When it comes to the day-to-day care of your baby, you’ll want to have the healthiest, gentlest, and most natural products available to you. It’s important to reduce your baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals and toxic additives, especially when it comes to what’s in their medicine cabinet. Here’s your baby’s medicine cabinet checklist, featuring mostly natural or gentle products.
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Baby’s Medicine Cabinet Checklist:
Nasal aspirator: There is only one nasal aspirator that I will ever use for newborns – the Nose Frida Nasal Aspirator. Don’t waste money on traditional bulb syringes – they’re an inferior product and a waste of money. The Nose Frida is gentle and works wonderfully, which are two of the reasons it’s my favorite nasal aspirator. Bulb aspirators can be harsh and are commonly inserted too far up a baby’s nose. The way the Nose Frida works is that you place a small blue tube up to baby’s nostril, creating a seal, and then you use the attached mouthpiece to create suction to suck out baby’s mucus. There’s a filter piece, so you run no risk of accidentally getting any mucus in your mouth. Just make sure there’s always a filter in there…! Also, if you run into hardened boogers, you may want to spray a little saline in baby’s nostrils to loosen the boogers, or place a little bit of saline spray on a cotton swab and insert that carefully into baby’s nostrils first. I also recently discovered the OogieBear Ear & Nose Cleaner, which also works well on hardened boogers.
Saline Nasal Spray: Saline nasal spray is good to have on hand in case of nasal congestion. We also use a little saline when our son has boogers that need loosening up. Boogie Mist All Natural Saline Nasal Spray is made from two ingredients – purified water and sodium chloride (aka table salt). You can get more pure than this! I am also a fan of the Kid’s Xlear All Natural Saline Nasal Spray (made by the same company that manufactures Spry Toothpaste, which I love). This product is drug-free, and made with Xylitol, which has a 1 rating on the EWG database. However, one of the ingredients is grapefruit seed extract, which commonly has been found to have additives or contaminants. (The other ingredients are: Purified Water, Xylitol, and Saline.) Alternatively, you can make your own DIY saline solution with just two ingredients! Mix 12 oz. of warm purified water with 1/8 tsp. sea salt. Let it cool and then apply a small amount to baby’s nostril with a baby safe cotton swab.
Gripe water: In those early days, when newborns are experiencing gas, colic, upset stomach, and other gastrointestinal discomforts, gripe water is handy to have on hand. Wellements’ Organic Gripe Water for Tummy is 100% natural and organic, is GMO-free, has no dairy or soy, and contains no parabens, preservatives, or alcohol. It has a subtle taste and helped my little guy out when he was having tummy issues at first. The other great feature of this product is that it is sold in a glass bottle. YAY for companies that know what moms need! Make sure to keep this refrigerated after opening. With your pediatrician’s approval, you can also consider giving baby some organic chamomile tea to soothe a fussy, gassy, or otherwise upset tummy.
Baby Medicine: We never want to have to give medicine to a baby, but it’s important to have some on hand in case your baby isn’t feeling well and needs their discomfort addressed.
- Tylenol/Acetaminophen: In case baby gets a high fever and is uncomfortable, you should have some Tylenol on hand – but try to use this sparingly or not at all. The few brands of baby acetaminophen that exist contain some of the absolute worst ingredients. For example, the acetaminophen made by Little Remedies, whose slogan is ironically “Everything they need – nothing they don’t” is dye, gluten, and paraben free but contains propylene glycol. How do babies need petrochemicals!? I’m definitely not ok with this – babies shouldn’t be consuming petrochemicals! (I have trust issues with Little Remedies because of this.) The best option that I found was the Up & Up Infant Acetaminophen from Target, although its ingredients are still not great.
- Motrin/Ibuprofen: Similarly, it’s a good idea to have ibuprofen on hand, although it’s ideal to use this only when necessary. Up & Up Infant Ibuprofen from Target also makes a good dye-free generic ibuprofen.
- Benadryl: In case of allergic reaction, it’s imperative to have an antihistamine like Benadryl on hand. Speak to your doctor about whether this is appropriate to administer to your baby, and what the appropriate dosage would be. Typically it is not advised for children under 6 months of age. I prefer the dye-free Children’s Benadryl or Up & Up Dye-Free Children’s Allergy Relief from Target.
Baby Thermometer: Rectal thermometers are the most accurate at gauging core body temperature, so it’s best to use a safe rectal thermometer instead of a forehead or sublingual thermometer. To reduce the risk of inserting the thermometer too far in, you’ll want to use one that has a short probe. This is probably the most important feature to look for in a rectal thermometer. The one we use is the Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer, and I’m happy with it. It might be a good idea to purchase 2 or more of these, to store one in your diaper bag just in case baby isn’t feeling well while you’re out. Make sure to get some Burt’s Bees Baby’s Natural Multipurpose Ointment to help with insertion and also have some rubbing alcohol on hand. If you feel uncomfortable using a rectal thermometer, you can use a regular thermometer to measure the temperature under baby’s arm (in the arm pit). Just add 1 degree to the reading. Honestly, any thermometer should do the job, but here’s one that has many positive reviews. You could also try a forehead thermometer, though these are not known to be very accurate.
