Keeping Baby Safe from Coronavirus

April 9, 2020

From sensors that alert parents if baby’s oxygen absorption falls unexpectedly to temperature-sensitive rubber duckies that help make sure bathwater is safe and comfy, new parents are always on the lookout for ways to keep their little ones happy and healthy.

The rapid spread of coronavirus and new recommendations for wearing masks in public, have left a lot of parents confused and wondering if their babies should be wearing masks.

The short answer is no.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement with a recommendation to wear “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

But it’s important to note that these masks should NOT be placed on infants and toddlers under the age of 2.

To get more clarity around the recommendations and learn what parents can do to keep their families safe, we turned to two physicians — both long-time friends of Babies & Bumps — for a quick Q&A.

Q: Why are masks unsafe for babies?
A: According to Dr. Sue Wiepert, pediatrician and owner of Purely Pediatrics in Buffalo, NY, “babies generally breathe through their nose and not their mouths, particularly in early infancy, and are unable to move the mask away from their nose if it’s covering the nasal passages.”

Q: How about toddlers?
A: Dr. Assaf Yosha, site medical director of North Ponds Family Medicine and Maternity Care, shared that “toddlers who wear masks are unlikely to keep it on and more likely to reach up and touch their faces more frequently,” which can actually increase the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Q: Why are face masks being recommended?
A: Studies have shown the incubation period for coronavirus can range from 1 to 14 days, which means that carriers can be spreading the virus long before they’re symptomatic. Face masks may help, but not in the way you might think. Rather than protecting the wearer, it helps prevent asymptomatic people from spreading the virus before they know they’re sick.

Staying home is the best protection, but in circumstances when social distancing is difficult, a mask will help reduce the spread of coronavirus throughout the community.

Check out these resources to learn which mask is right for you, how to wear it correctly, and how to make your own (including sew and no-sew options).

Q: What should I be doing to protect my baby?
A: “The best way to protect your baby is by preventing the adults and siblings from getting the virus,” Dr. Yosha explained. In addition to staying home, some of the tips he shared include washing your hands frequently, teaching older siblings to not touch their faces, and avoiding taking baby out when possible.

If you have to leave the house with baby, keep the outing short and always follow the 6 feet distancing rule. Dr. Sue recommends “leaving baby in the car seat and placing a covering over the entire seat, ensuring that the covering is not touching their face” to prevent suffocation.

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