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

24.0–30.0

11.0–13.5

160 mg–200 mg

31.0–36.0

14.0–16.5

200 mg–240 mg

37.0–42.0

16.5–19.0

240 mg–280 mg

43.0–47.0

19.5–21.0

280 mg–320 mg

48.0–55.0

21.5–25.0

320 mg–380 mg

56.0–75.0

25.5–34.0

380 mg–500 mg

76.0–89.0

34.5–40.5

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

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.