Stocking Baby's Medicine Cabinet

Pain-Relief Liquids

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) I recommend the infant drops or liquid for fever or pain, but never give this medicine to a baby younger than 2 months old without specific instructions from your doctor. Read the label to check the dosage, and use the dropper that comes with the product or another dosing instrument (see Medicine syringe or dropper, next page).
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) As with acetaminophen, ibuprofen infant drops or liquid can relieve pain and fever. Never give it to a child younger than 4 months old without your doctor's consent. Ibuprofen is a little stronger and lasts a bit longer than acetaminophen. However, most pediatricians prefer acetaminophen for babies younger than 6 months old because it's easier on the stomach and is an older drug with a long history of safe use in babies. I think parents should keep both products on hand, since occasionally you'll need to use them together, under the direction of your doctor, for high fever or severe pain, such as from a bad earache.
  • Decongestant An over-the-counter decongestant or a combination decongestant/antihistamine product is commonly recommended for a runny nose and congestion. These medicines should not be given to a baby younger than 4 to 6 months old; consult your doctor about dosage and use.
  • Cough suppressant Again, this product is for babies at least 4 to 6 months old. The most common ingredient in a children's formula is dextromethorphan (look for "DM" on the label).
  • Simethicone (Mylicon) drops This over-the-counter gas remedy stays in the gastrointestinal tract and is not absorbed into the body. It doesn't always produce results, but it's safe to try.
  • Electrolyte solution Used to alleviate dehydration, this fortified beverage comes in ready-to-drink bottles or packets to be mixed with water. It's used mostly for bottlefed babies suffering from significant diarrhea or vomiting. (Breastfed infants can usually continue to take breast milk.) Give this drink only under the direction of your doctor.
  • Saline nasal drops Made from pure salt water, these drops help loosen and clear baby's stuffy nose. They can be used alone or with a nasal aspirator. A cool-mist humidifier will also soothe upper respiratory infections.

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