Let’s be honest, having a baby is expensive. Hospitals are expensive. Giving birth in a hospital is insanely, staggeringly expensive. I don’t know about you, but if I’m paying that much for anything, I want to get my money’s worth and that means taking home as many hospital freebies after delivery as possible!
Hospitals often send or offer formula, diapers, and wipes for new parents to take home after birth. Because of sanitation and cross-contamination avoidance procedures, meanwhile, parents can often also get pacifiers, thermometers, nasal aspirators, and other free items to take with them after delivery.
There are loads of resources telling you what you should pack in your hospital bag, but here are fourteen things that you not only do not need to worry about packing, but that you can probably also bring home with you when you leave the hospital!
Do hospitals give you diapers and other free stuff after delivery?
When you give birth in a hospital, most of the essentials your newborn baby needs will be provided for you as part of your visit while the nurses help you take care of your newborn.
Since most of these items are disposable or it isn’t very practical to clean, sanitize, and reuse them, you will often be able to take them home with you as the hospital would just throw them away if you didn’t. Of course, don’t be afraid to ask your nurse if you aren’t sure about taking something! I think it’s a good idea to talk about this sort of thing for new parents because I remember being so confused when my twins were born while we stayed at the hospital. Nurses would leave items in the bassinet as they traveled around and never seemed to care about getting them back. Were they ours? Should we ask?
I’m going to go through the list of the most common things that parents are able to take home with them after delivery. When possible, we’ll also take a look at what brands you are likely to find and any other details that come up!
No, these freebies won’t let you avoid shopping for your baby, but it’s always nice to pick up a few free goodies!
Diapers are one of the essential baby items that you can almost never have enough of and it probably always seems like you’re running short of, so it’s great that hospitals almost always provide the ones for your baby’s first few days. When your new baby is brought to you, check the bottom of his bassinet. There’s almost certainly two small packs of diapers down there, and both are yours.
If you need to change your child more often than expected and don’t have enough diapers, feel free to ask for more. Even if you don’t actually need more before you leave, take a chance and ask a friendly nurse if you can have an extra pack. There’s a good chance you’ll get one.
What brand of diapers does the hospital use?
Diaper brands often give great discounts to hospitals so you’re likely to be given either Huggies or Pampers brand diapers when your child is born. It is a great advantage to these brands to be the one “hospitals prefer” because then parents are more likely to continue buying them as their baby grows, so hospitals will have loads on hand.
For my son, we received Pampers Swaddlers newborn diapers.
Can I bring my own diapers to the hospital?
There are several situations in which you might not want to use the diapers provided by the hospital, in which case you are allowed to bring your own.
Reasons for wanting to bring your own diapers include wanting to use a more natural plant-based diaper, either because of personal preference or an expectation that your child will have especially sensitive skin, or that you are planning on cloth diapering and want to start immediately.
Like diapers, wet wipes are an indispensable item in your baby bag. They can be used for cleaning up milk or formula spills, giving your baby a quick wipe down when he inevitably, inexplicably gets sticky, and, course, for cleaning his little bottom during diaper change time. Fortunately, the messy poops are still a little ways off in the future!
What brand of wipes do the hospitals use?
Like diapers, hospitals often get a serious deal on wet wipes so that a specific brand can be a new parent’s first exposure. Currently, the wipe you are most likely to receive at the hospital is Pampers. The wipe most “trusted” by hospitals is the Pampers Sensitive line.
Can I bring my own wipes to the hospital?
Unlike the diapers you are likely to receive, these wipes are fragrance-free and do not contain any added lotions or artificial dyes, so they are unlikely to lead to adverse reactions even if your infant has sensitive skin. Overall, these definitely aren’t the worst choice for wipes.
However, many people would still prefer to use a more biodegradable wipe or a reusable cloth option for environmental reasons. You are allowed to bring your own wipes, but be sure that you remember all the additional supplies (cloth wipe spray or warmer, wet bag, etc) you will need as well.
For years, hospitals encouraged women to start their babies on formula immediately, but now many hospitals are encouraging women to attempt breastfeeding shortly after birth.
During the visits leading up to delivery, your medical team will likely start asking you questions about your preference toward breastfeeding and put together a plan to help things move along smoothly. In most cases, they will attempt to get skin-to-skin contact with your baby and let them nurse naturally. If your baby is born premature or simply has trouble latching on at first, then the doctor may recommend that you pump the milk and feed it to your baby through a bottle.
What brand of breast pump do hospitals use?
The breast pump you use at the hospital is not likely to be like the one you’ll have at home. Because it will have multiple users, a hospital breast pump has reusable and replaceable elements that are not part of a standard single-user breast pump, and it is possible that you’ll be able to take those parts and use them on your home breast pump.
While it is not free, you can usually rent a hospital-grade breast pump for about $50/month. If you’re not planning on nursing for long or if you require more pumping power than a standard pump provides, renting a pump may be the more cost-effective choice. Hospitals usually have either a Medela or Ameda brand breast pump; my local hospital offers rentals of the Medela Symphony Plus.
Depending on your medical insurance, there may even be covered for breastfeeding supplies that will allow you to rent or take home a pump for free!
While breastfeeding is almost always the best choice for your baby’s health and nutrition, modern formulas contain everything that your baby will need if you aren’t able to provide milk yourself. Even for mothers that are determined to breastfeed, it can also take a few days before your milk comes in fully so there is no shame in having some formula around as a backup!
What brand of formula do hospitals use?
If you are not planning on breastfeeding exclusively, you will need a baby formula to keep your developing baby fed and nourished long-term. Enfamil claims that it is used in 80% of hospitals, so chances are good that your baby will be given it.
