As a mom, you know just how accident-prone and fragile kids can be. Cuts, scratches, scrapes, skinned knees and bumps to the noggin’ are all frequent players on your “must fix” list.
And there’s nothing worse than having to play Dr. Mom without having all of the medical supplies you need to heal your little patient.
Setting up a first-aid kit now for your home and your car will save you time (you can quickly attend to injuries), money (no middle-of-the-night runs to the insanely expensive convenience store) and a whole lot of tears.
Keep these drugstore staples on hand and you’ll be ready for anything your active kid can throw your way.
1. Bandages and Gauze Pads
Your kit should include bandages in a variety of sizes. These little stickies help protect wounds from reinjury, hide scary-looking cuts and magically make tears disappear. Before you spring for the more expensive character bandages, a little DIY craftiness can save money. Buy plain bandages and then decorate them with your child’s name, silly drawings or stickers once they’re in use.
Gauze pads will come in handy for more serious wounds (don’t forget the tape). You can also use them when applying ointments or cleaning agents. When purchasing gauze pads, bigger is better. You can always cut the pad if you need a smaller size.
Speaking of cutting, a good pair of sharp scissors is a necessity. In addition to cutting gauze, you may also need to cut other material, like clothing, during an emergency. Regular scissors are fine, as long as they’re sharp enough to cut gauze, clothing, etc.
3. Cold/hot packs
Hot and cold packs can relieve swelling and reduce the pain of minor injuries. Because you’re not guaranteed to have access to ice or hot water or a heating pad, stock up on the instant cold and hot packs (like this one) that you only have to squeeze to activate.
4. Pain medication/fever reliever
Pain is a big deal to little kids, so it’s always a good idea to have a children’s pain reliever around to reduce fevers and calm headaches, teething pain and minor sprains and strains. Remember, aspirin isn’t recommended for kids, so the best choices are children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
For kids with food allergies, it can be difficult to make sure no forbidden foods ever slip through. If your child does consume something she has a slight allergy to, an oral antihistamine can reduce a potential reaction, says Emily Tuerk, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Even if your kid doesn’t have food allergies, it’s still a good idea to have an antihistamine on hand. “Oral antihistamines and topical antihistamine creams can lessen the reaction to insect stings or bites,” says Dr. Tuerk. They can also decrease symptoms of hives, poison ivy and other skin reactions.
This standard beauty supply isn’t only for plucking stray hairs from your eyebrows. Tweezers come in handy to remove splinters, glass, insect stingers, ticks or even candy. (You know, for when your three-year-old decides to put a piece of candy up his nose.)
7. Digital thermometer
You may think you can get a good read of your child’s temperature by simply touching his forehead. However, when the difference between a “wait and see” fever and a “call the doc now” fever is only a few degrees, it’s smarter and more accurate to have a thermometer. A digital one is quicker and easier to read (here’s an inexpensive and good one).
8. Antiseptic and a disinfectant
It’s important to clean cuts and other wounds to prevent infection. An antiseptic, such as Betadine or hydrogen peroxide, can make cleanups possible when there’s no soap and water available. A disinfectant, like alcohol, shouldn’t be used on open wounds (it stings and destroys tissue), but an alcohol pad or alcohol applied to a cotton ball can be used to clean thermometers, tweezers, scissors and your hands.
9. Antibiotic ointment
After cleaning a cut or a scratch, you may be tempted to slap a bandage on it and call it a day; however, there’s one other thing you should do. After blotting dry, apply antibiotic ointment to keep the wound moist and promote healing, says Dr. Tuerk. If you’re in a pinch, (or just want to save money), she says regular Vaseline will also work.
10. Hydrocortisone cream
Hydrocortisone cream can relieve itching associated with rashes, insect bites, eczema and other minor skin irritation.