Articles and Topics
Medicine Cabinet Essentials
From your first day home you'll want to have a well-stocked medicine chest, just in case your baby ever needs it. Here's what you should keep in it.
  • Infant rectal thermometer
  • Infants' non-aspirin liquid pain reliever (acetaminophen or ibuprofen** see below for more info)
  • Topical calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream (½ percent) for insect bites and rashes
  • Rubbing alcohol to clean thermometers, tweezers, and scissors
  • Petroleum jelly for the rectal thermometer
  • Antibacterial ointment for cuts and scrapes
  • Tweezers for splinters and ticks
  • A pair of sharp scissors
  • A pair of safety manicure scissors
  • Child-safe sunscreen lotion
  • Child-safe insect repellent
  • Pediatrician-approved children's strength liquid decongestant
  • Nasal aspirator bulb syringe for drawing mucus out of a stuffed-up nose
  • Ear thermometer
  • Adhesive bandage strips
  • Gauze rolls (½ to 2 inches wide)
  • Gauze pads (some each of 2x2 and 4x4 inches)
  • Adhesive tape
  • Sterilized cotton balls
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Mild liquid soap (antibacterial and deodorant soaps may be too strong for baby's sensitive skin)
  • Baby shampoo
  • Baby moisturizing cream to help soothe your baby's skin
  • A medicine dropper, oral syringe, or calibrated cup or spoon for administering medicines
  • A package of tongue depressors to check sore throats
  • A heating pad
  • A hot-water bottle and ice pack
  • A small flashlight to check ears, nose, throat, and eyes
  • A First-Aid manual. The American Red Cross's Standard First Aid Personal Safety Manual gives detailed advice for handling both minor and major emergencies.
  • If your child has a life-threatening allergy, keep an epinephrine kit with you at all times.

You should never give your infant these medicines:
  • Aspirin
  • Anti-nausea medications
  • Adult medications
  • Any medication prescribed for someone else or for another reason
  • Anything expired
  • Chewables. For children under 3, they are a choking hazard
  • Extra acetaminophen. Cold and cough medicines often contain acetaminophen, so don't give baby painkillers on top of that. Ask your pharmacist or pediatrician if you're unsure.

  • Ibuprofen has only been shown to be safe for children 6 months and older.
  • Nevergive your infant "acetaminophen plus cough/cold medicines that already contain acetaminophen"—this could give your baby a dangerous overdose of acetaminophen. Always read the label of medicines and ask your doctor before giving your baby any medicine. (See article on "Giving Medicines Safely").
  • Whenever you consider giving your child a medication, it is always safest to ask your baby's doctor whether the medication is helpful or necessary, whether it is safe for your child's age, and the proper dose for your child's age and weight.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education