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  • Digital thermometer – Especially important if you have a baby; for infants, a rectal reading is the most accurate.
  • Petroleum jelly or K-Y Jelly to lubricate a thermometer for rectal use –
  • Antibiotic ointment for cuts and scrapes. Toss the tube and buy a new one if it touches an infected cut.
  • Scissors – One sharp pair plus a pair of safety manicure scissors.
  • Tweezers for removing ticks and splinters.
  • Alcohol wipes – These are safer than rubbing alcohol, which is poisonous if swallowed. Use them to clean thermometers, tweezers and scissors, and the skin around wounds. (Stick to soap and water on open cuts; alcohol hurts.)
  • Anti-itch topical cortisone cream or topical calamine lotion for insect bites and rashes. Never apply to a baby— who might lick it off—and don’t get it near the eyes (best to avoid the face altogether).
  • Child-safe insect repellent and sunscreen lotion.
  • Acetaminophen – For babies under 35 pounds, make sure it’s infant-strength. Stick with the recommended dose — overdoses can cause liver damage.
  • Ibuprofen for children over 6 months only; use infant-strength for babies under 35 pounds.
  • Cough and cold medicine – Check with your pediatrician before giving cough or cold medication to children (especially kids under 3 years).
  • Medicine dropper, oral syringe, or calibrated cup or spoon for administering medicines.
  • Saline nose drops (nonmedicated) to help clear a baby’s nose.
  • Nasal aspirator (or bulb syringe), in case nose drops don’t work.
  • Seasonal allergy medication, if needed.
  • Oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte.
  • Teething gel – Stick to the recommended dosage.
  • Simethicone drops for gas.
  • Sterile cotton balls, cotton swabs.
  • Adhesive bandages in assorted sizes or gauze rolls, pads and adhesive tape. Small bandages can be a choking hazard, so watch your child closely.
  • Baby shampoo, moisturizing cream and mild liquid soap for a baby’s sensitive skin.

What to Nix

  • Syrup of ipecac – The American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends it for poisonings.
  • Baby or children’s aspirin can cause Reye’s syndrome, a serious disease. So can various products that contain aspirin, including topical ointments (such as Bengay), Pepto-Bismol (or generic equivalents) and certain wart removers.
  • Mercury thermometer – If it breaks, it’s a health and environmental hazard. Give it to your doctor to discard.
  • Ear thermometer – Easy to use, but inaccurate.