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Painkillers for Children & Babies – What You Need to Know

When managing your or your family’s health, including pain management, always start with a conversation with your pharmacist or doctor and read the product information

Painkillers for Children & Babies – What You Need to Know

If you’re a parent, you’re going to want to understand how to soothe your little one’s discomfort. To keep things simple, painkillers for children and babies are formulated for their use, which will help you deliver the right amount of medicine to your little one and put your mind at rest. 

Pain medications intended for use in infants and small children are often in liquid formulations.  To help make dispensing easier, infant formulations often come with a medication dropper. 

Liquid pain relievers can be administered with a medicine spoon or dosing cup when children get a bit older. For children older than two, chewable pain relief medicines are also available. 

Kids’ pain relief products often have fruity flavours making them a bit more appealing to our little ones.  Dye-free options are also available.  

Before using painkillers for babies, toddlers, or children, make sure you know how to use them correctly and which symptoms they are suitable for. It is also important to understand how to store them safely out of the reach of those they are intended to treat.  

Symptoms you can treat with paracetamol for babies and children include:1

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • Teething pain and toothaches
  • Earache
  • Pains caused by immunisation 

Which painkillers are suitable for babies, toddlers and children?

If you’re a parent or caregiver it’s essential to know which over-the-counter medicines for children you can use to help manage pain and fever in your little ones.

Painkillers that are suitable for babies and children are:2

  • Paracetamol
  • Ibuprofen

If you use either of these painkillers for children, you might want to choose to use sugar-free or dye-free options based on your preferences. It’s worth knowing either way that the small amounts of sugar in medicine have not been linked to dental problems in children.2

What forms of paracetamol are available?

Paracetamol is available in liquid, tablets, capsules, suppositories and chewable forms. This gives you a wide range of options based on the age, condition or preference of your child.  For example, a child who is vomiting may require a suppository to get the effect from the medication.  Additionally, even older children may not be able to swallow tablets or capsules and prefer liquid formulations.

As noted above, children's liquid paracetamol comes in flavours that are appealing to children and are available for babies one month and older for pain or fever (including after they’ve had vaccinations).4

What’s the difference between suspension, solution, suppositories and chewable paracetamol? 

Forms of paracetamol available for those under the age of 6 are suspension, solution and chewable tablets:

  • Suspension: This liquid form of paracetamol is suitable for all ages above 1 month and is particularly useful for children that have not started eating solids or for anyone who has difficulty swallowing tablets.
  • Solution: Solution formulations are similar to suspensions but usually come with no added flavourings or colours. Like suspensions, they are suitable for all ages above 1 month.
  • Chewable tablets: Chewable tablets are recommended for children 2 years up and can be convenient on the go as they do not require water to swallow. They can also be dissolved in water or fruit juice if your child prefers to take painkillers this way.
  • Suppositories: suppositories are small, round or cone-shaped capsules that are typically inserted into the rectum (your child’s bottom). Once inside, the capsules dissolve releasing the medication into the bloodstream.

Which painkillers are unsuitable for babies and children under 16?

  • Aspirin: for this age group medical professionals do not use aspirin as it’s linked to a rare illness called Reye’s syndrome.5
  • Diclofenac gel: only suitable for children 12 and over6
  • Oral diclofenac: unsuitable for children under 143.

When is it unsuitable to give paracetamol to babies and children? 

Along with choosing the right form of paracetamol for your child or baby, it’s also essential that you’re aware of any possible drug interactions with other medication they may be prescribed. Always read the product label and discuss your child’s needs with a healthcare provider if your child is already taking other medications. 

You should also consult your doctor before combining paracetamol with any herbal remedies or supplements you may have given your child. 8

How should I measure paracetamol for children?

If you’re giving paracetamol for babies to an infant that is just past the age of 1 month, you may wish to ask your pharmacist or doctor for an oral syringe to help you with the process.

Some medication may also include an oral syringe in the packaging and if you are unsure how to use it you can ask your pharmacist. 

This method can also simplify measuring the correct dosage. Make sure you don’t use a kitchen teaspoon to measure a dose of liquid paracetamol, as they can vary in size which could mean you could end up giving an incorrect dose. 

Whichever method you choose, you should never give your child more than four doses in 24 hours and allow at least 4 hours between each dose.9

Safety tips for using painkillers for kids 

Making sure that you use the right dose of painkillers for children is a must and there are a few more safety tips you should always keep in mind before taking steps to soothe their discomfort.

Other important safety tips include:

  • Keep painkillers out of sight and reach from children – supervising their use
  • Always look at the expiry date before using any medication
  • Read the product information to determine the right dose for your child based on age or weight
  • Never call medicine candy. Children like candy and may be more likely to try to access the medication unattended if they believe it is candy.

If you think you have given your child too many painkillers or suspect an overdose, call your doctor or A&E services immediately. 

Before using any painkillers for children or babies, make sure you follow all the medical advice covered and talk to your doctor about anything you’re unsure about. 

Whatever’s on your mind, we can put it right. Let’s treat it right.


Can I give my child painkillers? - NHS (, accessed 24.08.21

Sugar-free medicines are counterproductive - PubMed (, accessed 24.08.21

Paracetamol for children (including Calpol): painkiller for headaches, stomach ache and to treat high temperature - NHS ( accessed 28.08.21

Aspirin | Great Ormond Street Hospital ( accessed 28.08.21

Diclofenac Gel GDS – P20

Oral Diclofenac GDS – P4

Paracetamol for Children. NHS. Accessed 05/08/2021

Paracetamol for children (including Calpol): painkiller for headaches, stomach ache and to treat high temperature - NHS (  accessed 28.08.21


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