What Should I Bring for My Toddler Who Will Be Present at My Hospital Birth?

Updated on June 15, 2011
E.D. asks from Portland, ME
13 answers

Hi moms!!
I am 31 weeks pregnant and decided months ago that I would like my 20 month old to be present during the labour and birth of her little brother! I know the ideal situation for her would be a home birth but we aren't able to do that unfortunately so we are going to a small hospital where we will have midwives. I have already chosen a birth partner for my daughter and I am very confident that she will take care of all her needs and remove her if need be. This is a experience I really want to share with her, she is very smart for her age and I feel it will help her understand that we didn't just bring a baby home out of nowhere. My only concern now is what to pack for her? All the books and websites have great lists of things for my fiance and I but I have yet to find any suggestions for her. So I was hoping for some help? I'm thinking a typical diaper bag, snacks, and changes of clothes. I have also considered buying her a special hospital room gift to keep her busy, but I'm not sure. I would greatly appreciate any help or suggestions you ladies have to offer! With the time going so fast I am greatful I found this site!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much for your advice! All very helpful! I do plan on labouring at home as long as possible, I believe my daughter and I will both be more comfortable here. I have also discussed with her birthing buddy that she may need to take her out of the room and maybe even home for a nap if things go slowly. I'm open to going with whatever I feel in that moment, but my fingers are crossed that all will go well and she can be present at delivery. I also forgot to mention earlier that I am planning a water birth which is why I'm more comfortable with her in the room, there shouldn't be too much blood or anything that may freak her out. Anyway thank you all so much for the tips and lists of things to bring! Those are all awesome some things I would have never thought about! All these replies have calmed my nerves already! Now I can pack everyones bag!


Hey everyone just wanted to let you know everything went great!!!! I had a leak in my water at 4 am on August 3rd so I had a sitter come watch my daughter, she was brought to the hospital at noon with her birth partner. I packed her color wonder stuff, a new camera, a big sister outfit, quarters for the vending machine, new pajamas, a medical bag, and some baby einstein movies. I was in active labor from 4 pm on, and she was the best support I could have ever had!!!! I was very comfortable and much stronger with her present. She loved walking around the ward with me while I was trying to work that baby down. She ended up sleeping at about 11 which gave me the chance concentrate on the serious pains. We woke her up once I got in the water and started pushing, and she was fantastic, she watched in complete awe, not scared or upset one bit. When he came out she was surprised and then had the biggest smile ever! She said, "Momma had a baby, in the tubby." and then asked to give him kisses once we got out. It was the dream birth that I imagined. Thank you for your wonderful advice and positive attitudes!

More Answers



answers from New York on

The most important thing is to have that special adult whose job is solely to care for your daughter. Your daughter really only needs to be in the room once you are crowning, it is boring for them and distracting for you (and frustrating for them not to have mommy's attention when they are so tiny) to hang out for hours of labor. Smart as she is, at just barely two, she will not understand what she is seeing. I would only consider bringing such a young child if you are certain that she can and will ask to leave the room if she wishes. Please dont' get me wrong, I am a supporter of children at birth, I was a Bradley teacher for 13 years and a doula too, and fully support the idea of kids being at a birth if they have asked to attend. Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Syracuse on

a grandmother...........

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

My daughter was 25 months old when my second was born. I had gone back and forth for months about wanting her in the room with me. Her birth was so easy but it was sooooooo long, I knew my intellignet highly active two year old could not stay in the same room for 36 hours. :)

I was induced with my second and I had my parents bring my 2 year old to the hospital as soon as we got into a room. She hung out with me and my husband for a couple of hours, she was so excited to be a big sister! When she got hungry my parents took her down to eat lunch and then back up to visit. When it came time to push I was in quite a bit of pain, so my two year old got to go get ice cream while they did the epidural, (I didn't want her to be scared by the big needle). They came back up for about an hour, and then my husband and I decided we wanted a few minutes with just our second daughter. So she got to go buy a new present for baby sis from the hospital gift shop. My labor was super quick and easy and she would have been fine in the room with us, but let's face it child birth is gross and I didn't want to scare my first little girl.
Big sis got to meet her sister when she was about 10 mintues old and they were just sweet as can be together. It's been 10 weeks and they are still in love, good luck to you no matter what you decide!

For my oldest we brought her baby doll, and color wonder paper and markers, then with two grandmas, three aunts, and uncle, and a grandpa she was plenty entertained. She also LOVES taking pictures so we made sure to bring her kid tough camera to get lots of shots of new sister. It was amazing to see the whole thing through her eyes!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I would make sure you have someone that can watch her outside of the room in case she gets scared by all the comotion that goes along with the birth of a child. If you are doing things naturally I am thinking you may scream/yell/cry and that may scare her. So if that could happen (which it may or may not) I would just make sure you have a back up plan for someone to watch her outside of the birthing room.

Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

We had planned on having our 2 sons at the birth of our third child.We did have a homebirth for her but she ended up coming very late at night and got stuck so thankfully the boys had both fallen asleep.
Weeks before my due date I made each of the boys a t-shirt. The oldest's said "I'm the Big Big Brother" and my second sons said "I'm the Big Brother". They wore these the day I was in labor. I thought it would let people know that they are special too, not just the one born that day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Good luck! I was so determined to have my 3.5 year old DD in the room when my son was born. She had been with me, on her own with no other adults, through every single prenatal appointment and took sibling classes at the hospital, etc. She was great! The contractions started and she had to get out, because I couldn't take it lol! If she asked a question or fussed, even just the most infinitesimal amount, I couldn't concentrate on the contractions. She was doing so well but I just couldn't focus when more active labor started. (We also had someone who's sole job was to care for her in the room, didn't matter lol!)

