How to test your baby and toddler for Covid

how to test a baby for covid

by Bryony Firth-Bernard |


If your baby or toddler is showing symptoms of Covid, you might be wondering how to test a baby for Covid. The good news is that if your baby is under the age of two, they don’t need to be tested.

According to Professor Denis Kinane, leading immunologist and founding scientist of Cignpost ExpressTest, this is because they’re less at risk of catching the virus and usually won’t show signs of it if they do. This is another reason why the Covid vaccine is only available for children aged five and over.

“Testing is an important element in helping keep us safe from COVID-19,” says Professor Kinane. “However, there is no need to test children younger than two-years-old as the risks are very low and many babies will not show signs of illness.

“Despite this, when flying to another country on holiday, the rule for testing children depends on the age of the child and the country of residence. For example, in some countries if the child is under four-years-old and living in the UK or in a country with approved vaccination programme they do not need to take any COVID-19 travel tests but, those aged five to 17-years-old who have not been vaccinated may need to take a PCR test before traveling or a Day 2 Antigen test on or before day two.”

Always check the Government guidelines on Covid and travel before heading off on holiday.

The NHS says that while children can catch the virus, it is less often and less serious than if adults get it, and if they do catch it, then they should recover.

How to test a baby for Covid with a lateral flow test

If your baby is under the age of two they do not need to be tested for Covid. However if they are over this age and display symptoms, the NHS advises to get a PCR test as soon as possible.

If you do need to test your toddler or child for Covid, you’ll want it to go as calmly and as smoothly as possible, without causing any concern for your little one. Follow these simple steps from Professor Kinane, to do this successfully:

1) Don't turn testing into a big event, which could make them worry about what's to come.

2) When it comes to taking the test, get all the elements ready before bringing your child through. Keep the atmosphere light and fun, you could make the test part of an exciting get-holiday-ready party.

3) If an adult in the party is very comfortable taking the test, have them go first so the child can see that it's okay.

4) Have a distraction toy to hand, and a reward for the finish.

5) Come down to the child's level, so they're not looking up to you.

6) Give them a swab to hold and play with so they can see it's not hard.

7) Sitting young children on an adult's lap helps keep them calm.

Read more on how to use a Coronavirus test on your child here.

You can reduce your baby's chances of catching the virus by following the tips below:

• Washing your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles

• Avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby

• Follow recommendations for pump cleaning after each use

• If you can get the Covid vaccine yourself, it's advised you should have it to avoid catching it and bringing it in the home. You can find out more about fertility and the coronavirus vaccine with our expert advice.

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