coronavirus

Don't Put Masks on Babies and Toddlers, Doctors Warn

Masks can be deadly for children under 2 years old, experts say

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Parents want to protect their children from the deadly new coronavirus, but doctors are warning that putting a mask on a child under 2 could be dangerous.

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say Infants have small airways and aren’t strong enough to change positions if they can’t breathe - so a mask could cause them to suffocate.

“Infants should NEVER wear a mask," Dr. Michael Cappello, a neonatologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital, said in a statement.

“Infants can actually accidentally suffocate," he continued. "In fact, masks should be avoided for a child of any age if the mask will represent a choking or strangulation hazard, if the mask causes difficulty breathing, and/or the mask prompts the child to touch his or her face frequently.”

A spokeswoman for Advocate Aurora Health said some people are making homemade masks for babies during the pandemic, and that a search for infant masks on retail giant Amazon delivered an "alarming amount" of results.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker now recommends residents wear masks if they must go outside during the stay-at-home order. Here is an easy no-sew face mask with items you probably already have at home.

To keep small children and infants safe from the coronavirus, experts recommend keeping them out of public settings, as well as making sure family members are symptom-free and washing their hands before holding the baby.

Parents should also practice careful social distancing and use video calls to interact with loved ones virtually instead of in person, as Illinois remains under a stay-at-home order.

Be sure to disinfect countertops, light switches and door handles often, experts advise.

Siblings and family members should also be discouraged from touching the baby's face. And though experts warn everyone should stay home as much as possible, if parents must take a baby out, doctors say to place a blanket loosely over the car seat or stroller but never over the child.

“Babies need to have nothing obstructing their breathing and should always be placed and sleeping on their back whether it is in bed or in a car seat," Cindy Hartwig, executive director of Women’s Services at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, said in a statement.

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