Most national brands give hospitals loads of samples to pass on to new mothers. Take everything you can! The different options are there specifically so you can test them out, compare them, and choose which one works best for your newborn. Even if you are not planning on using baby formula, you should still consider taking some samples with you in case of an unplanned break in your breastfeeding cycle.
Can I bring my own formula to the hospital?
If you have a specific formula preference because you have a family history of sensitivity to standard formula recipes, or if you are looking for a vegan or kosher formula option, you should plan on bringing your formula preference in your hospital bag. It’s probably best to ask about bringing your own formula before the date of delivery or at least before your baby is born!
Unless your baby has very sensitive skin or ends up with a bad case of cradle cap, chances are good you will not need a separate baby shampoo until your child is much older. In the hospital, the nurses will usually give your baby a little sponge bath right after delivery to make sure all of the birth material is cleaned off, but they typically just use baby soap for this.
What brand of baby shampoo do hospitals use?
For my son’s first bath, we were given a travel size of Johnson & Johnson’s Head to Toe Baby Wash and Shampoo. My kids have all been born practically bald so they definitely didn’t need a separate shampoo, but most babies use the same shampoo and body wash for everything until they are much older.
Your baby does not need to be bathed daily, primarily because his day-to-day responsibilities are eating, sleeping, peeing/pooping, and generally being cute. Only one of these gets him dirty, and you’re already cleaning him up pretty thoroughly during diaper changes. Baby skin is very sensitive, so you want to make sure you are using a very mild soap.
What brand of baby wash do hospitals use?
For a typical birth, you and your baby will only be at the hospital long enough for his first bath. For my son’s first bath, we were given a travel size of Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo and body wash. Basically, the nurses open up a new travel bottle, give your baby a bath, and then hand you the rest.
Your baby’s skin is incredibly sensitive and can dry out easily for a variety of reasons, including being washed too often or having too hot a bath. It’s unlikely that you will need to apply lotion to your baby’s skin, but your hospital will probably have some sample packets or travel-size bottles available to take home.
What brand of baby lotion do hospitals use?
While hospital systems vary, Johnson & Johnson’s baby line is very popular and trustworthy within most hospital systems, and we were given a sample size of the classic pink baby lotion.
If you are interested in the difference between baby lotion and regular lotion then you might want to check out the resource I created here!
Pacifiers are great for helping calm your baby by encouraging him to suck and self-sooth, but did you know they also lower the risk of SIDS? While there can be some downsides to relying too heavily on pacifiers, they’ve been indispensable for me with my kids at different times.
What brand of pacifiers do hospitals use?
The most commonly used pacifier in hospitals is the Philips Aventi Soother, a single-piece construction pacifier that allows your baby’s caregiver to slip a finger into the nipple of the pacifier. Like many other baby items, these pacifiers will not be sterilized and reused if you don’t take it home, it’ll just be thrown away.
Baby bottles (maybe)
Many hospitals are now embracing the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative which encourages breastfeeding as the sole form of feeding for the first six months. You can find out if your hospital is “Baby-Friendly” here or by contacting your doctor’s office directly. Baby-Friendly certified hospitals are less likely to have breastfeeding alternatives (like bottles, but also formula, and even pacifiers) readily available.
What brand of baby bottles do hospitals use?
Hospitals that do encourage bottle feeding are likely to have a very small (2-ounce size) Aventi bottle with a disposable nipple. These are the perfect match for your newborn’s small appetite and are a great item to take home with you! You can probably even get a couple of spare disposable nipples, but you can use a standard reusable nipple with the bottle as well.
I don’t know about you, but a nasal aspirator was not on my list of must-haves when we registered for our baby shower. Little did we know how important it is to have one on hand.
What brand of nasal aspirator do hospitals use?
There are many brands of nasal aspirators on the market, but the BoogieBulb is the one most hospitals use. The best part is it is easy for you to clean, but not worth the cost and time for the hospital to sterilize for reuse, so it’s yours to keep.
Ultimately, there are way better options for this. Check out my resource on getting baby boogers out here for my advice and recommendations!
A baby thermometer is a must when you have a newborn or small child because a fever could be the first warning sign of a very serious infection.
What brand of thermometer do hospitals use?
With new studies showing that temporal artery thermometers, such as the popular Exegen thermometer, are effective for newborns, many hospitals have started using them for standard neonatal exams.
If your hospital has not yet transitioned, it is likely using a very basic digital thermometer such as the Safety 1st Rapid Read 3-in-1 Thermometer. If this is the case, they will not be reusing it for another child and it is yours to take.
Hospital baby blankets are unlike any other and are useful for swaddling your newborn and a great keepsake as they get older.
What kind of baby blankets do hospitals use?
The standard white with pink and blue stripes baby blanket is a Medline Receiving Blanket. While you can purchase them easily after the fact, there’s something special about being able to keep the first thing you saw your baby in and it’s what most people think about when they picture a newborn in the hospital!
Because your baby will need to have his diaper changed so frequently during his first few days, your hospital will dress him in a t-shirt and blanket rather than a full sleeper. Although you probably already have loads of baby clothes ready for your little guy, take this workhorse tee home because it is great for days when you don’t care if he looks cute and you just want to be able to change his diaper without messing with a bunch of snaps or a zipper. Believe me, you’ll have those days.
Since babies’ heads are proportionately so much larger in relation to their bodies than in adults, they are at risk for losing much more of their body heat if they are left uncovered. Your baby will probably wear a little hat the entire time he’s in the hospital, and it’s a good practice to have a couple on hand once you leave as well.
If you ever wondered why newborns are always wearing hats and when you should take them off, I’ve explored this question in more detail right here!
Keep in mind that all hospitals are different and you should discuss any questions you have about baby items that you may need to bring with your doctor at the same time as you are planning what to bring for yourself.