Big sibling packing list preview images

What to Pack For Kids When Parents Go to the Hospital

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Second or third baby on the way? You probably packed your own hospital bag – but this big sibling packing list will help you figure out what to pack for the future big brother and sister when parents go to the hospital! You can find my list of big sibling gift ideas here. This post contains affiliate links.

Big sibling packing list preview images

Princess A is here and is the highlight of all that we’ve been through this year. Whew!

When we first broke the news to the boys during very turbulent times, we explained how things will work when it’s time for the baby to be born – that the baby is born at the hospital, where Mommy stays for a couple of days.

Y was very worried. “Who will keep us safe?” We told them that they’ll be staying with their aunt and uncle. Since I tend to give birth a little early, I packed a big sibling suitcase a month in advance, so that Y can see that all his things were prepared.

But I sneaked a few “extras” in.

I wanted to share with you today a few tips for packing a big sibling suitcase for their stay with a relative while you give birth. Some are absolutely necessary, some are “good to have”. I don’t necessarily recommend packing light, since having creature comforts during a difficult time for kids can make a big difference.

What you’ll pack will also depend on the age and stage of the child. I tried to include these variables.

And finally, at the end of the post, you’ll find a free printable packing list for big brothers and sisters (they’re the same – just two different designs, and one says “big brother” one says “big sister…)

It has extra space to add your own items in and serves as an easy starting point, complete with a “last minute” list of things that you’ll need up until you leave. You’ll want to pack those on the way out. You can cut off this portion after you’ve packed.

What to pack for the big siblings when mom & dad go to the hospital to give birth:

When parents need to go to the hospital, they need to know what to pack for their children to keep them entertained and busy throughout their stay with a sitter. If you are not sure what to pack and bring along with you for your children, check out this list of must-have items that will indeed come in handy. There is a good chance that you will spend at least three days in the hospital after giving birth, including the day that you are in labor (in 2020 it may be only two days). Therefore, it is best to pack a bag full of items for your kids to last for those three days.

Day 1


If your child is picky with clothing, make sure to choose something that they’ll wear willingly. Keep in mind weather variations if you’re dealing with Spring or Fall. You might want to include two options, or just toss in some layers, such as hoodies. And if you’re dealing with a young child, you’ll want to include a spare outfit for each day. For older kids, just one spare works.

Diapers and wipes – or undies!

Bring as many diapers as you think you might need for your toddler. It is better to pack extra than to run out. As a parent, you may know how often your child typically needs to have their diaper changed, so add a few diapers to that number just to be on the safe side.

For a recently toilet-trained child, you may want to include a potty seat, and you’ll want to include lots of spare underwear, as well as a wet bag to put them into.

Older kids can just come with one spare pair – just in case!

Drawing Pad With Pencils and Crayons… and other activities

If your child will be staying somewhere that’s not totally kid-friendly, pack things to keep them busy. Including new, fresh items will really catch their attention. I recommend scouring the Dollar Tree, Target’s Bullseye Playground, and local discount stores for cool ideas. You can see some of the small activities I packed for our plane rides here – many of there are also perfect for your child’s stay with a relative.

Bullseye Playground score for $1!

Even something as simple as a new drawing pad, pencils, and crayons can keep kids entertained. You can get your children to draw pictures of their new sibling or the entire family with the new baby included. It is a stress-free activity that keeps the kids entertained. As a bonus, you get to keep the beautiful artwork and hang it up in your home.

Kid-Friendly Snacks

Pack plenty of kid-friendly snacks. Granola bars (I get these allergy-friendly Kosher ones), fruit snacks (we live on these fruit leathers), crackers, and apple sauce pouches are all great options. Pack the snacks that you know your children will enjoy, to make things easier on them and their sitter. They will get bored and hungry during their visit, and they may be thrown off kilter a little, so it is best to be prepared with some familiar snacks.

Day 2

Big Sibling T-Shirt

Since you’re packing an outfit for every day, you might as well pack something that will allow your kids to own their new status!

Get your children excited by having them wear big sibling t-shirts. These shirts are perfect for the children to wear when the new baby arrives because it lets them know that they have been promoted to big brother or big sister.

I made these shirts for the boys using my Cricut Joy. I use my Cricut machines (the Maker too) more than ever with the arrival of our princess – if you want to give yourself a baby gift it’s the perfect one! The design was created by Cricut and I modified one to make a biggEST brother shirt for M.

