The following information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
It’s no fun when your child is sick or hurt, but having a well-stocked medicine cabinet can make it easier to manage, whether you're dealing with scrapes, bug bites, allergies or the kind of nighttime fevers and coughs that keeps everyone in your house awake.
As a Circle of Moms member named Tammy wonders though, it's not necessarily clear which items are truly essential. To help, I gathered road-tested advice from our communities. Here, veteran moms from our communities share seven medicine cabinet essentials parents should always have on hand. (And as poison control centers advise, remember to keep all medicines out of your children's reach.)
Thermometers are essential for determining the severity of an ailment. There are many types of thermometers — mouth, rectal, armpit, forehead, ear, or temporal artery. Amber O. prefers the temporal artery thermometer, available from stores like Walmart and Target, because it is easy to get an accurate reading and not invasive: “I have always had accurate readings from it, and I love using it,” she says. “They definitely do not wake up sleeping babies, which is great, and it's not uncomfortable.”
2. Children's Pain Reliever
It's important to never give children adult medicine. Check your children's medicine often to be sure that it hasn't expired or been recalled. Always ask the advice of your pediatrician before dispensing any medications. "Most pediatricians will say no cold medicine until age 6!" cautions a mom named Marcie. However, children’s Tylenol or Motrin are frequently prescribed for relieving minor pains and for lowering fevers, even for kids below 6. Some doctors even suggest alternating between the two. "Rotating Tylenol and Motrin is a good idea, especially if you can't keep [a] fever down. The Motrin will help with body aches as well," advises Shannon N.
3. Band-Aids and Antiseptic
Band-Aids and an antiseptic like hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol are essential for cleaning and protecting minor cuts and scrapes. Emilie B. recommends cloth over plastic adhesives because they are easier on sensitive skin.
If your children are very young, Chelle A. suggests keeping a pair of scissors handy as well. As she explains, "We cut my son's nails when he first got home and we nicked his pinky. We had to take a normal Band-Aid and cut the smallest sliver off it and put it on his hand. It worked great for us!"
4. Nasal Aspirator and Saline Drops
For the common cold, Circle of Moms members Minnie J. and Stephanie B. recommend a nasal aspirator and saline drops. The drops, "for helping clean out the nasal passages," are one of three essentials that Stephanie's pediatrician recommends for managing a child's symptoms (the others are a vaporizer at night and Tylenol, "for comfort)."
5. Benadryl and Anti-Itch Cream
It’s difficult to know what a young child may be sensitive to, but Benadryl will help to quickly calm any allergic reactions. Sarah A., for example, says her doctor once prescribed ½ a teaspoon of Benadryl for her son when he broke out in a bad rash. An anti-itch cream like hydro-cortisone or some other antihistamine-releaser also can help calm itches from bug bites, Cheryl P. says.
6. Your Family's Go-To Remedies
If you have your own remedy and it’s doctor-approved, then by all means it makes sense to keep it with the rest of your first aid and safety items so that it's easy to find when you need it. For example, Leigh R. likes to use Vick’s Baby Rub along with a cool mist vaporizer when her son has a runny nose and cough. "Vick's Baby Rub works wonders," she says. "The baby rub does not have the menthol or camphor in it, both of with are very unsafe for children."
7. Emergency Numbers
While a contact list of emergency numbers does not need to be in the medicine cabinet, you should have emergency contacts posted in an obvious place — such as by your land line and programmed into your cell phone. That way children who can work a phone have the numbers handy if an adult is unavailable. Laura F. posts her emergency contacts – the closest hospital, family doctor, poison control, and local police and fire departments — on the fridge.
And if you’re up for it, Tammy P. suggests parents contact their local hospital, fire or police departments to find out about first aid and CPR classes. "As a pre-hospital care provider, I believe every new parent and grandparent should take a first aid and CPR class," she says "Even if you have had CPR before, there are lots of exciting new updates. It is a skill I hope no parent ever [has] to use, but if they do, they will be glad for the class."
The preceding information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.