Should Infants and Young Toddlers Wear Face Masks During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Things are different, and they are constantly changing. The novel coronavirus outbreak — and COVID-19, the disease the virus causes — has made swift and often brutal changes to the way we live — or used to live — our lives.

One of the ways many of our lives have changed over the last two months is that many of us are now wearing face masks or other facial coverings when leaving the house to go to the store or run other essential errands. This is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many medical experts, and even the current presidential administration. But one question has remained somewhat murky: Should your child wear one too?

Should Infants and Young Toddlers Wear Face Masks During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

The short answer? If your child is under two-years-old, then no, he or she should not wear a face covering. The reason for this is fairly obvious: doing so would pose a suffocation risk. Per the CDC’s website:

“Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you have children who are older than two, then yes, the CDC recommends they wear face masks, just like the rest of us.

RELATED: The CDC Recommends Everyone Wear Cloth Masks in Public, So Here’s How to Make One Without Needing a Needle and Thread

Children Under Two Should Not Wear Face Masks; Everyone Else Should Mask Up

Should Infants and Young Toddlers Wear Face Masks During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

As face masks become ever more ubiquitous in America, you have likely started to see advertisements for masks for your whole family. Be wary of anything that tells you your infant or young toddler should wear one.

Speaking to Fox 6 Now, Dr. Kevin Dahlman, medical director of Aurora Children’s Health, says, “Infants should never wear a mask.”

“Infants can accidentally suffocate since some masks can present 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, these should be cautioned,” he adds.

Should Infants and Young Toddlers Wear Face Masks During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

So what do you do if you have a child under two, since you should not cover his or her face? Well, the easy thing to do is to avoid taking the infant or young toddler out of the house, and definitely avoid crowded spaces if you do.

Additionally, practice social distancing in all settings, even at home. Wash your hands for the recommended 20 seconds before touching your children, and, if possible, wear a mask, since they cannot. Especially if you are sick at all.

If you must take your infant out of the house, you can consider draping a blanket over your child’s car seat or carrier to act as a barrier, but do not put it directly on your child.

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