Hospital Packing List for Adoptive Parents
So, you are adopting an infant, and you get that much-awaited call telling you that your baby is on the way! Whether you have expected the call for months because of a lengthy match period or whether the call was completely unexpected and out of the blue, how do you know when you are ready to leave for the hospital? The reality is that we often pack more than we could ever use, yet we tend to leave out one or two of the more important items and end up running to the store. I am a planner, so I like to have a list of items that I can check-off. In the event you do also, keep reading!
Sixteen and one-half years ago, my husband and I received the amazing news that a beautiful baby girl would be coming to live with us. Because of the circumstances surrounding the placement, we were unsure whether it would be a short- or long-term placement. Regardless, we were ecstatic first-time parents!
Once we began to see beyond our euphoric state, we realized that we were not remotely prepared to be parents. At the time our homestudy was completed, we thought that we had six weeks to prepare for the little one’s arrival. However, less than two weeks later, she was ready to make her debut! (Did I mention I was beginning my second year of law school exams only 2 weeks later?) We had no clothing, furniture, diapers, bottles, etc. … We opted for no baby shower until placement actually occurred. We knew we had to jump into action to get the necessities in time to hop in the car and drive to the birthing city several hours away. We had not been provided with a list of items to take to the hospital with us, so we haphazardly threw a bag together. Fortunately, close family members had just taken placement of their daughter only four weeks earlier, and they generously packed a supplemental hospital bag for us, which included many things we would have never thought to pack. We were so incredibly grateful!
Below is a list of items that we found helpful while we were out of town waiting to bring that sweet baby home. Hopefully this list will help alleviate some of the stress of packing for other first time (and second, and third, …) parents! If your match is made prior to the baby’s birth, I recommend packing over a period of time (i.e., focus on the baby for a couple of days and then focus on you, the parents, for a couple of days). Taking your time will allow you to think of other items that may have been overlooked. If you just got the call that you need to head out the door, you have no choice but to rush through the packing. Try not to stress but understand that you will need to be flexible, and you may need a couple of trips to the store once you reach your destination.
- CLOTHING. Clothes for mom, dad and baby.
- Bring an “out of season” outfit … the hotel room (or hospital) could be too hot or too cold and only bringing warm-weather clothes or cool-weather clothes could leave you feeling uncomfortable at a place where you will be spending a large amount of time.
- Bring flip flops or slippers to wear around the hotel (and/or hospital if you are staying overnight at the hospital).
- Wash ALL baby items before touching them to baby’s skin. This actually even includes new clothing, etc. for mom and dad. Babies can have very sensitive skin, so it is best to ensure everything is washed thoroughly before articles of clothing, etc. come into contact with baby. We often think to wash baby’s items in gentle detergent but forget about our shirts. Babies lay against our clothing, so it is best to ensure you are not wearing anything new around the new baby either. I recommend having at least one baby blanket and three burp cloths (or wash cloths) for each day you will be at the hotel. You may not want to wash the baby’s items in the hotel laundry facilities, so it is best to have plenty of items on hand.
- Baby item ideas: hats, onesies, sleepers, booties, socks, gowns, undershirts, bibs, and travel crib sheet.
- Bring premie and newborn outfits for your new baby … each brand varies in size, and even a nearly 10-pound baby may fit perfectly into a premie outfit, depending on the particular outfit. Babies are used to be snug, so a bulky outfit may lead to an uncomfortable (and fussy) baby.
- STERILIZED BOTTLES. The bottles and pacifiers provided at the hospital will be sterilized but be sure to sterilize any that you bring from home.
- DISTRACTIONS. iPad, Computer, Books, Games, etc.! Believe it or not, you may have plenty of time on your hands while you await the arrival of the baby, and these items are a great way to distract you so the wait doesn’t seem quite so long!
- COUPONS. Coupons for formula and other baby items. If you have a smart phone, download a couple of great coupons apps … alternatively, you can search by store. Although the hospital will often allow you to leave with quite a few samples of formula, some bottles, pacifiers, swaddling blankets, etc., you will need to purchase some as well.
- CAMERA AND CONTACT INFORMATION. You will be anxious to take pictures of the little one, so be sure to have your camera and ample memory for all the photos. While many people use their smart phone as their primary camera, others want a separate camera or video camera to use while at the hospital or hotel. You may always want to consider setting up some group texts for those you want to update throughout the labor/delivery/post-partum process.
- BABY ITEMS. Car Seat, Diaper Bag, Carrier or Sling, Boppy pillow (or similar), reference books, diapers, hooded towels, travel size baby bath products, baby grooming set, hand sanitizer (for parents and others who want to hold the baby, not for the baby), pacifiers, baby wipes (and holder if the package is not resealable), a couple of soft toys (i.e. rattle or stuffed animals), mylicon, bottles, bottle brush, changing pad, infant cloth insert for car seat.
- SNACKS. You may get hungry and may not want to be limited to vending machine food.
- CLEANSING SUPPLIES: Bottle cleaner and kitchen towels to wash the bottles after use. Dreft (or similar) laundry detergent.
- MOMENTOS: Newspaper from the baby’s birth date. Journal … try to write something within the first 48 hours of the baby’s birth because it goes by so quickly!
- STORAGE: Ziplock bags or other plastic bags for dirty diapers and outfits.
General Info to help you plan if you are traveling:
- If you are traveling out of town, try to find a reasonably priced suite/home to rent … you may want a kitchen and the extra space. You can often get better deals online than if you call to reserve the room, so check out some discount websites or the site for your favorite brand of hotel to see what deals are available. You may have discounts through various memberships, so don’t forget to check into those rates. Be sure to call the hotel to see if it has a travel bassinet or crib you can use … if not, pack one.
- IN-STATE TRAVEL. Usually if you are traveling within your state of residency to the location of your child’s birth, you will be able to leave the area upon discharge of the baby from the hospital. Speak with your adoption agency and/or attorney prior to the baby’s birth (if the match is made before birth) to verify whether there are special circumstances that would require a longer stay.
- OUT OF STATE TRAVEL: If you are traveling out of the state, keep in mind that you may not be able to leave the state of the child’s birth for a week or two after the birth. Speak with your adoption agency and/or attorney prior to the baby’s birth (if the match is made before birth) to see how long the ICPC approval usually takes between your state of residency and the state of the baby’s birth.
- If you unexpectedly face medical concerns that require a longer hospitalization for the child, investigate to see if there is a Ronald McDonald House nearby where you can stay.
- You may need a Medical Release to fly with an infant under two weeks old.
Congratulations on this exciting time! We wish you the best in packing to meet your little one and would be honored to assist you in your adoption journey.