The correct dosages of paracetamol and ibuprofen are based on your child's weight and not their age. However, the age of your child may also be important for determining the correct dose of a medicine in certain circumstances. Always use the provided measuring cup or syringe to give the medicine. Check with your health professional before use if you are unsure.
Over-the-counter (OTC) preparations in Australia have labelled instructions for dosage in infants from 1 month of age or with a body weight of 4 kg and over.1 Be aware that different brands and formulations may contain different amounts of paracetamol. Always refer to the instructions on the label or packaging, and ask your health professional to confirm the correct dosage if you are unsure.
Paracetamol is usually dosed every 4–6 hours, but not more than 4 times a day. See your doctor if you have given your child regular paracetamol doses for two days in a row and they still need pain relief.2,3
The effect of paracetamol on pain and/or fever usually starts within 30 minutes of taking it orally (via the mouth). When given as a suppository (via the anus), it works more slowly, taking up to 90 minutes to take effect.
In children aged 1 month to 12 years, the recommended oral dose for OTC paracetamol is 15 mg of paracetamol/kg of body weight, up to a maximum single dose of 1 g of paracetamol.4
Paracetamol can be taken orally every 4–6 hours as required, with no more than four doses over a 24-hour period. Over that 24-hour period, the child should not have more than a total of 4 g of paracetamol.4
Over-the-counter (OTC) products containing ibuprofen as the active ingredient are approved for use in children from 3 months of age or with a body weight of 6 kg and over.1 Ibuprofen is usually given every 6–8 hours but not more than 3 times a day, and with food or a milk drink. As with paracetamol, it is not recommended that you give ibuprofen to your child for more that two consecutive days without seeing your doctor.3
Your child will usually start to feel relief from pain and/or fever within 15 minutes of taking ibuprofen orally.5
In children aged 3 months to 12 years, the recommended oral dose for OTC ibuprofen is 5-10 mg of ibuprofen/kg of body weight, up to a maximum single dose of 400 mg of ibuprofen.4
Ibuprofen can be taken orally every 6-8 hours as required, with no more than three doses over a 24-hour period.
Over that 24-hour period, the child should not have more than a total of 1200 mg of ibuprofen.4
Always read the instructions provided on the packaging, and discuss how to use the medicine with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before giving it to your child.
1. eMIMSCloud: December 2014 [Online].
2. Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne. Fever in children fact sheet. Kids Health Info 2016. [Online].
3. Beggs S. Paediatric analgesia. Australian Prescriber 2008;31:63-5. [Online].
4. AMH Children's Dosing Companion. Ibuprofen. (accessed 18 Dec 2019).
5. Drugdex system. Greenwood Village Colorado, USA: Thomson Micromedex.