Can you give Ibuprofen to a child under 6?

April 19, 2016

Parents are very concerned when a young child is suffering with fever and pain. In addition, they also become extremely stressed when trying to figure out if they should give any medication at all, what kind and how much. Many questions like, Can you take Tylenol and Ibuprofen together? How far apart can you take Ibuprofen and Tylenol? What age is Ibuprofen safe?

What about ibuprofen? Yes, ibuprofen is safe for use in
infants and children.

Ibuprofen (eye-byoo-PRO-fen) is an over-the-counter medicine taken to reduce fever, relieve pain and fight inflammation. Typically ibuprofen is used for teething, earaches, sunburn, fevers, headaches and sore muscles.

It is generally considered very safe to use for infants and children when used correctly. Side effects are usually mild, and
stomach upset or discomfort is the most common side effect. Taking ibuprofen with food may help. If given at the proper doses, it is safe to use “around the clock” for several days.

If you have any questions about giving ibuprofen to your child, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Never give this medicine (or any other kind of medicine) to a child younger than 2 years old without getting a doctor’s approval first.

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Treating your child who has a fever

Fever is the body’s way of fighting infections. When a child is suffering with a fever, it is important to monitor their behavior for any changes in activity or temperament which could signal a serious illness. If a child has a fever of 100 but is playing and eating and appears normal, it’s probably not necessary to administer medication to reduce the fever. However, if a child with a temperature of 100 is lethargic, cranky and achy, it makes sense to give ibuprofen to soothe the child. Parents should call the doctor if they are concerned about additional symptoms, such as vomiting, coughing or a lack of urination.

If indeed the child’s condition warrants medication, remember these key points:

  • Encourage the child to drink fluids to prevent dehydration (breast milk, formula, water, etc.).
  • Do not wake a child who is sleeping to give him a fever reducing medication.
  • Do not give your child fever medication more than 4 times a day.
  • If you are giving your child ibuprofen for fever or pain, don’t also give your child a cold or flu medicine that contains acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Your child could get too much medicine.
  • For children who require liquid medication, only one formulation should be used in the household which means not switching between bottles of 50 mg and 100mg over the course of the same fever.
  • Do not alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen because of the possible risk of overdose.
  • Do not give your child a cold bath.
  • Do not use alcohol baths.
  • Do not use aspirin.
  • Always use an accurate measuring device when dispensing medications to children such as those included with the product. Avoid using measuring spoons and cups from the kitchen drawer.
  • All fever reducers should be stored out of reach of children to prevent accidental overdose.

Do you have to buy children’s ibuprofen or can you use adult strength?

Parents should know that there is no difference between medicine designed for adults and medicine designed for children as long as the dose used is appropriate. If you’re able to carefully dose the medicine appropriately, you can use adult ibuprofen tablets for children 3, 6, 8, or 14 years old.

Dosage Instructions

  • Ibuprofen comes in liquid, tablets, caplets or concentrated drops. Read and follow all instructions provided on the packaging or bottle before giving your child any medicine.
  • Ibuprofen can be taken as liquid or chewable tablets. To give the correct dose, you need to know your child’s weight.
  • However, overdosing can lead to stomach or intestinal problems.

You also need to know how much ibuprofen is in a tablet, teaspoon (tsp), 1.25 milliliters (mL), or 5 mL of the product you are using. You can read the label to find out.

  • For chewable tablets, the label will tell you how many milligrams (mg) are found in each tablet, for example 50 mg per tablet.
  • For liquids, the label will tell you how many mg are found in 1 tsp, in 1.25 mL, or in For example, the label may read 100 mg/1 tsp, 50 mg/1.25 mL, or 100 mg/5 mL.
  • For syrups, you need some type of dosing syringe. It may come with the medicine, or you can ask your pharmacist. Make sure to clean it out after every usage.

Below is the recommended dosage chart from

Dosages are based on the child’s weight. Give the medicine every 6 hours. Do not give more than 4 doses in a 24-hour period.

Ibuprofen dose for your child’s weight
Child’s weight in pounds (lb) Child’s weight in kilograms (kg) Dose in milligrams (mg)
Less than 12 lb Less than 6 kg Ask a doctor
12-17 lb 7-8 kg 50 mg
18-23 lb 9-10 kg 75 mg
24-35 lb 11-16 kg 100 mg
36-47 lb 17-21 kg 150 mg
48-59 lb 22-27 kg 200 mg
60-71 lb 28-32 kg 250 mg
72-95 lb 33-43 kg 300 mg
96 lb and above 44 kg and above Adult dose

For a more detailed report, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine on the site below:

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When NOT to give ibuprofen to your child:

Do Not give your child ibuprofen if he or she has any of the following:

  • History of gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Allergic reactions to aspirin or related drugs
  • Anemia
  • Blood-clotting defect
  • Stomach ulcers.

It is not recommended to give if a child has large wounds or bruises.

Do Not give your child ibuprofen if he or she is taking any of the following medicine:

  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants)
  • Corticosteroids (such as prednisone)


Ibuprofen can be used along with any antibiotic, cold or cough remedy (providing Ibuprofen is not one of the ingredients).

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