If you have a baby or toddler it is a good idea to build a first aid kit of some essential products that you can quickly reach for. This post details the products inside my first aid kit at home, and why I recommend them.
With so many different products and brands on sale it can be difficult to know which are worth your money. And let’s say there are better times for trial and error than when you have a screaming unwell baby or toddler!
I have suffered many sleepless nights, hours of worry and medical visits due to rubbish first aid products. Over my child’s first few years I have built up my essential first aid products which I can rely on to soothe and help my little one recover from the most common ailments.
So let’s have a look at my list of top 5 first aid products to build a baby and toddler first aid kit.
1) Throaty Soothe Cough Syrup
As soon as my daughter started nursery at one years old, it seemed like she was constantly catching colds.
With there being over 200 different type of cold viruses that their immune system needs to come into contact with for the first time to build immunity, I guess this isn’t a surprise. I found the worst part of her cold was that she would develop a terrible cough when she lay down at night.
I learnt that this is quite common for children when they have a cold because the mucus drips down their throat when they are lying down irritating the throat.
The main piece of advice I received was to try propping my child up slightly with a pillow so the mucus could more easily go down her throat, however if your child moves as much as my daughter at night, you will know that any efforts to keep her lying in one place on a pillow were futile.
I went to a few pharmacies who all said that because it wasn’t an actual cough (as only appeared as a result of a cold) that there wasn’t any cough mixture they would recommend could help.
I tried some of the big brand children’s cough syrups but most of them which are suitable for very young children don’t contain any ingredients beyond glycerol (sugar) to soothe, so this didn’t help with the phlegm irritation.
I know some friends who are parents who faced with night upon night of sleepless nights have given their children cough syrup aimed for adults however, most adult cough syrups contain decongestants which can cause children serious allergies or side effects so it isn’t recommended.
One particular night, my daughter was coughing so severe that neither of us got a wink of sleep all night. I will admit I was tempted by the bottle of adult cough syrup sitting in my bathroom cabinet one or two times that night but resisted!
Bleary eyed on the train into work the next morning I was determined to find something that could help.
That is when after scrolling through hundreds of reviews on a handful of products on Amazon, I found Throaty Soothe. Throaty Soothe contains two medical plants which are icelandic moss and mallow. They layer a protective film over the inflamed mucus membrane to stop the irritation caused by coughs and sore throats, and can particularly help with nighttime coughs as a result of a cold.
I ordered it (thank goodness for Amazon Prime’s next day delivery) and the first night I gave it to my daughter she slept through the entire night without one single cough.
It is the only cough syrup, or product at all, that I have found to completely ease the night coughs during her colds. Plus it’s sugar free!
You can buy it from some pharmacies and Amazon (of course) and it retails at about £7. The same brand also make lozenges but I haven’t tried these as they are for slightly older children.
There is also a product range in the US for coughs called Zarbee’s. My friends state side love it and their children’s cough syrups contain natural ingredients such as dark honey and elderberry, plus the night time one contains melatonin to help children sleep. I haven’t tried it myself so cannot personally recommend but it is extremely popular.
2) Calpol Vapour Plug & Nightlight
I talked at the start of this post about how often my toddler catches a cold especially during, but not only limited to, winter months. I also talked above about the pesky cough that often accompanies this and how to get rid of that.
My second essential for my children’s first aid box is for the cold itself and I find it works just as well for helping both a stuffy, or a runny, nose.
One of the best things about this product is that it doesn’t require you or your child to actually administer or do anything. The Calpol Vapour Plug & Nightlight simply plugs into the wall and throughout the night releases camomile and lavender vapours which help clear the nose.
It is suitable for 3 months of age plus.
When you buy the plug it comes with a set of refills which they advise last 8 hours each, but they are fairly expensive to replace so I have always found one refill works fine for two nights as I can still smell it the second night I plug it in.
Just remember to turn it off in the morning or it will be going all day and last for a shorter time before the refill needs replacing.
