Thursday, November 09, 2006

Medicine Chest Must Haves, Advice from a Mother

By Christina VanGinkel

I cleaned out my medicine cabinet last week, a long overdue job. What I found as I dug to the dark corners though reminded me of the items every new parent should have on hand to save him or herself a trip to the late night pharmacy when what they really should be doing is taking care of baby. For many of these products, you should first ask your pediatrician for their recommendations on each, both on if, they approve of you using these products, and if so, dosing guidelines, especially when baby is first brought home. Guidelines for dosing will also appear on the products themselves and I wholly recommend you follow them. Infants under a certain age should not be administered certain products at all. With these facts in mind, what I always kept on hand included the following items:

Infant Tylenol or Generic Version

Acetaminophen, when given correctly, can help relieve a baby's fever and discomfort that is brought on when a fever occurs. Do be careful that you do not overuse such a product though. If you have any questions about when to use this product, or dosing of it, even if you have used it before, call your physician or after hours clinic and ask to talk to a doctor or nurse for help. They can guide you in deciding if you should attempt to use acetaminophen to treat a fever or other concern, or if your infant or child should be brought in for a consultation first. Keeping it on hand can still save you a stop even if you end up bringing baby in, as you will not have to swing by a store with baby in tow after your doctor tells you to use it.

Digital Thermometer

My kids are so far spaced apart in age that I used both a traditional glass thermometer and digital versions during my children's childhoods. A digital thermometer is one basic every medicine cabinet should have if there is a child in the house. They work quickly and provide you with an accurate look at your baby's temperature. If you have a child whose temperature is going up and down, it is easy to record this with a digital, whereas an older thermometer can be difficult to read small variances.

Frozen Bag of Peas or Gel Pack

The bag of peas was not exactly in my medicine cabinet, but as I was cleaning, I came across a gel pack. When my older kids were little, I always kept a bag of peas frozen in my freezer for little bumps and bruises. I would put down a soft washcloth against the area with the owie and then lay the bag of peas across that. The new gel packs that can be tossed in the freezer or heated in warm water or even micro waved are good to keep on hand if you do not want to resort to a bag of frozen peas. Either of these are better than a traditional ice pack because they will conform to the injured area unlike a stiff ice pack.

Artificial Tears (Eye Drops)

Keep these on hand in case the doctor recommends them. Use as directed by your physician.

Infant Bulb Syringe

Most hospitals will send new parents home with one of these to help them clear baby's nose if they have a cold or runny nose from allergies. If your hospital failed too, or if you gave birth at home or adopted, pick one up as they are essential to have on hand until baby is old enough to blow their own nose.

Infant Gas Relief Drops

Sold OTC, (over the counter) infant gas relief drops can help relieve various symptoms related to a gassy stomach.

Emergency Information and Telephone Numbers

Tape or otherwise make available a list of emergency telephone numbers on the inside of your medicine cabinet. Chances are if you find yourself in an emergency with an infant or young child, you will not want to be wondering if the last time you cleared off the fridge, if the numbers was tossed by accident. By placing this information in a spot associated with the well-being of your child, you will have better access to the information.

Antibiotic Lotion or Cream and Liquid Bandages

Small scratches and cuts can be kept germ free, and a bit of this will help keep the dirt out. Liquid bandages are a new invention that was not around when my two oldest were young, but are great to keep on hand too. There is nothing for a small baby to pull off and choke on! Liquid Bandage from Band-Aid brand is non-toxic and safe for even the youngest of children.

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