Pepto-Bismol and Kids

Expert Q&A

pink medicine on a spoon
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Whether or not you can give your child Pepto-Bismol depends on how old your child is and which type of Pepto-Bismol you are thinking of giving him or her.

Pepto-Bismol for Kids

When you read the label, the 'original' or regular strength Pepto-Bismol must seem like a miracle drug for kids with stomach problems, offering 'soothing relief' for many common symptoms, including:

  • Upset Stomach
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea

The only problem is that the main ingredient, bismuth subsalicylate, has been linked with Reye Syndrome, a potentially life-threatening disorder that has been associated with kids that have viral illnesses, especially the flu and chicken pox, and who take aspirin and other salicylate containing medications, like Pepto-Bismol.

This led the FDA to allow the original Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate, which also contains bismuth subsalicylate, to only include labeling instructions for children over age 12. Some doctors go even further though and recommend that even teens not take aspirin or salicylate-containing medicines.

To add to the confusion, there are many other forms of Pepto-Bismol, including caplets and chewable tablets that also contain bismuth subsalicylate.

Children's Pepto Chewable Tablets

On the other hand, there is a Children's Pepto Chewable Tablets that also claims to help relieve 'heartburn, sour stomach, acid indigestion, and upset stomach due to these symptoms or overindulgence in food or drink' and it only contains Calcium Carbonate as its active ingredient.

So unlike the other forms of Pepto-Bismol, it would not be associated with Reye Syndrome and would be okay for younger children. In fact, Children's Pepto Chewable Tablets can be given to children as young as age two years old.

And since it is basically calcium, it can make a nice calcium supplement for those children who don't drink enough milk or calcium-fortified orange juice, etc.

Relief for Upset Stomaches

If not Pepto-Bismol, what else can you do to help your child's upset stomach?

It really depends on the cause.

For example, you might consider:

And call your pediatrician if your child has severe or lingering stomach pain, especially if it is associated with a fever or continued vomiting.


Behrman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed.

North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Guidelines on Pediatric GERD. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nur, Vol 32, Suppl. 2, 2001.

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