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Health Feature Articles

The "Medical Layette"

Donna Dixon, R.N., M.S., former Human Development and Family Studies Associate, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia


Parents and family members spend hours selecting cute baby clothes and purchasing a car seat, stroller and crib. Baby shower gifts may add toys, quilts and bath time products for the care of a baby. However, some of the things that can prevent late night trips to drugstores and help a parent cope with that first illness are equally important to purchase. Here is a list of items to request or purchase so that you will be prepared for whatever happens: 

Thermometer - A digital thermometer for under the arm should be used until six months of age. After six months you can begin using an ear thermometer but they are not necessary. Use a rectal thermometer lubricated with Vaseline only if your doctor asks. 

Penlight/Flashlight - For checking hard to see places, checking cuts, scrapes and conditions in the middle of the night. Don't forget extra batteries. 

Ice packs - In the breastfeeding bag that you got at the hospital from the formula companies there is an ice pack and zippered case for an ice pack to keep breast milk chilled. The ice pack is also great for applying to cuts, scrapes and bumps. 

Tweezers - These are essential for removing ticks, splinters, objects lodged in the nose or ears, etc. 

Alcohol Pads - A bottle of rubbing alcohol along with cotton balls will work just as well to clean tweezers, scissors, thermometer, etc. Never use rubbing alcohol in a bath to help control fever. 

Medicine Dispenser - A syringe is usually the most accurate and easy to use. There are a number of different types of measuring spoons, droppers, and cups. There is a fancy pacifier that allows you to give medicine but medicine can also be placed into a bottle nipple and your infant will suck it right down. 

The Well-Stocked Medicine Cabinet:

Infant Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) - These medications are not only for fever but also are good for pain control. Ask your pediatrician or pharmacist for a dosage chart based on weight. Aspirin should be avoided in children.

1% Hydrocortisone Ointment or Calamine Lotion - This is great stuff to relieve the itching of rashes, poison ivy and bug bites.

Diphenhydramine (Benedryl) - An antihistamine is helpful in handling any minor allergic reactions or intense itching. Your doctor may also recommend it for a baby who is having difficulty sleeping due to itching or other conditions. 

Antibiotic Ointment (Neosporin, Bacitracin) - Cuts at risk for infection may heal faster. If a cut or scrape appears to be infected already, consult the doctor before administering the antibiotic ointment. 

Syrup of Ipecac - This over-the-counter medication causes vomiting and may be helpful in certain poison ingestions. Never give this medication unless directed by the Poison Control Center or the doctor. 

Simethecone Drops (Mylicon or Little Tummies) - Despite much debate by doctors, this medicine is useful for some cases of colic related to gas and stomach upset. Since it is not really a medicine that is absorbed (it surrounds the gas bubbles and pops them), it is generally safe. 

Saline Nose Drops (Ocean Spray, Little Noses) - For the first "cold" these salt water solutions can be administered to thin nasal secretions and prior to suctioning the nose. A cool steam humidifier and a nasal aspirator may also be helpful

Diaper Rash Cream (A & D, Super Dooper Diaper Doo, Balmex, Desitin) Anti-fungal Cream (Lotrimin, Tinacatin) - If your doctor diagnoses a yeast-infected diaper rash, an over-the-counter cream may be less expensive than a prescription cream

Oral Electrolyte Solution (Pedialyte) - As a first line of defense when your baby is spitting up frequently, having difficulty swallowing due to nasal secretions or other reasons determined by your doctor, he or she may recommend a short period of this clear fluid rather than breast milk or formula until symptoms subside. Call your doctor first.

Oragel/Teethers - Generally teething is preceded by several months of drooling which does not need to be medicated. If you see reddened gums and the baby is fussy, try an iced teething ring or cold washcloth to chew on first. Resort to teething gels if this is ineffective.

Sunblock - Infant preparations of sunblock are at least 30 SPF and less irritating to the skin.

Lastly, post phone numbers in an easily accessible place - Include the pediatrician, Poison Control Center, a friend or relative you can call in an emergency, and emergency services if "911" is not available in your area.



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Last Updated 05/05/2009