What should I have in the medicine chest circa 1940s?
absorbent cotton: one pound and toothpicks or toothpick swabs
baby oil and cod liver oil
These were suggested by Dr. Benjamin Spock in his classic baby care book. The cotton and toothpicks were to make cotton swabs to clean nose and ears. The cod liver oil was given as a vitamin D supplement.
What should I have in the medicine chest circa 2015?
Stocking the newborn medicine chest is easy–all you really need is a digital thermometer. Rectal temperatures are preferred in infants, but in a pinch you can take an axillary (underarm) temperature. Ear thermometers are best for children over one year old. We no longer recommend old-fashioned glass thermometers because if they break, the mercury is hazardous.
Another essential piece of equipment is the bulb syringe. The hospital will provide the one that was used to clear your baby’s mouth and nose at delivery. Hang onto it because the ones sold in the store tend not to be as good as the hospital model. When used with or without salt-water nose drops, the bulb syringe is good for suctioning mucus from your baby’s nose during colds. Cool mist humidifiers may also help when baby’s nose is congested. Cool mist machines are preferred because they pose less of a risk for burns.
A trip down the children’s medication aisle is enough to give any parent an ulcer, but for now remember one thing: Never give any medicine to your newborn without first checking with the pediatrician. Always measure medicines with droppers that are calibrated; you’ll need a one medicine dropper that measures 5 milliliters. Metric (milliliters) is more accurate than conventional teaspoons.
If you want to plan ahead, reasonable things to purchase include infant acetaminophen, salt-water drops for nasal congestion, a zinc-based diaper cream and an oral rehydration solution like Pedialyte. Check the expiration date on anything before you buy it, because chances are you won’t need any of these for the first months. Don’t store medications in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Children are excellent climbers and explorers. Keep all medications and hazardous material securely stored away.
Take the time to put the Poison Control number in your phone now: (800)222-1222.