29 May 2020
In light of Covid-19, the South African government has made it compulsory for everyone to wear masks when they’re out and about, but did you know that infants shouldn’t wear a mask?
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advise against mask-wearing in children under two.
While it may look cute on Instagram, here are a few reasons why putting a mask on a baby could be very dangerous (and what you can do instead to keep your little one safe).
Masks can cause suffocation
Not only are a baby’s airways smaller, but infants under five months can’t breathe through their mouths, so a blocked nose and a mask can cause suffocation. For babies six months to two years, a mask is best avoided as it’s harder to breathe through, and young tots won’t be able to remove it if they are having breathing difficulty.
Older infants and toddlers will probably not even keep the mask on and will try rip it off (if you’ve ever tried to keep a hat on a tot, you’ll know the struggle!). Plus, a mask will make them touch their face more – a big Covid-19 no-no.
How you can keep your little one safe
It goes without saying, but the best protection is keeping your infant at home, and not unnecessarily exposing them to public places. If you must go out and you have no one to look after your child, then cover the baby carrier with a very light blanket. Don’t cover your baby, and keep the outing short. When you get back home, wash your hands immediately.
If you have older children, teach them to not touch their faces, to regularly wash their hands, and avoid touching the baby. While Covid-19 infection is understood to be less serious in infants and children, they can still pass it on to others, so care should be exercised throughout the family.
Despite what social media might show you, there’s no need for a baby under two years to wear a mask – it’s even dangerous. These are uncertain and scary times, but if you take the right precautions you can minimise any risks for you, and your child.