As masks become mandatory for residents in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from Wednesday at 11.59pm, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is warning parents not to fall for sellers cashing in on masks marketed for babies and toddlers.
"That is simply not on," the Premier said. "Toddlers should not be wearing masks. Kids 12 and up should be. But under that age, they're not required to. Do not buy those products. Do not use those products."
The advice is in line with current guidelines from Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, who note that those under two should not be using face coverings, including plastic face shields, which have been seen on some babies overseas.
"Babies under the age of two shouldn't wear a face mask," Belinda Joyce, Midwife, Maternal & Child Health Nurse tells Essential Baby. "Unfortunately, there are some masks being marketed to this age group and they can be dangerous as babies have much smaller airways than children and adults."
According to Ms Joyce, breathing through a mask is difficult for babies and toddler and there's a risk suffocation.
"Babies can't tell you if they are having trouble breathing, and older babies and toddlers will likely remove the mask and touch their face more, another risk factor for infection transmission," she says.
Face shields also reduce airflow and increase risk of suffocation.
"To keep your baby safe, stay at home," Ms Joyce says." If you do have to take your baby into a public place, put them in a carrier, cover a capsule with a light muslin wrap, cover a pram with a rain cover, and check on them regularly.
"And remember to social distance wherever possible."