Both infants and children can be infected with COVID-19, and it can be a serious, even life-threatening illness for some.
Infants under age 1 and children with underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more severe illness with the virus, so it’s important to take steps to protect them.
The most important step is to get everyone in your family vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccines are now recommended for everyone ages 6 months and up. Getting vaccinated can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to a newborn or infant under 6 months.
If you’re caring for a baby during the coronavirus pandemic, there are steps you can take to protect your little one.
If you do not have COVID-19:
- Feed and care for your baby as you normally would.
- Wash your hands thoroughly (for at least 20 seconds with soap and water) or use sanitizer (with at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol) before feeding and handling your infant.
- Avoid people who are sick, large gatherings or close contact with others from outside your household.
If you or others in your home have (or suspect you may have) COVID-19:
- Stay at least 6 feet away from the baby, if possible, except for feedings or to provide other needed care. Isolate yourself from the public (and from others in your household as much as possible) until you have recovered.
- Put on a face mask and wash hands thoroughly before breastfeeding, bottle feeding and otherwise caring for your baby. Research so far has found that COVID-19 is not likely to spread to an infant through breastmilk.
- Wash your hands before touching breastfeeding pump or bottle parts. Clean all parts after each use.
- If possible, rely on others who are well, up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines and not at risk for severe illness with the virus to care and feed your baby until you no longer need to isolate yourself.
- Check with your baby’s healthcare provider on how long to keep taking the above steps. Learn more about caring for a newborn if you have COVID-19.
If you had COVID-19 symptoms, take the above steps until:
- 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared; you are fever-free (without medication) for 24 hours; and your other COVID-19 symptoms are improving.
If you had no symptoms, but tested positive, take the above steps until:
- 10 days have passed since the date of your positive COVID-19 test.
Symptoms to Watch for
COVID-19 has similar symptoms to other illnesses, such as a bad cold or the flu. Symptoms in infants and young children may include:
- Muscle aches, soreness
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Poor appetite or poor feeding
Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child has any (or several) of these symptoms, though some of them may be difficult for you to identify in an infant. If your baby has serious difficulty breathing, call 911.
Important: Don’t delay or skip any medical appointments for your baby due to concerns about exposure to COVID-19. Medical offices have taken steps to help protect children and their families from potential exposure to the virus. If you’re concerned, ask your child’s healthcare provider about these steps.
Learn more about the virus and how to protect your family.
This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.
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