Over-the-Counter Medication Guide

Don't give your child the wrong dose of a common medicine -- or the wrong remedy altogether. Our guide will help you treat his next fever or cold safely.

Medicine-Cabinet Must-Haves

Syrup of Ipecac Induces vomiting if a child swallows poison. Use only if instructed by the poison-control center or your physician.

  • Thermometer Digital varieties are easier to read, though mercury ones are slightly more accurate. Use a rectal thermometer for children under 2.
  • First-aid kit Make sure it includes plenty of Band-Aids and bandages.
  • Antiseptic Use on open wounds, such as skinned knees, scratches, and minor cuts.
  • Antibiotic ointment Use on minor wounds to protect against bacteria.
  • Electrolyte solution Helps prevent dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting. Buy solutions made specifically for children, such as Pedialyte or Kao Lectrolyte.
  • Pain reliever/fever reducer Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are equally effective for lowering fever and controlling pain.
  • Hydrocortisone cream Use on minor rashes or insect bites to relieve itching. Don't use for diaper rash or chicken pox.
  • Antihistamine If your child ever has a severe allergic reaction, emergency services may recommend that you administer this.

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