Health officials are warning that babies and children under the age of three must not wear masks or face coverings as they pose serious risks of choking and suffocation.
The Government introduced new rules on face masks in public places last month but, following the news that some shops were selling masks for very young children, the health teams at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group are warning parents of the dangers these pose. Messages are being posted on social media and the health websites www.royalberkshire.nhs.uk and www.berkshirewestccg.nhs.net.
Tricia Pease, Associate Chief Nurse Safeguarding, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Designated Professional, Child Death, Berkshire West, said:
Whilst the wearing of masks for any child under the age of 11 is not compulsory, we’ve noticed some shops have been selling masks aimed specifically at babies and toddlers. We are very concerned about this and want to alert parents and carers to the dangers around masks and face coverings for these infants.
The best way to protect young children is to follow the guidelines around frequent hand washing, keeping equipment and surfaces in the home cleaned, wiping down toys and baby changing mats and maintaining the social distancing rules.
If a child starts to show any symptoms of concern – a high temperature and/or constant cough, parents and carers should go onto NHS 111 online or ring their GP surgery for advice.