Humidifier: A humidifier is a must-have for every family whether you live in a cool and dry climate, or just need one on hand for occasional use when your baby isn’t feeling well. We like the Crane Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier because it’s quiet, runs overnight, and doesn’t require a filter. My only complaint about the Crane Humidifier is that it’s a little difficult to keep it clean because it has a narrow opening. As long as you use vinegar to clean the unit as instructed, there should be no issue. For this reason, I did recently switch to Honeywell Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier, which has a water tank that can be washed in the dishwasher. The Honeywell is about twice the size of the Crane but I love it because it’s super quiet, doesn’t have a bright light when it’s on (unlike the Crane), and is nearly germ-free: it kills up to 99.9% of germs, bacteria, mold, and spores in the water.
Cotton Swabs: It is recommended that you not insert a cotton swab inside a baby’s ear, and instead just clean the outer area. You can do this with a cotton swab or even with a thin washcloth, but we still use cotton swabs from time to time when necessary. I prefer Johnson & Johnson’s Safety Swabs, because they are designed to prevent you from inserting the swab too far into your baby’s ear. So far, I have not been able to find an organic version, though Johnson’s says these are bleached without chlorine.
Natural Petroleum Jelly/All-Natural Ointments: Whatever you do, please don’t buy Vaseline or any real brand of “petroleum jelly”. The danger is right there in the name – traditional petroleum jelly is made with harmful petrochemicals! Thankfully, Burt’s Bees Baby’s Natural Multipurpose Ointment makes a perfect alternative to petroleum jelly. You’ll never miss a jar of Vaseline once you switch to Burt’s Bees Baby’s version. As for a natural ointment, we have some Neosporin on hand – just in case – but we try not to use it because of the harsh ingredients it contains. Instead, I like to use The Honest Company Healing Balm for irritated skin, cuts, and scratches. EWG Rating: 1. You can also use organic coconut oil in place of any sort of ointment, in most cases. Such a versatile product, coconut oil is great to have on hand. Some parents use this as a moisturizer or diaper cream. We recently used coconut oil to treat a mild case of eczema and it worked well.
Trimming Baby’s Nails: Cutting a baby’s nails can be such a terrifying experience for new parents. We avoided it as long as we possibly could, and put mittens over our son’s hands when he was a newborn — both of which aren’t recommended. Some parents bite their children’s fingernails to avoid trimming them, which is strongly advised against because this method can transmit germs and cause hangnails. Once you get comfortable with the idea of trimming your baby’s nails, you’ll want to have the right tools available.
- Nail Clippers: I prefer traditional nail clippers, but I know this isn’t for everyone. We use the First Years American Red Cross Deluxe Nail Clipper. It has a magnifying glass, is made for baby’s small hands, and has a nice ergonomic design that helps while you’re trimming baby’s nails. (I’ve never actually used the magnifying glass.) Also consider the Fridababy NailFrida the SnipperClipper Set, which is relatively new but growing in popularity. The SnipperClipper has a neat safety spyhole that allows you to see what you’re clipping to lessen the risk of clipping your baby’s finger, and also comes with a curved nail file.
- Nail Scissors: Piyo Piyo Baby Nail Scissors are popular because they’re very baby friendly. The scissors have a slight curve to them, making it easier to trim baby’s nails. They’re also safer, since there’s less risk of clipping baby’s skin while using a nail clipper. Many parents feel more comfortable with these scissors over the nail clippers. Use what works for you!
- Nail File: Whether you decide to use nail clippers or scissors, or neither, you may want to have a baby nail file on hand. Baby Blue Giraffe’s Baby Nail File is made from tempered glass, so it’s non-porous and won’t absorb germs. It’s also designed for filing tiny little fingernails, and is softer than adult nail files.
All-Natural Pacifiers: If you decide to give a pacifier (which I personally recommend), you have several natural options to choose from, including Natursutten, Eco Pacifier, and Hevea – all of which are orthodontic, made from rubber, and are free of BPA, phthalates, and PVC. (Note that the Hevea brand pacifier contains rubber latex.) We tried these brands but found that our son took better to Philips Avent Soothies, which are made of silicone (the same material used to make baby bottle nipples). I recommend purchasing a few different pacifiers at the beginning and seeing which one your baby takes to. You might need to give it a few tries with your favorite pacifier, so don’t rule out a pacifier just because your baby doesn’t take it on the first or second try. (My husband was always better at getting our son to take the pacifier. I think he inserted it a little more firmly, whereas I was always looking for my son to pull on it.)
When choosing a pacifier, it is important to avoid ones with multiple parts because they can come apart and pose a choking hazard. Also, check the approved age range and make sure to adhere to it. For example, the Soothies come in two versions, age 0-3 months, and 3+ months (which is much stiffer than the 0-3 month version). At 3 months of age, you should discontinue using the 0-3 month pacifier due to a possible choking hazard and risk of the pacifier being lodged in baby’s mouth. I also recommend that you have several of these on hand to reduce the need to always wash a pacifier every time you need one. You almost can’t have too many pacifiers… We had 8 pacifiers, and while that was probably a couple too many, I didn’t complain about having to wash them less frequently.
