Can I Give My Child Painkillers?

Cough Medicine and KidsBoth paracetamol (known as acetaminophen or Tylenol in the US*) and ibuprofen are safe and effective painkillers for children. However, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct dose. If you’re not sure, get advice from your pharmacist, GP (pediatrician*) or health visitor.

Medicines aren’t always needed for childhood illnesses. Most illnesses get better by themselves, and make your child stronger and able to resist similar illnesses in the future.

Always keep medicines stored in a safe place at home.

Paracetamol for Children

Paracetamol (acetaminophen*) can be given to children aged over two months to relieve pain and reduce fever (high temperature). Make sure you’ve got the right strength for your child. Overdosing is dangerous. Check with your pharmacist when you buy it and read the label carefully.

Ibuprofen for Children

Ibuprofen can be given to relieve pain and reduce fever in children aged three months and over who weigh more than 5kg (11lbs). Check the correct dose for your child’s age. Avoid ibuprofen if your child has asthma, unless advised by your GP (pediatrician*).

Don’t use 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 (acetaminophen*) and ibuprofen are available for babies and younger children. Older children may be able to swallow paracetamol or ibuprofen tablets with plenty of water.

Soluble paracetamol tablets that dissolve in water are also available. You can get ibuprofen powder that dissolves in water, but this is only suitable for children over 12.

It is important to:

  • Make sure you know how much medicine to give your child and how often to give it
  • Always follow the instructions on the label to make sure you give your child the correct dose for their age and weight
  • Never give the medicine more often than your GP (pediatrician*) or pharmacist recommends, and don’t take any more than the stated dose

Remember to keep all medicines out of the reach of children and out of their sight, if possible.

For more information, including when to get medical advice, see:

Read the answers to more questions about children’s medicines.

Further information:

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US audience.

About the Author

NHS Choices ( is the UK’s biggest health website. It provides a comprehensive health information service to help put you in control of your healthcare.


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