Use of acetaminophen in young children

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

Be sure to follow these medicine precautions.

  • Follow all instructions on the label. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor’s advice about what amount to give. Do not use acetaminophen if your child is allergic to it.
  • Read and follow all the instructions on the medicine bottle and box carefully before giving your child any medicine. The correct dose and timing of the dose are important for the medicine to work well.
  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are different products with different dosing recommendations. Do not alternate acetaminophen and ibuprofen because of the possible risk of overdose. Studies have not shown any additional benefit from alternating these medicines.

Talk to your doctor 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. The exception is if your baby has just had an immunization. Fevers sometimes occur as a reaction to immunizations. After immunizations, you can give your baby medicine to reduce a fever.

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.

Acetaminophen products include acetaminophen drops, acetaminophen syrup, chewable acetaminophen, or rectal suppositories. There are different products for infants and children.

Acetaminophen dose for child's weight
Child's weight in pounds (lb) Child's weight in kilograms (kg) Dosage

Less than 24 lbs

Less than 11 kg

Ask a doctor



160 mg–200 mg



200 mg–240 mg



240 mg–280 mg



280 mg–320 mg



320 mg–380 mg



380 mg–500 mg



500 mg–600 mg

More than 90.0

More than 40.5

650 mg (adult dose)

Side effects of acetaminophen are rare.

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

Do not give your child acetaminophen if he or she has:

  • Kidney disease.
  • Liver disease.

Last Updated: April 21, 2009

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