Can babies get Covid-19? Yes, they can. But the good news is that children and babies seem to be less likely to get it than adults. And when they do, the symptoms seem to be less serious than in adults, too.
But what we know about Covid-19 is still evolving — and there’s a lot that we still don’t know for sure.
Here’s the lowdown on Covid-19 in babies, including the risk of infection and common symptoms to look out for.
In this article: 📝
- Can children be infected with Covid-19?
- What’s the risk of my child becoming sick with Covid-19?
- Symptoms of Covid-19 in children
- Can babies get tested for Covid-19?
- Can babies get a Covid-19 vaccine?
Can children be infected with Covid-19?
From what we’ve learned so far during the pandemic, yes, children can be infected with Covid-19.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, over seven million kids in the U.S. had been infected with the virus by the end of 2021.
But while children are still at risk, fewer children appear to get infected than adults — and the illness is usually a lot milder when they do. Often, it’s completely asymptomatic.
Very young children — that is, babies below the age of one — do seem to be more likely to get ill than older kids. That’s because their immune systems are not fully developed just yet.
What’s the risk of my child becoming sick with Covid-19?
The risk of children becoming sick with Covid-19 is lower than for every other age group.
Less than 2% of kids who are known to be infected need to go to the hospital.
The real numbers are likely to be even lower, as many children who get Covid-19 won’t show any symptoms, so their families don’t know that they have the illness.
(By the way, that’s compared to 10% of unvaccinated adults with Covid-19 who will need to go to the hospital for treatment. For about 1% of infected adults, the virus is fatal. That’s compared to 0.03% of children.)
Saying this, the pandemic is changing all the time. Something we don’t yet know is what risk the new Covid variant, omicron, poses to children.
Another thing we’re not clear on is the chance of a mama with Covid-19 passing the infection on to their child. Most babies born to mothers with Covid-19 will be totally healthy at birth.
Symptoms of Covid-19 in children
Most often, Covid-19 is asymptomatic in children. When they do show symptoms, the most common symptoms of Covid-19 in children are:
- A high temperature
- A new continuous cough (that means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three coughing episodes in 24 hours)
- A loss or change in sense of taste or smell
Covid-19 symptoms in children tend to be mild and often look like a common cold.
If you are worried that your little one might have the symptoms of Covid-19, take them for a test. It’s perfectly safe for kids to be tested.
What are the symptoms of newborns infected with Covid-19?
In newborns, Covid-19 symptoms can be a little different.
Just like with older kids, studies have shown that newborns infected with Covid-19 rarely show any symptoms.
When they do, the infection is usually very mild. But that’s not to say it will be every time.
For example, one study from China found that over 10% of babies under one year can have severe symptoms.
These symptoms tend to be:
- Cough, sore throat, runny nose, and sneezing
- A fever
- Grouchiness, tantrums, frequent crying, and trouble sleeping — probably due to muscle pain
- Changes in eating habits, possibly due to changes in smell and taste
- Congestion (while some newborn congestion is totally normal, if it’s persistent, it’s worth seeing a doctor)
Can babies get tested for Covid-19?
Babies and children can get tested for Covid19, and it’s recommended by most doctors as the only way to know for sure whether your little one has the virus.
Both PCR tests and antigen tests can be performed on babies.
The best plan is to talk to your doctor first. They’ll be able to tell you more about how and where to get a test.
Can babies get a Covid-19 vaccine?
We don’t yet know for sure whether babies can get a Covid-19 vaccine.
But the evidence suggests that, just like for young children and adults, it’s perfectly safe and very strongly recommended.
Everyone from the age of five is now able to get a vaccination in the US—and there are reports that vaccinations should be available to under-fives by spring 2022.
Vaccination remains the most powerful defense against Covid-19, for mamas and children.
💡 More from The 411:
Covid Vaccine and Fertility: What’s the Evidence?
Having a Baby During Covid: What to Know
What We Know About Getting Covid While Pregnant
Getting Pregnant After the Covid Vaccine: The Facts
Becoming a Mama in a Pandemic: “Without Peanut, I Wouldn’t Have Coped”
How to Make Friends and Reconnect as the Pandemic Subsides