As kids return to the classroom, they may be bringing along an unwelcome and potentially deadly guest. Surging back this coming fall, the coronavirus now seems to be targeting the younger population. Unfortunately, we’re starting to see more and more children affected by COVID-19. As parents, we obviously want to protect our kids from this virus and keep them healthy however we can.
With the great mask debate still raging, many parents ask, “Should my child wear a face mask?” Hopefully, this article will put your mind at ease and answer all of your questions about the importance of kids wearing face masks. Read on also for all kinds of fun children’s face masks ideas to help ease your little one back into masking without tears or tantrums.
As a nurse, I’m used to masking at work to keep germs away. For over 100 years, medical professionals have utilized masks to keep themselves healthy and their patients and environment as sterile as possible. They know that masks do work.
However, as parents, we have to consider how our children react to masks and deal with their resistance to keeping them on and wearing them correctly. Having your child wear a face mask may not be as cut and dry as many think. Luckily, we have experts to guide us along with advice on the virus and mask-wearing.
Once your children reach school age, they’re old enough to hear a few simple reasons why face masks protect them and are important. When given 1 or 2 straightforward facts about the importance of wearing face masks, children are smart enough to figure out the benefits and are more likely to be on board with keeping them on.
Why are face masks for kids important?
Mask-wearing can help protect children aged 2 and over from the coronavirus and other illnesses, such as colds and flu. Here are some of the reasons supporting mask-wearing that we have learned with research over time:
- Viral illnesses that are transmissible by respiratory mode express infectious particles into the air. Those nearby can breathe in the virus and become infected. COVID-19, particularly the Delta variant, is highly transmissible by air. Masks can prevent you from transmitting air-borne germs and viruses to others, including the coronavirus. When wearing a mask, you are offered greater protection from these same pathogens. Face covers serve as a barrier between you and particles in the air that can cause infection.
- Many people don’t even know they have the virus and can spread it while asymptomatic. Universal masking will help to prevent the silent spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.
What the experts say about facemasks for kids
As of August 13, 2021, the CDC has updated its guidelines for mask-wearing. In essence, anyone who is unvaccinated and aged 2 or above should wear face masks indoors when in public areas such as grocery stores, public transportation, or school. For those fully vaccinated and aged 2+, mask-wearing is recommended in areas of substantial or high transmission.
So far, it’s not recommended that anyone wear a mask while at home or outdoors. However, personal discretion and consideration are advised when in crowded outdoor venues or public gatherings, especially for those who are unvaccinated.
When using public transportation (planes, buses, or trains), everyone ages 2 and over must wear a mask. The same rule applies in a medical facility, such as your pediatrician’s office or a hospital.
Thus, according to the CDC, your child may or may not need to wear a face mask while inside based on their vaccination status. However, no COVID-19 vaccine is currently available for children under the age of 12. So, what are kids in this younger age group supposed to do when it comes to mask-wearing? The answer is simple: children between the ages of 2 and 12 who aren’t yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine need to wear a face mask inside public areas, just like any unvaccinated adult or teenager.
What about school and face mask-wearing?
When sending your child back to school, what does the latest medical guidance have to say? Top health organizations weigh in to help guide us.
- In a July 2021 statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids wear masks in school. AAP advocates that “All students older than 2 years and all school staff should wear face masks at school—unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit use.”
- In its latest guidance on mask-wearing for kids in schools, the CDC states, “Due to the circulating and highly contagious Delta variant, CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
- The CDC offers recommendations for face mask wearing for children during physical activity. The agency advises outdoor activity whenever possible as the safer alternative. Children can go unmasked if they are more than 6 feet apart while outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. When exercising inside, all children should wear a mask.
So, there you have it: the medical experts recommend “masking up” for school.
However, some states and schools currently have their own directives. As COVID numbers continue to climb, masking policies for schools remain in flux.
Answering questions and debunking myths about kids and face masks
Understandably, parents may be apprehensive about their children wearing a face mask for an extended time. Fortunately, our experts have investigated your concerns. Here are a few answers to questions you may have about face mask-wearing and kids.
1. Is it safe for my child to wear a face mask?
Yes! Some false reports have circulated that face masks can make it harder for a child to breathe and trap carbon dioxide. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this is blatantly untrue as doctors and nurses wear facemasks all day long, day after day, and they don’t have any problems with breathing.
2. Does mask-wearing delay speech and language development in younger children?
Although this is a valid question, there is no evidence linking mask-wearing in children with speech and language delay.
3. Can wearing a face mask weaken my child’s immune system?
Once again, the answer is no. In fact, your child is more likely to have a better immune response to illness due to the protection offered by a mask.
4. How can I get my child to wear a mask if they are resistant?
Children follow their parents’ example. Making mask-wearing an upbeat family affair will go a long way toward getting your child on board with putting on a face covering. Presenting a positive example by how you discuss the topic and wear a mask will show your child that mask-wearing is just part of your life at present. Normally, younger children easily go along with whatever their family believes and how they live their life.
Yesterday, on a family bowling outing, we wore our masks inside. One of the younger boys asked why since we hadn’t worn masks all summer. I simply told him that the kids in our group were not vaccinated against the virus, and we didn’t want to get sick since COVID-19 was starting to come back again. Receiving an uncomplicated answer to his question and seeing that the others were wearing masks was all he needed to feel comfortable again with putting on his mask. He donned his Spiderman face covering and pretty much forgot about it while enjoying his day.
