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The following information is available for parents and carers on COVID-19 - Frequently asked questions.

How can I protect myself / my family?

​The best way to protect yourself is the same as you would against any respiratory infection. Practice good hygiene by:
  • making sure to clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Make sure you stay home if you are sick.

The Raising Children Network​ has information and an advice line about coronavirus and children including links to resources for parents on talking to children about potentially distressing events.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention​ has information on steps to protect the health of your family.

Up to date information is available on NSW Health Facebook​ and Twitter​.

How can I protect my baby?

The NSW Government website has information on how to protect yourself and others​.

Everyone in the family should have the seasonal influenza (flu) vaccination when it becomes available. Babies can have the seasonal influenza vaccine from 6 months of age - the vaccine is free for all children aged 6 months to less than 5 years of age. For more information, including a list of all groups eligible for free seasonal influenza vaccine, visit Seasonal influenza vaccination 2020.

Make sure vaccinations are up to date. Routine vaccination is the safest, most effective way to protect babies and children from illness.

If you are suspected or confirmed of Covid-19 the risk of transmission of the virus is via your respiratory secretions. You should take special hygiene precautions when feeding your baby, expressing breastmilk, practising skin to skin contact, or undertaking care where you are closer than 1.5 metres from your baby. 

​​​​These special hygiene precautions include: 
  • washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub, especially before touching your baby
  • wearing a surgical mask: 
    • ​replacing masks when damp
    • disposing of masks immediately after use 
    • not re-using a mask 
    • not touching the front of the mask but untying it from behind or remove by the ear loops 
    • washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub after removing the mask 
  • sneezing or coughing into your elbow or a tissue (immediately disposing of it) and using alcohol-based hand rub or washing your hands with soap and water
  • regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and feeding utensils if expressing breastmilk or using formula.   

Your health professional will talk with you about how long you need to continue these extra precautions. 

If I have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 can I continue to feed my baby?

Breastfeeding

Yes, you can continue to breastfeed or feed your baby expressed breastmilk.

The benefits of feeding your baby breastmilk outweigh any potential risk of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk.

To avoid spreading the virus, follow the special hygiene precautions listed above in How can I protect my baby?​​

Your health professional will talk with you about how long you need to continue these extra precautions.

If you are too ill to breastfeed, try to express milk for your baby. Consider whether someone who is well can feed the expressed breast milk to your baby by a bottle, cup or spoon, following appropriate infection prevention methods. You can discuss feeding options with your health professional.​

If expressing breastmilk by hand or with a manual or electric breast pump, you should wash your hands before touching your breast, the pump and bottle parts and wear a mask while expressing. All feeding equipment, including pumps, should be washed and disinfected according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The CDC How to keep your breast pump kit clean provides general advice for parents/carers.

The Raising Children Network provides guidance on Expressing and storing breastmilk​.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) has advice about COVID-19 and breastfeeding​.

The ABA runs the National Breastfeeding Helpline​​ 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268). The Breastfeeding Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If for some time you have been too unwell to breastfeed or express breastmilk you may wish to re-lactate once you are well enough. Support is available from  Child & Family Health Nursing, the Australian Breastfeeding Association and the Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand.

Formula Feeding

Yes, you can continue to formula feed your baby.

To avoid spreading the virus follow the special hygiene precautions listed above in ‘how can I protect my baby’.

Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and feeding utensils. Follow the advice provided by the Raising Children Network on Bottle feeding: cleaning and sterilising equipment

Your health professional will talk with you about how long you need to continue these extra precautions

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What if I can’t get my usual baby formula?

Infant formula should be used for babies in the first year of life. Don’t use follow on formula for any baby under 12 months – only use infant formula.

If you are unable to get your usual brand of infant formula, don’t worry – you can use any infant formula as all preparations have a similar nutritional composition to comply with legislation.

If you are using particular formulas for a clinical reason (for example, allergies or reflux) and can’t access these, speak with your health professional.

Always prepare infant formula according to the instructions on the tin – do not be tempted to add more water to make it last longer as diluting the milk could endanger your baby’s health.

Document information

Developed by

Health and Social Policy Branch​, NSW Ministry of Health.

Endorsed by

Dr Nigel Lyons, Deputy Secretary, Health System Strategy and Planning, NSW Ministry of Health.

Reviewed by

  • Publicly available information has been consolidated for ease of access through the NSW Health COVID-19 Frequently asked questions (FAQ) webpage
  • Reviewed by Clinical Lead, Child and Family Health community of practice
  • Input provided by Health Protection NSW​.

For use by

  • NSW Health COVID-19 FAQ webpage
  • Maternity, neonatal, paediatric and child and family health services​.​​​
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Current as at: Tuesday 20 October 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW