COVID-19: Toddler Health

Children can get—and unknowingly spread—COVID-19. While most kids who've been infected have had mild (or no) symptoms, some have been sick enough to require hospitalization. And much more rarely, children have died from the virus.

The vaccines currently recommended to prevent COVID-19 are not yet being given to children under age 5. Researchers are still studying the vaccines’ effects on this younger age group.

Children under age 2 (especially infants under age 1) and kids with underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, so protecting them is important. If you’re unsure whether your child is at higher risk, check with his or her healthcare provider.

Symptoms to Watch For

The most common COVID-19 symptoms in kids are fever and a cough. But your child may have any one of these other symptoms. In particular, watch for:

  • Fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher
  • Sore throat
  • Uncontrolled cough with difficulty breathing (different from an asthma or allergy cough)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting or stomachache
  • Severe headache, especially with fever

If your child has COVID-19 symptoms, call the healthcare provider to talk it through and determine what to do next. The doctor may want to have your child tested for COVID-19 and, if the test is positive, can advise you on treatment. Most adults and kids are able to recover at home. Quarantining will be a must.

Learn more about kids and COVID-19 symptoms, prevention and treatment.

Protecting Your Child

To help prevent exposure to the virus, have your child:

  • Maintain social distance (staying 6 feet apart from others) and wear a face mask (ages 2 and up) when out in public or with people from outside your household. Babies and children under age 2 should not wear a face mask (it poses a suffocation or strangulation risk for them).
  • Avoid large gatherings and playdates with other children and their families during the pandemic.
  • Wash your and your child’s hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Use hand sanitizer with 60% or more alcohol content when you cannot access soap and water. Rub a pea-sized amount onto your toddler’s hands until dry.

Caution: Always supervise hand sanitizer use with a toddler and keep the product out of your child’s reach. A lick of sanitizer rubbed on the hands is not toxic, but some toddlers may try to eat or drink sanitizer from the bottle, and this could cause alcohol poisoning. Call the poison control hotline—800-222-1222—if you suspect your child has ingested hand sanitizer.

Don’t Put Off Medical or Dental Care

It’s understandable to worry about potentially exposing your child or yourself to COVID-19 when visiting the doctor or dentist. But healthcare offices have taken special steps to protect patients during appointments, including mask-wearing and hand-sanitizing requirements, having well- and sick-child visits at different times of the day, and more.

If you’re still worried, call your child’s healthcare provider or dentist to ask about these steps.

Protect your toddler’s overall health and well-being! Don’t skip or postpone:

  • Medical, dental or health specialist appointments (whether for regular checkups or health problems)
  • Scheduled childhood vaccinations
  • A trip to the hospital emergency room in a medical emergency

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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