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It’s important to remember that protective face masks are not recommended for all children, particularly babies and toddlers. Most children are able to wear a mask safely by age 2, but every child is different.  

Using a cloth face mask on an infant whose airway is small can increase the risk of suffocation. Cloth face coverings may be safe for older children. However, children should not wear a cloth face mask in the following circumstances:

  • If the child is a baby or toddler
  • If the cloth face mask poses any choking or strangulation hazards
  • If the child is unable to remove the cloth face mask on their own
  • If the child is having difficulty breathing
  • If the child is unconscious
  • If wearing the cloth face mask causes the child to touch their face more frequently, which increases their risk of becoming infected

If you need to take your infant into a public place where you cannot practice social distancing:

  1. Use an infant carrier covered by a blanket.
  2. Make sure the blanket is not covering your baby’s face. This will offer some protection while still allowing them to breathe comfortably.
  3. Do not leave the blanket covering the infant carrier when you’re in the car or at any time that the carrier is not in your direct line of sight.

For some children, wearing protective face masks may seem a little scary. Some children may not want to wear a cloth face mask because it makes them feel different. Parents can help ease their fears by putting a cloth face mask on themselves and explaining how it works. Other ideas include placing a face mask on a child’s stuffed animal or doll.

To offer protection, cloth face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops.
  • Include multiple layers of fabric.
  • Allow for breathing without restriction.
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

Remember, staying home is your best protection. Anyone who has a fever and respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms such as cough, congestion, runny nose, diarrhea, or vomiting should isolate themselves and go out only to seek medical attention.