We're still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Health and government officials alike recommend the use of face masks to prevent the spread of the novel virus. In some states, like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Alabama, face masks are now mandatory in public spaces. With the required use of face coverings, many parents are raising concerns over the health risks involved with their children wearing face masks.
Infants Shouldn't Wear Face Masks
“Children under 2 years of age should not wear any face coverings including cloth masks, surgical masks, or face shields,” states the Centers for Disease and Prevention Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The risks are extremely high for infants when it comes to wearing face coverings.
- In general, baby's airways are much smaller and wearing a face mask makes it even harder for them to breathe
- Infants under 4-5 months are obligate nasal breathers, meaning they typical breathe through their nose rather than their mouth. Your baby could face breathing difficulty should their nose get stuffy while wearing a mask.
- Infants run the risk of suffering Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocating if they fall asleep with a mask on, according to health official Dr. Nina Shapiro Forbes article
Toddlers and Older Infants Under 2 Years Old
As of July 2020, the CDC has not released any official regulations concerning children under 2 years old wearing a face mask. If you're able to get your toddler to wear a face mask (and keep it on), be advised there are similar potential safety risks while wearing a face mask. Though not as dire as the health safety risks of infants wearing face masks, they are still quite serious.
- Your child may not be able to communicate they're having difficulties breathing
- Some face masks are fitted with rubber bands and hair ties to help face masks stay on. These pose as a choking hazard for toddlers.
- Children may not be able to remove their face mask should they have troubles breathing with it on
- Toddlers and older infants may find the mask to be distracting, causing them to touch their face more so than usual
- There are no child-safe N95 masks approved
We understand parents everywhere want to keep their children safe and out harms way. Parents who choose to give their toddlers face masks should be aware of the safety risks, and ensure their children will be properly supervised.
Safety Tips For Infants and New Mommies
- Wash your hands before and after touching your baby's diapers, bedding, or bottles
- When taking your infant outside, cover the entire baby carrier with a blanket. Do not leave the blanket on the carrier while driving, or whenever you're not in direct contact with your baby
- Breast feeding? Wear a face covering and wash your hands before each feeding
- Pumping? Do not share your pump, wear a facing and wash your hands before using your pump, and thoroughly clean your pump after each use. Here's a guide on how to keep your breast pump clean.
Safety Tips For Toddlers and Children
- Teach your children to avoid touching their faces
- Keep your hands clean! Not just yours, but your children's hands too. Frequent hand washing with warm water and soap is recommended
- Can't wash your hands? Use hand sanitizer with 60% to 95% alcohol, as per CDC recommendations
- Clean and disinfect your home, focusing on high traffic areas that are frequently touched: doorknobs, toilets, sinks, light switches, tables
Social distancing is a critical factor in slowing the spread and infection of COVID-19. Limit you and your baby's exposure by avoiding extra trips to public space, and maintaining a 6ft distance from those outside of your home. Make sure to follow your local news for updates on COVID-19 in your area.