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Why babies should not wear masks

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The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Paediatrics do not recommend masks for children under the age of two.

Babies shouldn’t wear masks. Picture: Pexels / Orione Conceição

The rate of Covid-19 new infections may be declining and lockdown level 1 has been announced, but, now more than ever, it is critical to wear a mask.

Despite the fact that it has been made compulsory by the government, masks are crucial in curbing the spread of a pandemic that has already claimed thousands of lives the world over.

While it is mandatory and important for us to wear masks, it’s important for parents to also note that Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Paediatrics do not recommend masks for children under the age of two.

According to Rising Sun, the airways and lung capacities of babies are smaller than adults and they may struggle to breathe with masks on.

It is difficult even for adults to wear masks for long periods of time but at they have the option to remove them once in safer spaces, like inside a car, for example. Babies are also unable to remove the mask if they start feeling distressed.

Why should babies not use masks? Nationwide Children’s Hospital provides the following answers:

Their airways are smaller – so breathing through a mask is hard on them.

Using masks on infants may increase the risk of suffocation. Masks can be hard to breathe through. A snug fit will give them less access to air, and a loose fit will not provide much protection.

If they are having a hard time breathing, infants are unable to take the mask off themselves and could suffocate.

Older infants or young toddlers are not likely to keep the mask on and will fiddle trying to remove it, as well as increase the number of times they touch their faces.

There are no N95 masks approved for young children.

But, how do you protect your baby from Covid-19? Well, experts say the same principles of protection that count for adults are also valid for babies.

Keep children at home as much as possible. Do not take your baby out unnecessarily and avoid crowded areas.

Maintain physical distance as far as possible and position yourself so that there is 1-2m between you and the next person when you are out and about.