At-home rapid Covid tests isn’t the only thing we’ve been on the hunt for lately. With cold and flu and yes, yet another Covid-19 season upon us, I’ve been making a list of a few essentials so that my family isn’t scrambling if we do come down with something. And while it’s a bummer to be doing this again, I’m so grateful to be vaccinated this time around and to know a little more about how the virus spreads — and doesn’t.

No more furious bleaching of all my belongings, whoo!

(Not that we won’t still be sanitizing our gadgets nonstop.)

Thankfully, my list of essentials won’t be as extensive as last year’s list, which went crazy viral at the time. And I don’t think there’s any need to go nuts with the toilet paper and paper towels stockpiling this year. So here are a just a few other items to try to get your hands on now before fall.

And hey, no panic-buying this year, deal? There’s enough bread yeast for all of us. so no need to hoard.

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Related: The single most important thing you can do once your kids are vaccinated 


Some items to stock up on for fall and where to find them


At-Home Rapid Covid Tests

Where to find Abbott's at-home rapid Covid-19 tests and other essentials for fall

If you’ve ever thought, “This is probably a cold, but I just want to be sure,” you may want to stock up on Abbot’s 15-minute BinaxNOW Covid-19 at-home tests. Of course no sooner did we write this article that The NY Times published a piece on how Abbot Labs uh, destroyed their self-test inventory thinking Covid was over. <headdesk>

That means that of all the items on this list, this is the one that you might want to get as soon as you can if you’re interested. There’s already a wait list on Amazon but Liz just ordered some from CVS and they arrived in a few short days. They’re still in stock there for $23 each box, with a limit of 6 per customer.

Each box contains two tests, because the idea is to test yourself twice within three days. They have received FDA Emergency Use Authorization, and you don’t even need to ship the samples to a lab.

I also found that eMed offers Abbot’s at-home Covid tests in a pack of 6. At $150 a pack, that isn’t cheap especially considering some drug stores and testing sites may offer it free, and if you’ve been exposed, insurance should cover testing elsewhere. But if you have what you’re pretty sure are allergies or a cold and want some peace of mind, this is a good first step before following up with a lab test if necessary.

Related; The single most important thing your teens can do after they’ve been vaccinated from Covid-19

Face Masks: Good Ones

WeCare makes doctor recommended face-masks in kid and adult sizes ink lots of fun colors and prints

We’ve already covered some fun, seasonal cloth cloth masks for kids, and some are more effective than others at blocking particles. But given the higher transmissibility of the Delta variant, experts are recommending you double mask, placing the cloth mask over a surgical mask like the ones from WeCare.

They’re highly recommended by doctors and even offer lots of face mask styles and sizes just for kids from unicorns to tie-dye. Though pro tip: the adult face masks can easily be used by younger kids by tying a little knot on the side of each ear loop. that way you don’t have to buy multiple boxes.

They come in individually wrapped packs and while they aren’t the eco-friendly option, that does make them sanitary when you’re carrying a few “just in case” extras in your bag. As moms do.


Where to find Kids KN95 masks that are sized for them so they work

There are so few KN95s in kid sizes, that they definitely can be tougher to track down so this is one item to buy now if you’re in the market. Here are some ideas:

I’ll be opting for the 5-layer filtration of Kids KN95 masks from Vida, at least when we’re in public spaces or school.They’re FDA registered, offering 95% efficiency, and kids who are used to cloth masks might be surprised how comfortable they are, in part because when you breathe in you don’t suck the fabric against your lips.

I also love that Vida offers a mask recycling program, since I expect we’ll go through these quickly. Check out their adult KN95 face masks, too — they’re right sized for teens and adults, and they even offer colors beyond black.

(Note that it’s really important that a mask fit properly, which means it pinches over the nose and doesn’t gape on the sides.)

Evolve Together makes terrific, effective face masks sized just for kids 3-10. They're eco friendly and the decals are cute!

One more option for kids 3-10 (or anyone with a smaller face) are the kids’ face masks from Evolve Together — but you have to get yourself on the waitlist for some styles. Kids will love the little decals that let them customize their masks, and they have terrific filtration plus breathability.

If you’re on Amazon shopping for face masks for yourself or older kids, check the 50-pack of KN95 masks from WWDOLL, which were recommended to Liz by a physician friend. She says she’s had great luck with them, and her teens find them comfortable too. They’re just about a dollar each.

Important Safety Update: Please note that there are masks the CDC has recently listed as not NIOSH approved. In other words, they have no permission to use “NIOSH” in their marketing or packaging. However it doesn’t mean that they are not effective. One of the items on the list are the WWDOLL KN95s above. Members on our team continue to use them and are satisfied with the performance, but please use your own best judgment.

