'SuperBaby': Photo of infant wearing mask on flight goes viral

A cute photo of a baby on board a recent Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Wellington has divided the internet.

In the shot, the infant can be seen in a light pink jumper and being held by a woman dressed in yellow as fellow passengers disembark the aircraft on Friday.

But it’s what’s on the baby’s face that has sparked fierce debate.

A baby in a woman's arms wearing a mask (left) and a close up of the baby with a mask over its face (right) during the flight.
The babbling bub could be seen looking through the eye holes of its face mask during the flight. Source: Jandre Opperman via NZ Herald

Despite New Zealand law insisting that only those passengers aged over 12 need to wear a mask on domestic flights, the littlest arrival is wearing a disposable face mask.

Except the adult-sized mask is covering the baby’s entire face, with eye holes cut out for the baby to see through.

Those online were quick to react to the image which has since gone viral on social media, condemning the mask as unsafe.

“Babies need air to develop,” one person wrote, while another reiterated that it was “dangerous to cover their breathing holes like this.”

Other’s slammed the gesture as “incredibly sad” and said it reflected “child abuse.”

“If I saw this on a flight I’d remove the mask from her myself,” someone said.

An Air NZ plane sits on the tarmac
Only passengers over 12 need to wear a mask on Air New Zealand domestic flights. Source: AAP

Baby was happy, passenger insists

But the man behind the photograph insists the negative reaction is misplaced.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Jandre Opperman says it was a “super sweet interaction".

“The baby was full of joy, jumping around and giggling away,” he said.

“It made the wait to get off the plane a bit more entertaining.”

He explained that the mask wasn’t tight and that the mum was attentive to the child.

“It was a mix of having a laugh and trying her best to protect her child with the equipment available to her.”

Others on social media also leapt to the baby’s defence.

“Must be training as a superhero,” one person suggested.

“The world is not yet ready for SuperBaby.”

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.