During these strange times, we’re all taking precautions to stay safe. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, we’ve all been told to social distance, wash our hands frequently, and always wear a face covering or mask when out in public. The problem is, for children under the age of 2, it can be difficult to know how to keep them protected, and face coverings can be dangerous.
With stay-at-home restrictions beginning to ease, wearing face masks in public is even more crucial to prevent coronavirus from spreading. However, what happens when you need to take your baby or young toddler somewhere? How can you keep them safe?
Why Babies and Toddlers Should NOT Wear Face Coverings
Babies and toddlers under 2 years of age should NOT wear a mask. Covering your baby’s airways with anything can be dangerous and make it harder for them to breathe. Worst of all, children under 2 may not be able to tell you when they are having trouble and could suffocate.
Babies and toddlers have smaller airways, so it’s harder for them to breathe through a cloth covering. What’s more, many coverings also have strings or other dangling parts that a baby can choke on.
Another thing to keep in mind is that babies and toddlers are likely to reach up and touch a mask to try to remove it or play with it. In doing so, they will touch their face a lot, which can increase their risk of catching and spreading the virus.
How to Keep Your Baby Safe During the Pandemic
So, if your baby or toddler can’t wear a mask, what can you do to keep them safe? Of course, the best way to protect them is to keep your family home and to stay away from others, but you may need to go out to the grocery store, the doctor, or even the park or on a camping trip where there may be too many people. You may also be an essential worker and it’s not always easy to keep your little one away all of the time.
Here are some things you can do at home and in public to keep your baby safe:
1. Don’t Touch Anything You Don’t Have to
The general advice is to not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. In reality, this is really difficult to do. Nonetheless, we all do our best. The thing is, you can’t tell your baby or toddler not to touch things. In fact, it’s how they’re learning, developing, and experiencing the world. For this reason, the best you can do is to keep surfaces and objects around your little one as clean as possible.
Think about objects that people touch a lot, like countertops, doorknobs, and cellphones. Also, when you cough or sneeze, either use a tissue or your elbow to avoid contaminating your hands and then touching something that your baby may touch as well.
2. Wash Your Hands
It sounds obvious, but it helps all of us to be reminded. Wash your hands well and often. In addition, teach others to do the same. And, most importantly, wash your hands before you touch your baby.
It’s especially important to be sure your hands are clean when you first come home after being out at the store or some similar place. Always wash up before preparing food for your baby or toddler, a bottle, or breastfeeding.
3. Limit Contact If You Have to
Lastly, and perhaps hardest of all, is to limit contact with your baby if you think you’ve been exposed to the virus or you’re sick. As difficult as it is to stay away from your baby, the last thing you want to do is pass on any sickness to your child, especially if it could be life-threatening.
If you are sick, even if it looks like it’s just a cold, wear a face-covering at home. Do your best to limit contact with your baby until your symptoms have stopped. Also, avoid people who are sick. Remember that if you get the virus, you’re going to have to limit contact with your baby and that’s going to be very hard on both of you.
Other Things You Can Do To Keep Your Baby Safe During the Pandemic
Another thing you can do if you need to take your baby out, for whatever reason, is you can use an infant carrier and place a blanket over the carrier while you are within view. If you do this, make sure the blanket doesn’t touch the baby and that there are plenty of gaps on the sides for breathing. Then, when you get home, wipe the carrier or stroller down thoroughly.
As parents, it’s our number one job to keep our kids safe. Nonetheless, keeping your baby safe during a pandemic is a whole new level. The truth is, there’s a lot of uncertainty and all we can do is our best. Don’t take unnecessary risks, stay safe, and we’ll all get through this together!