Family Medicine Cabinet Essentials
Could your medicine cabinet use a checkup? See if you have all these items on-hand—so you'll always be ready to play Dr. Mom.
Relieves minor pains and fevers, and comes in numerous strengths and forms, such as infant drops, liquids, chewables, tablets, etc. Acetaminophen is commonly found in cough, cold, and allergy medications, so always check product labels before giving acetaminophen with another medication to avoid doubling a dosage.
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
Eases aches and pains, and can also decrease fevers, inflammation, and swelling. Like acetaminophen, children’s ibuprofen comes in numerous forms and strengths, so read the labels carefully.
Cold medicines, cough syrups, decongestants, and allergy medications
These are all available over-the-counter, but they still have potential side effects. Consult your child’s physician about which medicines to use and under what circumstances you should use them. Read labels carefully when giving these with other drugs to avoid doubling up on a medicine such as acetaminophen.
Parents of children under age 2 will have to try more traditional comfort measures during cold and flu season, as the medical community stresses that the active ingredients in over-the-counter cough and cold medications are ineffective and may cause serious side effects. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began advising parents in January 2008 not to use these products for children under 2 years of age.
Antiseptics and antibiotic ointments or creams
These help stop infection in cuts and scrapes.
Stock bandages in various sizes so you’re ready to cover any kind of wound.
Gauze bandages and adhesive tape
These are important for covering larger wounds.
An ice pack/cold pack and a hot water bottle
An ice pack can bring down fever and reduce swelling, a hot water bottle can ease cramps and soothe tummy aches.
A medicine dropper, oral syringe, or calibrated spoon or cup
Used to dispense medications. A kitchen teaspoon is not always accurate, so stick with something created specifically for use in medicating.
Great for lubricating a thermometer, healing chapped skin or lips, or putting a thin layer on a child’s nose that is sore from too much blowing (be sure not to get the jelly inside the child’s nose).
Essential for checking a child’s temperature. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a digital or chemical-dot thermometer and taking the child’s temperature under the arm (or oral temperature for children able to hold the thermometer under the tongue with closed lips and not bite the thermometer). The AAP urges parents to avoid the old-fashioned mercury thermometers—they are dangerous and can cause toxicity if broken. (Read The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Baby Thermometer.)
Useful for removing splinters and ticks.
Ready to run to the drugstore? Take our print-and-go medicine cabinet checklist with you!
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