Awhile back, The Boy went through a pretty bad round of teething — as well as a nasty cold — and at times a single dose of Infants’ Tylenol or Infants’ Motrin didn”t seem to be enough to soothe him.

Which got me wondering: Is it OK to give your baby both?

To my surprise, a number of pretty reputable medical sites say Yes. Noted pediatrician Dr. William Sears’ advises on his website that it is OK to give acetaminophen (Tylenol) together with ibuprfoen (Motrin or Advil):

For very high or stubborn fevers, alternate between Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen every three hours (i.e., give a dose of Acetaminophen then three hours later give Ibuprofen then three hours later Acetaminophen, ect.) These two medications are safe to use together like this.

Alternating each medicine every three hours essentially means you’re giving both drugs at the same time, since Infant Tylenol is supposed to be given every four hours while Infant Motrin (or Infant Advil) is supposed to be given every six to eight hours.

Over at Babycenter, pediatrician Dr. Jo Ann Rohyans offers similar advice, though adds that giving Motrin and Tylenol at the same time shouldn’t become a regular thing:

  • These medicines both relieve pain and fever, though they work differently in the body. The most important thing is to give correct doses and follow the recommended schedule. … It’s not a good idea, though, for you to establish a habit of giving your child alternating doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, because ongoing alternating doses can be hard on the kidneys. In general, try to stick with whichever one works for your child.
  • A doctor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital notes that it’s important, if alternating doses, to keep careful track of which medicine you’ve given your child when, to make sure you don’t give your child an overdose by exceeding the recommended dose of each medicine (ie. accidentally giving a second dose of ibuprofen after just three hours). A pediatric clinic in Wyoming suggests this dosing schedule.

Given the risks involved in over-medicating your child, I would think it would probably be best to check with your own doctor to see what they think before alternating both products yourself.

But, out of curiosity, I asked my followers on Twitter what their doctor said about overlapping Motrin and Tylenol doses. Of the three people who messaged me back, all three said their doctors said alternating between the two is fine.

Since The Boy’s bad doubt of teething, I haven’t felt the need to give him overlapping doses of the two drugs. However, I still find the option of alternating can provide a margin of safety when I’m not exactly sure how long ago it was that I gave him his last dose. If I’m not sure if it was three or four hours ago that I last gave him Tylenol, for example, I’ll give him Motrin instead just to be safe.

What about you? Have you asked your doctor whether it’s OK to give your baby (or older child) Tylenol and Motrin at the same time? And if so, what did they say? Please post a comment and let others know.