'These should be cautioned:' Doctors warn parents not to put masks on infants

MILWAUKEE -- Parents should be wary of masks being marketed for babies to protect them from COVID-19, according to doctors with Aurora Health Care.

Infants and toddlers under the age of 2 should not be wearing masks, according to guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Infants have small airways and aren’t strong enough to change positions if they can’t breathe meaning that putting on a mask could do more harm than good.

“Infants should never wear a mask,“ said Dr. Kevin Dahlman, medical director of Aurora Children’s Health. “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.”

Instead, health care professionals recommend keeping infants out of public settings and practicing social distancing in all interactions. Babies should only come in contact with symptom-free family members who are wearing a mask and who washed their hands for the recommended 20 seconds.

“Parents need to practice the same important safe practices with their infants and children that they would before COVID-19,” Dahlman said. “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.”

Using FaceTime and video calls to interact with family and friends, disinfecting commonly-used surfaces and items and maintaining good handwashing are also ways to reduce risk for everyone -- including infants.

If you need to go out, Aurora recommends placing a blanket loosely over your baby’s car seat or stroller –- but never over the baby.