10 Baby Medicine Cabinet Must Haves


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 10 must-haves.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

This medication is very useful for lowering fever or offering pain relief. It has a long history of use and is generally considered safe in limited amounts. 

What it’s good for:
pain relief (particularly after vaccinations), lowering fever

When to ask your doctor:
for infants younger than two months

Use a medicine syringe and follow dosage instructions very carefully. Double-check medicine ingredients because many other medicines, such as cold medicine, also contain acetaminophen. Overdose of this medication causes liver damage.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

This medication is in the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) category. Many pediatricians recommend alternating use of acetaminophen and ibuprofen in cases of severe pain, such as with ear infections.

 What it’s good for:
pain relief, lowering fever, teething pain

When to ask your doctor:
for infants younger than 4-6 months. Generally, ibuprofen is not recommended in children under 6 months. Doctors feel that acetaminophen is a safer choice, particularly because its use has been studied more in babies.

Decongestants (Sudafed)

These medications can be useful during severe colds or allergies. However, they can cause irritability and sleeplessness.

What it’s good for:
runny noses, congestion. May also be given with antihistamines.

When to ask your doctor:
for infants younger than 4-6 months.

Alternatives to try:
nasal saline drops, humidifiers and vapor baths that contain eucalyptus and menthol

Cough Suppressants (Robitussin, Delsym)

Your doctor may recommend cough suppressants for severe colds. Be sure to choose a formula specifically for children. Most cough medicines for infants contain dextromethorphan (DXM.)

What it’s good for:
coughing, especially if your child can’t rest

When to ask your doctor:
if you have infants younger than 4-6 months

Simethicone drops (Mylicon or Little Tummys)

 This is administered in liquid format using a dropper or syringe.

What it’s good for:
many people use simethicone drops to reduce intestinal gas and associated pain. 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. 

Electrolyte Solution (Pedialyte)

Stomach viruses are a fact of life, especially if your little one is regularly around other children. Stomach viruses are highly contagious and are the second most common cause of illness in children. Dehydration is also a severe 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.

What it’s good for:
helping your child avoid dehydration during stomach illnesses. Try electrolyte solution in popsicle form if your little one gets sick after drinking liquid from a cup or isn’t interested in trying to drink.

call the doctor immediately if your child has fewer than 6 wet diapers a day, isn’t crying, the soft spot on top of their head seems sunken or their urine is dark yellow. These could be signs of dehydration, which can be fatal in infants. Hospitalization and IV fluids may be necessary.

Teething Tablets (Hyland’s)

 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, and occasionally a mild fever. Many parents find that teething tablets may help, even though their scientific basis isn’t proven. 

What it’s good for:
possibly relieving the pain of teething

Alternatives to try:
frozen washcloths or teething toys; ibuprofen; vibrating teething rings

avoid medications that contain the topical pain reliever benzocaine, which may cause a dangerously low amount of oxygen in the blood.

Rectal Thermometer

Pediatricians recommend rectal temperatures as the most accurate in children under 1 year old. The Kinsa Smart Thermometer is safe to use rectally on your infant. See how to take an infant’s rectal temperature here. Kinsa will also keep track of all your baby’s temperatures and symptoms so you don’t have to remember.

Learn More at Kinsahealth.com

Bulb Suction and Saline Drops

If your baby is having trouble breathing due to mucous in her airway, she’ll need your help to clear it out. The Frida Baby SnotSucker, though less than appealing, works wonders to keep airways clear. Fess Little Noses saline drops help thin the mucous so baby can breathe.

When you keep your medicine cabinet stocked with appropriate 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 Holly Case, a mom of three boys who lives in Texas. Learning how to care for her own kids was the start of a career in writing about parenting and health.