'Super-sweet' picture of baby in face mask sparks ferocious debate

‘Super-sweet’ photo of a baby wearing a full-face mask on a plane sparks furious debate – but is all as it seems?

  • Baby pictured wearing an adult surgical face mask with holes cut for her eyes 
  • Photograph of the pink-clad baby, which was taken on a plane, has gone viral 
  • Many praised the mum for her caution, but others compared it to ‘child abuse’ 

A photograph of a baby on a plane wearing an adult surgical face mask with holes cut for her eyes has sparked a ferocious debate online.

The picture has since gone viral and while many are praising the mum for trying to protect her pink-clad baby from Covid, others claimed it was ‘child abuse’.

But the photographer who captured the image on an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Wellington on July 1, said it was a ‘super-sweet interaction’ and nothing sinister.

‘The baby was full of joy, jumping around and giggling away. It made the wait to get off the plane a bit more entertaining,’ he said. 

This picture of a baby girl wearing an adult face mask has gone viral, with commenters both supporting and opposing her being masked

Some online commenters however were outraged by the image, with one saying: ‘If I saw this on a flight I’d remove the mask from her myself.’

Others said the photo was ‘so incredibly sad’ and claimed it was ‘dangerous to cover their breathing holes like this’.

Mr Opperman, who has since turned his Instragram account private, defended the mother, saying the mask wasn’t tight around the baby’s face.

‘I think it was a mix of having a laugh, and trying her best to protect her child with the equipment available to her,’ he told the New Zealand Herald.

Many people agreed with him, with one commenter saying the baby had her fist raised in the photo ‘to assure you there’s enough holes and gaps in the mask to breathe properly and don’t be a Karen and complain about a picture on Facebook’.

Another said the baby ‘Must be training as a superhero lol! The world is not yet ready for SuperBaby.’

Many other commenters also found the image funny and compared the baby to horror film characters.

In New Zealand, as in Australia, all passengers over 12 must wear face masks on domestic flights.

For younger children wearing a mask it is recommended parents choose one that fits well and is comfortable to wear. 

A picture of a baby wearing an adult face mask on an Air New Zealand flight has gone viral. Pictured are Air New Zealand planes at Wellington Airport

The mask should cover the child’s nose, mouth and chin without gaps above, below or on the sides.

Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, at epidemiologist at the University of Otago Wellington, said to work well, masks should be well-fitted so that air isn’t moving around the sides. 

‘That need for a good seal around the mask would make me question whether a larger mask is going to be effective on a small face,’ she said.

Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles told the Stuff news website that the mask the baby on the plane is wearing ‘might reduce the amount of virus they breathe in a little’.

‘But probably best to invest in masks designed for little ones.’

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