The smell from the plug is gorgeous, and both lavender and camomile are known to be relaxing essential oils that can help with sleep.
It is true that you could forgo buying the plug and just use your own diffuser with essential oils (which I did try) but firstly, I didn’t know how much oil to use, secondly the water capacity didn’t tend to last all night, and thirdly it was a bit more of a hazard in my daughter’s bedroom with the wire and water than this nightlight which goes straight into a standard plug socket.
There are two things I found slightly annoying about this product which I will explain below but not bad enough to put me off using it.
Firstly, the plug doubles up as a nightlight with a blue light. I am sure they have added this feature because I understand many children are afraid of the dark but I am lucky enough that my daughter isn’t so I just find this unnecessary and a bit annoying as the light is pretty bright. I have stuck a piece of black cable tape over it to block the strip of light, and I guess you could do this with black marker pen as well if you don’t want the light showing.
Secondly, I have found it difficult to buy the refills in a pack on their own, and when I have seen them they are more expensive than just buying a new plug and refills together, so I have now ended up with three plugs just to buy the refills! However, I did see them online for a reasonable price the other day so they might be becoming more easily available now.
The Calpol Plug in is available from most pharmacies, supermarkets and Amazon sell it worldwide, retailing at about £8 in the UK or $17 in the US including three refills.
3) Arnica Cream
We will take a break from talking about colds and cough products for now because although it’s the stuff you’ll probably be going for most often with kids’ constant colds, they get plenty of other illnesses so you’re going to need a bit more than that in your first aid box.
My third favourite first aid item is actually not for a illness but for what kids get when they are a bit careless/rough during play – bruises!
Despite my best efforts, I could never prevent my daughter from knocking one of her limbs or body parts on something and ending up with a bruise on a weekly basis.
The amount of times she narrowly missed knocking her eye out and ended up with a bruise right by her eye caused me a heart-attack!
But whenever she did knock herself I instantly applied this cream – I didn’t even wait for the bruise to appear first.
Usually this would mean she escaped even having a bruise, but of course I can’t know for sure a bruise would have appeared if I hadn’t used the cream – although I am pretty convinced it would have. Sometimes if a bruise appeared without me even realising my toddler had hurt herself, I would rub this cream on and it would – nine out of ten times – magically be gone the next day.
Arnica is a flowering plant, often used in homeopathy. It is said to work by containing ingredients which modulate the inflammatory response your body naturally produces to injury, however such a response can be more severe than is required and cause symptoms such as bruises and red swollen areas. The arnica helps heal the skin and reduce trapped blood and fluid which can cause this swelling.
I understand that some people are sceptical of natural products and whether they genuinely work.
The research is limited on its proven benefits and as soon as I find one study proving the benefits; I’ve find another saying the opposite.
However, I like to go by my own personal experience and I honestly could not believe how astonishingly well this product worked.
You only need a tiny pea sized amount which you gently massage into the area and the tube is very reasonably priced which means it is very cost effective.
As it is an all natural product, it smells quite nice (nothing like the chemical smell of some more medical bruise creams) and it is gentle on my daughter who has very sensitive skin.
Arnica cream is available from many brands, but I use Neal’s Yard arnica cream which costs £7 or $12 and you can buy either in Neal’s Yard stores or online via their worldwide website.
4) Saline nasal spray
When my daughter was a newborn, her nose was so blocked she was extremely uncomfortable.
At the time we had received a nasal aspirator for free in one of our baby show gift bags. The nasal aspirators are those sucky tube things where one end goes up their nose and you suck the snot out the other end.
I presumed they must be safe and effective to use seeing as we got given one at a baby show so we used that to suck the mucus out of her nose. I was wrong, it wasn’t safe!
Yes the mucus came out, however it filled up again as fast as it came out. I read up on this and apparently you cannot get around it because it is just how the body works; unless something clears the cause of the mucus the body will just continue to make more and more.
