When I started my practice more than 20 years ago, there was only one pharmacy open late in my town. If your baby got sick in the middle of the night, you couldn't buy any medicine until morning. But even in these days of 24-hour pharmacies and grocery aisles stocked to the ceiling with remedies, it's wise to keep the basic supplies on hand. Of course, always consult your child's pediatrician before administering any medication. Here are the essentials.
- Diaper rash cream Diaper rash is inevitable for all babies. Look for a product that contains zinc oxide, which is best for soothing irritated skin.
- Hydrocortisone cream This anti-inflammatory salve is sold in pharmacies in 1/2- or 1-percent strengths. Both are mild enough for infants and are used mainly for eczema (a red, scaly rash); dry, itchy skin; or to treat bug bites. Use as directed on the tube, but not for more than seven days because it can cause changes to the skin, such as loss of pigment.
- Triple antibiotic ointment Once your child is crawling and walking, he's likely to get minor cuts or scrapes. This topical cream can be applied to scratches, cuts, or abrasions to prevent infection.
- Petroleum jelly Besides working wonders on dry skin and eczema, this cheap, tried-and-true moisturizer can be applied to diaper rash to shield the skin from contact with irritating urine and stool. If your son has been circumcised, put it on the circumcision wound for the first week to prevent the penis from adhering to the diaper.
- Teething medicines Chew toys are often sufficient to soothe teething pain, but if your baby is truly uncomfortable, a topical teething remedy can help.