Newborn Basics

When Should I Give Baby Ibuprofen — And How Much Is Safe?

Baby's sick. Is it okay to give him ibuprofen?

If baby has a high fever or pains, ibuprofen (like Motrin or Advil) is a good alternative to acetaminophen (like Tylenol) — but only if baby is six months or older. The FDA hasn’t approved ibuprofen for babies younger than six months, and the American Academy of Pediatrics warns that the medicine’s strength can make it difficult for parents to realize how sick baby really is. Ibuprofen lasts longer than acetaminophen, so you’ll only have to give baby medicine every six hours instead of every four.

Whichever you choose, remember that the proper dosage is based on weight, not age. Not sure how much baby weighs? Weigh yourself holding baby, then weigh just yourself, and then calculate the difference. And before you give baby his dosage, make sure he has something in his stomach since ibuprofen can upset the tummy. Only use the dropper or cup that comes with the medicine for the most accurate measurement (a kitchen tablespoon won’t cut it). And don’t panic if the meds don’t kick in right away — it may take up to 45 minutes for baby to feel better.

If the little guy is less than two months old, talk to your pediatrician before giving him any medication.

Expert: Alanna Levine, MD, pediatrician

By Alanna Levine, MD, pediatrician at Orangetown Pediatric Associates in Tappan, New York