I hope it works out JUST how you want it to though, I know there are plenty of momma's who pull it off, I just wanted to share with you so that if you ended up not having her in the room, it's no biggie!

We brought two little wrapped toys for her from her baby brother for her to open after he was born.

Just remember that your labor is supposed to be about you, and often when we have our little bitty ones in the room it makes that much harder. 20 months is so little. As I said though, absolute best of luck to you and pack her a bag as though you were going on a crazy long road trip!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Burlington on

Disposable camera, or a decent one if she can use one. A kiddie scrub shirt. A kid friendly medical bag, complete with stethoscope, bulb syringe, maybe a pacifier and diapers for the newest member. She is ure to feel included and super helpful. Focus on things that she CAN do to help and be involved. Enjoy!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

I would definitely bring some things to keep her occupied and happy. You have no way of knowing how long she is going to be there. Books to read, her favorite toys,and I like the idea of a special new toy or book that can be a gift from her little brother. Does she watch videos? Maybe a video...with ear phones in case things get a bit intense and she needs to be distracted.
I would love to hear from you about how things went...our oldest daughter is expecting her 2nd baby close to Thanksgiving...they have chosen to have a home birth and their almost 4 year old son will be there. I am hoping that I will be there too...and need some ideas about how to keep him happy and occupied.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My daughter was also present at her little brother's birth(she was 21 months) and it was the best experience for her. Have you watched any birth videos with her? there is one that our midwives gave us specifically for children at a birth(can't remember name, but older and has a few differant births with children). We made sure we explained to her what was going to happen, and she came with me to all prenatals with the midwives. We had her aunt come to be with her, gave her lots of special treats, let her watch the sound of music if she wanted on video in the next room. She was surprisingly calm and attentive, and watched her brother be born. It was a truly amazing experience, so glad you are allowing your daughter to witness it! Good luck and congrats!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You've gotten a lot of good suggestions... I would highly recommend the book _Welcome with Love_ to read to her, which is about a child witnessing his sibling's birth -- very well done. And you should possibly prepare her by making some of the noises you might make in labor in front of her, and help her get used to them so that she's not scared when she hears them.

As for what to bring, I think one of the things you ought to do is find out what is interesting for her near the hospital, so that she and her birth buddy can go out and do things nearby and be available to come back quickly if birth is imminent.

Good luck -- I very much wanted my 2 older children to be at the birth of their little brother. We had it all worked out, and a friend was driving them to the birth center about 5-10 minutes behind us. Turned out I birthed him in the car on the way to the birth center after a little over an hour of labor and they missed it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Having an adult to supervise her is key, but make sure you give that person the "authority" to decide when she needs to leave the room. That shouldn't be left to only you and your husband. Honestly, if you are really focusing on your laboring you may not be completely aware of how she is reacting.

I remember my mother's OBGYN spending a lot of time with me before my younger sister was born so that I knew EXACTLY what was happening and it reduced a lot of my fears about my mom going to a hospital (which I thought was for sick/dying people). Before he examined my mom each month, he had breakfast with me and told me what was going to happen that day and which parts I could "help" with- got to measure my mom's belly and "weigh" the baby, which was amazing and connected us before she was even born. As the birth came closer, he explained that too... no storks, no "flip open" bellies, just a simple and honest explanation.

As for what to bring:
- snacks
- juice
- ziplock of change for vending machines (she'll think they are cool)
- new books (get some from the library)
- new crayons and coloring supplies
- new "big girl" backpack to carry everything in
- change of clothing
**Nothing with "parts and pieces" or things that can't be washed.
- something to snuggle
- comfy slippers/jammies
- portable DVD player with cartoons
- see if you can find a picture book on childbirth or new babies (ask your local children's librarian)

Are you having her there the entire time or just when you are close to delivering? Just a suggestion- she may get really cranky and bored if she's there too long and you may want to have the birth partner bring her back-and-forth periodically so make sure that person has a carseat or your car for the day!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Medford on

Anything to keep her busy, books, crayons, color wonder paper/pens...I would also get her a baby of her own. We got our daughter (2 yrs 4 mths) a cabbage patch boy doll so that when brother came she would also have a baby to take care of. This was very useful. She would take care of baby while I took care of brother. Made her feel needed and helpful also.

Best of luck to you!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

You may want to consider the likelihood that you won't want your toddler around while you're laboring and delivering when the time comes. I had absolutely no desire to have my eldest daughter around me when my 2nd daughter was born and she was a toddler and she's above average intelligence. I had no desire to have either of them around when my 3rd daughter was born. No matter who else was there as a "buddy" I knew I or my husband would end up having to parent her and I would be distracted or I would lose a valuable support system in the process.

And being "smart for their ages" as all mothers believe their children to be, my daughters knew exactly what was going on when I was pregnant. I'm sure that your "smart for her age" daughter knows exactly what's going on. She won't be confused if she's not present during labor and delivery. They knew a baby was growing inside me, they knew how it would be coming out, and they visited me in the hospital after the delivery. They came to pick us up and we answered any and all questions. Missing the actual event did no harm, and they didn't even want to be there.

You should also look into the hospital/birthing center guidelines/rules for having small children present during labor and delivery. It might be a moot point.
A gift for your daughter is a nice idea, as well as having her choose a gift for the new baby.

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