Dosage Guide for Common Pediatric Medications (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Diphenhydramine)

Chris Yun, MDby Chris Yun, MD
Dosage Guide for Common Pediatric Medications (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Diphenhydramine)

Acetaminophen

Also known by the brand name Tylenol, acetaminophen is a fever reducer and non-opiate pain reliever, available over-the-counter and used to alleviate mild and moderate pains and fevers. 

Acetaminophen dosing guidelines

  • Always try to use the dosing device that came with the medication, including droppers and syringes, which are more accurate for pediatric uses

  • If the medication calls for a teaspoon, try to use a measuring spoon because ordinary spoons are neither accurate nor reliable

  • You may repeat the dose every 4 to 6 hours as needed. DO NOT give your child more than 5 doses in 24 hours.

What you need to know about giving acetaminophen to your child

Make sure you do not give your child more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen as an ingredient. Be sure to read the label before giving any additional medicine to your — acetaminophen can be found in many over-the-counter cold remedies. You should not give medicine with more than one active ingredient to children under age 6 unless instructed by your doctor.

 

Ibuprofen

Also known by the brand names Advil and Motrin, ibuprofen is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which works by lowering the number of hormones that cause pain and inflammation in the body. If you're giving your child ibuprofen, follow these dosing guidelines:

Ibuprofen dosing guidelines

  • Take a new dose every 6 to 8 hours or as needed to alleviate symptoms 

  • Never exceed four doses in a 24-hour period.

  • Never use Ibuprofen in children under 6 months

What you need to know about giving ibuprofen to your child

Children with certain medical conditions or taking certain medicines should not take ibuprofen. Additionally, make sure you do not give your child more than one medicine that contains ibuprofen as an ingredient. Be sure to read the label before giving any additional medicine to your — ibuprofen can be found in many cold and allergy remedies. You should not give medicine with more than one active ingredient to children under age 6 unless instructed by your doctor.

Diphenhydramine

Diphenhydramine, also known by the brand name of Benadryl, is an antihistamine that reduces allergy symptoms like sneezing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes. Given the risk to young children and the potential to cause drowsiness, please note that there are other medicines like diphenhydramine that might be safer for young children.

Diphenhydramine dosing guidelines

  • You can give diphenhydramine every 6 hours as needed

  • Never give diphenhydramine to children under 6 years of age (unless specifically instructed by your pediatrician)

  • Consider non-sedating alternatives if your child is experiencing more drowsiness than usual 

  • Always use the dosing device that came with the medicine

What you need to know about giving diphenhydramine to your child

This medicine can make a child sleepy. Some children, however, may get more excited and active instead of getting sleepy. Make sure you do not give your child more than one medicine that contains diphenhydramine as an ingredient. Be sure to read the label before giving any additional medicine to your — diphenhydramine can be found in many over-the-counter allergy remedies. 

If your child takes or is given too much…

If you think your child has taken too much medicine, call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. It is open 24 hours a day. Concerning signs & symptoms may include vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and tiredness.

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