What fever medications are available to treat fever in infants and children?
Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®, Tempra®) and ibuprofen (e.g., Advil®, Motrin®) are both used to safely treat fever in infants and children.1,2 Even though naproxen (e.g., Aleve®) and ASA (aspirin®) can be used to treat fevers in adults, they are not recommended for children.1
Fever medication medications in infants and children1,2
|Recommended in Infants and Children?||Generic Name||Brand Name(s)||Comments|
For children 3 months and older
|Acetaminophen||Tylenol®, Tempra®||Available in many different formulations (e.g. drops, suspension, chewable tablets).|
For children 6 months and older
Do not use in children under 18 years of age
|Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)||Aspirin®||Not recommended in children under 18 years of age since it can cause Reye’s Syndrome, a rare illness that affects the liver and brain in children with viral infections. |
Do not use in children under 12 years of age
|Naproxen|| Aleve®||Not recommended in children under 12 years of age since there is not enough safety data to recommend its use in children.|
Which is better for treating fever: acetaminophen or ibuprofen?
Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are effective for reducing fever, but there are certain situations in which you might consider one over the other. These situations are listed below.
When to consider acetaminophen or ibuprofen1,2
- Pain is also present (e.g., sore throat)
- Ibuprofen is NOT an option
- Child is vomiting and/or has diarrhea
- Child is sensitive to ibuprofen side-effects
- Child is allergic to ibuprofen
- Child is less than 6 months old
- Pain and inflammation is also present (e.g., ear infections)16,17
- Child needs longer-lasting relief* of fever-related discomfort or pain (e.g., because he or she wakes up during the night).
Did you know?
Ibuprofen relief usually lasts for about 6 to 8 hours, whereas acetaminophen relief typically lasts for about 4 to 6 hours.
MYTH: It’s better to alternate between acetaminophen and ibuprofen
American Academy of Pediatrics does NOT recommend alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen since:
The extra reduction in fever temperature from using both products has NOT been shown to benefit children with fever2
Any potential benefit of using both products is outweighed by the risk of accidentally giving the wrong dose of either medication2.
Stick to one product instead. It’s safer and just as effective as using both products.