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How to prepare your child for a Covid-19 test

Many health experts believe children with mild flu-like symptoms should be tested for Covid-19 to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Does your child have to undergo COVID-19 testing?  If your child has been feeling under the weather with flu-like symptoms, ruling out the possibility that they could have the coronavirus can help ensure your child is treated correctly and prevent others in your family from getting sick.

While the idea of being tested for Covid-19 is scary for children (and parents), there are a few things you can do to help put your child’s mind at ease.

When would your child need the test?

If your child has one or more symptoms of the Coronavirus, including fever, cough, runny nose, and an upset stomach, you may need to make an appointment with the doctor, who will best advise whether he needs to go for the COVID-19 test.

What’s involved

Just like the nasal swabs done for other respiratory illnesses, a health care provider needs to obtain secretions from the back of the nose to test for COVID-19. To do this, your child will be encouraged to lean his head back. A long, thin Q-tip that’s very flexible will then gently be inserted deep inside his nose. The health care provider will quickly swish it around to get a sample of the secretions from the back of the nose and then take it out.

While the test won’t hurt your little one, it’s quite uncomfortable and will feel a little strange for your child – like someone’s tickling or poking him inside his nose.

Preparing your child

According to a KidsHealth report, it’s important to let your child know ahead of time that he’ll be having a test to find out why he’s not feeling well. Also, let him know that the people doing the test will be wearing gowns, gloves, glasses, and a mask. You can even explain they’re wearing “superhero costumes” because they’re helping to keep everyone safe!

If you have a toddler, one useful suggestion is to role-play the coronavirus test at home with a teddy or a doll. You can give him an earbud and he can pretend to put it in the toy’s nose for a count of five.

Keeping your child still

Even if you’ve prepped your little one for the test, you might still be worried that he won’t keep still while the health care practitioner takes aim for his nose with the Q-tip. For babies, the best suggestion would be to swaddle them, while toddlers and preschoolers may need to be held firmly on your lap, with one of your arms hugged around him while the other tilts his head back. If your kid is a bit older, you can sit next to him and hold his hand or rub his back. 

Try to keep your child distracted by singing a song, watching a video, or even doing deep breathing exercises together. Remember, the test will be over and done in a jiffy. Be sure to have a special reward at hand, like a small toy or a sweet, and go big on your praise for a job well done!  

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