Related: 10 cool vaccination t-shirts that let people know, even when you’re walking around (safely) without a mask.


Travel-Sized Hand Sanitizer

Olika hand-sanitizing clip ons are not only cute, they kill germs, smell great, and don't dry out your skin

Hand sanitizer is essential in everyday life these days. Last year I bought whatever I could find — some of which smelled like a morning-after barroom rag– so this year I’ll take my pick of pleasant scents that don’t make everyone in the car gag.

One option that’s terrific for everyone in the family are the Olika clip-on hand sanitizers, which affix right to backpacks, lunch bags, totes or duffels. They’re effective, they smell great, they don’t dry out your skin, and those cute birdie containers are refillable too.

Kids may even prefer the Olika x Tea Collection hand sanitizers which have fun designs on them.

Believe it or not, each of those birds contains 300+ sprays so they’re pretty efficient.


Where to find Mrs. Meyers basil hand sanitizer and other essentials for fall

And I have to admit, I’m so excited this Mrs. Meyers basil hand sanitizer is back in stock in 2-oz sizes! We love everything from them.

Related: The safest ways to clean and disinfect all your gadgets and electronics


A Pulse Oximeter


A few things to stock up on (ahem, not hoard) for cold, flu, and COVID season: ZacUrate pulse oximete


Yes, pulse oximeter, I do get deja vu when I’m with you. While I was hoping to see the last of this admittedly useful tool last year, I’m still pushing parents — and anyone concerned about Covid breakthrough cases — to get a ZacUrate oximeter to help monitor oxygen levels, which can be your first sign of a problem.

Especially if you have kids who are too young to get vaccinated — though we hope kids under 12 will be eligible for the vaccine soon.

An Accurate Thermometer

A few things to stock up on for another season of Covid: iHealth's digital thermometer

There is absolutely no substitute for an accurate, reliable thermometer in your house, especially when you have kids. So check yours to see if it’s still working, because they sometimes go south sooner than we’d like. I like this iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer for under $20 because it doesn’t involve asking my toddler to hold a stick in their mouth (or ahem, elsewhere) for a full minute. So quick and easy.

Liz also recommends her Braun Digital Ear Thermometer, which costs a bit more but has been going strong for many years.

Related: 15 cold and flu season must-haves all from the drugstore

Vitamins The Kids Will Actually Take


We like these Immune support gummies for kids, just in time for cold and flu season

I’m a big believer in vitamins all the time, but especially during cold and flu season, Covid aside. I like these immune support gummies by Nature’s Nutrition because they include Vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea all the in the form of something that tastes like candy to my kids.

We’re also fans of SmartyPants vitamins around here, which come in lots of varieties so you can pick out what’s right for your toddler, teen, or even yourself.

Note: please keep in mind that “immune boosting” is a tough claim to prove as this Harvard Med School article explains. However vitamin pills or gummies can’t hurt, in addition to giving the kids lots of vitamins from fresh fruits and veggies.

Related: 7 reasons to get a flu shot for your family, especially during Covid 


Kids’ Pain Relief

Some of our top tips for items to stock up on for cold, flu and another Covid season

With a toddler who’s still teething, our household always has children’s Tylenol on hand. But I’m going to make sure to order extra this fall since COVID-19 and RSV seem to be circling in our community — and this is one of those products that seem to disappear from shelves from time to time.

I like that this one Children’s Tylenol two-pack comes in both liquid and chewable tablets. Also smart for parents who constantly misplace the syringe — just me? Of course any pain relief, cough syrup, or other items that work for you are just fine.

New Zealand's PRI makes a Manuka honey cough elixir that soothes sore throats without artificial stuff or corn syrup

Speaking of cough syrup, if you want to ease up on the medicinals, our team has had great luck with New Zeland’s PRI Propolus and Manuka Honey Cough Elixir. It was sent to us as a press sample a while back, and evidently it’s terrific. It soothes sore throats and irritated mouths with Manuka honey, hold the artificial colors, flavors, and (ugh) HFCS.You can find right on Amazon or in local health food stores or well-stocked pharmacies.


Anti-Bacterial Wipes…Just In Case

A few things to stock up on (ahem, not hoard) for cold, flu, and COVID season: Lysol wipes | Amazon

We always recommend that you go easy on the anti-bacterial products — skip it for hand soap, but use it for household wipes. And after last year’s scramble, I’m so glad to see these Lysol wipes back in stock at most places.

Of course now we know that Covid spreads more through airborne particles than on surfaces, but I still use these to fight off other lingering germs on door knobs and kitchen counters.

Remember, don’t hoard them when you find them…but can’t hurt to have a couple on hand, right?

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