The Ultimate NICU Mum and Baby Bag Checklist

The Ultimate NICU Mum and Baby Bag Checklist


Often premature labour happens without warning - one minute you're feeling fine, looking after your kids or maybe going to work, and the next you're being rushed to hospital. Perhaps you've had time to grab a water bottle and your phone charger, but if you're suddenly admitted there's a whole heap of things that you need. When I went into labour (obviously not knowing something was seriously wrong), I'd been told to pack an overnight bag, so at least I had the basics like a change of clothes, pj's and my toothbrush, but over the next couple of days I was constantly sending messages to my husband asking him to bring extra things up to the hospital!

Having a high risk pregnancy or going into labour early is quite different from a 'normal' birth, obviously it's best if baby isn't born too soon and close monitoring is crucial to keep both mum and baby safe - this is a time when things can change in a heartbeat and every minute matters. Instead of having a couple of days in hospital to give birth and recover you'll probably be in for a long ride. With this in mind, the list below is far more comprehensive than the usual checklists for your hospital bag. For mums on bed rest, facing a NICU stay or having to transfer to a hospital away from your home town, there are a few extras you might want to pack for making your days slightly less boring and a little more comfortable!

Not everything on this list is an essential item, and depending on how long you’ll be away from home you might need add more of some things to get you through.


Toiletry Bag:

  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste, those mini bottles of Mouthwash are helpful too
  • Hair Brush/Comb and several Hair Ties
  • Shampoo and Conditioner, try Dry Shampoo if you're confined to bed rest
  • Body Wash
  • Deodorant - use one that isn’t highly fragranced because baby needs to be able to recognise your unique scent
  • Face or gentle Body Wipes - an essential for feeling refreshed if you’re not allowed up for a shower!
  • Your usual makeup basics
  • Face Moisturiser
  • Hand Cream – using the sanitiser in NICU will dry out your hands in no time. Again, keep the fragrance to a minimum
  • New Edition hand sanitiser which is gentle on sensitive skin. One application lasts up to 24 hours so it's a good alternative if you react to the hospital brand (check out our hand sanitisers here)
  • Lip Balm
  • Nipple Cream – if baby is late prem or full term and able to breast feed (not usually required if you’re expressing)
  • Breast Pads – a small box of disposables or at least several pairs of washable pads
  • Maternity pads – basic pads are supplied by the hospital but having a pack of your own can be useful
  • Flushable Wipes – much more gentle for after your labour
  • Any medications or supplements you usually take
  • Glasses, or contacts and solution if you wear them


  • 2-3 sets of sleepwear
  • Lightweight robe or dressing gown, for expressing during the night and taking the milk down to NICU
  • 6+ pairs of comfortable underwear. High-waisted or full briefs are ideal in case of a C-section (and for keeping those surfboard maternity pads in place!), look for cheap 3/5 packs from Kmart, The Warehouse, etc
  • 2-3 Nursing Bras
  • 3-4 Breastfeeding/loose-fitting/front opening tops for easy expressing. Clothes that have a front opening can usually be worn for kangaroo cuddles (skin to skin) with your baby instead of changing into a hospital gown
  • A lightweight Cardigan or jumper with a zip for in the maternity ward (the Neonatal Unit is kept really warm at all times)
  • 3-4 skirts, comfy pants or leggings
  • 2-3 pairs of socks
  • Slip-on Shoes, Jandals, and/or Slippers
  • A Laundry Bag or plastic bag, for your washing to be taken back home in

Bits & Pieces:

  • Mobile Phone (don’t forget the charger!), an extension lead can be really helpful too
  • Your own pillow
  • A book, Kindle or ebooks, laptop or tablet
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Notebook and pen – always useful for general notes, lists, questions you need to ask your medical team, or recording your expressing times/volumes
  • Something small to keep you occupied while on bed rest or for quiet time in the NICU – colouring books, or even crafty things like crochet or knitting!
  • My NICU Journey or another premature baby book – to record the details of your baby’s stay in the unit (suitable books available here)

Food and Drink:

  • Plenty of snacks. Hospital food isn’t amazing so pack heaps of your favourite muesli bars, fresh or dried fruit, nuts and seeds, crackers, biscuits, lollies, chocolate etc. Once baby is born you’ll need to keep up your energy intake to help with milk supply
  • Water Bottle
  • Reusable Coffee Cup
  • Your favourite tea, coffee or hot chocolate sachets

For Baby:

In NICU all the necessities are provided until baby is discharged. Babies that can maintain their temperature can be dressed - choose from anything your unit has available or you’re welcome to bring in your own clothes.

  • Prem sized clothes – look for 100% natural fabrics to avoid baby overheating, and NICU friendly styles which allow for easy dressing around their monitor leads and oxygen (our range of premature and NICU clothing is here)
  • Swaddles – soft Muslin or 100% Cotton
  • Cuski Miniboo – a tiny comforter which holds mum’s scent, giving your baby reassurance even when separated from mum and dad (twin packs available here)
  • Octoprem – the tentacles gives your baby something to hold onto (mimicking the feel of the umbilical cord), and helps to prevent baby from pulling on their tubes and monitor leads. Octoprem is tested to the Australia/NZ Toy Safety Standard (take a look at them here!)
  • A small soft toy for size comparison photos
  • Premature Milestone Cards – to visually capture those important moments in the first weeks and months of your baby’s life (see all the gorgeous designs here)
  • A small, labelled bag to leave at baby’s bedside for laundry – if you’re bringing in your baby’s clothing or swaddles the nurses will put aside anything that needs a wash
  • A favourite baby book to read out loud – hearing your voice can reduce stress and even helps with baby’s brain development!

Looking for a printable version to check off as you pack? Here's the downloadable PDF:

Posted: Monday 11 November 2019


No messages found!