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Tips for making COVID testing more comfortable for kids

When your child has been exposed to COVID-19 or is showing symptoms of the virus, a nasal swab test can be scary. Some planning and preparation will go a long way to ease their fears and make their COVID test more comfortable.

How should I explain the COVID test to my child?

Your child may feel anxious leading up to the test. Let them know what to expect, without making a big deal about it. When you offer too many details, younger kids can go into overload and may experience even more anxiety. For kids 12 years and older, provide a level of detail that’s appropriate for their age.

Above all, be honest and accurate. Talk to them about why they need the test, where they will have it, who will be there, how long the test will take, what they should do during the test and what it might feel like. 

Here are a few examples of how to talk with your young child about their COVID test:

  • Why they need a test.
    “We need to find out if you have the virus. The only way to know for sure if to have the test. Then we’ll know the best way to take care of you.”

  • Where they are going for the test.
    “You’re going to see the nice people who make you feel better when you’re sick or hurt.”
  • What the test is.
    “Someone will put a long Q-tip in your nose and move it around. Then they will look at it under a microscope to check for germs.”

  • How it will feel.
    “It will feel uncomfortable. It might feel like you have bubbles in your nose, and it may sting a little. But it will be over super-fast.”
  • What providers will look like in their protective clothing. 
    “The person who will give you the test may look a little funny, but they just want to make sure they keep you, and themselves, extra-safe from germs.”

  • What they need to do during the test.
    “You’ll need to hold very still, just like a statue. Let’s play the statue game now so you can practice!”

What types of COVID tests does Indigo offer?

All Indigo Health locations across Washington offer the following COVID-19 tests for all ages, including babies and young children:

  • COVID-19 rapid (RT-PCR) tests for individuals who have symptoms. Test results are available same-day, generally within a few hours. (Rapid tests are available while supplies last.)

  • Standard nasal swab for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms or known exposure within the past 3-5 days. Lab test results take 1-2 days.

For your convenience, we’re here every day from 8 am to 8 pm, even holidays and weekends.

And we have strict clinic guidelines in place for your safety and well-being.

What can my child expect during a COVID test at Indigo?

At Indigo Urgent Care, we provide a refreshingly friendly, fast and convenient experience. That goes for treating most minor illness and injuries, as well as COVID-19 testing for you and your loved ones.

  • All COVID tests include an in-person visit with a medical provider or nurse. (Drive-thru testing is not available.)
  • You and your child will be escorted to a clean, sanitized exam suite as quickly as possible. 
  • A medical provider will insert a swab into the back of your child’s nose, twist it and then pull it out. Inserting the swab this far into the nose is necessary to ensure the provider gets a proper specimen.

Feel free to call your nearby Indigo Urgent Care ahead of time if you’d like more information about the testing process and what you and your child can expect. 

What can I do to make COVID testing easier for my child?

From coping mechanisms to rewards, it’s important to include your child when developing a strategy for testing day.  

  • If the whole family is getting tested, decide who will go first. A parent can be a good model and show how quick and easy the test is. 
  • Let your child decide what would help put them at ease, before and during the test, such as holding a beloved teddy bear (masked, of course), blanket or other comfort item; listening to music; or wearing comfy, fun or special clothing — even pajamas.
  • Help your child come up with techniques to use to stay still and calm during the test, like counting or breathing exercises. 
  • Decide on a special treat after the test.

It’s also a good idea to practice at home. For instance, encourage your child to tilt their head back and slowly count to five while staying as still as possible. You can also have your child give a favorite toy a pretend nasal swab test.   

What can I do to make my child more comfortable during their COVID test?

The best thing you can do is keep your child safe and comforted. Pediatric medical organizations recommend “comfort positioning” as way to hold children during a medical procedure. For the nasal swab, hold your child on your lap with their back to your chest. This will enable you to keep their hands and arms away from their face. Coupled with your soothing words, it’s a great way to calm your child. 

It’s also important for you to remain calm. If you’re stressed out and anxious about the test, your child probably will be, too. Find your own inner Zen. Take some deep breaths, relax your shoulders and think comforting thoughts. 

Indigo is here to help

Learn more about COVID-19 testing and schedule an appointment on our Indigo Urgent Care website. Our friendly providers are here to help. And our virtual assistant, Indy, is available 24/7 to answer your questions about COVID-19 symptoms, testing and services provided at our convenient locations.


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