Coronavirus (COVID19): Advice for parents

Everyone should follow the government advice on coronavirus:

mum holding her newborn baby

This guidance was published on 11 May 2020. As this is a fast-moving situation, we will be reviewing and updating the guidance as it changes. Please keep checking this page for updates.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has information for women with suspected or confirmed coronavirus who have recently given birth. The information includes advice on breastfeeding.

For more information, have a look at the World Health Organisation's advice on COVID19: pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Yes. Newborn screening appointments are continuing as normal. You should go to your appointments unless you, your child or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus.

If you have symptoms of possible coronavirus infection, you should contact your GP or Health Visitor to postpone appointments until you have stopped self-isolating.

Yes. Routine vaccinations for babies and pre-school children are continuing as normal. You should go to your appointments unless you, your child or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus.

If you have symptoms of possible coronavirus infection, you should contact your GP or Health Visitor to postpone appointments until you have stopped self-isolating.

Yes. There is currently no evidence to suggest that coronavirus can be carried or passed on in breast milk. The well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk.

The main risk of feeding your baby is the close contact between you and your baby. A discussion about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding should take place between you and your family and your maternity team.

Find more information for women with suspected or confirmed coronavirus who have recently given birth from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

If you have suspected, or confirmed coronavirus, wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds) before touching your baby and try to avoid coughing or sneezing on them while they feed. Please take care not to fall asleep with your baby.

If you're feeling unwell, it may be easier to carry on breastfeeding (rather than expressing) during this stressful time. Alternatively, if you have been expressing your breast milk, you may prefer someone else (who is well) to bottle feed your baby.

Breast milk provides natural (germ killing) antibodies that help your baby fight illness and infections – it's also the best source of nutrition for them.

We recommend babies are exclusively breastfed until they are around 6 months old – then breastfed alongside solid foods (until they are 1 year at least).

Have a look at more benefits of breastfeeding on Start4Life.

If you have suspected, or confirmed coronavirus, make sure you wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds) before touching your baby. When you are feeding your baby - try to avoid coughing or sneezing on them.

Expressing breast milk: If you're expressing your breast milk, always wash your hands before handling your breast pump and bottles. Have a look at the Start4Life guide to expressing breast milk.

Sterilising equipment: If your baby is having formula or expressed milk, make sure you sterilise the equipment carefully before each use. You should not share bottles or a breast pump with anyone else. Have a look at the NHS guide to sterilising bottles.

Making up formula feeds: When making formula feeds, carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions. Use the right amount of formula and water – ensuring the water is hot enough (at least 70C) to kill any germs in the powder. Have a look at the NHS step by step guide to making up formula.

If you are mixed feeding (infant formula and breast milk), you can increase your breast milk supply and gradually replace infant formula. It is possible to return to full (exclusive) breastfeeding.

There is lots of breastfeeding help and guidance available:

National Breastfeeding Helpline: 0300 100 0212 (9:30am-9:30pm, 24/7)

The Breastfeeding Network: Coronavirus and breastfeeding

Unicef: Support for parents.

Start4Life: Breastfeeding help and support.

Because we're indoors a lot of the time, we might not be getting enough vitamin D from sunshine. You should consider taking a vitamin D supplement – available from most pharmacies, supermarkets and other retailers. You just need 10mcg (micrograms) a day – this applies to adults and children.

From birth, all breastfed babies should be given a daily supplement of vitamin D (8.5 to 10mcg). However, if your baby is having more than 500ml (about a pint) of first infant formula a day, they do not need a supplement because formula is already fortified with vitamin D.

There have been some news reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus. However, there is no evidence for this. Find out more about vitamin D

If you can't get hold of your usual first infant formula, don't worry – you can switch to another brand. They are all very similar and contain the right nutrients for your baby because all brands have to meet strict legal standards. Remember, follow-on formula is not suitable for babies under 6 months.

You can find lots of fun activity ideas for 0-5 year olds from Hungry Little Minds and the BBC’s Tiny Happy People

There are lots of things you can do with your child to help them learn, such as:

  • chat to them about everything and anything – take turns to babble or talk
  • play make believe games together
  • read together – help them name pictures in the book
  • sing songs with actions

Understandably, you may be worried and have lots of questions at this time. Have a look at Tommy's mental wellbeing page.

The Breastfeeding Network's advice on anxiety and breastfeeding may also be helpful.

If you or someone you know needs help and advice – there is support available from Safe Lives and GOV.UK.