Suffocation Risk: Mask Use with Infants and Toddlers
It is important to understand that non-medical masks have limitations and need to be used safely.
Child Safety Link has been made aware that some parents and caregivers may be considering making homemade masks for babies and small children.
Please note: The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that non-medical masks or facial coverings should never be placed on children under age 2, due to a risk of suffocation.
Why Shouldn’t My Infant Use a Mask?
- Baby’s airways are smaller, so breathing through a mask is even harder on them.
- Using a mask on an infant may increase the risk of suffocation. Masks are harder to breathe through. A snug fit will give them less access to air, and a loose fit will not provide much protection.
- If they are having are hard time breathing, infants are unable to take the mask off themselves and could suffocate.
- Older infants or young toddlers are not likely to keep the mask on and will likely try to remove it, as well as touch their face more.
There are ways you can protect your infant or toddler that do not pose a suffocation risk:
- Limit exposure and avoid unnecessary public contact.
- If a parent cannot leave a young child at home and must go out in public, keep the trip short and always follow the 6 feet distancing rule.
- If you must go out to a public place and want to add a layer of droplet protection for your baby: You could use the sun shade that came with your stroller or create a barrier over your baby in his/her carrier or stroller by draping a light blanket over it while always making sure baby can still breathe easily. If you choose to cover a stroller or carrier with a blanket remember:
- Never leave the blanket on at any time when the baby is not in your direct view.
- Make sure that the blanket is secure and cannot fall in on the baby.
- Make sure that there is air flow under the blanket. Adding a blanket on a warm day can create a greenhouse effect where a baby can overheat.
- Remember to always wash your hands (and children’s hands) as soon as you return home.