Babies and OTC medication

  |   Age: 4 months

Babies and OTC medication 

When you're a new parent, nearly everything you do is to try to improve your little one's life. Every book, toy, blanket, onesie, mobile, diaper, and paint color is assessed for maximum baby-pleasing. When your baby is sick, you're even more eager to make her feel better, but over-the-counter medication might not be the right option.

The general rule is that over-the-counter medications should never be given to a baby without approval from a doctor or other healthcare provider. It can be difficult to determine the proper dose for a small child, and many over-the-counter medications aren't safe for young children. What should you do when your baby is sick?

Cough and cold

It's recommended that children under 2 years old not be given over-the-counter cold medicine because of potentially life-threatening side effects. And as hard as it is to see your baby sniffle and cough, there's no cure for a cold. You can ask your healthcare provider if there's any medication you can administer, but suctioning mucus might be the best way to keep your baby comfortable until it passes.


Newborns with a temperature over 100.4 F (38 C) have a serious fever, and a doctor should be called immediately. For children 3 to 6 months old, a temperature of 100.4 still requires a phone call to your healthcare provider, but it's likely less serious. After your baby is 6 months or older, you don't need to be concerned about her temperature until it's over 102.2 F (39 C).

Aspirin isn't recommended for children of any age because of the link to Reye's syndrome, but acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a fever reducer approved by the FDA for children under 6 months old. Ask your healthcare provider before administering it to see what medication and dose they recommend for your baby. Acetaminophen isn't recommended for children under 3 months old.

Other symptoms 

You might look around your local pharmacy for over-the-counter medications to reduce pain, headaches, upset stomach, rash, or allergies. It's not recommended that children under 2 years old take medication containing antihistamine, which is the main ingredient in allergy medicine. If your baby has a headache, rash, or upset stomach, you should visit your healthcare provider to determine what medication and dose would be best.

Like everything else, you should always ask your baby's doctor if you have any questions about any illnesses, or over-the-counter medications.


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