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Ibuprofen dosing for children

Taking ibuprofen can help children feel better when they have colds or minor injuries. As with all drugs, it is important to give children the correct dose. Ibuprofen is safe when taken as directed. But taking too much of this medicine can be harmful.

How Ibuprofen can Help Your Child

Ibuprofen is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It can help:

  • Reduce aches, pain, sore throat, or fever in children with a cold or the flu
  • Relieve headaches or toothaches
  • Reduce pain and swelling from an injury or broken bone

Proper Dosing

Ibuprofen can be taken as liquid or chewable tablets. To give the correct dose, you need to know your child's weight.

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 5mL. 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.

If your child weighs 12 to 17 pounds (lbs) or 5.4 to 7.7 kilograms (kg):

  • For infant drops that say 50mg/1.25 mL on the label, give a 1.25 mL dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/1 teaspoon (tsp) on the label, give a ½ tsp dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/5 mL on the label, give a 2.5 mL dose.

If your child weighs 18 to 23 lbs or 8 to 10 kg:

  • For infant drops that say 50mg/1.25 mL on the label, give a 1.875 mL dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/1 tsp on the label, give a ¾ tsp dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/5 mL on the label, give a 4 mL dose.

If your child weighs 24 to 35 lbs or 10.5 to 15.5 kg:

  • For infant drops that say 50mg/1.25 mL on the label, give a 2.5 mL dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/1 tsp on the label, give a 1 tsp dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/5 mL on the label, give a 5 mL dose.
  • For chewable tablets that say 50 mg tablets on the label, give 2 tablets.

If your child weighs 36 to 47 lbs or 16 to 21 kg:

  • For infant drops that say 50mg/1.25 mL on the label, give a 3.75 mL dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/1 tsp on the label, give a 1½ tsp dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/5 mL on the label, give a 7.5 mL dose.
  • For chewable tablets that say 50 mg tablets on the label, give 3 tablets.

If your child weighs 48 to 59 lbs or 21.5 to 26.5 kg:

  • For infant drops that say 50mg/1.25 mL on the label, give a 5 mL dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/1 tsp on the label, give a 2 tsp dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/5 mL on the label, give a 10 mL dose.
  • For chewable tablets that say 50 mg tablets on the label, give 4 tablets.
  • For junior-strength tablets that say 100 mg tablets on the label, give 2 tablets.

If your child weighs 60 to 71 lbs or 27 to 32 kg:

  • For liquid that says 100 mg/1 tsp on the label, give a 2½ tsp dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/5 mL on the label, give a 12.5 mL dose.
  • For chewable tablets that say 50 mg tablets on the label, give 5 tablets.
  • For junior-strength tablets that say 100 mg tablets on the label, give 2½ tablets.

If your child weighs 72 to 95 lbs or 32.5 to 43 kg:

  • For liquid that says 100 mg/1 tsp on the label, give a 3 tsp dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/5 mL on the label, give a 15 mL dose.
  • For chewable tablets that say 50 mg tablets on the label, give 6 tablets.
  • For junior-strength tablets that say 100 mg tablets on the label, give 3 tablets.

If your child weighs 96 lbs or 43.5 kg or more:

  • For liquid that says 100 mg/1 tsp on the label, give a 4 tsp dose.
  • For liquid that says 100 mg/5 mL on the label, give a 20 mL dose.
  • For chewable tablets that say 50 mg tablets on the label, give 8 tablets.
  • For junior-strength tablets that say 100 mg tablets on the label, give 4 tablets.

Try giving your child the medicine with food to avoid stomach upset. If you are not sure how much to give your child, call your health care provider.

DO NOT give ibuprofen to children under 6 months of age, unless directed by your provider. You should also check with your provider before giving ibuprofen to children under 2 years old or less than 12 pounds or 5.5 kilograms.

Giving Medicine to Children

Make sure you don't give your child more than one medicine with ibuprofen. For example, ibuprofen can be found in many allergy and cold remedies. Read the label before giving any medicine to children. You should not give medicine with more than one active ingredient to children under age 6.

There are important child medicine safety tips to follow.

  • Carefully read all of the instructions on the label before giving your child medicine.
  • Make sure you know the strength of the medicine in the bottle you purchased.
  • Use the syringe, dropper, or dosing cup that comes with your child's liquid medicine. You can also get one at your local pharmacy.
  • Make sure you are using the right unit of measurement when filling medicine. You may have the option of milliliters (mL) or teaspoon (tsp) dosing.
  • If you are not sure what medicine to give your child, call your provider.

Children with certain medical conditions or taking certain medicines should not take ibuprofen. Check with your provider.

If Your Child Takes too Much

Be sure to post the number for the poison control center by your home phone. 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. Signs of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and abdominal pain.

Go to the nearest emergency room. Your child may need:

  • Activated charcoal. Charcoal stops the body from absorbing the medicine. It has to be given within an hour. It does not work for every medicine.
  • To be admitted to the hospital to be monitored.
  • Blood tests to see what the medicine is doing.
  • To have his or her heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure monitored.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if:

  • You are not sure what dose of medicine to give your infant or child.
  • You are having trouble getting your child to take medicine.
  • Your child's symptoms do not go away when you would expect.
  • Your child is an infant and has signs of illness, such as fever.

Alternative Names

Motrin; Advil

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. Ibuprofen dosage table for fever and pain. Healthychildren.org. Web site. Updated May 23, 2016. www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/medication-safety/Pages/Ibuprofen-for-Fever-and-Pain.aspx. Accessed January 12, 2017.

Aronson JK. Ibuprofen. In: Aronson JK, ed. Meyler's Side Effects of Drugs. 16th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:5-12.

Review Date 12/9/2016

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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