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Acetaminophen in children: Your care instructions

Acetaminophen in Children

Your care instructions

Common brands: Tylenol, Tempra, Pediatrix, and Panadol

What it's used for

Acetaminophen is used to treat mild to moderate pain (like headaches, sprains, general aches, and pains) and to bring down a fever.

What to tell the doctor or pharmacist before giving your child this medicine

Tell the doctor or pharmacist if your child:

  • has liver problems
  • takes a blood “thinner”
  • is allergic to acetaminophen
  • is being treated for TB (tuberculosis)

Tell the doctor or dentist what other prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal medicine your child takes.

What you need to know when giving your child this medicine

  • Make sure to follow the directions on the package or that the doctor/pharmacist gives you. Giving more than the recommended dose of acetaminophen can hurt the liver.

  • Acetaminophen is found in other pain and fever medicine and also in cough and cold medicine. Make sure you read the label before giving your child any other medicine.
  • If your baby is younger than 3 months and has a fever, contact your doctor to make sure the fever isn’t caused by a serious health problem.
  • For pain: It works best if you give the medicine to your child when the pain starts or before it gets too bad. If your child needs the medicine for more than 3-5 days to treat their pain, contact your doctor.
  • For fever: If your child needs this medicine for more than 3-5 days to treat their fever, contact your doctor.

What you need to know about different forms of this medicine

Acetaminophen comes in many forms. It comes as a pill, liquid, and a suppository (a form that is put in the rectum and may be used if your child can’t swallow medicine or keep it down).

What you need to know about how often to give this medicine

You can give acetaminophen every 4 hours as needed. Don’t give more than 5 doses in 24 hours. Your child’s dose depends on his or her weight. You can find the right dose for your child on the package or ask your doctor or pharmacist.

When to get help

Call 911 if your child has trouble breathing or the face, tongue, or throat start to swell.
Call your doctor or Health Link right away if your child:

  • is unusually tired
  • is dizzy
  • has yellow eyes or skin
  • has a red, itchy rash or swelling
  • feels sick to the stomach or is throwing up
  • has pain in the abdomen/stomach, nose, throat, or eyes
  • or if your child’s urine turns dark

Contact your doctor if your child isn’t getting better, seems to be getting worse, if you feel your child needs acetaminophen for more than 5 days, if your child's fever has not broken, or their pain has not improved.

If you have any questions or concerns about this medicine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Tell your pharmacist about any other medication(s) that your child is taking. Pharmacists can recognize drug interactions that may have been overlooked when prescribing. Ensure you know the weight of your child so you can accurately dose their medicine.

If you think your child may have been given too much of this medicine, call the poison control centre (PADIS) 24/7 at 1-800-332-1414 or Health Link at 811 for advice on what to do.

To see this information online and learn more, visit


For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: February 9, 2021

Author: Poison and Drug Information Services (PADIS), Alberta Health Services

This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.