Wondering what to expect when it comes to COVID testing with young kids?

I don’t blame you. The first time (that’s right – there’s been multiple!) we headed to get a COVID test done I was really anxious about the experience. How long will we have to wait? Are we going to feel safe? Is it going to be painful?

While I realize everyone’s experience will vary depending on where you live and where you head to get tested, I think talking about our experiences will help others when it’s unfortunately their turn!

Here’s our family’s experiences getting COVID testing with young kids in tow.  

We live in Ottawa, Ontario and had two locations we could choose from to get our tests done. 

One centre is located in the old D.A. Moodie school in Bells Corners. It’s for anyone over the age of two who needs to be tested. It’s actually a care clinic which means it’s not only equipped for testing, they’re also able to do basic diagnostic tests like chest X-rays and lab tests. 

The second option is the assessment centre located in Brewer Park. It’s the place to go if you have kids under two as they’re staffed with a CHEO specific crew. This location is purely for COVID tests and is not equipped for tests like chest x-rays or lab tests. 

It also looks like there’s a second Care Clinic added in St. Patrick’s Catholic Intermediate School – but this wasn’t a choice when we went!

You can find more information on the Ottawa testing options h e r e.

The first time we needed to get a test done the twins had not yet turned two years old so we headed to the assessment centre at Brewer Park.

Luckily it was during a time period when there were not long lineups to get tested. Double lucky is since we had kids with us, and there was no one else there with kids, we were able to skip the line and head straight inside!

They did ask us to change out of our cloth masks and put on their disposable masks to assure the masks we were wearing would be effective. They also provided us with little disposable masks for the twins which you can see in the photo above. 

Note: we had our double stroller with us and they did ask us if we could leave the stroller outside while we went in, which we happily did since we were two adults to carry them. I’m sure had I been there alone with multiple kids it would have been different but it would have been a tight squeeze getting around even with a single stroller. I would plan on baby wearing or holding your child if possible! 

It was, I’m sure thanks to the fact they were the only kids in the building, a really fast and seamless experience. We fast passed any lines and they booked Lance and I in right away. After we were checked in they zipped us over to the CHEO section and got the girls checked in. Then we got to head straight into a swab room! 

The testing was a little different for the kids than it was for us. For the kids they did only a nose swab. It was quick but all the kids cried due to the discomfort. Similar to getting a vaccine done, they asked us to hold the kids against our chests (I did one arm wrapped around their core then the other hand holding their head back against me) and make sure they wouldn’t be able to suddenly jerk around. For adults, it was a throat swab comparable to a strep test swab followed by a swab up the nose. 

It was super uncomfortable but was not at all painful. The nurse we had doing our swab was fast and efficient. It very much reminded me of getting a step throat test. 

All in all, we were in and hour within the hour. 

The second time we needed to be tested the twins had turned two so we headed over to the Moodie location. We live a super short distance away so it was the location that made the most sense. 

This time we had to go while testing numbers were high. We showed up 45 minutes before they were due to open the doors and there was already a lineup. We definitely arrived just in-time as right after we got there a LOT of people showed up! 

This centre does not prioritize children, and instead started to pull people with severe needs from the line. Anyone exhibiting more than one symptom, or was having trouble breathing, seniors. We ended up in line for over an hour before we finally made it to the doors. 

Waiting was the theme at the Moodie location. After heading in the doors, we stood in a second line where they asked us initial questions (what symptoms we were exhibiting, if we’d travelled, if we had been in contact with Covid…). 


After that, we headed into a new waiting room where we waited to be called to the front and given wristbands and double check all our contact information. Next, we waited to be called on for a vitals check. Lastly, we went back and waited until we were called forward for a Covid test. 

Once it was our turn to be tested we were brought to a room. Adults was the same, a throat and then nose swab. For the kids he attempted a throat swab before a nose swab but it didn’t work out well. Toddler had a massive freakout during her throat swab and this led to having to practically pin her down to get it up her nose. The twins wouldn’t even open their mouths and ended up with only nose swabs. The doctor was definitely not used to being a paediatric doctor and wasn’t as calming or welcoming for them as the CHEO ones from the other location. 

All in all, this second experience lasted us 3.5 hours. Somehow we made it through without any meltdowns, requests for snacks and with very minimal Netflix! 

Overall the next time we need to get a test done we’ll be making the trek to the Brewer Park location if possible. 

We got almost all of our test results back within 24 hours, the exception being Lance’s second test that took a few days. They send you and email while getting your test that you use to create an online portal and access your test results asap. Worth noting that these testing centres don’t all use the same program! Brewer Park is associated with the Ottawa Hospital and uses MyChart, while Moodie is associated with the QCH and uses a different program.

As far as isolation went, we were given a chart to follow. Since someone in our family was showing symptoms we all needed to self isolate until our test results came back negative, no one had a fever any longer and symptoms had been improving for at least 72 hours. 

Now I’m going to answer some of your FAQ’s! 

Q: Why do you all need to get tested if only one of you had a fever?

A: Since we’re all in close contact with each other everyday, everyone of us got a Covid test done. You can have Covid and exhibit no symptoms! If someone exhibits a symptom, it’s recommended that any person who’s been in close contact with them self isolate for 14 days or until a test result comes back negative.

Q: How did the kids handle the testing?

A: They handled it as well as a child getting a cotton swab shoved up their nose could! In all seriousness, it wasn’t that far off from getting their vaccines done. A little crying afterwards, a nice cuddle and then some glaring at the doctor. 100% treated with ice cream afterwards. 

Q: How do you decide whether to test or whether it’s something else?

Currently, if someone is exhibiting symptoms we get tested. In both these cases it was due to someone having a fever. There’s really no true way of knowing whether your symptom is Covid or not without a test unless you decide to wait for 24 hours. You can have Covid and show no symptoms, or only have certain/mild symptoms, so we play it safe a responsible with a test. 

Q: What’s your daycare protocol for Covid?

I changed my sickness rules before I reopened and they’re much more strict now. Not only for our own family’s safety but for the safety of our daycare families too! You can read all about what we’re doing Covid-wise in daycare h e r e

Q: How did you keep the kids occupied while waiting? 

Honestly, I think there was enough to look at around us that we were able to talk to each other for most of it. The twins were in the stroller with their extendable canopies pulled right down. Since they weren’t feeling well they were happy to quietly relax in their seats. 

When we were getting to the end of waiting I really needed the silence and finally gave my toddler my phone to watch Netflix. Keep in mind that because you need to keep masks on it’s hard to depend on snacks! 

In conclusion, Covid testing with young kids was an okay experience. It was nowhere near as uncomfortable or painful as I thought it would be. If you’re showing any symptom that could relate to Covid, or think you’ve been around someone who is, please don’t hesitate to get tested!

Remember: if you’re capable of wearing a mask, please wear a mask. 




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