You can also find some pretty cool big sibling shirt designs on Etsy.

big sibling packing list - big sibling shirts

Busy Bags

You can never have too many activities packed for your kids! There are lots of things that you can put in the busy bags, including puppets, mini coloring books, and sticker books. Paint by Sticker books are perfect for older kids.

Sandwiches, frozen foods, favorite sandwich bread:

Pack your children’s favorite sandwiches – or the sandwich bread they prefer – for them to eat while they stay with a relative. Keep in mind that the person they are staying by might not have the right bread for your picky kids, and if one of your kids has a food allergy, you may need to be even more specific. We grabbed a loaf of the one bread the kids eat on a whim and it was a lifesaver.

We also put some frozen pizza bagels into our relative’s freezer in advance. While my sister in law knows how to cook for our kids, it’s a good idea to make things a little easier, offer a food your kids are familiar with, and it’s essential if you’re sending your kids to someone who is not used to cooking for them.


You can choose big sibling books or other meaningful books! They are a great idea because they are very entertaining, slim to pack, and very useful after too! You can never have too many books….

Here are some we packed in their bags or love for this purpose:

Day 3

Going Home Outfit

The first meeting with a big sibling is a fantastic photo opp. You may want to plan in advance to coordinate outfits with the baby – either with big sibling shirts, or something dressier.

I made these matching sibling shirts for the kids using my Cricut Maker too.

The kids proudly set up this photoshoot…

Baby Doll or similar:

When Y was born, we got M a baby doll. When Princess A was born, I knew exactly what my kids do with dolls (they throw them around). Instead, I put a Pound Puppy Newborn that I got in my Sweet Suite swag box. Y loved it – it has a diaper that comes off, it’s cozy (Y loves cozy things) and it’s soft so it won’t injure anyone when thrown around.

Whatever you choose to do, this is a fantastic way to include your older child in the nurturing process – without involving an actual vulnerable human.

More to consider adding to your big sibling packing list:

Bathing suit for baths:

If your kids are too little to shower themselves, but too big to be bathed by someone other than parents, you can pack a bathing suit. Teach them in advance how to clean underneath it and let the relative know the plan. We talk about personal safety all the time with our kids and it would be a shame to give conflicting messages.

Kids actually do NOT need to bathe every day, and they’ll be fine skipping the bath too. This is a good idea if you really don’t want to skip it. You can also pack the toiletries that they’re familiar with in travel sizes, especially if they are sensitive to some toiletries.

Comfort items – blankies, etc.

Don’t forget that blankie if you know what’s good for you! Seriously!

Again, this time more than ever, having the comforts they’re familiar with is so important.

Personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.

This is a last-minute item too, unless you get a spare set (something you might want to consider).

Medications with written instructions:

Don’t forget: inhalers, epi-pens, daily allergy meds, or whatever it is your child needs. If your child carries an epi-pen, I recommend an advance training session, or at least including the trainer pen and requesting that they give it a try as soon as possible. Don’t forget the FARE allergy care plan if you have a copy. Medications should really be discussed in advance, but just in case, include a written instruction sheet as well.

Outerwear and shoes:

If it’s cold out, you’ll want to have outerwear on your last minute list. Shoes should be written down as well. You might find yourself pulling kids out of bed in a hurry to rush to the hospital (ask me how I know….) Since kids are safest in their car seats without coats, you’ll want to make sure you don’t forget them. And if you’re carrying sleeping kids out, you can easily forget those shoes.

A final consideration: leave booster or car seats with the relative in case they need to go out (we even considered leaving the minivan but ended up just leaving car seats). Make sure they know how to get into your house (leave a house key and/or any codes they need) just in case.

Pack the right clothes, food, diapers, and activities for your children when leaving them with a relative so that you can go and give birth in peace. By doing so, you can make sure your children have food to eat, comfortable clothes to wear, and plenty of activities to keep them entertained. Leaving them with the things they are familiar with can help ease the transition.

Download the free printable big sibling packing list here

You’ll get a ZIP folder with two separate PDF files: one for big sisters and one for big brothers. Find instructions for unzipping here if you don’t know how to do this.


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What do you include on your big sibling packing list? Comment below! And make sure you check out the best baby products that are sanity-saving solutions I wish I’d known about sooner! They are all under $25, some even under $10

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