The Importance of Reading Ingredients Labels on Children’s Medicines

I have been an avid label reader for many years. It takes me forever to get through the grocery store because I read the label of everything I pick up, from food to personal care products. One thing it didn’t occur to me to read the label of until last year was children’s pain relievers. Yes, I read them for dosage and proper usage, but I never really read the list of inactive ingredients. 

But when I looked up the ingredients of Children’s Tylenol I was surprised by some of the ingredients. Depending on which flavor you get, here are some of the ingredients that concern me:

  • FD&C Red Dye #40
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Propylparaben


I found similar ingredients in Children’s Motrin. Now, the amounts of these ingredients your child is exposed to is small as pain relievers aren’t products used all day on an ongoing basis. However, they are also found in many other products and I just prefer to avoid them when possible.

This is not to say I’ve never given my daughter Tylenol or Motrin. I have and I’m sure that there will be times again in the future where I will again. I absolutely believe there is a place for pain relievers like Tylenol and Motrin. However, because of the other ingredients in these products I look for other alternatives first.

When my daughter was teething I would use Hylands homeopathic Teething Tablets. They worked great most of the time. I would save the pain reliever for when it was excessive and not being relieved by the teething tablets and she was miserable or if she was having difficulty sleeping, which again was pretty rare. But even here, it’s important to read labels. I had a friend whose daughter had a milk sensitivity that was triggered by the milk sugar in the teething tablets and she was able to go to a local herbalist who mixed the active ingredients contained in the pain relievers without the milk sugar.

I’ve long agreed with Dr. Greene’s advice on letting fevers run their course and do what they are supposed to do unless it is excessive or the child is having trouble sleeping. Luckily for me, most of the time for my daughter, her fever breaks naturally when she sleeps, even if temporarily. And I think his advice about using tart cherries or dark chocolate are intriguing, and if I may say so, the best advice ever! I mean come on, another reason to eat chocolate? How is that not good?

My hope is that as the natural products industry grows, and more and more parents become avid label reader, the makers of children’s pain relievers will find alternatives to some of the ingredients they are currently using. Or, as in the case of artificial colors, eliminate them all together. Because isn’t the product just as effective if it isn’t red or purple?

I will still use pain relievers when they are appropriate and when there aren’t other options. But now I always read the labels and always choose the one with the least amount of undesirable ingredients.

Published on: March 17, 2011
About the Author
Photo of Danika Carter

Danika Carter is the owner of an organic skincare & wellness business which provides education on the cosmetics and personal care industry, organic & nontoxic living, and implementing sustainability into your home and/or office.

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