Acetaminophen Use in Young Children

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Topic Overview

Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, helps reduce fever and relieve pain. It does not reduce inflammation, as do nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs ) such as ibuprofen, but it also is less likely to cause stomach upset and other side effects.

Be sure to follow these medicine precautions.

  • Acetaminophen can be found in many forms and comes in different doses.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not give your child more than the maximum dose recommended on the label.
  • Be careful when giving your child over-the-counter cold or flu medicines and acetaminophen (Tylenol) at the same time. Many of these medicines already contain acetaminophen. Too much acetaminophen can be harmful.
  • If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's or a pharmacist's advice about what amount to give. Do not use acetaminophen if your child is allergic to it.
  • Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist before you give medicine to reduce a fever in a baby who is 3 months of age or younger. This is to make sure a young baby's fever is not a sign of a serious illness. Sometimes a fever occurs after an immunization. Follow your doctor's or a pharmacist's instructions for treating your baby's fever after an immunization.
  • Acetaminophen products include chewable tablets, syrup, and rectal suppositories. The correct dose and timing of the dose are important for the medicine to work well. Always read the label so that you give the right dose based on your child's age and/or weight. Infants usually need a different dose than children do. Use the measuring tool that comes with the medicine, not a household spoon, to be sure to measure and give the right dose.
  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are different products with different dosing recommendations. Talk to your child's doctor or a pharmacist before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Dosage: Give acetaminophen every 4 hours as needed. Do not give more than 5 doses in a 24-hour period. Dosages are based on the child's weight regardless of whether oral or rectal products are used.

Caution: Do not use this dose table with any other concentration of this medicine. Use only with the concentration of 160 mg in 5 mL. Check the label on your medicine to find the concentration.

Acetaminophen dose (160 mg in 5 ml) for your child's weight
Child's weight in pounds (lbs) Child's weight in kilograms (kg) Dose in milligrams (mg) Dose in milliliters (mL)

less than 11.0

less than 5.4

Ask a doctor or a pharmacist

Ask a doctor or a pharmacist



80 mg

2.5 mL



120 mg

3.75 mL



160 mg

5 mL



240 mg

7.5 mL



320 mg

10 mL



400 mg

12.5 mL



480 mg

15 mL

Side effects of acetaminophen are rare.

  • Nausea and rash are the most common.
  • High doses of acetaminophen can contribute to liver and kidney damage.

Do not give your child acetaminophen if he or she has liver disease.


ByHealthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine

John Pope, MD - Pediatrics

Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine

Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

Current as ofMay 27, 2016