Which Pain and Fever Medicine Should You Use for Your Children?

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Trying to navigate the over-the-counter (OTC) aisles to choose a pain or fever medication for your sick child can be an overwhelming task.

Sometimes it may feel like there are too many options. A lot of companies have multiple products, with similar names and packaging, which can make it difficult if you aren’t sure what you are looking for. However, basic knowledge of some popular children’s OTC medications can help simplify things.

What is the difference between infants’ Tylenol oral suspension and children’s Tylenol oral suspension?

In terms of the actual medication, there is no difference. Both the infants’ and children’s Tylenol liquid medications contain acetaminophen 160 mg/5 ml.

The only difference is that the infant product has a dosing syringe, whereas the children’s product has a dosing cup.

Can you alternate Tylenol and Motrin for fever or pain?

Yes. Since Tylenol and Motrin work differently on the body, you can alternate which you give your child.

How do I determine the dose for my child if they are under 2 years of age?

If your child is under 2, you should consult your pediatrician or healthcare provider.

Both Tylenol and Motrin products have a recommended dose based on your child’s weight—which means your healthcare provider will be able to determine what will be safest and most effective.

Is baby aspirin indicated for kids?

No! Even though the name can be deceiving, baby aspirin is a low dose aspirin that should not be used in children. In fact, baby aspirin is typically used for heart attack and stroke prevention in adults.

Children who are given aspirin can develop Reyes Syndrome, a serious and sometimes fatal side effect that causes swelling in the liver and brain. Learn more about Reyes Syndrome here.

Can I use a regular spoon to give my child their medicine?

No. Household silverware, such as a regular spoon, should never be used to give your child their medicine. The amount each spoon holds can be different, which means you are not getting an accurate dose. All liquid OTC products will come with their own measuring devices.

If you are picking up your child’s medicine at the pharmacy, be sure to ask the pharmacist for a dosing cup just in case!

My child is having problems keeping food or medicine down—can I still use an OTC medication to treat their fever or pain?

Yes! The main ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen, which is available without a prescription in a rectal suppository (for example, FeverAll).

If you are unable to find acetaminophen suppositories, check with your pharmacist to see if they have them on hand.

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