Media coverage of the pandemic may be waning, but it is by no means over. In fact, June saw some of the highest recorded daily case numbers in the UK, breaking 250,000 new infections per day, including babies.
Because of this, parents need to understand how to perform lateral flow tests on kids. Children are potential vectors for the spread of infection.
In this post, we take a look at how to do a lateral flow test on a baby. In general, the process is the same as anyone else. You’re looking to collect a good sample that will confirm whether they have an Coronavirus infection or not. However, unlike older children, you cannot explain to a baby what you are doing in advance.
Step 1: Read The Instructions On The Kit
The first step is to read the kit instructions fully before you begin. Getting an overview of what you need to do prevents the need to constantly flip back and forth during the test.
Step 2: Clear Out Any Excess Mucus From The Nose
The next step is to clear out excess mucus from the nose. Normally, you would get the child to blow their nose, but with a baby, you can’t do this. Instead, try to remove any visible mucus from their nostrils that could get in the way of the swab.
Step 3: Locate Their Tonsils
The tonsils are small glands that stick out at the back of the mouth next to the uvula. These are where you will take the first sample.
If you can’t see them easily, shine a torch in your baby’s mouth. They should be visible at the back and to the sides and should stick out slightly.
Step 4: Take The Sample
Next, take the sample. Remove the swab from the packaging, being careful not to touch the tip. Then insert it into your child’s mouth and rub it over the tonsil.
Many babies will become distressed when you do this and may cough or splutter. You can reduce their discomfort by singing gently to them, playing music, or distracting them in some other way.
Step 5: Take The Nose Sample
Your lateral flow kit will tell you if you need to take a nose sample. To do this, use the same swab you used for the mouth and insert it into your baby’s nose. Make sure that the swab is the right size.
Continue gently pushing the swab into the nose until there is some resistance. (In babies, this resistance should occur quickly). Then rotate the swab for as many rotations or seconds as the kit demands.
While you do this, your baby will feel uncomfortable. Again, you can attempt to distract them from the discomfort by singing a song or playing music.
Step 6: Place The Swab In The Plastic Vial
Now that you have the sample, place it in the plastic vial, making sure that the tip comes into contact with the supplied extraction solution.
Step 7: Drip The Sample Onto The Paper Pad
The final step is to drip the extraction solution (containing the sample) onto a lateral flow test paper pad. You should see the results of the test in 15 to 30 minutes.
If it is a positive result, you will see two lines appear next to “C” and “T”. If it is a negative result, a line will only appear next to “C”. Any other combination is void and you should repeat the test.
Please note that even if you see a faint line next to T, it means that your baby is still positive for COVID-19. You should report this result to the test provider, allowing them to track infection rates.
Negative tests do not guarantee that your baby does not have COVID-19. If another member of your household has the disease, you may want to wait a couple of days before testing your child again.
Lateral flow tests are highly accurate. Therefore, if you get a positive result, the likelihood that your child has COVID-19 and is infectious is nearly 100 percent. However, if in doubt, you can always repeat the test, or try a test of a different type.
Here’s some extra advice for doing a lateral flow test on a baby:
- Prepare for your baby to start gagging or express discomfort
- Get help from another adult to hold the baby still while you take the sample
- Remain calm and confident throughout the test
- You can help soothe your baby by distracting them. You can do this by playing some music or singing to them.
- Learn the steps in advance so you don’t have to consult the instructions halfway through
Note: The information in the above article is for guidance only. Always consult a medical professional if you are concerned about your child's health.