Q: We'll be traveling with our infant and toddler this summer, and we'd like to take along a medical kit. What do you suggest we stock it with?
A: Include the following items in your travel kit and you'll be prepared for many minor wounds and mild ailments. A word of caution, however: All medicines have potential side effects, so call your pediatrician before using any of them. Also call your doc if your child's symptoms are worrisome in any way.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) This pain reliever soothes teething discomfort and reduces the fever that accompanies mild viral illnesses.
Saline solutions Saline nasal spray helps ease ear discomfort caused by changing altitudes. Saline eyewash will get your child through mild conjunctivitis ("pink eye") and help flush out dust and other debris.
"Ear oil" Mild ear pain can be soothed with this mixture of olive oil, herbs and garlic; it's available in health-food stores.
Grapefruit-seed extract Also sold in health-food stores, this can be used to disinfect everything from toothbrushes to superficial scrapes and cuts. Dilute before using (two or three drops to 1 ounce of water).
>Wound treatments Cuts and scrapes also can be treated with Neosporin cream; always carry Band-Aids and perhaps some "butterfly" closures as well. Bring along instant cold and hot packs for sprains and bad bruises (the cold pack will help right after the injury; the hot pack helps healing later). Hydrocortisone cream This topical treatment is useful for mild skin irritations. Egyptian Magic, Traumeel and calendula can provide similar relief.
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) This antihistamine helps stop itching from bee stings, insect bites and poison oak, along with other mild allergic reactions.
Decongestants Products such as Pediacare and Dimetapp will help a stuffy toddler (or adult) through takeoff and landing. Most medicines in this category contain stimulants, however, so ask your doctor before giving them.
Alternative treatments I'm a big fan of homeopathic remedies such as teething tablets, arnica for wounds and pain, pulsatilla for earaches and sinus congestion and Boiron Cold Calm for scratchy throats.I recommend nux vomica as well as weak "tummy teas" such as peppermint and chamomile for stomach aches. I do not recommend anti-nausea suppositories because they can mask the signs of serious ill-ness.Persistent vomiting and stomach pain require a phone call or visit to the doctor.