How much acetaminophen (Tylenol) you give your baby can depend on your baby’s age and weight. You may need to consult a pediatrician if your child is under age 2.
It’s one thing for your baby to cry when they’re hungry, tired, or in need of a diaper change. You provide for them, ease their little woes, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
But nothing feels worse than hearing your infant cry in pain. These cries are often more intense and continue even after your baby has been fed or changed.
Babies feel pain just like adults, yet they tend to have a lower threshold for discomfort. And because they can’t speak for themselves, they can’t tell you where it hurts (though if your baby is teething, the mouth may be a good place to start). What can you do?
If your baby has a fever or signs of being in pain that can’t otherwise be eased, giving them Tylenol may bring some relief — to both your little one and you.
But before you give your baby a dose, it’s important that you check with your pediatrician and know how to safely give acetaminophen.
As you browse the children’s medicine aisle at the drugstore, you’ll come across many different forms of Tylenol and its generic, acetaminophen (they’re the same thing). This includes chewable tablets suitable for children ages 6 and older, as well as infant Tylenol available in liquid form.
When giving liquid Tylenol to your baby, make sure the medicine has a concentration of 160 milligrams/5 milliliter (mg/mL). This is important, especially if you have an older bottle of infant Tylenol sitting around your house. (While you’re at it, be sure to check the expiration date.)
Before May 2011, liquid Tylenol was available in two concentrated formulas, the other being 80 mg/0.8 mL per dose. The more concentrated formula was intended for infants, whereas the lower concentration was intended for children over the age of 2.
The problem with two formulas is that it’s too easy to confuse the products and accidentally overmedicate. To avoid possible dosing errors, the drug manufacturer chose to sell children’s acetaminophen as a single concentration. As a result, pain and fever medications containing a concentrated formula of 80 mg/0.8 mL have since been removed from shelves.
But although the medicine is currently only sold in the lower concentration, always double-check the formula before purchasing — just in case there’s a stray bottle of the older concentration that slipped through.
It’s important to give your infant the right amount of medication. Giving too much could make your child sick, and lead to complications like liver damage. It can even result in an accidental overdose and death.
As far as how much to give your baby, the package does offer recommendations based on age and weight. But in most cases, doctors recommend using a child’s weight to determine a safe amount of medicine. This applies to infants, as well as toddlers who take infant Tylenol.
Recommendations for age and weight are as follows:
|Amount of Tylenol (160 mg/5 mL)
|0 to 3 months
|6 to 11 pounds (lbs.)
|Consult your pediatrician
|4 to 11 months
|12 to 17 lbs.
|Consult your pediatrician
|12 to 23 months
|18 to 23 lbs.
|Consult your pediatrician
|2 to 3 years
|24 to 35 lbs.
Don’t let this chart discourage you or take it to mean you can’t use Tylenol before your little one is 2 years old.
In fact, most pediatricians actually encourage the short-term use of Tylenol in younger babies in certain circumstances — like pain from an ear infection, post-vaccination symptoms, and fever.
Most commonly, pediatricians recommend 1.5 to 2.5 mL for infants in their first year, based on their weight.
One dose of infant Tylenol might be — and hopefully is — enough to temporarily relieve symptoms of a fever or pain. But if your baby is ill or has an ear infection, pain and crying can return once the dose wears off unless the illness itself has worn off, too.
To keep your baby happy and pain-free during very upsetting bouts of symptoms, check with their doctor. You may be able to give a dose of infant Tylenol every 4 to 6 hours as needed.
But you shouldn’t give more than five doses in a 24-hour period. And you shouldn’t give Tylenol routinely or for more than a day or two in a row unless directed by your child’s doctor.
A bottle of infant Tylenol comes with a syringe or medicine dropper in the package, making the medicine easier to give to infants. (A dropper also saves you from using a measuring spoon from your kitchen — and we’re guessing, as a parent of an infant, you don’t need extra dishes in your dishwasher.) In fact, measuring spoons are discouraged because you could end up giving your infant more medicine than needed.
In other words, always use the medicine dropper or cup that comes with a medication to ensure giving the proper dosage. If your syringe or dropper breaks, you can purchase a replacement on the cheap from a pharmacy.
Dip the syringe into the bottle and fill it with the appropriate dose based on your pediatrician’s recommendations. From here, there are different ways to administer the medication. If your baby isn’t fussy, put the syringe in between their lips or partway in their mouth to the side of one cheek and squirt the medicine into their mouth.
Some babies may spit out the medicine if they don’t like the taste. So choosing an infant Tylenol with flavoring might make it easier for them to swallow.
If you have trouble getting the syringe into your baby’s mouth, you can get a little sneaky — just squirt the medicine into their breastmilk or formula if you use a bottle, or combine it with their baby food. Only do this with an amount of milk or food you know they will finish.
If your baby spits up or vomits within 20 minutes of receiving a dose, you can give another dose. But if they spit up or vomit after this time, wait at least 4 to 6 hours before giving more medication.
When giving your baby Tylenol, be mindful of other medications they take. Don’t give your baby Tylenol if they take other medicines containing acetaminophen. This can lead to too much of the drug in their system, which could cause an overdose.
Also, be mindful of expiration dates when giving your child medication. The effectiveness of the drug can go down over time. You don’t want to struggle through giving your sweet babe medicine only to have it fail to provide relief.
For the most part, giving a baby infant Tylenol can temporarily relieve pain or a fever. But if your child continues to cry, call your doctor. Continuous crying could indicate another problem — like an ear infection that may require treatment.
Always speak with your pediatrician before giving Tylenol to very young infants (under 12 weeks) to prevent dosing errors.
Also, call your pediatrician if your baby under 3 months develops a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or if your baby over 3 months has a fever of 102.2°F (39°F) or higher.