Hesperian Health Guides
Caring for Children: Medicines
Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!
Make a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.
Medicines for mild pain and lowering fever include paracetamol (the safest and best medicine to use for children), aspirin, and ibuprofen. Aspirin and ibuprofen also reduce inflammation (swelling). So, for example, if you twist your ankle, they will not only relieve the pain, but will also reduce the swelling. This helps you heal faster. But children with fevers and viral infections should avoid taking aspirin.
Do not give more than the recommended dose of these medicines. All of these drugs can have bad effects if too much is taken. For example, overuse of aspirin and ibuprofen can cause ulcers. Too much paracetamol is poisonous. For severe fever or pain, you can avoid using too much by alternating paracetamol and ibuprofen.
Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is a good, affordable medicine for fever and mild pain.
Do not take more than the recommended amount. Too much is poisonous to the liver and can kill. Keep this medicine out of the reach of children, especially if you have it as a sweetened syrup.
Cold medicines often contain paracetamol, so do not give them if you are also giving paracetamol or you may give too much.
Under 1 year: give 62 mg (⅛ of a 500 mg tablet), every 4 to 6 hours.
1 to 2 years: give 125 mg (¼ of a 500 mg tablet), every 4 to 6 hours.
3 to 7 years: give 250 mg (½ of a 500 mg tablet), every 4 to 6 hours.
8 to 12 years: give 375 mg (¾ of a 500 mg tablet), every 4 to 6 hours.
Ibuprofen relieves muscle pain, joint pain, and headache, and lowers fever.
Ibuprofen can cause a stomach ache, but taking it with milk or food lessens that problem.
Do not take ibuprofen if you are allergic to aspirin. Do not give ibuprofen for stomach pain or indigestion. Ibuprofen is acidic and may make the problem worse. For the same reason, people with stomach ulcers should never use ibuprofen. Do not give ibuprofen to babies younger than 6 months, and do not give to pregnant women in their last 3 months of pregnancy.
6 months to 1 year: give 50 mg, every 6 to 8 hours.
1 to 2 years: give 75 mg, every 6 to 8 hours.
2 to 3 years: give 100 mg, every 6 to 8 hours.
4 to 5 years: give 150 mg, every 6 to 8 hours.
6 to 8 years: give 200 mg, every 6 to 8 hours.
9 to 10 years: give 250 mg, every 6 to 8 hours.
11 years: give 300 mg, every 6 to 8 hours.
Over 12 years: give 200 to 400 mg, every 4 to 6 hours.
Do not give more than 40 mg per kg in a day. Do not give more than 4 doses a day, and do not give for more than 10 consecutive days.