Ibuprofen Or Acetaminophen For Toddler With Fever – Effectiveness, Dosage & Side Effects

Your toddler is suffering from fever, and you can’t decide between ibuprofen or acetaminophen? One person suggests ibuprofen and another acetaminophen, and so you can’t seem to decide which one is more beneficial to your toddler even though both are used as fever and pain reducers.

Both drugs belong to different drug classes. Acetaminophen acts as a pain reliever as well as a fever reducer. Whereas Ibuprofen helps reduce inflammation in addition to fever and pain. While both these drugs are doctor recommended, a fever is considered quite normal for your toddler for fighting infection, according to pediatricians’ new advice.

When it comes to fever, doctors urge you to recognize it as a sign that your toddler’s body is fighting an infection. While it’s entirely normal to have a fever, depending on how high your toddler’s temperature is, getting them to take either ibuprofen or acetaminophen is a choice you’d want to be ready for. So, let’s get to know which one is a better choice and help you make a decision!

Common facts about Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen

Before we dive into the differences between these two drugs, it’s essential to know some facts about these two to help you gain more knowledge and make a better decision for your toddler.

  • For starters, you need to know, if you already weren’t aware, that these are the drug names, which are commonly known to you with popular brand names like Advil (ibuprofen) and Tylenol (acetaminophen).
  • A meta-analysis of 85 studies that directly compared the two drugs to relieve fever and pain found that ibuprofen was as effective as acetaminophen, and both drugs were equally safe.
  • Acetaminophen belongs to a class of drugs called analgesics. Ibuprofen belongs to a drug class called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • These are available in the market in various forms, including tablets, capsules, suspensions, and chewable tablets.
  • They are readily available with famous brand names.

Now that you are familiar with some facts about ibuprofen and acetaminophen, let’s look at the effectiveness of both these drugs in the next section.

Effectiveness of Ibuprofen vs. Acetaminophen

Dad helping sick toddler in bed get better by considering whether to give her ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

When it comes to ibuprofen, it is best to reduce inflammation in addition to fever and pain in your toddler. Toddlers with kidney diseases, bleeding problems, or a few other chronic illnesses may not be able to take ibuprofen.

A few studies show that ibuprofen is better than acetaminophen for your toddler with a fever over 102-103 F. Acetaminophen is a better option for toddlers with stomach pain. There are times when ibuprofen can irritate the stomach.

When comparing both these drugs for their effectiveness, there is not much substantial difference in their usage. Studies suggest that alternating between these two drugs might be a more effective option in reducing fever in your toddler.

There’s a slightly better chance of improvement in reducing the fever if you do so. But the only problem that arises out of this arrangement is the amount of dosage. Many toddlers are admitted to hospitals as parents don’t know the correct dosage to give their toddlers and end up overdosing.

But worry not, as the next section deals with the issue of dosage. And how much dosage is appropriate to be given to your toddler. So, let’s take a look!

Correct Dosage For your Toddler

When you buy your medications from the counter, you would have noticed directions given for dosage there, but they are given according to specific weight and age criteria. If you try to follow that on your toddler, you might end up overdosing or underdosing them, as they might not fulfill the requirements.

As far as correct dosage is concerned, weight is more prominent as a deciding factor than the age of your toddler. So, keep their weight card handy from your last visit to your doctor, as it’s a more accurate deciding factor.

Ibuprofen should be given at 10 mg per kilogram of weight (about 10 mg for every 2 pounds) every 6-8 hours. Acetaminophen at 15 mg per kilogram of weight every 4-6 hours.

The key is to give your toddler the correct dosage, neither more nor less than the doctor recommended. There are cases when parents tend to underdose due to fear of overdosing them, and so their toddler takes longer to recover from fever.

Side Effects

Mom holding her sick toddler who is having side effects from taking fever medicine.

There are side effects to these medications as well.


Indigestion, heartburn, or feeling sick like nausea and vomiting are common such effects, which is why it is recommended to give your toddler the medicines just after you have fed them.

Some severe side effects are:

  • Severe stomach pain, blood vomit, dark or black poo – are all signs of stomach ulcer.
  • Your toddler might stop peeing, or there’s blood in their pee, then it’s a problem with their kidney.
  • Hearing ringing in their ear.

All these side effects are a rare occurrence, so you don’t have to worry. But if you come across any of these side effects mentioned above, then immediately visit your pediatrician.


It rarely causes any side effects with the prescribed use. Nevertheless, we will discuss possible side effects for your knowledge. If you notice any of these in your toddler, you know the cause and should immediately visit your pediatrician.

Some severe side effects are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Skin rash, hives, or itching
  • Swelling of lips, throat, or tongue
  • Increased sweating
  • Yellow eyes or skin

So, unless and until you come across such severe side effects, then you don’t need to worry too much!

The overall well-being of a toddler with a fever

Dad helping his sick toddler girl get better from fever by giving medicine nad helping clean her nose.

Fever is considered to be a good sign that your toddler’s body is fighting off the infection. Even though it’s a good sign, you still want to use these fever reducers to relieve your toddler’s suffering or pain. But apart from giving them medicines to become better, it is not the only thing you should focus on.

Overall well-being is highly recommended by any doctor you might visit. So, when your toddler is in fever, you might want to follow some other bits of advice for their well-being:

  • Be it fever that your toddler is suffering from or any other illness staying hydrated is the most important thing to remember. As a parent, you need to keep your toddler hydrated from time to time and make them drink lots of water.
  • Give ibuprofen and acetaminophen in the appropriate dosage, which can be measured using your toddler’s body weight.
  • Sleep is your toddler’s best friend during their sickness. Just as staying hydrated can solve many problems, appropriate rest is also a necessity for them. Again, never wake up your toddler from their sleep to give them medicines unless and until it’s a dire situation.
  • To avoid your toddler getting their hands on the medications, keep them out of their reach so they don’t end up accidentally consuming it!


Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are both excellent as fever reducers. If we go into a more in-depth analysis, then ibuprofen reduces inflammation with fever and pain, while acetaminophen relieves pain and reduces fever.

Depending on what situation your toddler is in and what symptoms they are facing, you can choose which one to rely on. But studies also show that alternating between these two can help reduce fever more effectively.

Be it ibuprofen or acetaminophen, keep in mind that any medication dosage should be given in an appropriate amount to your toddler. While medicines do help, but hydration and sleep are essential factors for your toddler’s overall well-being.

Keep a happy environment all around, and your toddler will be back to normal more quickly!

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