When Can My Baby Take Tamiflu?

Mother and sick child

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The first time your baby gets sick can be scary. Even if you have been doing all the right things, it still can be anxiety-inducing when their nose starts to run or they spike a fever. Try as you might to keep germs and viruses away, your baby can still come down with the flu.

As parents, you want to do everything you can to help your baby get healthy fast—while also knowing that everything you are doing is safe for your little one. When it comes to a nasty virus like the flu, Tamiflu (oseltamivir), can help them recover faster. “Babies as young as 2 weeks old can safely take Tamiflu,” says Christina Johns, MD, Pediatric Emergency Care Physician and Senior Medical Advisor at PM Pediatric Care.

Ahead, learn more about Tamiflu, its benefits, and how it can help babies recover faster from the flu.

What Is Tamiflu?

Tamiflu is a prescription antiviral medication that can be used to reduce flu symptoms (such as fever, chills, aches and pains, cough, and sore throat) in someone who already has the virus. “It can shorten the duration of the flu and decrease the severity of its symptoms,” explains Nicolaus Glomb, MD, a pediatric emergency care physician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. “We recommend the use of Tamiflu for the treatment of flu in children and infants.”

In children who are 1 year old or older, Tamiflu is also sometimes used for the prevention of the flu before they are infected—though it is not a substitute for the flu vaccine.

“The first action should be prevention,” says Dr. Glomb. “Every child 6 months and older should receive an annual influenza vaccination.”

For babies, Tamiflu is available as a liquid as opposed to oral capsules. Your child’s pediatrician will prescribe the proper strength.

When Is it Safe for My Baby to Use Tamiflu?

Babies as young as 2 weeks old can safely take Tamiflu to combat influenza. When given in the first 48 hours of symptoms appearing, it can reduce the risk of complications from the flu in babies. That risk can be because of their young age or from pre-existing conditions that have the capacity to cause life-threatening complications.

Administering Tamiflu in the first 48-hour window is critical to your child recovering faster. “Beyond that starting window, it has not been shown to be of benefit,” says Dr. Johns.  

Every baby is different. Be sure to consult with your baby's pediatrician if you have any questions about your infant taking Tamiflu.

Benefits of Giving Your Baby Tamiflu

Giving your baby Tamiflu within the first 48 hours after the onset of flu symptoms has been shown to reduce the duration of the illness by 29.9 hours—which is a long time for a little one and their sleep-deprived parents.

Dr. Johns adds babies are at a higher risk for complications from the flu, making speedy administration that much more critical. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), babies younger than 6 months old are at the highest risk of developing complications like pneumonia and dehydration since they are too young to receive a vaccine, so speedy treatment with an antiviral drug like Tamiflu is a key piece of treating their illness.

“It can be an important medication, especially for kids who are at high risk for life-threatening complications,” adds Dr. Glomb. “This would include children with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic conditions, neurologic conditions, and neuromuscular disorders.” 

Conditions like these could increase the severity of a baby's symptoms or make it harder for their immune systems to fight the flu. Tamiflu can be an important item in their treatment toolkit that can mean the difference between a mild illness and a more serious one that lands them in the hospital.

Safety Precautions

While normally well-tolerated, there are a few gastrointestinal side effects to watch out for after you give your baby Tamiflu in its liquid form. “Some children can have side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea, so it’s important to be aware of that and hydrate appropriately should that occur,” says Dr. Johns. In general, these symptoms should not be severe and typically only happen within the first two days of treatment with the medication.

One other important thing to keep in mind: Tamiflu is not a magic bullet for treating the flu virus. Other everyday preventive actions should be taken as well. These include keeping yourself and your baby away from people who are sick as much as you can, washing your hands often with soap and water, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces with regularity.

If you get sick before your child does, consider arranging for another caregiver to care for your little one, if possible, to try to keep them from catching the flu from you.

A Word From Verywell

Tamiflu is a safe and recommended treatment for the flu in babies 2 weeks old and up. When given within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, it has been found to reduce the duration and severity of the virus. This is especially critical for newborns and children with pre-existing conditions that put them at higher risk for complications.

Tamiflu is not a substitute for the flu vaccine, which is safe for children 6 months and over, and should be the first preventive step taken. That said, talk to your child's pediatrician or healthcare provider if you have any questions about Tamiflu or the health of your baby.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Tamiflu: Consumer Questions and Answers."

  2. Malosh RE, Martin ET, Heikkinen T, Brooks WA, Whitley RJ, Monto AS. Efficacy and safety of oseltamivir in children: systematic review and individual patient data meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Infect Dis. 2018;66(10):1492-1500.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Protecting Against Flu: Caregivers of Infants and Young Children"