Face masks for kids: What parents need to know
Many public spaces ask or require everyone over the age of 2 to wear cloth face masks or cloth face coverings. This is to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here are some ways and tips on how you can talk to your children about wearing face masks.
How Kids Should Wear A Mask
CDC has these recommendations when wearing a mask:
- Mouth and nose must be covered with the mask completely
- Make sure the mask is snug around your face, no gaps on the sides.
- Keep the mask on at all times while out of the house.
- Avoid touching the front of the mask.
- Be sure to wash a cloth mask often or dispose or sanitize disposable mask after every use.
- Wash your hands before putting on your mask and after you remove your mask.
How to Talk to Kids about Wearing a Face Mask
Kids usually associate face masks with medical professionals such as dentists, orthodontists, doctors and nurses. So it is important to help them understand why we all need to wear a face mask now. However, it is also important to validate children’s fears about wearing a face covering. Here are some ways to help alleviate the possible anxiety about wearing a mask:
- Explain to kids that doctors and nurses recommend face masks to protect ourselves.
- Talk to children about other helpers in their lives that do wear masks such as fire fighters and even superheroes. They all wear masks because their job is to protect people.
- Inform children that face masks not only protect our own noses and mouths from germs, it also protects others people because it keeps the germs closer to our bodies.
- Compare wearing masks like washing our hands or covering our mouth when we cough. It is another way of keeping ourselves and our family and friends healthy.
- Show kids some age-appropriate reading materials or videos that help them understand what COVID-19 is. Here are some good resources from Sesame Street with many resources on how to talk to your kids about the virus.
- Remind kids to keep the mask on at all times when they are outside of the house, especially when talking coughing or sneezing.
- Give praises to kids for keeping their masks on and for practicing social distancing
- Remind kids not to touch their masks or their faces.
- Wear a mask yourself to show them that it is okay to wear one.
How to Normalize Face Masks for Kids
Kids love choices and options. If you are making your own cloth masks, let them choose the pattern and colors themselves. Giving them the area to be creative with their own mask will help them feel comfortable wearing one and also make them feel more control.
For preschool age children, try using a stuffed animal to practice wearing a mask. Before bringing kids outside of the home, practice wearing a mask at home so they get accustomed to the feel of the mask. A good way is to have the kids wear their mask while playing outside in the yard or while they are reading or playing games on the devices.
Some kids are sensitive to having things around their ears so a good way to get around that is to attached buttons to a hat or a cloth headband so you can loop the ear elastic around the buttons and not your child’s ears.
For preschool age children, try using a stuffed animal to practice wearing a mask. Before bringing kids outside of the home, practice wearing a mask at home so they get accustomed to the feel of the mask. A good way is to have the kids wear their mask while playing.
Where to Buy Cute & Comfortable Face Masks for Kids
The proper size and fit of children’s face masks is very important. So buying a face mask that fits your child’s face is one of the first thing you should look for. Then ask your child to choose a face mask pattern that they like. There are plenty of choices anywhere from unicorn, bunnies, dinosaurs, superhero, trucks and much more. Try to choose washable face masks for kids that are made of organic or breathable cotton. Getting multi-packs of children’s masks are a good idea so you don’t have to run the laundry for one mask. Here are some online retailers that carries face masks especially for kids:
Until a vaccine is developed for COVID-19, washing your hands, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing will be the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus. The American Academy of Pediatrics has an abundance of information and resources to guide you through your children’s health at every stage. You can access all information and resources here.