Ibuprofen For Children: Uses, Side Effects & Precautions

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Ibuprofen is a generic drug available over-the-counter (OTC) under brand names such as Advil and Motrin. It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that relieves aches, pains, and inflammation and reduces fever (1). This post provides information about the safe use of Ibuprofen for kids, its side effects, and precautions.

Is It Safe To Give Ibuprofen To Children?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Ibuprofen in children above six months of age. The drug is commonly used for aches, pains, and fever in children and is considered safe. However, you should consult a pediatrician before giving the drug to your child to avoid any dosing error (2).

What Are The Uses Of Ibuprofen In Children?

Ibuprofen has anti-inflammatory, analgesic (painkiller), and antipyretic (lowers fever) properties. It probably acts by restricting the synthesis of some chemicals in the body known as prostaglandins. Ibuprofen is commonly used in children to manage and treat the following conditions (1) (3).

  • Mild to moderate pain such as headache, toothache, or sore throat
  • Fever due to cold or flu
  • Pain and swelling from injury or broken bones
  • Symptoms of juvenile arthritis
  • Primary dysmenorrhea (painful menses) in adolescent girls

What Is The Dosage Of Ibuprofen In Children?

Ibuprofen is available as a liquid, tablets, capsules, and granules of different strengths. The daily dose depends on the child’s age and body weight. It may also vary with the symptoms and underlying conditions. One dose may usually be given every six hours, and no more than four doses are recommended in 24 hours. You should consult a doctor to know the precise dose for your child.

The following dosage table may give you an idea of the dosage instructions of Ibuprofen for fever and pain but is not a substitute for a doctor’s prescription (4).

Weight in kilograms


Ibuprofen infant drops (50mg/1.25ml)

Children’s liquid Ibuprofen (100mg/5ml)

Children’s Ibuprofen chewable tablets (50mg)

Junior strength Ibuprofen tablets (100mg)

Adult’s Ibuprofen tablets (200mg)


6-11 months




12-23 months




2-3 years



2 tablets


4-5 years



3 tablets


6-8 years



4 tablets

2 tablets

1 tablet


9-10 years


5 tablets

2 ½ tablets

1 tablet


11 years


6 tablets

3 tablets

1 ½ tablets

44kg or more

12 years or older


8 tablets

4 tablets

2 tablets

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Who Should Not Take Ibuprofen?

You should discuss the suitability of Ibuprofen with your healthcare provider if your child has the following conditions (5).

  • Past allergic reaction to Ibuprofen or other pain-relieving or fever-reducing medicine
  • Asthma
  • Liver or kidney problem
  • History of gastrointestinal bleeding or any condition that has increased risk of bleeding
  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis

What Are The Side Effects Of Ibuprofen In Children?

Below are the common side effects of Ibuprofen (5).

  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Nausea and vomiting

These side effects may be reduced by giving Ibuprofen with food. Consult your child’s doctor if they are severe or do not get resolved.

Ibuprofen may cause adverse reactions in some cases, and it requires medical attention.

  • Severe abdominal pain, vomiting with blood in it, and dark stools, indicating stomach ulcer
  • Lack of urine or blood in the urine
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Allergic reactions, causing skin rash, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and swelling in the mouth, face, lips, or tongue
  • Severe allergic reaction (Anaphylactic reaction)

What Are The Precautions To Be Taken When Using Ibuprofen?

You must observe the following precautions when giving Ibuprofen to children (6).

  • Inform your child’s doctor about other medications your child is taking or has recently taken to avoid any drug interaction.
  • Give preference to Ibuprofen products meant for children to avoid accidental overdose.
  • Use the measuring cup or measuring tool provided with the liquid product for giving the correct dose every time. Shake well before pouring if the product is an oral suspension.
  • If your child misses a dose, do not give a double amount at the time of the next dose.
  • Do not exceed the dose or duration without checking with your child’s healthcare provider.
  • Consult a pediatrician right away if your child’s symptoms persist, become worse, or you observe any sign of side effects.
  • Keep medications out of children’s reach to prevent accidental ingestion.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What happens if I give my child too much ibuprofen?

If children take ibuprofen in more quantities than the recommended dose, it may cause stomach pain and breathing difficulties, thus making them drowsy (7).

2. How quickly does children’s ibuprofen work?

Ibuprofen should start working after 20 to 30 minutes, and the pain should lessen by then (8). However, it could take an hour for some children.

3. Is 200mg ibuprofen safe for a child?

200mg of ibuprofen can be taken by seven to nine-year-olds a maximum of three times a day (9). However, if there are no results, the child should be taken to the doctor.

Short-term use of Ibuprofen in the correct dose is considered safe in children. Do not give the drug to febrile children with chickenpox (varicella) unless recommended by a doctor. It increases the risk of serious reactions. Try giving Ibuprofen with food if it causes an upset stomach. Avoid using other OTC products when giving Ibuprofen to children. Consult a doctor if you need to give your child Ibuprofen for more than 48 hours.

Key Pointers

  • Ibuprofen is approved for use in children above six months of age. However, you may seek a pediatrician’s prescription for dosages.
  • This drug reduces swelling, mild, moderate fever, moderate headache, juvenile arthritis, and sore throat in children.
  • Children with asthma, a history of allergic reactions to pain relievers, kidney problems, and Crohn’s disease should not take Ibuprofen.


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Dr. Joyani Das

Dr. Joyani Das did her post-graduation from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra and PhD in Pharmacology. Previously, she worked as an associate professor, faculty of Pharmacology, for two years. With her research background in preclinical studies and a zeal for scientific writing, she joined MomJunction as a health writer. Her research work was published in international journals and publications, such... more

Dr. Aldo Medina Serpa

Dr. Aldo Medina Serpa is a Physician Doctor with a specialty in Pediatrics. Having more than two decades of experience, he is currently associated with Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí as an honorary professor. Previously, he was the head of department of Epidemiology at Hospital General de Soledad and pediatrician at Hospital de la Salud, San Luis Potosí, México.... more