Choosing the right face mask for your child
Having your child pick out their mask is a great way to get them more enthused about mask-wearing. So, besides a print of Mickey Mouse or a Frozen character, what is essential to consider when shopping for face masks for kids?
For the children in my family, comfort is key to getting them to keep their masks on. That translates to lightweight, breathable material with thin loops that don’t pull on their ears. We have found that disposable children’s face masks fit the bill for lightweight comfort. However, they tend to fall apart, and being a bit overzealous, one of our 5-year-old twins always has a hard time with the ear loops snapping.
So, for some children, cloth masks may be a better bet. The CDC offers an excellent guide to masks that parents may find helpful when choosing the best face mask for their kids. Face masks should fit snugly to cover the mouth and nose, consist of 2 or more layers of fabric, and include a nose wire. The CDC does not recommend face shields.
A big part of having your child wear a mask is getting them to wear it properly. We’ve all seen people wearing face masks under their nose or chin. Children need to know that face coverings need to fit over both their mouth and nose to protect them from getting sick. Demonstrating proper mask-wearing on yourself and then with your child may help them learn the importance of correctly wearing their masks.
A fun video has always been an excellent way for my kids to learn about important topics. Many children’s educational videos are currently available about the proper way to wear a mask. Not only will your child enjoy watching, but these clips will also help keep them safe.
Best face masks for kids
Here are a few top-rated face masks that can persuade even the most hesitant toddler or kid to give wearing one a try.
1. Crayola Kids Face Mask
One of the best kids’ face masks for school is this pack by Crayola. It contains 5 masks, so your child will have one for each school day.
Better yet, they come in different colors and patterns, which are sure to amuse your kid. They also constitute a two-layer fabric, offering maximum protection.
Another thing you’ll love about these face coverings is how nicely they fit. They include adjustable ear straps and a nose clip, which prevents the mask from fogging up your toddler’s glasses. Plus, they have name tags, making it easy for your kiddo to keep track of their masks.
2. Taimu KN95 Mask for Kids
There aren’t any N95 face masks for children on the market, but if you’re searching for something that comes close, the Taimu KN95 antiviral face masks for kids are your best bet.
The real highlight of these masks is their construction. They contain 5 layers of protection made from a variety of materials, including non-woven cloth, melt-blown fabric, and cotton. These work well together, offering your toddler the most skin-friendly, comfortable, and breathable experience.
Available in plain white or black, the masks also sport a 3D design, which conforms nicely to the wearer’s face. They also have ultra-soft elastic ear loops and an adjustable nose clip that make fixing in place easy.
3. Woplagyreat Kids Face Masks
If you’re looking for face masks that will be easy to put on and remove, the Woplagyreat Kids Face Masks Pack is just what you need. The masks include ear loops that can easily be adjusted to find the perfect fit for your little one.
If your child is somewhat hesitant to wear them, consider buying those that come in interesting themes. The face mask patterns that kids are most likely to love are the dinosaur, unicorn mermaid, whale, and camo.
Each pack includes 4 face masks, so you’ll always have a spare one in case your child loses the one they’re wearing. And thanks to their cotton fabric, these coverings are very breathable and comfortable.
4. TCP Global Salon World Safety Kids Face Shields
Compared to face masks, face shields offer better coverage. They’re also safer because they eliminate the need of having to touch one’s face with hands that could be contaminated. One of the best kids’ face shields is the 10-pack by TCP Global.
The package includes 10 face shields, 2 for each of the colors green, blue, yellow, clear, and red.
What you’ll love even more is the fact that they don’t have a headband, which can feel uncomfortable at times. Instead, each shield features a wrap-around design, which can be adjusted to find a snug fit.
The face shields also boast clear and anti-fogging capabilities. Since they never fog, they offer optimal visibility regardless of how long they’re used. In addition, they can be reused upon disinfecting.
5. Old Navy Kids Masks
For the most pocket-friendly masks, check out this 3-ply, woven set by Old Navy. It includes 5 cloth pleated face masks with beautiful earthy dye effects.
The manufacturer has used cotton fabric, creating coverings that feel soft against the skin. The material is also breathable, so your kiddo won’t mind wearing it for a prolonged period.
We particularly like the fact that the manufacturer complies with CDC guidelines. Plus, the masks are designed with kids in mind, meaning they fit small faces perfectly. However, they’re only suitable for kids aged 3 and above.
6. DIY Face Mask for Kids
The cost of buying face mask for kids can add up quite fast, especially if you have several kids attending school. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, arm yourself with a sewing machine and some supplies and make your own masks at home. Better yet, you can engage your kids and turn this into a fun family-bonding activity.
Just be sure to measure the fabrics you use to the correct sizes.
Here is a detailed tutorial on creating a homemade face mask for kids:
As a school nurse and a parent, I understand all of the frustration and anxiety that go with sending your children back to school during a pandemic. I hope this article resolves the dilemma over masking, and you and your children can start the school year on a positive note. Here’s to a healthy and exciting fall season and educational experience for everyone!