You’re surely doing everything you can to keep yourself and your family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the virus, especially the Delta variant, is highly contagious and, even when you try hard to stay healthy, it’s possible that your child could test positive for COVID-19.
If you find yourself in that scenario, don’t panic. Research suggests babies and young kids with COVID-19 seem to do better compared to people in other age groups. But there are a few things to keep in mind about caring for your family if your child contracts the virus.
How should you care for a baby who tests positive for COVID-19?
Most importantly, keep your child and all other family members home to lower the risk that you’ll pass on the virus to someone else. You’ll also want to do your best to try to limit your child’s interactions with other members of your household as much as possible, says Patricia Garcia, M.D., a pediatrician and hospitalist at Connecticut Children’s in Hartford, Connecticut.
Treat the symptoms
There is no specific at-home treatment for COVID-19 at this time, and patients are treated symptomatically, says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in Baltimore, Maryland. In other words, if your child has a fever, you can treat the fever with fever-reducing medication.
Always be sure to follow the dosing instructions on the label, and never give medication to babies under 2 months old unless your pediatrician specifically tells you to.
Here are a few other ways you may treat your child’s symptoms:
- Keep your child hydrated. If she’s younger, give her plenty of breast milk or formula. If your child is over the age of 1, “any liquid is great,” Dr. Fisher says, including milk and clear fluids.
- Treat a cough with honey. If your child continues to cough, Dr. Fisher recommends giving her a teaspoon of honey several times a day. “It helps the cough better than any medicine,” she says. Keep in mind, however, that children under the age of 1 should not have honey due to botulism concerns.
- Try a humidifier. Placing a cool-mist humidifier in your child’s room is an “excellent” way to help clear up congestion, Dr. Fisher says. (Due to potential burn concerns the AAP recommends this type of humidifier for babies; here are some of our favorites.)
- Don’t stress if she’s not eating a lot. If your child continues to eat well, great. But fluids are the most important thing at this point. “If they’re drinking okay, that’s all they need to do,” Dr. Fisher says.
Keep an eye out for more severe symptoms
Dr. Fisher recommends calling your child’s pediatrician if she becomes “excessively fussy” and it goes on for more than three hours, or if she develops difficulty breathing.
Also important: Always call your doctor if a baby under 3 months old is running a fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher; if a baby 3 months or older is running a fever of 101.5 degrees F or higher; or if your baby has been sick with a cold or flu, has a return of fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher and appears sicker.
According to the CDC, your child can leave the house again when she meets the following criteria:
- She has no fever for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication
- Her symptoms have improved
- At least 10 days have passed since her symptoms first appeared
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call your doctor or your child’s pediatrician for help.