Can Babies Get COVID-19?

Can babies get COVID?

December 21, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Mariawy Riollano Cruz, M.D.
Updated 6/22/2022

The virus that causes COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate; anyone who’s exposed to SARS-CoV-2 might get sick, including babies and newborns. 

Parents should do their best to protect all babies from known COVID-19 exposures, and avoid high-risk situations where they may come in contact with people with the virus. In general, due to their immature immune systems, these young populations should have as minimal contact as possible with people outside their household. 

Although it is rare, children with COVID can develop severe reactions that require hospitalization. Children can also transmit the virus to others, even if they are not experiencing symptoms.

Q: If my baby has COVID-19, what symptoms might they have?

A: Some babies may test positive without exhibiting symptoms. Other babies may have only mild symptoms, while still others may experience more severe disease. 

Possible symptoms include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • being sleepier or more lethargic than usual
  • having trouble breathing, including quick, shallow breaths
  • exhibiting poorer feeding habits than usual
  • decreased wet diapers
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

Q: Should I put a mask on my baby to lower their risk of COVID-19?

A: No. You should never place a mask or face covering on a baby. Babies may have a harder time breathing through masks because their airways are much smaller; masks may increase their risk of suffocation. Masks are only recommended for children age 2 and older.

Q: Are babies eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

A:  Yes, the FDA has authorized the use of the COVID-19 Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for everyone ages 6 months and older. Visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/COVID19 to learn more and schedule a vaccine appointment.

Q: Is it helpful to babies if moms get the COVID-19 vaccine while they’re pregnant?

A: Yes. A growing body of evidence shows that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant women.  Research shows that pregnant women who have gotten the mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) COVID-19 vaccines have passed on COVID-19 antibodies to their unborn babies. These antibodies may help to protect those babies from COVID-19 once they’re born.

Q: If moms have had the COVID-19 vaccine, can breastfeeding offer their babies protection?

A: This is likely, but more research is needed. Breastfeeding women haven’t been included in COVID-19 vaccine studies so far, but experts have found that women who received the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have had COVID-19 antibodies in their breast milk. When babies consume breast milk containing these antibodies, they may gain some protection against COVID-19. 

Q: Should I bring my baby for medical evaluation if I suspect serious illness or COVID-19 complications?

A: Yes. If your baby is having trouble breathing, a fever or you’re concerned that there’s a health emergency related to COVID-19 or another illness, go to the emergency room right away or call 9-1-1. Some people have avoided the ER during the pandemic out of fear that they may become exposed to COVID-19 there, but health care providers at the ER have practices in place to limit exposure to COVID-19, and they’re qualified to handle medical emergencies.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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