Guest post by Alex Sebuliba
As an adult, you generally know what sort of thing you need in your medicine cabinet – a few painkillers, the odd bandage and so on. It doesn’t need to be anything too major because you know if there’s anything seriously wrong with you then you can go to the doctor or the hospital.
As a new parent, the rules change. Babies can’t tell you what’s wrong with them so you have to make your own diagnosis. For that, you need a fully-stocked baby medicine cabinet that includes all of the equipment you need to assess whether a trip to the doctor is needed.
As far as putting together a baby health kit is concerned, though, there are certain essential items which can be overlooked. We all know that nappy rash cream, bandages and antibacterial ointment are important to include, but which important items tend to be overlooked when they really shouldn’t be?
Babies’ skin is very delicate, so it’s important to keep them out of direct sunlight as much as possible until they’re at least six months old. Afterwards, baby sunscreen which is specially formulated for infants’ skin should be applied after every couple of hours spent in the sun and after playing in water, regardless of what the bottle advises.
Because babies can’t blow their own noses, mucus tends to build up in their nasal passages and can become difficult to extract. Saline drops, which are essentially salt water, loosen the mucus up and enable it to drip out through the nostrils.
Oral syringes are the easiest method of administering oral liquid medicines to your baby because you can control where the drops go to prevent gagging (between the tongue and the side of the mouth is best). You can also control how strong the dose is by measuring the recommended amount with the measurements on the side of the syringe.
Cold compress pack
A cold compress pack is ideal for reducing the swelling and lumps that occur with an accidental bumped head – all you need to do is keep it in the fridge or freezer and apply it to the bump for the recommended amount of time, but remember to wrap it in a tea towel if it feels too cold.
While we might use tweezers to extract splinters, they have a rather different function as far as babies are concerned – they’re actually the perfect tool to extract bogies that might be blocking the baby’s nasal passages and restricting breathing slightly, which obviously the baby can’t blow out.
If the baby is affected by vomiting or diarrhoea and isn’t being breastfed, rehydration solution can be mixed into water or bought to drink on its own to counteract the dehydration which naturally occurs during these periods. However, you should only use it under direction or approval from your GP.
Otoscopes are the tools used by doctors to see into the ears of a patient, and they can be utilised by parents to ascertain whether a baby is crying because of an infection or problem with the ear canal or eardrum. Child-specific otoscopes are available online and will, at the least, help you determine that an ear infection isn’t the problem.
Petroleum jelly such as Vaseline is eternally useful as a lubricant for rectal thermometers or as a moisturiser for dry skin that might develop, or skin affected by nappy rash. Additionally, if your son has been circumcised, coating the wound in the jelly for the following week or so will stop the nappy sticking to it.
Baby insect repellent
Insect bites are the bane of our lives, especially during the summer, and insect repellent is a must. Most repellents contain DEET, a chemical which provides a longer-lasting level of protection, but these should not be used on infants under six months and only products with 10% DEET should be used on children from six months to twelve years old. Many parents invest in natural repellents for babies, made with ingredients like citronella and cedarwood.
Gas is a chronic issue for babies, causing them a great deal of discomfort and bloating. Gas drops relieve the symptoms so baby and parents can settle down and relax for a few hours. Eventually the issue should resolve itself, but the drops generally shouldn’t be used for more than a week or so.
- Alex is passionate about reading writing and sharing anything to do with health and wellbeing. Alex’s main ambition in life is to become recognised a motivational speaker. You can find Alex on Twitter: @AlexBradnum