Prenatal Information

25. Essential Bathroom-Cabinet Items for New Parents

One. Digital rectal thermometer

Under the age of three months, the only way to accurately measure a baby’s temperature is rectally. Because the fever protocols in infants are all based upon rectal temperatures, having a digital rectal thermometer in your nursery is essential.

Two. Electric breast pump

Pumping is a great way to relieve soreness from engorgement, especially if a newborn baby is taking a long nap. If a mother’s nipples are damaged, and she needs to take a break from nursing, pumping can be used to maintain her milk supply. It’s also a great way to build up a supply of stored breast milk that can be used in the future. An electric breast pump is a must-have for any new mother planning to provide breast milk to her baby. Most insurance plans will cover the cost of an electric breast pump.

Three. Triple Paste diaper cream

Because stool is a skin irritant and babies are always pooping, diaper rash can develop quickly and be hard to eradicate. In my opinion, Triple Paste, a combination of zinc oxide and corn starch, is the best over-the-counter remedy for both preventing and treating diaper rash. Every time you change your baby’s diaper, apply a thin layer of triple paste to the whole diaper area. Providing good barrier protection is the key to dealing with diaper rash in babies.

Four. Aquaphor ointment

Because babies are constantly drooling, a rash frequently develops in the neck folds under the chin. In this location, Aquaphor provides excellent barrier protection.

Five. Benadryl (diphenhydramine)

Benadryl is helpful for treating allergic reactions, but it takes much longer to work than epinephrine. Consequently, Benadryl is NOT a first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. If a child is having a life-threatening allergic reaction, parents should immediately call 911.

For simple hives and itching, children usually respond quickly to treatment with Benadryl. Please note that Benadryl is quite sedating and wears off in about six hours.

To calculate the correct dose of Benadryl in mL, simply multiply your child’s weight in pounds X .18. The maximum dose is 20 mL (50 mg). In the correct dose, Benadryl can be safely given to children of any age.

 Six. Probiotics

Vomiting and diarrhea occur frequently in all age groups, so it’s a good idea to keep your bathroom cabinet stocked with probiotics. Probiotics contain good bacteria like Acidophilus and Lactobacillus, which help keep the gut healthy. Data from studies on probiotics are moderately strong. They suggest that probiotics can shorten the course of gastroenteritis; they also help to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea and overgrowth of bad bacteria, like clostridium difficile. At this point in time, probiotics have not been shown to consistently help with eczema.

Which brand of probiotics work best?

  1. For cases of gastroenteritis, multiple studies have shown that probiotics containing Lactobacillus bacteria can be helpful.
  2. For colicky infants, studies have shown that probiotics with Lactobacillus reuteri can lessen the duration of crying.

When selecting probiotics for children from the pharmacy, keep the following points in mind:

  1. No studies have demonstrated harm in children from administering probiotics.
  2. An exact dose based on age or weight has not been firmly established (see dosing guidelines below).
  3. The daily dosage of probiotics should be listed on the box as CFU’s, or colony-forming units. If the box lists a dose in milligrams (mg), don’t buy it. Typical adult doses range from 10-50 billion CFUs/capsule, and most pediatric brands are in the range of 2-5 billion CFUs/tablet or packet.

Dosing guidelines:

For small children, keep powder packets of Culturelle (which contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus) or a similar generic brand handy. For babies under six months of age who have symptoms of gastroenteritis, administer ½ packet in a bottle or pureed food once daily. For babies 6 – 11 months old, give about ¾ packet, and for those 12 months and older give one packet daily. School-aged children can take 1-2 chewable tablets (with 5 billion CFUs) or 1-2 packets daily as needed. If you want to learn more about probiotics, antibiotics, and the human microbiome, a truly fascinating subject, check out a new book by Jack Gilbert and Rob Knight called, Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System.

Seven. Sunscreen

Using SPF 15 or higher sunscreen on a regular basis markedly decreases the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. For this reason, every bathroom cabinet should be stocked with sunblock. Sunblock can safely be applied to children of all ages, even newborns. For children under the age of six months, the AAP recommends avoiding direct sunlight exposure. Keep in the mind that staying out of the sun (especially during peak hours, 10 am – 4 pm) and wearing protective clothing when the sun can’t be avoided are the best ways to avoid excess exposure and skin cancer down the road.