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Liquid medication in syringe

Tips to give your child right dose, type of over-the-counter medicine

November 1, 2021

The children’s medicine aisle has a dizzying array of over-the-counter (OTC) products. Whether you choose liquid medication, chewable tablets, pills, capsules or a powdered dissolve pack of medication, make sure your child gets the right amount.

How do you know the right dose of medicine to give to your infant or child? The answer depends on your child’s age, weight and symptoms.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers these tips to help your child get the right medicine in the right dose at the right time for his or her symptoms.

First, read the package. All OTC medicines have the same kind of label. If you know how much your child weighs, look for the dose by weight.

Your child’s weight in kilograms (kg) is different than your child’s weight in pounds (lbs). For example:

Kilograms (kg)

Pounds (lbs)

1 kg

2.2 lbs

5 kg

11 lbs

10 kg

22 lbs

15 kg

33 lbs

20 kg

44 lbs

If you do not know how much your child weighs, check the label for the dose by age. Not all children’s medications can be given to all ages.

The AAP urges parents and caregivers to call their pediatrician before giving OTC medicine to a child under age 2 or if their child is under 3 months old and has a fever.

For liquid medicine, use the dosing cup, spoon, dropper or syringe that came with the medicine. If a tool is not provided with the medicine bottle or you need a new one, ask your pharmacist or doctor. Never use a kitchen spoon to measure medicine.

Liquid medicine measurements may be on the label in milliliters (mL) and teaspoons. It is easier to measure the right amount with a dosing tool that uses milliliters.

Tablets, pills and dissolve powders are measured in milligrams (mg).

Each time you give your child medication, write down the time, amount and type of medicine.

Find dosing information from the AAP for acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) at

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