream from Thirsties is great for cloth diapers, you can find it here.
A typical hospital stay, following the birth of a child, lasts between 24 to 48 hours. A newborn can go through 10 diapers a day, give or take a few diapers. 24 cloth diapers should suffice for a two-day hospital stay. If you are an over-packer, like me, you might feel safer bringing 36. I recommend you pack a minimum of 24 diapers to take with you to the hospital. If you have more than two dozen diapers in your stash, it wouldn’t hurt to pack them too. You never know what circumstances could ensue to prolong your hospital stay.
If you have a cesarean birth, your hospital stay will be longer, three or four days, barring any complications. You will either need to pack more diapers, or have a plan in place to have them laundered. Even if you plan on having a vaginal birth, it’s a good idea to have a plan B in place that addresses an extended hospital stay.
Pack at least 4 cloth diaper covers in your hospital bag. Again, if you have more, go ahead and take them with you. As long as the cover remains dry, and unsoiled from blowouts, you can reuse it. Some moms opt to skip covers altogether during their hospital stay. Keeping the cover off, makes it easier to observe baby’s elimination patterns. This can give moms peace of mind that their baby is passing urine normally.
Don’t forget your cloth wipes. You won’t be dealing with many poopy diapers during baby’s first two days of life. Pack 24 cloth wipes in your hospital bag, and you should be covered. The most difficult mess your wipes will have to tackle, will be the meconium. This is baby’s first bowel movement, and it looks like thick, sticky black tar. It can take a little elbow grease to wipe this stuff off of baby’s bottom. A trick I have found to make this first clean up a bit easier, is to rub some olive oil on baby’s tush, before the mess occurs. This isn’t always possible, as some babies pass their first stool right away. Some babies poop on their way out of mom, and some even poop in utero! My last baby did her first business on me, before I even thought about putting a diaper on her. Another solution for a big messy job, is to just go straight for the baby bath. There are times when I’ll open a diaper up and discover a catastrophic blowout, and the thought of wiping it all clean, seems more difficult than just rinsing it off.
You will need a place to keep soiled diapers and wipes. A large pail liner would be ideal, but you could also use any wet bags you have. It is nice to be able to hang a liner up somewhere out of the way, and off of the floor, so choose a liner that has a strap sewn on it. Just make sure that the bags you bring, have the capacity to store the number of diapers you pack. If you are on a tight budget, you could use a large trash bag, and dispose of it when you wash the diapers. Eventually, you’ll want to invest in a decent pail liner.
I have found that cloth diapers take up significant real estate in the hospital bag. The reality is, you need a big bag to fit all your diapering gear. For three dozen diapers, your covers, liners, wet bags, wipes, and diaper fasteners, I recommend using a large duffel bag. Pack all of baby’s necessities into this duffel bag, and have a separate bag for all of your personal items. This will keep things better organized, and easy to find.
It may help to discuss with the staff, your decision to use cloth, prior to going into labor. Speaking as a birth doula, I know first hand how beneficial it is to have everyone on the same page, and aware of mom & dad’s wishes, BEFORE labor begins. The minutes and hours following birth, are full of adrenaline and emotion. You will be very distracted and overwhelmed with your new baby. This is not the ideal time to try to explain cloth diapering. Things will go much more smoothly if the nurses are aware of the diaper situation, before the baby arrives. Chances are, the nursing staff will be friendly and accommodating.
You’ll also want to pack some clothes for baby. A couple outfits, hats, socks, and mittens should do. Grab a few receiving blankets, swaddle blankets, and burp cloths to throw in as well. If the weather is cold, make sure the clothes and blankets you choose will keep your baby warm and cozy.
Now that baby’s bag is all packed and ready to go, let’s cover some necessities for mom and dad. Mom, you don’t have to labor in a hospital gown! Pack your labor outfit, whatever you think you’ll be most comfortable in. Obviously you’ll both need enough clothes for two days. Warm non-skid socks, slippers, or flip flops, for walking the hallways. Extra undies for you, mom, since you’ll be dealing with lochia. I like to use adult diapers, rather than pads, during the first few postpartum days. Invest in a good quality, and comfortable nursing bra.
Personal Items & Toiletries
- Photo ID, birth plan, hospital forms, and insurance information
- Cell phones & chargers
- Wallet/Purse (Dollar bills and coins for vending machines)
- Toothbrushes & toothpaste
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Glasses, contact lenses, and solution
- Hairbrush & hair ties
- Chap-stick (Lips can get chapped during labor)
- Gum (You won’t want to smell any bad breath during labor)
- Hair dryer
- Pillow & blanket from home (a comfortable pillow will help you rest, and an aesthetically pleasing throw blanket can make a hospital room seem less sterile, and more cozy.
Labor is tough! Bring some items to make your hospital room more comforting, and to help you cope with contractions. An essential oil diffuser, along with your favorite essential oils can help you relax. If you don’t want to pack your diffuser, just bring along a travel size spray bottle. Fill it with water and a few drops of your oils. Another option would be roll-on essential oils. Just be sure to check with your provider, and the nurses before you use any essential oils during labor.
I like this portable diffuser for hospital bags because it’s small, battery-operated, and you don’t have to add water.
A Rebozo is a traditional Mexican shawl, made of long, woven fabric. There are various ways to use a Rebozo during labor, such as sifting, or “shake the apples”. Check out https://spinningbabies.com/learn-more/techniques/the-fantastic-four/rebozo-manteada-sifting/ for more information about the Rebozo.
Massage can be a wonderful technique to alleviate tension and discomfort. Arnica massage oil is a warming, calming oil, that can help your muscles relax. I keep a DIY massage tool in my doula bag. It’s made with a couple tennis balls and pantyhose. Have your partner roll it, or press it on your lower back.
Heat is another great way to ease discomfort during labor. You could bring a heating pad, hot water bottle, or rice sock. This feels great on the lower back as well. On the other hand, cold can be soothing. An ice pack on your lower back, and a cool cloth for your face, can be a welcome relief if you begin to feel hot and sweaty.
And of course, don’t forget to bring the car seat! You’ll want to keep your precious new bundle safe on your way home from the hospital.
As a mom of three who installs and uninstalls car seats ALL THE TIME, trust me when I say it is worth the investment to get a car seat that installs EASY!
I really recommend you find a car seat with good latch installation. It will make your life easier! I love the Chicco super CINCH latch. Check it out here.
If it all seems a bit overwhelming, just know, you really don’t need much to take care of a newborn. All they need is a fresh diaper, some milk, and a warm body to hold them. You got this!