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As a parent, what should I stock in my medicine cabinet for my kids?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

When your child is sick or has an accident, the last thing you feel like doing is hopping in the car to find a twenty-four-hour pharmacy. At home, you want to have a well-stocked (and well-locked) cabinet containing items that can help you handle garden-variety health issues that affect kids. Here's how we'd stock it:

  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen (children's Tylenol and Motrin): for pain relief and reducing fevers.
  • Antihistamines such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Claritin (loratadine), and Zyrtec (cetirizine): for allergic reactions and hives. Always Benadryl; the other two are optional.
  • An antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin or Bacitracin: for cuts and scrapes.
  • Saline drops: for stuffy noses.
  • Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream: for stings (no Caladryl or Benadryl cream; it's too easy to overdose the Benadryl component in the topical formulation).
  • Moisturizers such as Cetaphil, Lubriderm, and Aquaphor: for preventing and relieving dry, itchy skin and chapped lips.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: for puncture wounds and ear infections. Also dissolves ear wax, which can harbor bacteria and cause pain independently. Mix a small amount half and half with water in the cap, then just pour a few drops into each ear; the wax will soften and fall out. Hydrogen peroxide is also good for cleaning bloodstains from clothing, furniture, and carpeting.
  • Band-Aids
YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

More About this Book

YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

There’s little doubt that parenting can be one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences you’ll ever have. But it can be plenty tough, too: Around the clock, you’re working to keep your...
Gretchen M. Bosacker, MD
Family Medicine

Medicine cabinet must-haves for kids include bandages, antibiotic ointment and wound cleanser; medicines should be limited to those for pain and fever. Watch family physician Gretchen Phillips, MD, explain the necessities to have on hand for kids.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.