Parents innately want to protect their little ones from every injury, illness, or other potential danger out there, and do their best every day. But as much as we try to protect them, occasional discomforts (from stomach aches to stuffy noses) happen. Hence why it's best to keep a prepared medicine cabinet. Here, the 13 things every parent of a baby should have on hand ...
- Nasal saline drops or spray: If your baby is suffering from a stuffy nose, saline drops or spray can offer relief, says Dr. Dyan Hes, M.D., medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics in New York. Nasal saline or spray can be purchased at the drugstore or you can make your own at home by simply dissolving 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water.
- Bulb suction syringe: Dr. Hes also notes, "If your baby truly has a cold and is filled with mucus, then use a bulb suction after placing saline drops in the nose, but not more than three times a day, as more suctioning will cause rebound swelling."
- Vaseline: "Pure, old-fashioned Vaseline is great for dry skin, particularly in a newborn," notes Dr. Hes. "I like to put it all over the diaper area to prevent rashes."
- A&D ointment: Works the same as Vaseline to treat most baby skin conditions. Just be sure not to apply by the eyes, warns Dr. Hes.
- Rectal thermometer: A must for babies younger than 2 months old, but Dr. Hes recommends using it for as long as your baby can tolerate it. "Believe it or not, most babies don’t mind a rectal temperature at all," she says. "It’s the parents who are squeamish. Just put a little Vaseline on the tip of the thermometer and insert about ½ inch."
- Gas drops: "Gas drops for infants that contain the active ingredient simethicone may help relieve gas and colic that is common in infants under a year," explains Dr. Sheeba Ben, M.D., clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at New York Medical College.
- Probiotics for kids: Dr. Ben recommends adding a probiotic (such as Culturelle for Kids) to gas drops for babies older than 12 months to help with occasional stomach upset.
- Baby gripe water: The over-the-counter formulation -- which usually includes herbs like ginger, dill, and fennel meant to settle the stomach or relax cramping muscles -- "can also help with the discomfort associated with colic," notes Dr. Ben.
- Glycerin suppositories: Available at most pharmacies without a prescription, these suppositories can ease occasional constipation, notes Dr. Matthew Levy, D.O., assistant professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. It can also address any sort of rectal tear or bleeding. (Do not use for more than a few days without pediatrician's advice.)
- Acetaminophen for babies: The liquid form pain reliever specifically meant for infants is good to have on hand in cases where your baby is suffering from a low-grade temperature. The exception: "In babies less than 2 months, please call your doctor if the rectal temperature is > 100 F," says Dr. Hes.
- Ibuprofen (for babies older than 6 months): "After 6 months of age, your baby can take ibuprofen for fever and pain," notes Dr. Hes. "Its effect lasts about 6-8 hours, which is nice for the nighttime. This is a good choice for those nights that your baby is truly suffering from teething because it has anti-inflammatory properties and works well. You should always discuss this with your pediatrician."
- Washcloths: While there are many remedies for teething -- from oral teething gel to herbal gels with chamomile -- most pediatricians recommend a cool washcloth for baby to bite on. (If you do go with an herbal gel, however, Dr. Hes notes that parents should consult their pediatrician before using a particular brand.)
- First aid kit: Dr. Levy recommends a basic kit, which will cover various major essentials, such as bandages, triple-antibiotic ointment, antiseptic towelettes, alcohol cleansing pads, hand sanitizer, tweezers, medical grade gloves, and sterile gauze pads.
What items have you found particularly helpful to have on hand for your baby?
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