Both paracetamol and ibuprofen are safe and effective painkillers for children. It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions so you know how much medicine to give your child, and how often to give it. If you're not sure, get advice from your pharmacist, health visitor or GP.
Never give the medicine more often than recommended, and don't give any more than the stated dose.
Always keep medicines stored in a safe place at home, out of the reach of children and out of their sight, if possible.
Paracetamol for children
Paracetamol can be given to children aged 2 months or over to relieve pain and reduce fever if they weigh more than 4kg (8.8lbs) and were born after 37 weeks. Make sure you've got the right strength for your child.
The recommended dosage for younger babies age 2 to 3 months is different from the recommended doses for older babies and children.
Overdosing can be dangerous.
Check with your pharmacist when you buy it and read the instructions carefully.
Ibuprofen for children
Ibuprofen can be given to relieve pain and reduce fever in children who are aged 3 months and over and weigh 5kg (11lbs) or more. Check the correct dose for your child's age.
Avoid ibuprofen if your child has asthma, unless advised otherwise by your GP.
Don't give aspirin
Never give aspirin to children under 16 unless it's specifically prescribed by a doctor. It has been linked with a rare but dangerous illness called Reye's syndrome.
Giving your child paracetamol or ibuprofen
Liquid paracetamol and ibuprofen are available for babies and young children. Using an oral syringe – available from your pharmacist – makes it easier to measure the medicine and give it to your child.
Older children may be able to swallow paracetamol or ibuprofen tablets with plenty of water.
Soluble paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets that dissolve in water are also available. These are only suitable for children aged 12 years or older.
Remember to keep all medicines out of the reach of children and out of their sight, if possible.
Page last reviewed: 7 November 2018
Next review due: 7 November 2021