Mighty Blog

Tips to make COVID-19 tests more comfortable for children

Children’s Minnesota is one of many locations giving COVID-19 tests. As an adult, you may be able to understand and tolerate discomfort while getting a test, but for many children the test can cause pain, discomfort and uncertainty.

We talked with Abbey Menth, registered nurse clinic supervisor and COVID-19 test administrator, about ways Children’s Minnesota and parents can make COVID-19 tests easier for kids.

Children’s Minnesota’s COVID-19 tests for kids

At Children’s Minnesota, we do not use the same COVID-19 test for kids that is used for adults. We use a swab that goes in the nose and is twirled for 10 seconds. Our administrators do not do the Nasopharyngeal, or “NP,” swab that is typically used for adults that goes further into nasal passages.

Little boy about to get a COVID-19 test int he car.

Tips for parents to make COVID-19 tests more comfortable

  • Hold your child on your lap while the test is happening.
  • Patients ages 2 years and younger will likely cry, but remember, the test is quick.
  • Show your kids pictures before going to the test, including photos of what the test administrator will look like in personal protective equipment (PPE) – with a face shield, mask and gown.
  • Hold your child’s hands so they don’t try and push away the swab.
  • Try not to say “almost done” as the test is done on both sides of the nostril. Depending how the test went, a re-swab is possible or even another procedure.
  • Bring an iPad or phone to help with distraction while the test is being administered.

Tips from our administrators

  • “I like to tell patients this won’t hurt, but it will feel funny and tickle your nose.”
  • “I tell patients I am mining for gold, picking their boogers, cleaning their nose for them – basically, anything silly to ease the patient’s nerves.”
  • “I count out loud and recommend the patient counts with me. Or I sing a song while I am swabbing each nostril for 10 seconds.”
  • “I recommend picking a song to sing before you come for the test so you’re prepared when the time comes.”

COVID-19 care at Children’s Minnesota

If you think your child may have COVID-19, we urge you to stay home and call before coming to an emergency room or clinic, and know that we are ready to help if you do need to come in.

If your child is a patient of Children’s Minnesota (or a Children’s Health Network clinic), please call our free COVID-19 Nurse Line for assistance: 952-99-COVID.

Learn more about COVID-19 care at Children’s Minnesota.

Alexandra Rothstein