Sign In
Cook Children's
Patient Portal

Packing the Dad Bag

One of the many jobs you'll have as the expectant dad is having everything ready to go for the big day (or night). To make the hospital stay go easier and more comfortably, you're going to need a dad bag. A dad bag is like your survival kit, it contains all the things you need to successfully get through the labor and delivery process. To help you out, we asked our veteran dads to tell us the best things to pack and when.

Choose a pediatrician still on your checklist? Let's get this one done

When to pack

Start packing the dad bag around week 30. It may seem like delivery day is still a long way out, but with all the other things that have to be done before baby's arrival day, time will fly faster than you think. Plus, if there are any surprises, having the basics in your bag will reduce a lot of stress. By weeks 34-36 you should have almost everything you need already in the bag. By week 39 your dad bag should be fully packed, and good to go.

Full details of things you'll most likely want to pack are below. We've also provided a quick checklist for you to download so you can check off the basics as you gather them.

Download Dad Bag Checklist

This is a list of all the essentials. But there are other things you may want to pack as well ... so read on!

Energy supplies

While the hospital may have plenty of food and drink items, you really won’t have a lot of time so it’s best to have what you need right by your side, so you can be by right by your partner’s side. Plus, you’ll need to keep your energy up as you support your partner through the labor process.

  • Pack plenty of trail mix, energy bars – especially protein bars – and nuts (unless you or your wife are allergic to nuts).
  • It’s also important to hydrate so pack small bottles of water.
  • We also recommend packing some chewing gum in your bag – something fresh and minty for between snacks.

Photos and videos

If you’re planning on capturing the moment, be prepared.

  • Pack a camera and/or camcorder.
  • Today’s phones also take great photos and videos so that may be all you need.
  • Be sure to pack chargers and/or batteries. There’s nothing like discovering the phone or camera is out of juice … there are no retakes.

Contact list

  • With today’s blended families, there are probably tons of people waiting impatiently by their phones for that first glimpse of the new arrival. Even if everyone you need to call or text is in your phone’s contact list, it’s helpful to have a written “priority” list.
  • Insurance provider contact information. If your baby will be covered under both your and your partners insurance be sure to have contact info for both. Contact your provider(s) right away to make sure your baby is covered.

For the hospital

  • Bring something comfortable to wear.
  • Sweats and sweatshirt
  • Change of underwear and clothes (t-shirt, shorts, jeans, etc.)
  • Clean socks
  • Comfortable shoes – no open toes
  • You’ll also want to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Fragrance-free deodorant
  • Swimwear if you’re doing a water birth at a birthing center
  • Portable DVD player for entertainment if it’s a long labor – note: WiFi is sketchy to nonexistent in most hospitals
  • Music – whatever your wife feels will help her relax under the circumstances


  • Because so much can be happening, here are a couple of things dads say they wish they’d packed:
  • An extra set of car and house keys in their bag
  • Aspirin or acetaminophen
  • Prescription medication you need on a daily basis
  • Extra pair of glasses and contact lenses
  • Small comfy pillow and light blanket

For your wife

  • Push gift – a present to thank her for carrying your baby and for going through labor and delivery

In your wallet

  • Your driving license
  • Insurance card, or cards if both your and your partner have insurance
  • Debit and/or credit card
  • Several one-dollar bills for vending machines

More Questions? We've Got Answers.

Preparing for Parenthood
Your Pregnancy
Newborn Care