Caring for a baby is a big responsibility. We know there are few things that make new moms feel more helpless than when their baby is sick. Although you have to be much more cautious about using even over-the-counter medications in babies, you want to keep them more comfortable when illness strikes. Stock your baby's medicine cabinet in advance with these 7 must-haves.
This is an over-the-counter medication and is useful for lowering fever or offering pain relief. Do not give to infants younger than 3 months old unless suggested by your pediatrician. Acetaminophen may be given every 4-6 hours as needed; do not exceed 5 times in a 24-hour period. Find your baby’s weight on the bottle chart below for the correct dose.
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
This is another over-the-counter option for reducing fever and/or pain. Do not give to infants younger than 6 months old unless instructed otherwise by your pediatrician. Ibuprofen may be given every 6-8 hours as needed; do not exceed 4 times in a 24-hour period. Find your baby’s weight on the chart below for the correct dose.
Simethicone drops (Mylicon, Little Tummys or ColicComfort)
Many people use simethicone drops to reduce intestinal gas and associated pain and it is considered to be safe for your little cutie. There’s conflicting evidence about how well it works, but it may be good to have on hand when your little one has a tummy ache.
Other tips to help with gas bubbles:
- Tummy time
- Place your baby on his/her back and bicycle those little legs around
- If you’re breastfeeding, keep a food diary to see if certain foods you are eating are bothering your babe
- If you’re bottle feeding, experiment with different nipple flows or bottle styles
Oral Rehydration Solution (such as Pedialyte)
Stomach viruses are a fact of life, especially if your little one is regularly around other children. Stomach viruses are highly contagious so make sure the whole family is washing their hands frequently. Dehydration is a risk when little ones have frequent vomiting or diarrhea. Electrolytes help your child replace some of the vitamins and minerals that are lost during these illnesses and can help your child avoid dehydration.
Offer 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of the rehydration solution every 1-2 minutes if your baby is showing signs of dehydration. Additionally, offer the solution after every loose stool or episode of vomiting. If you are breastfeeding, continue to do so. These electrolyte solutions are also available in popsicle form for the toddlers or older kids, which may be more appealing to them.
Keep an eye out! Call the doctor if you notice the following signs of dehydration:
- No wet diapers for 4-6 hours in our babes <2 years old
- No peeing for 6-8 hours in our kiddos >2 years old
- The soft spot on the top of your baby’s head feels sunken in
- Mouth looks dry/chapped
- Skin looks wrinkled and dry
- Making fewer/no tears
Pediatricians recommend rectal temperatures as the most accurate in children under 4-5 years old. The Kinsa Smart Thermometer is safe to use rectally on your infant/toddler. See how to take an infant’s rectal temperature here.
Kinsa will keep track of all your baby’s temperatures and symptoms so you don’t have to remember. Plus, it the app gives personalized age-based guidance to soothe symptoms and lets you know when to take action.
Bulb Suction and Saline Drops
If your baby is having trouble breathing due to a stuffy nose, she’ll need your help to clear it out. Having saline drops on hand will make your job easier - use 2-3 drops per nostril to loosen and thin the mucus. Then use a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator to suck it all out. (Kinsa moms really like the NoseFrida SnotSucker. Looks gross but apparently effective!)
Teething is an unpleasant fact of life for babies—and their parents. Teething often causes babies a lot of pain, which can result in prolonged crying and fussiness. So what can you do to help your little one?
- A refrigerated washcloth - let your baby chew on it or help them by rubbing it on their gums
- Your (clean) finger rubbed on their gums to apply pressure
- For babies who are eating solid foods, offer cold food options like applesauce or fruit
- Teething rings and toys are okay but avoid the ones filled with gel (they can easily break open)
Things to avoid:
- Medications with lidocaine or benzocaine
- Teething necklaces or beads
Medication to Avoid
Decongestants (Sudafed) and Cough Suppressants (Robitussin, Delsym) are not suitable for babies. They are approved for use in kiddos over 6 years old but should be used with caution even then. They have multiple ingredients and the risk for overdose is high, while studies proving their efficacy are low.
Instead of cough suppressants, try one of the following:
- A teaspoon of honey (kids over 1 year old)
- Breathing in cold or hot air
- Sleeping elevated (kids over 1 year old)
- Holding babies upright
Remember, Aspirin should be avoided for all children under 18 years of age. Stick with ibuprofen or acetaminophen as discussed above.
When you keep your medicine cabinet stocked with appropriate accessories and over-the-counter medications, you’ll be prepared for those little illnesses that seem to crop up when you least expect it. You can help your little one feel better faster—and may save yourself a late-night trip to the pharmacy.
This post was written by mom Holly Case in partnership with Nurse Blake at Kinsa.