Updated: May 23
You’re about to bring home this brand-new baby, and your mind is bursting with questions like – ‘What have we done?’, ‘What were we thinking?’ and ‘Now what?’
Today Dr Bill Bateman, Patents You've Got This expert family GP, tackles a more straightforward question. What should you have in your medicine cabinet?
The answer is not much. A newborn arrives with a carbon copy of his/her mother’s antibodies to common infections, which lasts at least six months or longer if breastfed. However, they can still pick up infections, especially from older siblings, playdates etc. The good news is that each time they get a virus, they make antibodies, which will boost their immune systems and protect them in the future.
What medicine can babies take?
General Practitioner Dr Bill Bateman recommends keeping the below medicine on hand for your newborn or baby.
Paracetamol for babies
The most common brand name is Panadol. Good for pain and fever in babies over one-month-old. The dose is on the bottle and is usually related to weight. If you don’t know the current weight, use the age scale. It can be given every 4-6 hours and not more than four times in 24 hours.
It’s OK to give babies paracetamol after a vaccination (the first one is at 6-8 weeks), as needed, for fever and irritability. These medications can bring down fever and help with pain; however, they don’t treat the cause. If a baby up to 6-8 weeks has a fever unrelated to vaccination, you must seek medical advice to discover what’s causing it rather than treating the temperature symptomatically with paracetamol.
Ibuprofen for babies
The most common brand name is Nurofen. It is also suitable for pain and fever but not for babies under three months. It’s anti-inflammatory and so can be a bit hard on the gut. It is best to take Nurofen with food every 6-8 hours and no more than three times in 24 hours.
You can alternate paracetamol and ibuprofen and occasionally give them simultaneously in case of stubborn fever and pain. You should never give aspirin to young children.
Also, if you need to give these meds to an older baby for more than 48 hours, it is best to seek medical advice to find out what’s behind the fever.
For colds and blocked noses, you can also use everyday saline nose drops, e.g. ‘FESS,’ to unblock the plumbing and suction devices for removing stubborn boogies.
If young children are prescribed antibiotics, it’s a good idea to give them probiotics (available from pharmacies) simultaneously to protect the delicate ‘good germs’ in their gut.
Next time, Dr Bill Bateman will provide insight into the common things a GPs see in those early months of a baby’s life. For further information and resources about baby saftey, join our Baby First Aid and Safety Basics Masterclass.