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Ibuprofen Use in Young Children

Topic Overview

Ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used to relieve pain and reduce fever and inflammation.

Be sure to follow these medicine precautions:

  • Discuss your child’s medicines with the pharmacist to ensure there aren’t any drug interactions between new and pre-existing medicines.
  • Your child's over-the-counter medicine will have a "Drug Facts" label. On the label, you'll find directions for your child's age or weight, the dose to give, and how often to give the dose. For children younger than 6 months of age, follow what your doctor has told you about the amount to give.
  • Ibuprofen comes in liquid, tablets, caplets, or concentrated drops. Read and follow all the instructions on the medicine bottle and box carefully before giving your child any medicine. There are different products and strengths for infants and children. The correct dose and timing of the dose are important for the medicine to work well.
    • Be extra careful with liquid medicines because some liquid forms are stronger (more concentrated) than others. Always read the label so that you give the right dose for your child's current weight.
    • When you give medicine, use the tool that comes with the medicine, such as a dropper or a dosing cup. Don't use a spoon instead of the tool. Spoons can be different sizes. If the medicine doesn't come with a tool to give doses, ask your pharmacist for one.
  • In some circumstances, a doctor may recommend combining acetaminophen with ibuprofen for more severe pain; this may be done with the guidance of a health professional.
  • If you are giving your child ibuprofen for fever or pain, don't also give your child a cold or influenza (flu) medicine that contains acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Your child could get too much medicine.
  • Ibuprofen works best when it is used alongside comfort measures such as distraction, heat, ice, or cuddles, depending on the issue and the age of your child.

Side effects of ibuprofen are usually mild. Stomach upset or discomfort is the most common side effect. If the medicine upsets your child's stomach, you can try giving it to your child with food. But if that doesn't help, talk with your doctor to make sure it's not a more serious problem.

Do not give your child ibuprofen if they have any of the following:

  • History of gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Allergic reactions to aspirin or related drugs
  • Blood-clotting problems

Do not give your child ibuprofen if they are taking any of the following medicines:

  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants)
  • Other NSAIDs such as naproxen (Aleve) or ketorolac (Toradol)

Credits

Adaptation Date: 5/7/2021

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.