The fifth wave of Covid-19, this time caused by the Omicron variant, is already a fact. And while children were previously spared from the disease, this time the number of infected and sick children is on the rise. How can you protect your child from contracting the virus and what to do if they show any symptoms? Furthermore, what can you do to help your little one cope with the new "pandemic" way of life, which we have all been struggling with for the past 2 years?

What should I do if my child has Omicron?

It's been more than 2 months since Omicron has been spreading around the world, and we already know that it's highly transmissible but less likely to cause severe disease. Its symptoms resemble those of common seasonal viruses - a sore throat, congestion, fever, headache, and vomiting. The infection usually affects the upper respiratory system, not the lungs, as was the case with previous more dangerous variants, and doctors are more successful in its treatment.

Infants and young children, however, have narrower and less developed upper airways. This could lead to complications in the event of infection and requires caution. A typical manifestation of Omicron in children is acute laryngitis and the characteristic barking cough. These occur as a result of inflammation and swelling in the larynx, trachea and bronchi.

If your child has any of the above symptoms, contact your healthcare provider for guidelines what steps to take. In most cases, symptoms disappear with home treatment within 3-5 days, responding well to high levels of air humidity and frequent intake of warm drinks. Eating nutritious food is key for strengthening the immune system (not only while being sick, but in general). If your child breathes rapidly, makes wheezing sounds or has difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

If you suspect that your child has a coronavirus infection, follow the instructions and recommendations for isolation and quarantine issued by the Ministry of Health, published here. Inform everybody you and your child have had contact with in the last 24 hours.

Guidelines for parents from the Official National Information Portal on Covid-19, January 2022.

How can I protect my child from getting Covid-19?

Our main weapon against the coronavirus is vaccination. Contact your doctor for more information.
  • Wash hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Avoid crowds and potential contact with infected people
  • Vaccination for children ages 5 and up

Regular handwashing is one of the basic tools for prevention against infection not only with the coronavirus, but also with all sorts of pathogens. Your child should get used to washing their hands for at least 20 seconds as soon as they get home, before eating and after using the toilet. Teach the child to follow the following steps: wet hands with water, apply soap to cover hands, rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all hand surfaces, rinse well and finally dry them. To make it more interesting, sing "Happy Birthday" twice in a row (or another song).

Here is a cool song in Bulgarian by the famous vocal group "Bon-bon" to make handwashing fun!

Should I continue breastfeeding if I have the coronavirus?

Definitely yes. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of transmitting the infection.

Studies show that breast milk from infected or vaccinated mothers not only contains no traces of the virus, but even protects the baby against Covid-19, because it's rich in antibodies months after the infection or vaccination. Babies who are exclusively breastfed, i.e. no formula, other foods and drinks are given until 6 months of age, have stronger protection since antibody levels are kept high.

However, as a precautionary measure, it's a good idea for infected mothers to wash their hands before and wear a mask during breastfeeding.

How does the pandemic affect the mental health of young children?

We may think that little kids just don't notice what's going on around them, but that's not true. Children are actually very sensitive to the emotions in their environment and easily "absorb" adult fears. The constant discourse about a terrible virus that closes people in their homes and even kills them logically makes children feel scared, anxious and sad.

The problem is that children don't have all the information we have. They don't know what's happening to them, can't express their feelings and can't ask for help, which leads to behavioural changes such as:

  • Problems falling asleep and staying asleep, nightmares
  • Frequent crying
  • Hyperactivity, difficulty staying still
  • Fear of being alone
  • Angry outbursts and aggression
  • Unwillingness to meet people
  • Regression, reverting to baby talk or loss of toilet training

At times like these children have a great need for support. Instead of avoiding the topic and keeping them in the dark, you should be ready for an honest and supportive conversation. It's important to provide explanations in a simple language that children can understand. You should not belittle their worries and fears, but acknowledge them as normal and reassure them of your care and protection.

If you have to stay in quarantine , try to keep your daily routines in terms of mealtimes and bedtimes. Everyday story reading, playtime and singing will lower your child's anxiety. Having to spend so much time together at home is actually a great opportunity to do more family activities and strengthen your relationship.

It's also important to keep limits on screen time. The World Health Organisation recommends no screen time for children under 2 years old and no more than 1 hour of screen time for children ages 2 to 5. You can read more about how screen time affects children in our previous article "Children and Screen Time - the Less, the Better".

How to talk to your child about Covid-19 (the tale of the coronavirus)

Coronavirus is the name of a group of viruses that can make people sick. It's called like that because it actually looks like it has a crown. People have known about these viruses for a long time, but now there is a new virus of this kind that has become very famous.

Viruses are very tiny particles. So tiny that you can't see them with your eyes, only with a special magnifying glass called a microscope. Because viruses are so small, they easily enter the body and can make it sick. When you cough or sneeze, the virus travels out of the body, attached to small droplets of saliva. This is how it moves in the air. So if you see someone coughing or sneezing, it's better to stay away from them. Older children and adults wear face masks on the bus or in the supermarket to protect themselves from these tiny droplets.

Small droplets with the virus can also get on your hands and then you could swallow them. That's why you need to wash your hands well with soap and water while counting to 20 or singing a song.

And what happens if the virus enters your body? Then you may not feel well, have a runny nose, fever or cough. We and the doctors will take good care of you and you'll feel better in a few days, just like the other times you've been sick before.

In order not to pass the virus to someone else, you may need to stay at home until you recover completely. You may not like it, but it's very important because this way you keep others safe. Once you recover, you'll be able to go out again and play with your friends.

The good thing is that doctors already know a lot about the coronavirus. They have even created a powerful shield against it called a vaccine, which people get with a quick shot in the shoulder.

We can always talk more about the coronavirus and everything that you want to know.

As an additional resource here you can find the lovely therapeutic story of Toshko and the coronavirus, which allows children to cope with their fears. The story is written by Tsvetelina Ganeva, an early childhood development specialist, and Kamelia Kovacheva, a psychologist. To enhance its effect, make a home-made SPRAY against coronavirus, a PRISON for coronavirus, a model of the "villainous" coronavirus, superhero vitamins or any other story element your child would like.


"This publication was created with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The entire responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the Health and Social Development Foundation and under no circumstances can it be assumed that this publication reflects the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Operator of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria."