Your family needs a well-stocked medicine box, so you can respond quickly when an illness or accident strikes, especially as children can deteriorate (and get better) so quickly. Remember to place medicines far out of those little inquisitive hands.

Firstly, it’s useful to get a container that has lots of compartments, so that when you look for something you can find it quickly and easily. The box/draw should be divided into “first aid” and “medicines”. The list includes:

First aid

  • Adhesive tape (micropore)
  • Bandages (crepe bandage in a few different sizes and Elastoplast)
  • Gauze pads
  • Antiseptic wash
  • Plasters (assorted shapes and sizes)
  • Burn shield (spray more useful than gel in sachet)
  • Cotton wool
  • Heat pad/icepack: there are nice animal ones around that you can keep in the freezer.
  • Red wash cloth (red is recommended because if you’re mopping up some bleeding, your child does not notice the blood)
  • Tweezers. Local anaesthetic cream is very useful in this regard, my son was quite beside himself when having to remove his first splinter with a tweezers and needle. If you’re using a needle, remember to disinfect it. Put a thick layer of the cream on, cover with a plaster and give it an hour to work
  • In the case of a bee sting, check if the sting is still there. If so, scrape it off the skin in the opposite direction that it is sticking into the skin using a bank card of sort. Mylocort ointment is useful to apply and if swelling, an oral antihistamine. If your child develops difficulty breathing, swollen lips or tongue, go to your closest emergency unit.
  • In the nappy bag: Elastoplast antiseptic spray is very useful for grazes or cuts as they happen and often stops the bleeding.

Medicine

  • Pain and fever: paracetamol and anti-inflammatories in liquid and suppository form: check with your doctor what dose is appropriate according to their weight.
  • Allergy eye drops
  • Antihistamines for insect bites and when allergies are severe (only from age 2)
  • Calamine lotion for an itchy rash
  • Anti-fungal and steroid cream for nappy rash
  • Antiseptic ointment
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Saline nose spray
  • Children’s cough syrup: Pholtex is good to suppress a night time dry cough, decongestant syrup for excess nasal mucous and post-nasal drips
  • Dosage spoons and syringes
  • Hydrocortisone cream for insect bites
  • Insect repellent: for babies, first prize is just a mosquito net
  • Gastro: rehydrate sachets, anti-nausea and anti-cramping if over 6 years. Zofran is very useful if left over from an old script (for severe vomiting). Anti-diarrhoeals are not advised as its better for the body to get rid of the infection
  • Thermometer

Go through medicine box with your nanny/child-minder every 3 months and regularly check expiry dates. Don’t store medicine in the bathroom as moisture can cause medicine to lose potency or become unstable.

If your nanny/child-minder is administering medicine, check that they can draw up the correct amount in the syringe, but first prize is to only give medicine yourself.

Written by: Dr Juliet Hannington, Child-friendly GP