Strep throat in babies? Not fun. But there’s good news: this nasty throat infection is pretty uncommon in kids under the age of 3.
However, that’s not to say it doesn’t happen. And the difficult thing is recognizing it if it does. Babies aren’t exactly able to describe their symptoms!
That’s why we’re running you through everything you need to know about strep throat in babies. Long story short? Ultimately, if you notice the symptoms, you should take them to see your doctor – just to be on the safe side.
In this article: 📝
- What is strep throat?
- How do I know if my baby has strep throat?
- Treating strep throat in newborns, infants, and toddlers
What is strep throat?
Strep throat is a throat infection caused by a type of bacteria known as Group A Streptococcus, or GAS (yep, catchy, we know). It’s most common in school-aged kids and young adults, but it can occur at any age.
Can a baby get strep throat? Yes, indeed. However, it’s not very common. And when it does happen, the risks tend to be lower. But it’s always worth being aware of the symptoms, in case they do pick it up.
Meanwhile, there’s another related infection that deserves a mention. That’s Group B Streptococcus (GBS), which can occur in infants too. Babies can contract this during birth (because the bacteria are carried in the vagina), and it can be quite serious and cause long-term complications. However, it’s much less common than its cousin, GAS, and is easily treated.
How do I know if my baby has strep throat?
What are signs of strep throat in babies? While your little one won’t be able to tell you exactly how they’re feeling, there are some key things that you can look out for:
Strep throat symptoms in babies
- Difficulty feeding
- Low fever
- Swollen neck glands
- Red throat or tonsils
- Yellowish coating on their tonsils
While older kids may complain of a sore throat or a bellyache, these symptoms aren’t always seen in younger infants. Meanwhile, toddlers’ strep throat can cause a red rash on their arms, legs, and torso.
How long does strep throat last in babies?
The symptoms of strep throat tend to come on within 5 days of contact with someone carrying the bacteria. In most adults, it goes away within 3 days to a week – and the same applies to kids.
It’s worth knowing, by the way, that strep throat can recur. This is usually the result of repeated exposure to a carrier of the bacteria. That could be you (eek!) or a carer – but it’s usually someone who has had the infection and is still contagious even after successful treatment.
As always, if in doubt, talk to a doctor.
Complications of strep throat in babies?
One of the concerning things about strep throat in older children and adults is that it can cause complications such as rheumatic fever if it goes untreated.
This is a nasty condition that can cause swollen and painful joints, fatigue, and heart problems.
However (and it’s an important however!), rheumatic fever is really uncommon under the age of 3. So, even if your little one has strep, the risks are much lower.
Treating strep throat in newborns, infants, and toddlers
Usually, strep throat is diagnosed with a throat culture. Doctors will take a swab from the back of the throat and test it for the presence of the bacteria. It’s a pretty easy, quick, and accurate process!
Most commonly, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics for babies with strep throat. These are usually drugs like amoxicillin and gentamicin. In the case of GBS, ampicillin and penicillin are also sometimes prescribed.
What can you do as a mama?
- Give them lots of love and TLC!
- Keep them hydrated – as a dry throat can make the pain of a sore throat worse. But watch out for when a baby should drink water!
*Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands and try not to share cutlery, drinks, or tissues – otherwise, you could be at risk of getting it too!
Other than that, it’s best to wait for the antibiotics to work their magic!