You can never be too prepared when you’re becoming a mom for the first time. So in addition to a crib, baby clothes, blankets, stroller and all the other essentials, I also set out to pack my medicine cabinet with everything I could ever need in case my baby became sick – with anything! I consulted several friends about the must-haves. But the second my baby was born, I realized I was completely unprepared. My son hated the “snot sucker” and I couldn’t bring myself to use the rectal thermometer. I had to start from square one.
“I often have parents ask me what the necessities are for their medicine cabinet,” says Dr. Dina Kulik, an emergency medicine physician at Toronto's SickKids Hospital and a paediatrician at Kindercare Pediatrics. “I find a well-stocked cabinet can save time and stress when your child is unwell, as the typical medications and remedies are at your fingertips.”
She reminds parents to ensure that these medicines are not at arms (or climbing) reach of their child, and in a cabinet, ideally equipped with a lock.
“Some medicines can be very dangerous if ingested in too large a quantity. A few times a year, check to ensure the medicine has not expired and double check the dose recommendations with your doctor,” she says.
Here are some of the essentials she recommends for treating babies:
Stock ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Ibuprofen lasts six to eight hours versus acetaminophen (four to six hours) and is also antiinflammatory. Ibuprofen is also good for relieving teething pain.
I recommend using a rectal thermometer until age two, as this is the most accurate. Ensure you have extra batteries if it is electronic.
Saline Spray and an Aspirator
This is essential for young children and infants with nasal congestion. The best aspirators are ones you place in your mouth to provide suction. A filter keeps the mucous out of your mouth.
Invaluable when your child has the stomach flu. These replace essential sugar and salt that is lost with vomiting and diarrhea.
Petroleum/ Petroleum-free Jelly
This is great for dry skin/eczema, diaper rashes and for use on the thermometer when taking a rectal temperature.
Gripe Water or Ovol
These can help settle an infant's upset stomach.
Keep your child’s physician’s contact number, as well as the number for poison control in the cabinet.
As your baby gets older, the medicine cabinet could use a few upgrades. Dr. Dina Kulik of Toronto's SickKids Hospital recommends:
WARNING: Don't give your kids Aspirin (ASA), due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome. "This is a devastating illness that can lead to neurologic abnormalities,” says Dr. Kulik.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, May 2014.