What to Keep In Your Medicine Cabinet to Treat Common Ailments For Kids

Published: June 02, 2022
By Kene Aniagboso, 2022 PharmD Candidate

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications do not require a prescription from a physician and can be purchased at a store or pharmacy. If you are a parent, you may consider having OTC medications on hand to treat your common injuries and illnesses. Below are some suggestions to ensure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet for your child.

  • Pain relievers, including acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil), are generally safe in children. Acetaminophen is recommended if your child is at least two months old, while ibuprofen is recommended if your child is at least six months old. You can administer up to every six hours as needed for headaches, sprains, fractures, and fever. How much your child receives is based on weight, so carefully read the dosing instructions on the label and talk to your pharmacist to avoid causing any harm.
  • Antihistamines can help with allergy symptoms like runny nose and itchy eyes. Due to their ability to cause sleepiness, they are not recommended for children under two years old.
  • Antibiotic ointments reduce the risk of possible infections that may arise with cuts or scrapes.
  • Cortisone cream is a topical steroid that can soothe itchy rashes or skin irritation from insect bites.
  • Diaper rash creams/ointments act as a barrier between the skin and irritants like urine and can help soothe and treat rashes.
  • Saline spray or drops are nose drops that can help loosen mucus and moisturize the inside of the nose.
  • Gas drops can help relieve pressure and discomfort caused by intestinal gas.

Other items

  • Oral syringes, cups, or spoons come with certain oral liquid medications to help you measure the correct dose for your child. Always use these items over a regular kitchen spoon to ensure proper dosing and administration. You can also purchase an oral syringe for medications that do not come with one.
  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen and lip balm with SPF 15 act as barriers to sunburn. A zinc-oxide formula with an SPF of at least 30 is effective. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping babies under six months out of direct sunlight. After six months of age, sunscreen application should be a regular part of a sun safety routine.
  • Bandages come in different sizes and are great for covering cuts or scrapes. It is advised to wash or clean the cut before bandaging.
  • Insect repellents protect your child from the bites of disease-transmitting bugs. DEET or picaridin, an active ingredient in most repellents, can be used if your child is at least two months old.
  • Thermometer assists with temperature checks.

Medication safety tips from the pharmacist:

  • Store medications in a cool, dry place, out of reach from your child and pets.
  • When ingested at high doses or not taken as directed, medications can become toxic for your child. If you think your child has ingested a medication not meant for them or in high amounts, contact the Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222 or call 911.
  • Call the medications by their proper names. Calling medications “candy” may lead to your child thinking it is candy and eating it without your knowledge.
  • Many OTC medications contain similar ingredients. Be sure to read all the active ingredients to avoid giving too much of the same medication.


OTC medications are convenient to have on hand in case of injuries or illnesses. It’s a good idea to discuss any medication questions or concerns with your pharmacist to make sure you have the right products for your family.


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