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CHICAGO (WGN) – While medical experts are encouraging everyone to wear a mask or face covering when they go out in order to prevent infection and stop the chance of virus spread, pediatricians warn never to put a mask on a baby.

The Centers for Disease Control said infants have such small airways that a mask could do more harm than good. Doctors said masks on children younger than 2 years old could suffocate them.

“No child under the age of 2 should ever wear a mask due to the risk of accidental suffocation,” said Dr. Mike Cappello, a neonatologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital Park Ridge. “Children that are that young have very small airways and they lack the strength and wherewithal to reposition themselves if there was an obstruction from the mask. The size of the airway and the risk for limiting oxygen delivery to their lungs and organs would be very significant.”

Instead, keep the baby out of public settings and have family members wear a mask around the baby. Wash your hands often. And if you have to go out, you may place a blanket loosely over the car seat or carrier but never over the baby.