Disclaimer: My suggestions here are based on personal experience on how I care for my 3 children at home, which you might also find useful. If you have any doubts, you should always consult a medical professional.
Children fall sick easily. Even in the first few months of life, with breastfeeding and lots of care to avoid contact with any adult who's unwell, to avoid spreading any virus to the baby, the baby will also likely experience episodes of fever from vaccinations. Here are a list of medicines, creams and other aids which you should keep at home, and will come in handy when your child is unwell.
1. Panadol (Paracetamol) and Neurofen (Ibuprofen)
These are syrups for children when they have a fever. Panadol can be easily found in pharmacies and supermarkets, whereas Neurofen is only available via direct purchase from the Pharmacist, or as prescribed by the doctor. Panadol is used for mild fevers, and Neurofen is used only for high fevers above 38.5 deg Celsius. Do note that Neurofen is not recommended for babies under 6 months old.
Panadol is given every 4 hourly, and Neurofen can only be given every 6 hourly. But these two can be used together, at least 2 hours apart, because they are made up of different chemical composition. This is especially helpful when the child is running a very high temperature above 38.5 deg, and the fever doesn't seem to subside even after administering either of the medication.
10am - panadol
12nn - neurofen (temp above 38.5 deg; 2 hours apart from panadol)
2pm - panadol (4 hours from the last panadol dose, and 2 hours apart from neurofen)
6pm - neurofen (if temp is still above 38.5 deg; 6 hours from the last neurofen dose)
It is very important to note down the times and type of medication administered so that you don't run a risk of over-dosing your child. It's probably very worrisome when baby's temperature rises above 38.5deg. If your baby is less than 6 months old, you should definitely bring the baby to see the doctor. I have grown more comfortable with self-medicating my children as they get older. Influenza virus tends to bring about fevers higher than 39 deg. The MMRV (mumps, measles, rubella, varicella) vaccination also has a nasty reputation of causing high fevers 5-7 days after the injection. This injection only takes place after the child turns 1, so neurofen can be administered by then. It also means you should plan ahead for the vaccination and not have any trips made within 2 weeks after the MMRV vaccination.
Note: Always check the correct dosage of each medication for your child. Dosage instructions that come along with the medications are usually stated according to age, but it's more accurate to calculate the dosage according to your child's weight. If you are at the clinic, the doctor will definitely do the calculation for you, otherwise you can ask the pharmacist for advice.
Tip: Time the medications and the milk feeds for your baby. Always administer the medication to your baby with an empty stomach, right before the next milk feed. It greatly reduces the chances of the baby gagging and throwing up the medicine.
Syringes are very useful in administering small doses of medication for the baby. They can be found in pharmacies. Most commonly used ones are the 3ml and 5ml sizes. If the dosage is greater than 5ml, chances are your child would be old enough to take the syrup properly from a spoon or medicine cup, instead of a syringe
Tip: Insert the syringe into the corner of baby's mouth so prevent gagging and spitting.
3. Suppositories for Fever
Trying to soothe a baby who is unwell can be very heartbreaking. It's even tougher to be the one to administer the medication to the child, and watch her struggle or gag at the taste of the medicine. I've learnt to request for suppositories from my pediatrician because these can be administered even when the baby is asleep. It may not be pleasant to shove something up the baby's butt, but I honestly think it's certainly the lesser evil as compared to giving her an oral dose of panadol. It can also be very frustrating when the baby gags and spits out the medicine, which means she won't receive the full required dosage and it's hard to estimate how much more to give.
There are paracetamol and ibuprofen equivalent in the form of suppositories, so different type of suppositories can be given for mild fever and high fever. Suppositories can only be obtained with a prescription. I also tend to request for more suppositories when I bring the child to the doctor, so I would have some on hand the next time without bringing the baby to the clinic.
Note: Suppositories need to be kept in the fridge.
Tip: Before you insert the suppository, warm it by rubbing it with your fingers or running it under tap water for several seconds. This will smooth out the edges so it's easier to insert the suppository up the baby's butt. It's also easier when the baby is lying on her side with the legs bent. Simply push the suppository in, with the tip pointing towards the baby's belly button. The suppository will melt when it comes in contact with the body temperature and the medication absorbed. All done in seconds!
4. Cold / Hot Pack with Towel
You can easily find cold/hot packs in pharmacies. Some packs come with a towel shaped like a bag, which has an opening to insert the pack so that you don't place the pack in direct contact with the skin. Otherwise, you can always wrap the cold/hot pack with a small towel of your own. Packs are used hot by immersing in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, or can be warmed up in the microwave oven. For use as cold packs, simply place them in the freezer. It's a good idea to just leave the cold pack in the freezer. Trust me, I use it very often.
Use the cold packs for cold compress on bruises and swelling when the child falls down. Compress for about 15-20 minutes right after the fall for best results. Continue to cold compress 2-3 times in the day over the next few days for faster recovery of the bruise or swelling.
Use the cold pack (preferably a large sized one) and place it inside the shirt/romper of your child's back when the child is having a fever. The nurse at the clinic did this for my baby when she was only 5 months old and suffered an Influenza A infection, with fever higher than 39 deg. I had already given her panadol before heading to the clinic but the temperature persisted and neurofen was not an option for under 6 months. After leaving the cold pack on for 20 minutes, her temperature did come down. Subsequently I also use it for my older boys when they had fever during the night. They could still sleep with the cold packs on their backs.
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