There are over 200 germs that can cause a cold—so the chances are your kids are going to be feeling sick pretty often, especially if they’re in school.
If you have just one child, your house is likely to be infected with a virus for 18 weeks a year, a study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found. With two offspring, you’re facing 29 weeks of illness!
So it pays to be prepared and stock up your medicine cabinet with the basics for soothing those middle-of-the-night woes.
Our video gives you tips for preparing your child's medical kit.
Read on for the six most popular items found in our family medical kits at June:
Saline Drops + Nasal Aspirator
When your child comes down with the sniffles, they can feel pretty miserable and if they haven’t learned to blow their nose yet they’ll need a little help.
During a head cold or allergic reaction, the membranes lining your nasal passages swell and produce excess mucus to flush out the irritation.
Saline drops or a saltwater spray will add moisture to your little one’s sinuses and loosen any mucus. An aspirator will then help you suck out these gooey blockages.
Did You Know?
Blowing the nose is a learned skill—some children pick it up by the age of two, whereas others may not until they’re in primary school.
Coughing is useful: it’s the body’s way of ridding the lungs of germs and irritants. But it sure can be irritating and painful.
It can also disrupt sleep, because when you lie flat in bed, mucus pools in the back of the throat and makes a cough worse.
Syrups can have a soothing effect on coughs as they coat and lubricate the irritated pharynx. But you may find it surprising that honey is one of the most effective ways to suppress a cough: A Cochrane medical review found there was no difference between treating with liquid honey and treating with honey-flavored dextromethorphan or diphenhydramine (the active ingredients in some cough syrups).
TIP: Honey is not recommended in infants under 12 months due its bacterial properties. Instead you could opt for a common over-the-counter syrup containing glycerol (usually at around 0.75 g per 5 ml)—an active ingredient with no pharmacological properties that works by lubricating the throat, according to Pharmacy journal.
Did You Know?
Honey sold in Hong Kong has been found to contain carcinogenic antibiotic residues, traces of pesticides and banned sugars.
Read the full Consumer Council report to know what to look for in your honey.
Sometimes a kiss and a cuddle won’t cure your child’s woes, so in the middle of the night it’s a good idea to have some effective pain relief on hand.
There are two types you could opt for: paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.
Ibuprofen limits the body’s production of fatty acids (called prostaglandins) that cause fever, body aches and pain. It also reduces inflammation, so is a good option for painful injuries with swelling. Because of its strength, it’s not recommended for babies under six months (dosage also depends on weight).
Paracetamol is an alternative painkiller that’s milder on the digestive tract. In large doses it can harm the liver though, so take care to read the instructions and check other medication your child is taking to ensure there’s no doubling up.
TIP: If your medication has weight recommendations, make sure you weigh your child regularly. Make a note of it in your medicine cabinet so you’re not trying to work it out in a 3am panic.
If excessive sun exposure has left your kids with sunburn, their skin will probably be red, swollen and pretty painful.
Aloe vera is a traditional herbal remedy that’s been touted for its healing properties when it comes to skin damage.
The scientific research out there is limited, but promising preliminary studies show that topical aloe gel may impact the immune system, improving wound healing and skin inflammation, a review by the international Natural Standard Research Collaboration found.
TIP: Do not apply a lotion or cream containing petroleum to sunburn as it will lock in moisture and trap heat within the skin.
Did you know these facts about sunscreen?
Clinical trials have shown that probiotics can help reduce diarrhea in children by as much as a day, with the strains Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus most recommended.
This may be because a nasty tummy bug clears out a lot of the microbiome—friendly bacteria—in your child’s gut, scientists from Harvard University recently discovered.
So it makes sense that putting a few more friendly bacteria into your body during a bout of sickness will help it to recover.
TIP: Kids’ probiotics now come in single-serve packets (so they can be stored in a cupboard) and can be dissolved in cool drinks—handy when your child is ill.
Does your child need probiotics? Read the latest research here.
A reliable thermometer is a medicine cupboard staple for determining your child’s core body temperature (doctors generally class a fever as anything above 38°C).
There are many different types on the market: from standard oral thermometers to rectal temperature-takers and tympanic scan thermometers that measures the infrared heat produced by your ear’s tympanic membrane.
Advice varies as to which is the best and for which age—at the end of the day it’s best to have one that you and your child will be comfortable operating in the wee hours.
TIP: Test your thermometer in daylight hours so you know how it works and check the batteries every so often in case they need replacing.
Keep track of your family's illnesses with June's medication chart. Click here to download it.
Medicine Cabinet Tips & Tricks
Ensure your medical kit is ready to use with these small checks:
- Keep your medicine out of reach, in a locked waterproof box to prevent curious fingers and humidity from getting in.
- When you open medication, write the date on the side and don’t keep them too long. The U.K.’s National Health Service recommends three months for sprays and drops; six months for liquids and creams.
- Check your supplies every six months for best before dates and battery life.
- Keep a medication chart so that for each bout of illness, the caregiver can list the medicine given, with the date and time—to avoid any late-night or handover confusion.
- Medicinal syringes will help ensure you give the correct dose of syrups and minimize any spillages or spit-ups.