What Are The Most Important Items To Have In Your Baby’s Medicine Cabinet?
1. Digital Rectal Thermometer
Any infection in a newborn is a serious matter and the most accurate way to measure an infant’s temperature is rectally with a digital thermometer. Tympanic (ear) thermometers are not recommended for infants, as a curved, tiny ear canal may yield false temperature readings. Temperature strips placed on the forehead or pacifiers with embedded thermometers are least reliable of all.
It is important to follow the care instructions enclosed with the thermometer that you’ve purchased. Be sure to sterilize the tip with rubbing alcohol, or wash well with warm water and soap after each use. Store all thermometers in your child-proofed cabinet, preferably high up on a wall, away from curious, older children. For their safety always tell them that thermometers are not toys.
Anxious about checking your baby’s temperature?
Your baby’s rectal temperature will be checked at every visit to your pediatric care provider. Use this as a learning opportunity, watch the nurse do it first and then ask to do it on your own with the nurse’s guidance
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if you have a baby younger than 3 months old with a rectal temperature of 100.4 oF or above, you should immediately call your health care provider or go to an emergency room, because it could be a sign of a potentially life-threatening infection. Also call your HCP or go to the emergency room if any child has a fever above 104 oF.
Any water based, soluble lubricant will do. (K-Y Jelly is frequently cited) Whichever brand you choose, apply it liberally to the tip of the thermometer. It will not and does not hurt your baby. If you always approach temperature taking with a positive mindset, never suggesting that this might be a painful or yucky experience, you won’t have a toddler resisting your efforts to check his temperature, rectally or otherwise.
3. Fever Reducers
Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen should be in every child’s medicine cabinet. Be sure to ask your child’s pediatric care provider about fever reducing medications and at what temperature they recommend administering it. These medications come in concentrated infant drops, administered by milliliters with a dropper and a less concentrated liquid that is measured out in fractions of teaspoons. There are chewables and swallowables of all flavors and textures as well as refrigerated rectal suppositories for children that may be unable to tolerate the oral preparations. The appropriate dosing by weight is on the label. Unsure of the dosage? Call the pediatric office for guidance.
4. Normal saline nasal spray and a bulb aspirator
If your baby’s nose becomes blocked with mucus and she comes away from the breast breathless... everybody’s going to be unhappy. I always recommend filling the bathroom with steam from a hot shower and sitting in there for 20 minutes, breastfeed in there. The hot steam will loosen some of the secretions so they will flow out and a feeding can resume. If this is not possible or proves less than successful, you can try a normal saline nose spray. There are many brands and the usual directions are 2-3 sprays... in one nostril at a time. Have the baby to recline somewhat to keep the liquid in there for a minute to loosen things up and then squeeze the bulb aspirator first before gently placing it just inside the nostril opening. With a slow release, you should get some of the loosened mucus out, or the baby will sneeze, or cry... and voila, the mucus will come out naturally. Offer your breast milk more often, increasing your baby’s liquid consumption will keep all those secretions as thin as possible. Using compressing on your breast tissue behind your nipple, you can spray breast milk into the front of the baby’s nose to loosen the mucus. Did you know that breast milk has its own anti-bactericidal properties?
If your baby is unable to feed at breast for two consecutive feedings for any reason, call the pediatric office for further guidance.
5. Sterile 2”x 2” or 4”x 4” gauze pads
You may notice a collection of mucus in the corners of your newborn’s eyes. This is most likely caused by small or blocked tear ducts. This occurs in approximately 6 out of 100 newborns and most of the time, blocked tear ducts in babies clear up on their own during the baby’s first year. If you see an accumulation of whitish, opaque “goo” – clean with fully cooled, boiled water on a sterile gauze pad, wiping from the inner aspect of the eye, nearest the nose, to the outer corner… one pad per eye. This mucus should come away easily. If there is a bit of crustiness or dried mucus on the lashed allow the wet gauze pad to remain on the eyelid for 60 seconds to loosen the mucus and wipe one more time. If the mucus is greenish, call the pediatric office. If the mucus is crusty of gluey, call the pediatric office. If It comes back within 2 hours or if there is any puffiness, call the peds. office… immediately
6. Frozen bags of peas
While not kept in your medicine cabinet... this remedy works cleanly and efficiently. Poly bags of frozen peas will cool a bump and reduce the swelling. Keep 2 or 3 bags frozen so you can alternate them if one starts to defrost. Put a layer of tissue between the bag and your baby’s delicate skin. Remember cold can cause a burn. These bags are also an excellent remedy for breast engorgement, mom.
There are instant cold packs that consist of two bags; one containing water, inside a bag containing ammonium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate or urea. When the inner bag of water is broken by squeezing the package, the two bags mix and will become cold for about 20 minutes. This plastic pack must be wrapped in a thin cloth or tissue to avoid direct skin contact. Full of chemicals… best for school age children under continuous observation, but still very handy, especially when frozen peas or ice is unavailable.
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