It is tough to know what baby pharmacy essentials to buy. If there’s one place I’ve spent oodles of money during my mommy-tenure, it’s in the baby aisle at Target. More specifically, the pharmacy section of the baby aisle at Target.
I mean, could there be any more choices?
I tried a whole host of products with each new baby. Solicited and unsolicited advice came from all arenas of my life:
“You have to use this, it’s the only thing that will make her sleep!”
“I couldn’t make it through the day without Burt’s Bees products”
Or my very favorite, “What do you mean you used that; it’s poison! Didn’t you see that on Facebook!?!?”
I thought my two nursing degrees would give me the ability to wade through the vast amount of information out there on all these baby products. Turns out, when it affects my own children, I am pretty much worthless. Any powers of critical thinking or deductive reasoning are lost somewhere between the positive pregnancy test and the first birthday candles.
After my fourth rodeo, I wrote down a quick list of items I wanted to make sure I gave to friends and family when they brought their babies home.
Best Baby Finds in the Pharmacy Aisle
*Please note that the list below articulates my own experience and should not replace the guidance of a health care provider who knows you and your child.*
Over the Counter Medications
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- Tylenol (Acetaminophen)— this is great to have on hand for unexpected fevers. It’s important to note a few things:
- The FDA Advisory Committee put out the recommendation that Tylenol should not be used for pain in children under the age of 2.
- If your baby has a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees before they are 8 weeks old, you need to reach out to their health care provider immediately, and should not give them Tylenol unless instructed.
- Advil (Ibuprofen) should not be used in children younger than 6 months unless otherwise instructed by your provider.
- Thermometer–though unpleasant for everyone, rectal thermometers are the most accurate. And when you’re in the first year of life, accuracy is especially important.
Skin and Nails
- Nail Scissors–I tried SO MANY of these until I found one I liked. The key was finding a set with a light, so you can see those teeny tiny little fingers. Laura Claire likes to tell everyone how I cut her pinky finger when she was a baby and that’s why she hates having her nails clipped eight years later. #dramaqueen
- Vaseline–each of my babies were over-cooked (arriving during week 41) and thus, came out with incredibly dry skin. I tried many different lotions, and nothing could hold a candle to Petroleum Jelly. The Environmental Working Group has listed it as being low risk for hazardous effects.
- Aveeno Baby Eczema Lotion–this came in a close second to Vaseline. I still use it for the girls well into preschool, especially when Vaseline is too greasy.
- Johnson’s Baby Lavender Lotion–we used to rub our girls down with this before bedtime. I never ran it through a true placebo trial, but it seemed to help them settle down. Not to mention, lavender has great benefits for helping adults sleep as well!
- Rubbing alcohol–this can be really helpful when the umbilical stump has trouble falling off. Two of my girls ended up needing to have their cord cauterized by their pediatrician, and using rubbing alcohol with a Q-tip or cotton ball could have prevented this.
- Head and Shoulders Shampoo–all my girls had cradle cap, and plain old dandruff shampoo was the best cure we found. Couple this with brushing their hair with a toothbrush, and it goes a long way to removing the extra flakes. The trick is to leave the shampoo on their head for 5 minutes before you rinse it out. And be really careful not to get it in their eyes (definitely speaking from experience here- I think I cried more than they did).
- Bulb suction–I know, I know, people swear by nose fridas and snot suckers or whatever else is popular these days. Maybe I’ve suctioned too many trachs in my day, but nothing holds a candle to the old-fashioned bulb suction. Throw them away before you think you should and get a new one.
- Saline drops–absolutely necessary the first time your little one gets a cold. And when they come home from the hospital with some amniotic fluid on board because they spent no time in the birth canal (looking at you, Taylor Brooke and Allie Jean).
- Boogie Wipes–these are saline infused wipes so that it doesn’t hurt when you wipe their nose for the 100th time that hour.
Soothing Fussy Babies
- Avent Soothie Pacifiers–around 3-4 weeks of age, all my girls decided that pacifiers were the jam. Their father had to convince them of this, because if I was holding them, all they wanted to do was nurse. There is a great deal of conflicting research and opinions about “nipple confusion”, and when to introduce a pacifier to a breast-feeding baby, if at all. Definitely follow your intuition and the advice of your lactation consultant.
- Wubbanub–when baby gets a little older, these are just the cutest things ever. They’re easy to grab, tough to lose, and can be washed in the dishwasher. One downside-they’re really tough to give up!
- Gripe Water–these drops contain ingredients to help soothe baby’s stomach. Again, I never ran a true randomized controlled trial, but they seemed work.
- Gerber Probiotics–we continued these through the first year for each of our girls, and they definitely struggled less with constipation when they were on them.
Throw all of these in a pretty basket, and you have an amazing welcome home gift for a new mother or a cute shower present of tried and true products!