Parents and guardians (COVID-19)
Parenting can be challenging under normal circumstances, and it may be difficult as we adjust to the new normal. Adjusting to these changes can be difficult for children, teenagers, and you. As we move forward, it is important you continue to talk to your children about making wise choices based on personal circumstances. COVID-19 is still circulating locally and across the province.
To be COVID-safe means to assess your actions, think things through, and take deliberate precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn about how our choices can help reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19.
On this page:
- Parenting tips during COVID-19
- COVID-19 vaccination for kids
- Support your family’s mental health
- Pregnancy, childbirth, baby care, and breastfeeding
Parenting tips during COVID-19
1. Create a flexible but consistent daily routine
Make a schedule for you and your children that has time for structured activities as well as free time. This can help children feel more secure. Children or teenagers can help plan the routine for the day (World Health Organization). Children will follow this schedule better if they engage in the process. Try scheduling time for exercise in each day as this helps with stress and children with energy at home!
2. Keep it positive
Children and teens are much more likely to respond positively if we give them positive instructions (World Health Organization) and lots of praise for what they do right. For example, kindly request the behaviour you want to see and try using positive words when telling your child of the goal. For example, try saying “Please put your clothes away” instead of “Don’t make a mess.” Praise your child when they are behaving well, including when they take proactive steps to stay COVID-safe. Praise their efforts when they remember to put on their mask or when they stay home when sick.
3. Spend one-on-one time
Set aside time to each day to spend one-on-one time (World Health Organization) with each of your children. Ask them what they would like to do and turn off the television or put down the devices during this time. Try reading a book, dancing to music, or cooking your favourite meal!
4. Keeping calm and managing stress
This is a stressful time (World Health Organization). Try to take care of yourself, so you can support your children with a healthy mindset. An effective way to get quiet time is to set up activities that your kids can do on their own that encourage creativity. Remember, you are not alone. Reach out and connect with other parents. Talking to others can help ease stress and increase positivity.
If you need more advice, local parenting services are available online at parenting4me.com.
COVID-19 vaccination for kids
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children 6 months and up. It is recommended that everyone stays up to date with their vaccines including children. This means you have completed your primary series and have received a COVID-19 vaccine within the last 6 months (if age eligible).
Children 6 months to 4 years of age are recommended to receive a primary series which may consist of 2 doses of monovalent Moderna Spikevax (25mcg) administered at minimum of 2 months (56 days) between doses. If your child is receiving monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty (3mcg), the primary series is a 3 dose primary series administered at a recommended interval of 2 months (56 days) between doses. It is important to note that due to the difference in number of doses in the primary series between the two products, that this age group is recommended to receive the same vaccine product for all doses in the primary series, using the dose that is correct for their age at the time of their appointment. Children of this age group are not eligible to receive a booster dose.
Children aged 5 years to 11 years are recommended to receive a 2 dose primary series administered at a recommended interval of at least 2 months (56 days) between doses. Monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty (10mcg) is the preferred product for this age group and the only vaccine type approved as a booster for this age group. This age population is eligible for a booster dose at a recommended interval of 6 months (168 days) after the completion of their primary series.
There are benefits to vaccinating children against COVID-19. The vaccine will help protect them against severe illness associated with COVID-19 and can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Getting vaccinated can also reduce time away from school or activities, having a positive impact on the physical and mental health of children.
To book an appointment visit our Vaccination clinics for COVID-19 page.
Support your family’s mental health
Your children may still have questions about COVID-19, and how to keep themselves and your family safe. Do not be afraid to have conversations with your children. Provide safe spaces to share how they are feeling and be supportive by letting them know you are there to listen.
- Learn more about mental health strategies (ementalhealth.ca) to support your family and children.
- Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) has a list of the top 10 parenting tips (PDF) that help during uncertain times.
- Mental health literacy empowers youth, parents, educator and health professionals with the knowledge and skills that we need to help us build better lives.
Visit Wellness Together Canada website for mental health and substance use support, resources, tools, and counselling.
Pregnancy, childbirth, baby care, and breastfeeding during COVID-19
This may be a stressful time to be pregnant. It is only natural to worry about the effects that COVID-19 could have on your baby. At this time, the Public Health Agency of Canada advises that pregnant individuals are at an increased risk of more severe disease or negative outcomes if they get COVID-19. This includes an increased risk of hospitalization or needing intensive care.
COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the Government of Ontario recommend that all pregnant individuals, or those trying to become pregnant, should receive all COVID-19 vaccination doses, including any booster dose(s), when eligible at any stage in pregnancy.
Pregnant individuals who are unvaccinated are at risk for severe COVID-19 complications.
For more information, refer to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant website or COVID-19 Vaccination: Special Populations Vaccination in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Decision-Making Support Tool (Government of Ontario, PDF).
COVID-19 has not been found in breast milk (Public Health Agency of Canada). Breastfeeding is recommended and we encourage all breastfeeding mothers to continue to breastfeed, even if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19.
If you think you have COVID-19, follow the precautions listed above (under Baby Care) when feeding your baby. Consider the following as well:
- use a clean towel on your nursing pillow (if using one) each time you feed your baby.
- sterilize any breast pump equipment carefully before and after each use. After every use, wash pump or containers with liquid soap. Rinse for 10-15 seconds with hot water.
- do not share infant feeding equipment.
If you are too sick to breastfeed or care for your baby, please ensure you have a healthy adult provide the care. When they are providing care to the baby, they should also wear a well-fitted face mask and wash their hands often.
Recent research has shown that the antibodies produced from the COVID-19 vaccine are transferred to the infant through the breastmilk when breastfeeding, providing the infant with protection against COVID-19. For more information, refer to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination: Special Populations Vaccination in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Decision-Making Support Tool (Government of Ontario, PDF)
If you have questions about breastfeeding or feeding your baby, call to speak with one of our public health nurses at 705.522.9200, ext. 342 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).
For other breastfeeding services visit ontariobreastfeeds.ca, Health811 by calling 811 (TTY: 1.866.797.0007) or by going online at Ontario.ca/Health811, or try the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service, a by-appointment phone service that provides a safe, judgment-free space to have an open conversation about the COVID-19 vaccine. The consult service provides expert guidance for children, youth and those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to conceive.
Remember, we are here for you.
You can also visit our schools and daycare section for more general information on this topic.
This item was last modified on February 24, 2023