How to tell if my baby or toddler has COVID-19?

Not feeding well, fatigue and a runny nose can often be confused with other respiratory illnesses. Midwife Pippa Hime gives advice on how to spot COVID-19 in your baby and toddler, and offers advice on how to protect your child from the coronavirus.


COVID-19 has taken the world by storm and it is hard to think of little else at the moment. New parents already have so many things they worry about when they welcome a new baby into their lives – on top of that, protecting their baby from the coronavirus has now been added to the list.

Here’s how to protect your baby from COVID-19:

COVID-19 is a novel virus, meaning that our information and knowledge is ever changing. It is important to try and stay informed on what new statistics and studies reveal. According to a recent South African Emergency Medicine report, children tend to be more asymptomatic than adults, and are not the super spreaders we originally feared them to be.

Signs of COVID-19

The symptoms of COVID-19 in babies and young children are not very different to that of any other respiratory conditions in a baby or young child.

General signs and symptoms include:

  • A high temperature
  • Not feeding well
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny nose
  • Upset tummy or nausea
  • Cough and more severely shortness of breath
  • A non-specific rash

ALSO SEE: Should you use ibuprofen to treat your child’s fever during COVID-19?

When to worry

Most children can be cared for at home. If you suspect your child to have COVID-19 or to have had contact with a positive case, and their symptoms are mild, you should contact your GP or paediatrician telephonically. If your child’s condition worsens, you should take them to the nearest hospital.

It is important not to delay routine baby checks and vaccinations. There is an increasing concern that parents won’t present an unwell baby to a medical facility in fear of COVID-19.  Remember there are still other illnesses around and prompt medical care of an unwell child is important.

ALSO SEE: Vaccinations: the top 16 available in SA

How can I protect my baby or young child from COVID-19?

  • By socially distancing yourself, wearing a cloth mask in public spaces and washing your hands regularly, you are already ensuring protection for your baby or child.
  • Breastfeed your baby to build up their immunity.
  • Make sure your toddler follows a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Supplement with Vitamin C and Zinc to boost your child’s immune system.
  • Use a household cleaner or wipe to clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that your baby or child touches often.
  • Teach your child not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth and to regularly wash their hands.
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