Baby First Aid Essentials
As a new parent, you can look forward to plenty of thrilling firsts and inspiring photo opportunities as your baby grows and develops over the coming months and years. You can also look forward to treating numerous stuffy noses, stomach upsets, and all sorts of bumps and bruises.
Having a well-stocked first aid kit at home is a must. It's also a good idea to carry a second "mini" kit in your car or your baby's diaper bag. Prepacked first aid kits, filled with just about everything you might need, are available at your local pharmacy. You can also assemble your own. Here's what you will find handy:
- A basic first aid manual, available through the American Red Cross, or one of the many books on first aid you can find in your local bookstore.
- Infant acetaminophen (such as liquid Tylenol) to reduce fever and ease pain.
- Infant ibuprofen (such as Advil), which also is a pain reliever and fever reducer. (Remember, when your baby is under 3 months old, these medications should not be used to treat any fever without a doctor's evaluation. Fevers in babies this young can be a sign of very serious illness.)
- An oral syringe calibrated with milliliter (ml) markers to measure and administer liquid medicine. Never use household teaspoons to administer medications to infants and children.
- Saline drops to loosen mucus in a stuffy nose.
- Baby oil or hydrocortisone cream (1 percent solution), to soothe itchy skin.
- Rectal thermometer.
- Petroleum jelly to lubricate rectal thermometer.
- Alcohol wipes or liquid rubbing alcohol to clean the thermometer.
- A bulb syringe to remove mucus from a clogged nose.
- Cotton balls, cotton swabs, and sterile gauze.
- Antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin) to reduce risk of infection in case of scrapes and minor cuts.
- Antiseptic solution (such as hydrogen peroxide) to clean wounds. (However, doctors often recommend just soap and water for wound cleaning, so you may prefer these if they're available when an injury occurs., )
- Adhesive bandages in various sizes.
- Cold packs for your freezer and disposable instant cold packs for the road to reduce swelling and ease the pain of bumps and bruises.
- A list of emergency phone numbers, including the number of your local poison control center. The national toll-free number is 1-800-222-1222.
First Aid Cautions
Be sure to store your first aid kit -- and all medications, including vitamins -- in a locked cabinet where your children cannot get to them. Other safety tips to remember:
- Never give an infant under 2 years old any medication, including over-the-counter pain relievers such as infant Tylenol and cold medication without checking with your pediatrician first. Even a low-grade fever in a baby less than 3 months old can be a sign of a developing serious illness.
- Every six months, be sure to check the expiration dates on all medications in your home.
- Throw away any bottles of syrup of ipecac you may have. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it causes more harm than good and no longer advises that it be used in cases of accidental poisoning.
- Always store medications, including vitamins, in their original containers. In case your child accidentally takes a medication, you need to know exactly what she has ingested.
- Never give aspirin to an infant or child. It increases the child's risk of developing Reye's syndrome, a potentially deadly condition that children can get when they're recovering from a viral illness such as the flu or chicken pox.
Nemours Foundation, KidsHealth.org. First-Aid Kit. Reviewed August 2010. http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/home/firstaid_kit.html
American Academy of Family Physicians, FamilyDoctor.org. Pain Relievers: Understanding Your OTC Options. Updated December 2009. http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/otc-center/otc-medicines/862.html
American College of Emergency Physicians. Home First Aid Kits. http://www.acep.org/content.aspx?id=26036
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Giving Medicine to Children. June 2009. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm164427.htm
Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente Healthwise Handbook: A Self-Care Guide for You and Your Family. Chapter 20: Your Home Health Center. 2003. Healthwise.
Mayo Clinic. Common Cold in Babies. October 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=PR00038
Children's Hospital and Health System. First Aid Kit. http://www.chw.org/display/PPF/DocID/23095/Nav/1/router.asp
American Academy of Family Physicians. Cuts, Scrapes, and Stitches. American Family Physician. Volume 69. Number 11. June 2004. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0601/p2647.html
American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org. Poison Treatment in the Home. November 2003.
American Academy of Family Physicians, FamilyDoctor.org. Skin Problems: Dry, Itchy Skin. Updated December 2009. http://familydoctor.org/814.xml