Tylenol/Motrin: How Much Is Too Often?

Updated on March 11, 2011
M.M. asks from Bellingham, WA
15 answers

Okay guys, I recently asked asked a question about my 12mo old being super fussy all the time. (Thanks for all the great replies on that BTW!) I discovered that it was primarily teething, as I now know he is getting his molars. (I can see/feel them through the gums.) During the day we use distraction, teething tablets, teething toys, and lots of love. But during the night, the only thing that seems to get him relief enough to sleep is some sort of pain reliever/medication. (Tylenol or ibuprofen) I have been giving it to him at night for a couple nights, and it helps, but I worry about using it too much longer. I know its "generally safe", but I hate giving him medicine every night! So what do you ladies think? Do you give your kids medication for teething? (If needed) How often is too often? For how long?
OR what DO you use? I know all the usuals, cold washcloth, teething gel (DS HATES it!), tablets, chewing on things, ect. Got anything unusual or different? Thanks in advance!

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answers from Los Angeles on

We give it whenever my daughter needs it. I personally feel that if tylenol helps her sleep through the night, then she should have it. She's such a wreak when she doesn't sleep well that it affects all areas of her life the next day (and night). We definitely when through some jags of night after night with the tylenol... but like the other responder noted, it didn't last and she went right back to her routine when the teething spell or sickness was over (she literally got about 7 teeth all within a few days). Do what you need to do, especially if you're only giving it at night, unless the doctor gives an explicit reason not to do so.

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answers from Kansas City on

Yes you can alternate between Tylenol and Motrin every three hours. I too hate to use medicine for multiple days in a row but then I married a pharmacist and he tries to remind me that he knows what he's talking about and it's okay to take it as directed! LOL! Anyway, I think it's fine to use every night. Teething won't be forever, even if it feels like it, so it won't become a permanent thing. I haven't used the tablets with my son (when they were recalled I never bought new ones) but I used them with my daughter and they did seem to help. I would always dissolve them in a tiny bit of water first and then shoot it into her mouth with the motrin syringe. It worked so much better! hang in there, I think my little guy is working on molars right now too, so I know it's rough!

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answers from Fort Wayne on

My kids pediatrician says to NEVER alternate Tylenol and Motrin with out their approval. It can be too much for their liver to handle. If you decide to alternate the 2, you need to talk to your pediatrician and find out the proper schedule. My daughter gets extremely high fevers and the only thing that will keep them down is alternating. We do it every 3.5 hours while she's awake. But, again, talk to YOUR child's pediatrician first.

For teething, we use Ibuprofen at night. As soon as I know the teeth had broken through the gums, I stop using it. If her teeth are still bothering her, I'll give her some more.

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answers from Portland on

You can alternate the two (on the schedule that's recommended for a 1yo) and he'll be less likely to experience side effects from either. Ibuprofen can cause stomach pain, thins the blood and can cause internal bleeding; acetaminophen can become toxic to the liver.

Please do ask the advice nurse at your ped's office for details on this – that's what she's there for. Also ask how long you can safely use these meds. Probably 10 days is reasonable, but if the need persists, it may be all right to use them longer, especially if only at night.

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answers from Seattle on

During teething I'd use tylenol &/or ibuprofen as needed. Happy little guy during the day, but needed it to sleep. Typically a few days to a few weeks. Which was absolutely fine with all the med pros in his life (his peds, doctors in the fam, nurses in the fam, pharmacists in the fam)... because he had absolutely no history that would contraindicate. ((For example, a baby with stomach problems you tend to use tylenol instead of ibuprofen)).

ANYTHING when given too much of can cause scary sounding side effects. Vitamin A causes blindness & liver failure, Water causes water toxicity, sugar can shut down the islelets of langerhans (part of the pancreas that sends regulates/produces insulin/blood sugar), calcium causes kidney stones and seizures... ANYTHING given too much of one can OD and cause major problems. But you don't restrict water, vitA, sugar, calcium. You just stay careful not to overdo it. AKA balance. In meds... that means staying withing the dosing limits per weight (which are NOT the maxium that can be given... it's just the *absolutely safe* amounts that can be given... for high or stubborn fevers, for example, call the 24/7 nurse line to get the *actual* dose per weight.

You can give (or take) the standard dose of either tylenol or ibuprofen every single day for YEARS and have absolutely no side effects from them. In fact, most people don't. The reason why "after 3 day call your doctor" is because MOST things resolve within 3 days, and if they don't it's a sign of something a doctor needs to look at.

