Ibuprofen vs. Tylenol for Babies

Parents always have to make decisions about their children and it is commonly agreed that one of the most difficult and most important is which medication to give them. In the past parents had the choice of Tylenol and baby aspirin but eventually researchers and doctors realized that aspirin increased the risk of babies developing Rye Syndrome which is deadly. In 1995 Motrin introduced a children’s version of Ibuprofen and since then the question of which medication to give children has returned. 

Ibuprofen vs. Tylenol 

Both Tylenol (acetaminophen) and ibuprofen provide relief from pain and fever in those of all ages despite their chemical differences. Below are the detailed similarities and differences of Ibuprofen vs. Tylenol for inflammation in babies.

Ibuprofen

image001Ibuprofen limits the production of prostaglandins, a type of fatty acids. These prostaglandins are responsible for pain, body aches and fever so reducing its production can decrease their effects. It also reduces inflammation.

Ibuprofen lasts longer and is more powerful than Tylenol and this is why it isn’t recommended for children under six months. Additionally, it leads to the dosage of every 6 to 8 hours with a maximum of three doses in a day. A downside of ibuprofen is that it can irritate your child’s stomach if he doesn’t eat well while taking it.

Tylenol

image002Although Tylenol also reduces pain, body aches and fever it does not affect inflammation. It is, however, easier on the digestive tract so it doesn’t need to be taken with food.

Despite this, it can be toxic to your liver in high doses and should not be taken over 5 times in a day or every 4 to 6 hours. Tylenol (as well as ibuprofen) can help with pain from minor aches or sore throat, toothaches, headaches, flu and the common cold. Only Tylenol, however, is recommended to help with pain of immunizations.

In general, ibuprofen tends to produce better results when treating fevers while Tylenol works best against minor pains. No matter which medication you give to your baby, make sure to use the right dispensing device to avoid overdosing your child. And always consult the doctor before using any medication on your child!

The Right Dose of Ibuprofen and Tylenol for Babies

It is possible for parents to use the wrong device to dispense medication and accidentally overdose their child. Only use infant drops with the given dropper as spoons can make it easy to overdose. Also keep in mind that certain forms of medication can be stronger (such as infant drops compared to children’s elixir). Drops of acetaminophen are slowly being replaced by less concentrated infant liquid but this is still in-progress so always read labels carefully to avoid confusion and an overdose.

No matter what medication you give your child you must always use the correct dosage based on his weight and do so at the right intervals. Always ask your doctor before giving medication to a child under three months old. When determining the correct dosage to give your child, always do so based on weight and only use age as a guideline.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Dosing For Babies

Weight

Infant Drops (80 mg/0.8 mL)

Infant Solution (Syringe)

(160 mg/5mL)

Solution/Suspension (Liquid) (160 mg/5mL)

Children’s Chewable Tablets (80 mg)

8 to 12 pounds

0.4 mL (40 mg)

1.25 mL (40 mg)

N/A

N/A

12 to 17 pounds

0.8 mL (80 mg)

2.5 mL (80 mg)

0.5 teaspoon (80 mg)

N/A

18 to 23 pounds

1.2 mL (120 mg)

3.75 mL (120 mg)

0.75 teaspoon (120 mg)

1.5 tablets

24 to 35 pounds

1.6 mL (160 mg)

5 mL (160 mg)

1 teaspoon (160 mg)

2 tablets

36 to 47 pounds

N/A

7.5 mL (240 mg)

1.5 teaspoons (240 mg)

3 tablets

48 to 59 pounds

N/A

10 mL (320 mg)

2 teaspoons (320 mg)

4 tablets

60 to 71 pounds

N/A

N/A

2.5 teaspoons (400mg)

5 tablets

72 to 95 pounds

N/A

N/A

3 teaspoons (480 mg)

6 tablets

Notes: In the case of Solution/Suspension (160 mg/5mL), do not give it to children under 12 pounds. All measurements such as “dropper” or “teaspoon” should be made using the given measuring tool.

Ibuprofen Dosing For Babies

Weight

Infant Drops (50 mg/1.25 mL)

Children’s Solution or Liquid (100 mg/5mL)

Children’s Chewable Tablets (100 mg)

8 to 12 pounds

N/A

N/A

N/A

12 to 17 pounds

1.25 mL (50 mg)

N/A

N/A

18 to 23 pounds

1.85 mL (75 mg)

3.75 mL (75 mg)

N/A

24 to 35 pounds

N/A

5 mL (100 mg) or 1 teaspoon

1 tablet

36 to 47 pounds

N/A

7.5 mL (150 mg) or 1.5 teaspoons

1.5 tablets

48 to 59 pounds

N/A

10 mL (200 mg) or 2 teaspoons

2 tablets

60 to 65 pounds

N/A

12.5 mL or 2.5 teaspoons

2.5 tablets

66 to 87 pounds

N/A

15 mL or 3 teaspoons

3 tablets

88 pounds or more

N/A

20 mL or 4 teaspoons

4 tablets

Notes: All measurements such as “dropper” or “teaspoons” should be made with the given dispensing device. Don’t give ibuprofen to children who are under six months of age or those who are vomiting or dehydrated as this can lead to stomach pain and gastritis.

Other Precautions to Take While Using Ibuprofen and Tylenol for Babies

  • Although both ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are fine for babies, you should NEVER give your child aspirin including “baby aspirin” if they are under age 16. This increases the chance of developing Rye’s syndrome which can be deadly.
  • When giving your child medication, treat him and not his fever. If he has a mild fever but is behaving normally and is comfortable, don’t give him a fever reducer as his immune system is already fighting the germs.
  • Don’t mix ibuprofen and acetaminophen. The drugs may interact and lead to kidney damage or other side effects. Anytime that you want to give your child both medications, first consult your doctor and then carefully make note of when you last gave each medication to avoid interactions. It is especially risky to alternate these medications when your child has medical problems or is dehydrated.
  • Although you shouldn’t mix ibuprofen and acetaminophen by alternating doses, it is okay to switch from one medication to the other in certain situations. If you have run out of one medication and want to switch to the one you have in your home that is usually fine. It is also generally okay to give your child ibuprofen and then a few hours later give him acetaminophen if the fever or pain doesn’t reduce. After doing this, however, you should not go back to giving him ibuprofen without consulting his doctor.