Below are dosing recommendations for several common over-the-counter
products. All doses are determined by weight, not age. Remember
to check the label for the type of medicine you are giving.
If you have any questions as to the correct dosage, please
call us during office hours.
Make sure you do not mix medicines containing the same components
(Tylenol and Feverall, for example). Also, do not give medicines
to infants less than 2 months old, unless they have just
received their vaccines that day. Any fever
higher than 100.4 degrees in an infant less than 2 months
old is an emergency, and your child must be taken to the
Both Motrin and Tylenol are safe and effective medicines.
In most cases, Motrin will “kick in” quicker
and last longer (6 hours vs. 4 hours for Tylenol). But if
you child isn’t eating well, the Tylenol is softer
on the stomach. Either one will usually bring down the fever
within an hour. If the fever comes down but still measures
over 101 degrees, you can give the fever medicine that you
didn’t originally use. Tylenol and Motrin are metabolized
by different organs in the body (the liver for Tylenol and
the kidneys for Motrin).
Remember that fever medicines are only meant to temporarily
ward off fever; they don't eliminate the causative factor,
the infection (bacterial or viral) that originally brought
the fever. So the fever may return as the medicine wears
Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Feverall, and generic equivalents)
Acetaminophen is available without a prescription. Children
older than 2 months of age can be given any acetaminophen
product. They all have the same dosages. Determine the correct
dosage based on your child's weight and administer every
4 hours as needed. Suppositories are only necessary if your
child is vomiting too much to tolerate the oral medicine.
(Note: dppr = dropper in the chart below.)
(Motrin, Advil, and generic equivalents)
Ibuprofen is available without a prescription. We recommend
giving Motrin to children who are at least 6 months old.
the correct dosage based on your child's weight and administer
every 6-8 hours as needed. (Note: dppr = dropper in the
or Combining Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen
If instructed by your doctor to alternate acetaminophen
and ibuprofen, alternate doses of the two medications every
3 hours. You can alternate them for up to 72 hours; after
that, return to a single product. You can also use one product
mainly and then use the other 45 minutes later if the fever
Diphenhydramine is available in liquid form without a prescription,
to use for hives and for itching with certain rashes. It
can be given every 6 to 8 hours as needed. If your child
is experiencing difficulty breathing, wheezing, tongue swelling,
lip tingling, vomiting, or other signs of a serious allergic
reaction, go to the emergency department immediately. Do
not administer diphenhydramine to an infant less than 1
year old without speaking to your doctor first.
and Cold Medicines
The FDA and pediatricians do not recommend the use of decongestants
or cough suppressants in children under 6 years old. It
is unclear whether these products have any benefit for young
children, and recent studies show that there may be significant
side effects. If you choose to use these products in older
children, please visit the manufacturers' websites for dosing
information and for more information on their products.
Some common brands include Pediacare, Triaminic, Dimetapp,
Robitussin, and Sudafed.
Children through age 21 years should not take aspirin if
they have the chicken pox or influenza (any cold,
cough, or sore throat symptoms). This recommendation
is based on several studies that have linked aspirin to
Reye's syndrome, a severe encephalitislike illness. We have
stopped using aspirin for fevers associated with any illness.
You can give liquid medicines to children by using either
a teaspoon or a syringe (usually measured in cc or mL).
Conversions are as follows:
See Other Sickness Topics