Acetaminophen is used to relieve 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®)
Ibuprofen eases aches and pain, 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 available over-the-counter, but they still have potential side effects. Consult your child’s physician for which medicines to use and under what circumstances. Read labels carefully when giving these with other drugs to avoid doubling up on a medicine such as acetaminophen.
Antiseptics and antibiotic ointments
These help stop infection in cuts and scrapes.
Bandages in various sizes are staples for any family’s medicine cabinet.
Gauze and adhesive tape
These are important for covering larger wounds.
A hot water bottle/heat pack and an ice pack/cold pack
Help reduce swelling, cool feverish children, and ease tummy aches.
A medicine dropper, oral syringe, or calibrated spoon or cup
These are used to dispense medications. A kitchen teaspoon is not always accurate, so stick with something created specifically for use in medicating.
Rubbing alcohol is used to sanitize thermometers, tweezers, and scissors.
This is 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).
Saline-based nasal drops
These keep the nasal tissues moist and ease congestion by softening mucous so it can drain or be suctioned easily with a bulb syringe.
A thermometer is 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.
Tweezers are useful for removing splinters or ticks.
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