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Talking to Infants and Toddlers about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 31, 2020

Most children age two and under will be unaware of what is happening, but can sense when parents are anxious or upset.

by Mary Ann LoFrumento, MD, pediatrician

Most children age two and under will be blissfully unaware of what is happening. But even small toddlers can sense when mommy or daddy is anxious or upset through body language. 

Here are a few guidelines for infants and toddlers:
  • Do not watch television or continually monitor social media or news feeds while holding, feeding or playing with your infants and toddlers. Instead, let your little one help YOU, by transporting you away from all of this and into their baby world – even if only for a few minutes. It’s especially important to make eye contact with your children and engage with them completely. They depend on this for their social development and this is hard to do while holding and looking at your cellphone in your hand and juggling a baby on the other arm.
  • Keep the routine as best you can. Toddlers also depend on routines to make them feel safe and secure. Attempt to keep feeding, bath time and bedtime right on schedule. If parents are working from home, take advantage of having more alone time with small infants and children and see how much easier it may be to get them to follow a routine. Make sure they get nap time and sleep time at the same time each day. With our lives less scheduled and hectic, we may find we have more time and energy to do this.

Remember, this crisis won’t last forever and this special time with your babies won’t last forever either. It may be hard to imagine but, perhaps years from now, you might just remember this time fondly and look back on all those extra special moments you shared.

  • Avoid background television and limit media watching in front of children. 
  • Avoid checking your phones constantly and following social media and news while interacting with children.
  • Limit distractions when tending to your little one.
  • Discuss your concerns privately and away from little ones.
  • Maintain routines for feeding, naps and bath and bedtime.

Read guidance for other ages and stages of development >