Find out the right dose of Children’s Tylenol or Children’s Motrin for your baby's age and weight with the help of our guide.
If your little one has a fever or is in pain, you may wonder if it is safe to give them ibuprofen (also called Motrin or Advil). The right dosage for babies depends on their age and weight. Ibuprofen is a safe way to relieve fever and pain when used correctly, but giving baby too much ibuprofen for their weight can be harmful. Here's what parents need to know about giving the safe type and dosage of Motrin or Advil to babies.
What is ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medicine that’s available over-the-counter. It helps reduce fever and relieve pain (such as earache, toothache, and teething pain).
“Ibuprofen” is the generic name for this medicine. Motrin and Advil are common brand names for ibuprofen.
Ibuprofen works by stopping natural substances called prostaglandins from forming in the body. Prostaglandins cause pain sensations and inflammation --- so, by stopping the prostaglandins, ibuprofen helps cut down on pain.
Ibuprofen comes in a variety of forms for children, including junior-strength liquid drops, children’s liquid syrup, and chewable tablets.
Babies Under 6 Months: Don’t Give Ibuprofen Unless Recommended By A Doctor
If your baby is younger than 6 months old, never give them ibuprofen for any reason, unless your pediatrician explicitly recommends it. This is because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved ibuprofen for children younger than 6 months, and it isn’t well-established how safe ibuprofen is for these babies.
If your pediatrician does recommend children’s liquid Motrin or Advil, follow their recommended dosage exactly, and use the cup, dropper or syringe that comes with the medicine to accurately measure it out. Only give children’s ibuprofen in liquid form, because chewables and other tablets are a choking hazard for babies.
Learn how to properly dose Ibuprofen for your child from Pediatrician Dr. Mona Amin:
Babies Over 6 Months Of Age: Give The Safe Dose For Baby’s Weight
For babies and children over 6 months of age, the safe dosage and type of ibuprofen depends on their age and weight, as we’ll list in the table below.
Follow the dosage recommendations from your pediatrician, as well as the dosing instructions on the medicine (your pediatrician’s advice always takes priority). Use the cup, dropper or syringe that comes with the medicine to accurately measure it out.
For babies and children weighing under 48 lbs, only give children’s ibuprofen --- do not give adult ibuprofen.
Also, if your child is under 3 years of age, only give them liquid children’s ibuprofen, because chewables and other tablets pose a choking hazard.
It’s vital that you give your child the right amount of ibuprofen for their weight. Giving too much ibuprofen can make your child very sick. An overdose of ibuprofen may cause severe stomach and GI symptoms (including stomach and intestinal damage), as well as kidney problems.
Motrin and Advil Dosage Chart For Children
The ibuprofen dosages shown here are based on doses suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as well as the doses on the Motrin and Advil websites. They are based on a child’s age and weight. But remember: your doctor’s advice always takes priority.
Always ask your pediatrician before giving ibuprofen, or any other medicine, to your baby. And always follow your pediatrician’s recommendations for frequency and dosage when giving ibuprofen.
Also, read the dosage concentration on the Children’s Motrin or Children’s Advil you purchase to make sure it lines up with the concentrations in the table.
Dosage frequency for ibuprofen: Give every 6-8 hours as needed. Never give more than 4 doses in 24 hours.
A Note On Babies With A Fever
If your baby is under 3 months old, and has a fever with a rectal temperature of 100.4°F or greater, call your pediatrician immediately or seek emergency care. Don’t give your baby ibuprofen first, even if their doctor recommended it before.
If your child is over 3 months old but under 3 years old, and has a fever of 102.2°F or higher, call your pediatrician immediately. They may want to examine your child. Ask first before giving ibuprofen.
If you give your child ibuprofen for a fever, but their fever doesn’t respond to the ibuprofen, this may be a sign of something more serious. Seek urgent care.
Other Essential Tips For Safely Giving Ibuprofen
- Carefully check your little one’s existing medicines to ensure that they don’t contain ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is a common ingredient in many medicine types, including cough, cold, and allergy medicines. If your child is already taking a medicine that contains ibuprofen, always talk to your doctor before giving them any more ibuprofen. This way, you won’t put your little one at risk for stomach and intestinal damage.
- Always use the cup, dropper or syringe that comes with the medicine to accurately measure it out. Don’t use kitchen spoons or measuring tools that came with different medicines.
- It’s best to give ibuprofen during or right after a meal, to reduce the chances of an upset stomach.
- Remember that it may take 20-45 minutes for ibuprofen to take effect. So, don’t be dismayed if baby’s symptoms don’t improve right away.
- Never give multi-ingredient products that contain ibuprofen to any child under 6 years of age. Only give medicines where ibuprofen is the single active ingredient.
- If your child has asthma, IBS, or kidney problems, or an increased bleeding risk (regardless of their age), talk to your pediatrician before giving ibuprofen.
- If ibuprofen is expired, don’t give it to your child. Dispose of it safely so your children won’t accidentally eat it. Pour the expired medicine into a sealable bag with kitty litter, coffee, or something else with a “yucky” taste that children won’t want to eat. Then, throw the bag in the trash.
Ibuprofen Vs. Tylenol
Ibuprofen is one option to relieve fever and pain. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is another pain reliever and fever reducer. Which one should you choose for your baby?
Usually, it’s down to your doctor’s recommendation (and your own preference, if your pediatrician recommends either).
If your baby has moderate or severe pain, ibuprofen is typically considered more effective than acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is typically suited for milder pain.
Ibuprofen’s effects also tend to last longer. While acetaminophen’s relief usually lasts 4-6 hours, ibuprofen usually lasts 6-8 hours, according to Tanya Altmann, MD, founder of Calabasas Pediatrics in Calabasas, California. As she told The Bump, “ibuprofen before bedtime may allow for a more comfortable night’s sleep,” compared to Tylenol.
To help you make the right decision for your baby, read our article on when to give Tylenol to baby.
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