Everybody should have a few common, key items in their medicine cabinet. These few items should help in a pinch, and save you from making trips to the store in the middle of the night. Here are the must haves to any medicine cabinet:
- Tylenol (generic is acetaminophen). You can buy the children’s or infant formula; they are the same concentration. The only difference is whether it comes with a cup (children’s) or syringe (infant) to dose. For the same cost, you get more out of the children’s version. Use Tylenol for fever and/or pain. There is no anti-inflammatory effect, but it is easier on your child’s gut. Use it rather than Motrin if your child has stomach issues related to the problem or is borderline dehydrated.
- Motrin (generic is Ibuprofen). Children and Infant versions come in different concentrations, so be very careful about dosing. Use Motrin for fever, pain, and an anti-inflammatory. Motrin is metabolized through the kidneys, so only use if your child is well-hydrated. It can also be upsetting to a stomach. Use Motrin rather than Tylenol if the problem has associated swelling (twisted ankle, sore throat, ear pain, etc.).
- Benadryl (generic is diphenhydramine). Use if your child is having an allergic reaction (whether to something they ate, touched, or whatever). An allergic reaction can progress quickly. You won’t want to have to wait while you run to the store.
- Bandages (like Band-aids). Get a handful of different types and sizes (including an assorted box and some finger- tip/knuckle bandages). If your kids move, they will need a bandage at some point.
- Sterile Gauze. Buy a box of 2” x 2” and 4” x 4.” The gauze can be used to help clean out cuts and scrapes, stop bleeding, and dress wounds.
- Wound cleaning agent (like Hydrogen Peroxide, Provodine, Isopropyl alcohol, or Betadine). Most initial cuts or scrapes should be cleaned out and properly dressed. Your kid won’t appreciate you pouring hydrogen peroxide over his newly scraped knee (it’ll sting), but getting out the dirt and preventing infection is key. Only clean out the wounds with these agents the first time.
- Antibiotic Ointment (like Neosporin). Nearly all cuts and scrapes should have an antibiotic ointment put on them after they are cleaned out to prevent infection. Use the ointment daily with dressing changes.
- Wrap (like Coban). Coban is a stretchy, self-adherent wrap that comes in a roll. Once you’ve used it, you’ll never go back to tape. It’s lovely because it sticks to itself and doesn’t hurt when you take it off (like tape does).
- Thermometer. If you have children under a year, you need a simple digital thermometer that can be used rectally. If your children are older, you can go with another method (like a tympanic-ear or temporal-forehead thermometer).
- Unique-to-you-meds. These are the medications that are specific to your child’s medical conditions. For example, if your child has a peanut allergy, an EpiPen should be part of your medicine kit.
For the most part, all other medications can be purchased on an as needed basis. Buying one of every cough and cold medicine, “just in case” is a waste of money. First, medications expire. Second, what if you bought the one for cough and runny nose, but your child only has a runny nose? Chances are the bug will start with a fever (in the middle of the night) and you’ll be ready for that. You can then go to the store the next day and get whatever other meds you may need. These few simple things will help make sure you are prepared and streamline your efforts.
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