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Face coverings: Should children under two wear them?

No, says Riley Hospital doctor
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Posted at 3:30 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 15:30:39-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- The recommendations from federal and state health officials are clear. When out in public, people should wear face covering while COVID-19 remains a threat.

That's fine for adults and children. But what about toddlers and babies?

Riley Hospital for Children Pediatrician Dr. Emily Scott says the answer is no. For those two and under, face coverings should not be worn.

"Any child less than two, we worry about obstructing their breathing," said Dr. Scott. "So, when you think about it, when you have an older child and they have a face mask on and they can't breath, they can tell you that something is wrong. But with a baby, if you have a cloth face mask over their face and they start to struggle with their breathing, they can't tell you that they are in trouble."

It's the same reason, said Scott, that doctors don't want babies with blankets or anything extra in their crib because the infant could suffocate.

Scott recommends that parents avoid taking a child under two out in public during the pandemic. But what if you have no choice?

A baby carrier with the child facing the adult's chest is a good choice. So is a stroller with a canopy and the baby facing the adult.

For newborns, the recommendations are stricter. "We really don't like new babies to go out in public." said Dr. Scott. "We don't like a lot of people to be around new babies because their immune systems are more weak."

As for tiny face coverings that are advertised as being safe for babies, Dr. Scott says avoid them. The danger of choking or strangulation is too great.

For older children and adults, the Centers for Disease Control has guidance on how to make and use face coverings. Clock on this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html