• Silvana Barone

COVID Winter part 2: What to have in your medicine cabinet

As we head into winter, we know a lot more about COVID-19 than we did in the Spring and, hopefully, empty store shelves will not be a major concern. Although there is no need to hoard/stuck up for the apocalypse, it’s still a good idea to have some basic medical/general care supplies on hand for your kids as we head into winter. It’ll be a lot easier on everyone if you already have what you need if your child starts to get sick, avoiding a late-night run to the pharmacy.

Important disclaimer: always speak to a pharmacist or your child’s health care provider to make sure that an OTC medicine is right for your child. Serious complications can occur if OTC medications are used incorrectly. If you are unsure about your child’s condition, seek help from a healthcare professional and refer to your child’s health care provider for proper indications and dosing. Some brand names are used in this post for ease of identification and I do not receive any honorariums for mentioning specific medications. It is perfectly fine to use generic versions of OTC medications.

Here are a few things I always have in my medicine cabinet for infants and younger children:

  1. Infant and/or children’s acetaminophen depending on your child’s age. Infant is for children 0-23 months; children’ acetaminophen for ages 2-11 years. Speak to your child’s doctor before giving it to an infant < 3 months. In Canada, the concentration for INFANT acetaminophen and CHILDREN’S acetaminophen are not the same so it is important to use the right product. Use the dropper, syringe or cup that comes with the product to measure the correct dose. Do NOT use a measuring spoon from your kitchen – this can lead to dosing errors. For dosing info click here. It can also be a good idea to have some infant/children’s ibuprophen on hand. This is only for children > 6 months.

  2. Saline solution that you can use for nasal congestion. You can also make your own saline solution using this recipe.

  3. If you have an infant – something you can use as a “snot sucker”. Use it with #2 to help clear your baby’s nasal passages before feeds or before putting them to sleep for easier breathing. Don’t use this more than a couple of times a day as it can cause irritation to the nasal mucosa.

  4. Digital thermometer for checking temperature (see my post about fever for the best way to measure temperature!)

  5. Children’s Benadryl – to be used only after consulting with your child’s physician to determine proper indication and dosing. Since Benadryl can be sedating and is not recommended to be used long-term, speak to your child’s health care provider about using a 2nd generation antihistamine (less sedating) such as Children’s Zyrtec.

  6. Fragrance free moisturizing cream or ointment for when that dry winter skin kicks in. Plain old petrolatum (ex. Vaseline) can be also be used for dry skin or as a barrier ointment to prevent diaper rash.

  7. 1% hydrocortisone cream or ointment for minor eczema patches or insect bites

  8. If you have kids in diapers – Zinc oxide-based diaper cream

  9. An oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte (discuss with your health care provider before using for an infant under 1 year of age)

  10. Gauze and band-aids

  11. An antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin for minor cuts and scrapes

  12. Make sure you have an abundant supply of hand soap, hand sanitizer for when you or your children are on-the-go and Kleenex! A humidifier can also be helpful in the winter but make sure to clean it regularly.

A few more points:

  1. Store your OTC medication and supplies in a cool, dry place (which is usually NOT the bathroom)

  2. If your child takes any prescription medications, it’s a good idea to check how many renewals you have and make sure you have enough to get you through the winter and avoid the stress of trying to get an emergency appointment with your child’s physician.

  3. Check expiry dates to make sure your OTC medications are still good. If they’re expires, return them to the pharmacy to avoid using them by mistake.

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Everything posted to this page represents my interpretation of information gleaned from the medical literature or other trusted sources, combined with my personal experiences and ideas. The posts do not represent the opinion of my current or former employers. Recommendations are general and intended for educational purposes, and may not be appropriate for your child or family’s particular situation. The information provided is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Always consult your child’s health care provider if you are concerned about your child’s health.