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Both a cold and influenza can lead to congestion and coughing. "But the flu generally causes a fever higher than 102°F and sometimes body aches," says Tara Levy, N.D. Two medications can safely relieve pain or bring down a fever: acetaminophen (Infants' Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Infants' Motrin/Advil). Aspirin should never be given to children.
Ibuprofen lasts longer (six hours) than acetaminophen (four hours). It also does a better job of reducing fevers, says Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, M.D. An infant's liver may be too immature to metabolize ibuprofen, however, so if your baby is younger than 6 months, give him acetaminophen.
There's no benefit to alternating the two medications. And never combine the two. "Using both products together can be dangerous to a child's liver," O'Keeffe says.
Determining the right dosage of either drug can be difficult, so call your doctor first. And at your next well-baby visit, ask your pediatrician for a weight-based dosing chart.