I've had to do pain management for YEARS. Because I was taking 800mg of Ibuprofen every 4 hours (to deal with massive swelling) I'd get my LIVER function tested (even though it's more common to cause stomach problems) every 6mo while in middle school. I was eventually able to back off of the ibuprofen.

If there's no underlying disease (liver, stomach, etc.), allergy, or illness... it is AS SAFE to take tylenol or ibuprofen once or twice a day at the max dose on the bottle, as it is to drink water, or eat carrots. Our bodies deal with them quite nicely. Not addicitve, filtered easily. Teething lasts longer than most things (excluding chronic pain) but it only lasts a few months, and it's on and off. Week here week or two there. Don't feel bad about giving your baby necessary medicine.

I've CUT teeth as an adult. It hurts as much as getting a tooth pulled without novacain (also had that happen in the back of beyond). Tylenol just takes the unbearable edge off of it. If you would take a pain reliever when you're in pain, I don't understand why parents just let their kids stay in pain.

Again, as always, (since I'm just a faceless typer on the internet) don't take my word for it. Check with your ped or pharmacist.

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answers from San Francisco on

PLEASE ask your pediatrician about this and what frequency and how long to use these medications. I know the schedule and dosages for ibuprofen have been a concern because they are a common cause of liver damage and I think dosage recommendations/duration may have changed. I know it is so hard to see our children in pain but this discomfort now is minor compared to liver damage in the future. There may also be some considerations such as family history for liver problems, I'm not sure, but something worth checking with your pediatrician about.



answers from Cincinnati on

When my baby was that age (actually from 3 months til she was 13 months) I was giving her Tylenol and Motrin VERY regularly. Motrin at night for the teething and I (like you) tried to not give it during the day...but it was pretty much very regular (about 5 nights per week) that I was giving her Motrin at night...she was also having horrible ear infections and would spike crazy fevers too (9 infections in 7 months ick) Now she is over 2 and I have not given her any of those kinds of meds in a long time...cant even remember the last time I did. I asked my girlfriends and they all are doing the same thing...not to say that is right but its what we did.



answers from Portland on

My favorites are a combo of Amber Teething necklaces and Punkin Butt Teething Oil when the teeth are breaking through the gums. The necklace provides a lot of relief day and night and helps with general temperament. The teething oil works awesome for pain relief, calming, inflammation relief, etc and it tastes good!



answers from Portland on

Homeopathic teething tablets worked wonderfully for us.

I know that a lot of people swear by putting an amber bracelet or amber necklace on their little one. I've never used one, but one of my good friends did and she said it worked like a miracle.



answers from San Francisco on

I only give my kids Tylenol or Motrin when they absolutely need it! But... I would give as needed in the evenings with teething. If you are only giving it to him at night then I think you are ok, but if needs it for more than a week I would call the dr. to double check. Good luck... hope he gets some relief soon.


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answers from Portland on

I used Boiron teething drops in plastic capsule form. Twist off end and squeeze homeopathic drops into mouth. Works great. The only time we used more was when they (dd, ds) had a fever with teething, then I'd use a bit of ibuprofen (recommended dose for age/weight- weight is more important than age-my kids are very petite, so used dose for size).

Also, get a baby washcloth wet on one end, wring it out and put it in a bag into the freezer. Let your little one chew on the frozen side. I kept 2-3 cloths in the freezer for rotation. Sometimes a little massage works well, too. Provided you little one won't bite you.



answers from Boston on

I did baby Orajel and alternated Tylenol and Advil (generics) according to the directions (4 hours for one, 6 for the other) until the teeth broke through. I've had tooth aches and mouth pain as an adult and it's real, relentless, and miserable. I'm not one to reach for medication when it's not warranted, but when I have mouth pain I treat it ASAP with Orajel and Motrin so I couldn't not do the same for my kids.



answers from Seattle on

Give it to him for as long as he needs it. I did this for all my sons, too. My first was a really bad teether and we seemed to give him medicine every night for a few weeks at a time. The other two aren't nearly as bad so it's about three or four nights on and a week or two off. Teething tablets didn't work, neither did the orajel, but we did use Disney Teething drops and they seemed the most effective during the day - but like you, nothing worked except medicine at night.


answers from Eugene on

Calms Forte an old fashioned remedy still on the market. It is a homeopathic.
It helps to settle your frettful baby. I used it for my kids.


Calms Forte an old fashioned remedy still on the market. It is a homeopathic.
It helps to settle your frettful baby. I used it for my kids.

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