I then noticed that the outside of her nose was getting a bit red as the capillaries on the skin were breaking from the aggressiveness of the sucking I only can presume. We stopped using it immediately.
I also once ended up with a mouth full of snot but that is a different story!
My daughter still has faint redness on the side of her nose where those broken veins from using the aspirator still are, and I feel guilty every day I look at her years later.
So we needed some other method to help her clear her nose – and still do every time she gets a cold – but wanted something ultra gentle.
That is when I came across nasal salt water spray. They both work by simply putting the nozzle up the nostril and spraying pure salt (also known as saline) water up.
The saline in the water helps dissolve the mucus and clear the nasal cavity in a non-invasive manner. Salt also has proven benefits in fighting bacteria and can also help increase the natural defences of the nasal lining itself.
There are loads of brands out there and in the UK I have used Snuffle Babe, Calpol and Sterminar nasal spray with great effectiveness. My friend over the other side of the Atlantic recommends Fridababy which is exactly the same ingredients but a different brand. No matter where you live in the world you will be able to find a brand of nasal spray and as long as the only ingredient is saline you can be sure it is safe and gentle for very young children.
Some have more pump like dispensers and some more spray like. There are also some brands of saline nasal drops (rather than spray) however I find drops much harder to administer and the spray also diffuses the salt water further up the nose which I find more effective.
Surprisingly, my toddler doesn’t seem to mind me administering the spray too much and despite a wriggle to get the nozzle up her nose in the first place, generally it is pretty low drama to administer.
The other benefit is that the spray tickles their nose so they instantly sniff and it has immediate results as the nose starts running as the mucus thins, and therefore clears straight away.
It can also be used unlimited times due to the fact it is completely harmless and natural.
I have also taken my daughter to a salt cave in London and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for an hour’s session where she played in a salt room and this had awesome results to get rid of a cold. I might write more on this for a future post if anyone is interested to hear about taking their child to a salt cave (my sister swears by them for curing her daughter’s ear infections also).
In the UK I use Sterminar nasal saline spray costs £6 from Amazon and most pharmacies, or in the US a good brand is Fridababy which retails for $6 on Amazon.
5) Homeopathic (chamomilla) teething granules
Teething. The cause of sleepless nights, crying babies, whining toddlers, red cheeks, dribbles and nappy rash.
I was surprised that all of my friends who were parents had never really made clear enough to me what a spanner in the works of an well established sleep routine that teething would play.
There are many herbal teething remedies out there which are natural but not homeopathic and I do know friends who have had success with them. But for us none of them worked apart from homeopathic teething granules. Which led to us referring to it as a rather tongue in cheek pet name of “baby crack”.
The active ingredient is Chamomilla which is a weed like flower which they process to extract its healing properties from.
Now I know many people do not believe in alternative remedies or homeopathy specifically – and there is no evidence unanimously proving it works – but it has been going since 18th Century with millions of people worldwide claiming to have experienced its benefits. It works on the basis of the ingredients not curing the ailment themselves but triggering your body’s own immune system to tackle the issue. Why not give it a try and see if it works for you?
What I liked most about it was that as well as offering our daughter some comfort, I knew it was safe and wasn’t pumping chemicals into her body as homeopathy is extremely mild due to the fact it is made up of nanoparticles of substances extracted largely from plants.
As it is so mild and natural it also means that you don’t have to worry about dangerous accidental overdosing and can give it several times a day if need be (always follow the instructions on the packet regarding doses).
Homeopathic teething granules are available from many brands and in the UK the best one is Nelsons which costs about £4 on Amazon or in the US the equivalent is the Camilla brand which retails for about $8.
So there we go, here is my top 5 first aid products for babies and toddlers.
I hope you have found this post helpful and they soothe your young child. Drop me a comment and let me know your experiences with these products?
I would also love to hear other recommended first aid essentials you’ve come across to add to my first aid box, let me know here!