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.
5. Fever Patches
Fever patches are very easy to use. Simply peel off the back and stick it to your baby's forehead! It will keep the area cool for 4-8 hours, which makes it useful at night when child is asleep, and even in the day when child is active. These are also one of my must-bring items when we travel with the children.
It's essential to have a trusty thermometer to monitor the child's temperature when he's having a fever, because different medications can be given for varying temperatures. [See (Part I) Meds, Creams and Other Aids for Young Children] You would also want the thermometer to be easy to use and quick to obtain a reading to avoid any unpleasantness for your child who is already unwell.
I highly recommend Braun's In-Ear Thermometer. It takes less than 3 seconds to record the temperature reading, and shows the reading with either a green, yellow or red light to indicate normal, fever or high fever. It also allows you to select the age of the child for 0-3 months, 3-36 months, and over 36 months, for a more accurate diagnosis of whether the child is indeed having a fever. You can also choose to see the reading either in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
Click on the pictures for more information.
An infra-red thermometer would be even easier to use as compared to the in-ear thermometer. You can simply point the thermometer at the forehead or the neck area without any direct contact with the skin to obtain a reading. It's common used in schools during the children's health check because it's much faster to take temperatures of multiple children at a go. However, the accuracy would be compromised because it's taking the temperature of the skin, rather than the body.
7. Hydrocortisone Cream 1%
This is a steroidal cream used for rashes, itch, skin allergies and even insect bites. I've used it on my first child when he was several months old at the recommendation of the pediatrician because he has sensitive skin and rash appeared on his face rather frequently. You can also get the Hydrocortisone Cream directly from the Pharmacist. Do note that the pharmacist would not recommend use for children under 3 because the child's rash condition should be monitored for use of a steroid cream. It's important to only apply a thin layer of the cream on the affected area, once or twice a day, for not more than 2 weeks. The cream may cause discolouration and thin the skin over frequent usage. Note also to avoid the eyes or any open wound.
I find this cream really effective for my children's rashes. They almost certainly disappear overnight after applying the cream or at least significantly improved. My baby also tends to have very bad diaper rash when she's unwell, so I would apply some Hydrocortisone on the affected area, before applying diaper cream.
8. Physiogel AI Cream
Physiogel is known for its various creams and body lotions for sensitive skin. The Physiogel AI cream was recommended for young children by my pediatrician for my son's mild eczema condition when he was only a few months old. One tube cost me over $40 and I couldn't find it at any major pharmacies. I later found it on Qoo10 for half the price. The Physiogel AI cream is a very effective moisturiser in soothing or preventing any redness or irritation on the skin.
9. Zyrtec (Cetirizine) and Chlorpheniramine
These are anti-histamines for allergies, sneezing, itching and runny nose. The Zyrtec syrup comes in banana flavour for kids, but I personally find the smell unbearable. It was a nightmare giving it to my daughter when she had to take it at around 6 months. She totally disliked the taste. After giving feedback to my pediatrician, she gave us Chlorpheniramine instead. I didn't take the syrup, but my daughter certainly liked it better. Both meds can be purchased from the Pharmacist directly. Chlorpheniramine tends to cause more drowsiness as compared to Zyrtec. But I actually prefer that my children take meds that will make them drowsy so they can nap more when they are unwell.
Dimetapp consists of brompheniramine and phenylephrine, which is an antihistamine and a decongestant respectively. It can be used for common cold, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose. It's supposed to be a stronger med as compared to Zyrtec and Chlorpheniramine, which is why my pediatrician recommended these for my boys, but not for my daughter under 2. Dimetapp can be purchased directly from the Pharmacist.
11. Rhinathiol Promethazine
This consists of carbocisteine which is a mucolytic that helps to reduce viscosity of sputum, and promethazine hydrochloride which is an antihistamine. So Rhinathiol Promethazine can be used for coughs and to reduce phlegm.
When my boys suffer from cough and runny nose, I would give them both dimetapp and rhinathiol promethazine. Note that these two meds are not recommended for children under 2 years. If your child has never taken the meds before, it's essential to consult the pharmacist or the doctor for the correct dosage and use.
Note: The antihistamines in the meds may cause drowsiness, which affect different children to different extent, so it's also important to monitor your children when they are given sedative medications.
12. Abrilar / Prospan
Abrilar is a cough syrup made from ivy leaves dry extract. It's very safe for even babies under 1 year, pregnant mums and nursing mums. It has a pleasant taste too, which was well-approved by my daughter. This is an OTC (over-the-counter) medicine.
Here's the stash of medicines for my children
Well, the nebuliser is not exactly an aid to keep at home. It is largely used for children who suffer from severe asthma. However, when my daughter suffered bronchiolitis when she was 6 months old, after her first dip in the pool, she had fever then developed a very nasty cough over two weeks,and didn't take the medicines well. The pediatrician hence suggested I rent home the nebuliser for her. Basically the nebuliser converts liquid medicines into gas, so you just have to bring the small face mask close to your child's nose for her to breathe in the gas. It's odourless, so you don't have to worry about any bad smell putting off your child. However, the young child might be bothered by the whirring sound of the nebuliser when it's switched on. Also, the medications are definitely more expensive than the typical oral meds, and you would also have to pay a rental fee to bring the machine home over a few days. But I still decided to go with it for my daughter because it was really a struggle feeding her meds every few hours. The nebuliser worked well for us, and the medication course is much more effective and only required three days, as compared to her probably having to take the oral meds for a week.
Knowing your options for different types of medicines and different ways of administering the meds will help you in deciding, along with your physician, the best method to treat your child, in the least unpleasant manner.
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