Pacifier Clips: Don’t forget to get the pacifier clips to prevent pacis from falling on the ground. The Ulubulu Universal Pacifier Clips are cute and come in various designs. Honeyed also makes cute designs that are a little more feminine. Trust me when I say this: buy 2-3 pacifier clips, and keep one in your car or diaper bag.
Organic Wash Cloths: For washing baby’s face, wiping a bum, or for sponge-bathing a newborn, having organic baby washcloths on hand is a good idea. Under the Nile Terry Wipes are 100% organic and made from Egyptian cotton (in Egypt). Organic Bamboo Washcloths are made from premium organic bamboo, and certified by Oeko-Tex, these washcloths are soft and gentle on baby’s skin. They’re manufactured in China, but made with certified material.
Cold Compress: For bumps and bruises, we like to have the Green Sprouts Cool Calm Press standing by in our freezer. Green Sprouts is one of my favorite baby-friendly companies, and their Calm Press is a great product. It’s PVC- and BPA-free, is filled with a non-toxic gel, and stays soft even when it’s frozen. It also features cute little animals, and my little guy doesn’t mind using it at all. There’s also a cute green turtle version. An alternative is to get the Mommy’s Kisses Hot and Cold Pack. It can be frozen and used as a cold compress, or briefly microwaved and used as a hot pack. It has a soft fabric covering to protect your baby from getting too hot or cold during usage, and contains a non-toxic gel.
Baby Medicine Dispensers: While most baby medicine will come with a medicine dropper, and it is recommended that you use the manufacturer’s dropper to ensure safe measurements, you may still want to have some alternatives on hand to make dispensing medicine easier.
- Eye Droppers. It’s recommended that you have some eye droppers on hand, and we like the Flent Eye & Ear Medicine Droppers. These have come in handy more than once (including one occasion where we needed to administer medicine to our dog), so these are a must-have in my opinion. You can sterilize these in boiling water.
- Pacifier Medicine Syringe. When your baby isn’t feeling great, they probably won’t be in the most cooperative mood, making it harder to give medicine from a traditional syringe. Try a syringe that has a pacifier on it such as the Medi-Pals Children’s Frog Oral Medicine Dispenser. Made in the USA, BPA-free, and featuring a super cute frog design, the Medi Pals is a great choice that will make giving your baby their medicine so much easier. But probably what makes this product my favorite syringe is that it has a diverter that helps direct the medicine toward baby’s cheek, meaning that there’s much less risk of it going straight to your baby’s throat (and taste buds) and causing them to gag and spit it out.
- Another alternative is the Pacidose Pacifier Liquid Medicine Dispenser (0-6 months), which features a more traditional pacifier, and is BPA- and latex-free. It holds up to 5ml of liquid, and features a standard oral syringe. However, based on the features of the Medi-Pals, I would have to recommend that brand over the Pacidose, simply because when you give medicine to baby through a syringe, you need to aim it toward their cheek to prevent spitting up.
Natural Teething Aids: Some of the symptoms of teething include fussiness, irritability, drooling, swollen gums, disrupted sleep, and gnawing on anything she can get her hands on (including her fingers). When your baby is experiencing extra discomfort while cutting a tooth, you may want to consider some of the following to help ease the pain. Find the options that work best for your baby, and just note that it’s normal for your baby to respond better to one treatment than another.
- Natural Teethers: Comotomo makes a great silicone teething ring that feels like chewing on a finger. It’s BPA, PVC, and Phthalate-free. Green Sprouts makes the Cool Hand Teether, a great freezable teether that is filled with water (not some chemical-filled “gel”). Sophie the Giraffe is hugely popular, and is also free of BPA and Phthalates. My son adored the Nuby Silicone Teething Ring, and it’s also BPA-free. You can also easily make a homemade teether by freezing a wet baby washcloth.
- Best Amber Teething Necklaces: Amber teething necklaces are supposed to help with teething pain because they contain succinic acid, which serves as a natural pain reliever. Worn around your baby’s neck, they are said to provide the pain relief needed during teething. There are varying opinions on whether amber teething necklaces are safe or not, and whether they actually relieve teething pain. I don’t personally feel very strongly in either direction. We did purchase a teething necklace, although I didn’t find it very beneficial. If you want to try it out, consider the Baltic Wonder brand or the Little Willard Baltic Amber Teething Necklace. Note: these are not for baby to chew on, and instead are to simply be worn around your baby’s neck.
Useful Baby Care Reference Books:
In addition to having a well-stocked medicine cabinet, you’ll find it handy to have the following books available.
Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Written by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child provides a helpful overview of what your baby needs at the various ages and stages they go through. Coming straight from the source, this covers everything from nursing and teething, to baby sleep and the various milestones along the way.
First Aid for Babies and Children Fast: Well-written and straight to the point, this is an excellent first aid guide that every family should have at home. Please note that this is a great reference book, but it is no substitute for having first-aid and CPR training.
Baby 411 – Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby’s First Year: Another great reference book to have on hand, Baby 411 provides useful advice on anything that might come up during your baby’s first year.