What You Should Know About Kids’ Face Masks

I’ve been enjoying ’round-the-clock family time with my two girls for the past eight weeks, spending our time in quarantine just outside New York City. Most of our social distance outings have been walks on the beach, neighborhood strolls, and drive-by hellos past our family and friends’ homes. As an adult, I’ve gotten used to wearing a face covering in public, and so have my girls—they even remind me when I step out of the car, “Mommy, don’t forget your mask!” So when the Centers for Disease Control officially started recommending face coverings, it got me thinking about what to do to keep them—and others in our community—safe.

Under the guidelines, the CDC recommends that all children over the age of two "wear a cloth face covering their nose and mouth" in public settings to reduce the spread of the virus. Even though we spend the majority of our time inside, the occasional family walk is inevitable. And if you’re a parent, you’ll know that it’s not always possible to keep your kid from running up to something that excites them. Getting my older daughter to wear a face mask was easy (after all, matching with Mommy is one of her favorite things to do), but the real challenge was finding something for my two-year-old. Not only did I have to find her one that fits properly; it also had to be something she’d like enough to wear without constantly trying to pry it off her face.

Curious about what to look for when shopping for a kids’ face mask, I reached out to Kelly Fradin, M.D., a pediatrician, writer, and public health advocate working in the Bronx, New York, for advice. “The primary concern is that the face mask be well-fitting on your child,” says Fradin. “If there are gaps around the mask, it defeats the purpose. Although elastic may be easier for kids to manage, it may not achieve the same seal as a mask that ties depending on the mask and the child’s face.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that a kid's face mask should be put on the same way as an adult’s, in that it “should securely cover the nose and mouth and stretch from before the ear to the other side,’ according to the organization’s site.

Besides fit, parents should also consider the mask's material. Fradin recommends something soft and breathable, like cotton. “We know that less breathable materials like denim may be slightly better at blocking viruses from going through the mask, but these will almost certainly be intolerable for children,” says Fradin. “Children are more active than adults and breathe more per minute so we should allow them to wear a mask they can breathe through easily. This will also increase the likelihood they will wear the mask,” she says.

Just as I've realized with my own children, Fradin says that most kids ages 2 to 6 will find it difficult to wear a mask without touching it often for long periods of time. “In truth, if your child is touching their face often while wearing it, it may do more harm than good,” she says. She recommends washing the mask after every use. And she has one more tip: To keep kids from tearing the thing right off their face, make a game out of it. “Putting a mask on a stuffed animal or drawing masks on pictures of people may help demystify masks,” suggests Fradin. “Also training children to tolerate wearing it for brief periods and building up to longer sessions might be effective too. There are even children’s books about masks.’

If you’re unsure of where to buy face masks for your kids, shop the brands below—but be aware that overwhelming demand could result in weeks-long delivery time. In the interim, you can DIY face masks for your family with bandanas or scarves, because even a homemade face cover can be a vital step to help protect yourself and your community.

Old Navy Variety 5-Pack of Triple-Layer Cloth Face Masks for Kids

Disney Cloth Face Masks 4-Pack Set

Sanctuary 5-Pack Kids Fashion PPE Masks

Busy Bees Cotton Face Mask

Sew Fun Doll Clothes Reversible Cotton Face Masks with Ties

il and i Organic Cotton Kids Mask

Vistaprint Reusable Face Masks for Kids

Lele Sadoughi Set of 2 Kids' Face Masks

LittleMiaBella Kids Reusable Face Mask

Alex+Nova Organic Cotton Reusable Face Mask

Avocado Child 4-Pack Organic Cotton Face Mask

Greylin The Taylor Reusable Kids Face Mask

Black Iris Kids Animals and Checks 3-Pack Face Masks

LisalibyLisa Embroidered Mask Face for Kids

Billie Blooms x Karolina Kurkova 3 Folded Masks Set

Jeune Otte Liberty of London Floral Face Mask

As news about the novel coronavirus pandemic rapidly evolves, Glamour is committed to bringing our readers the most accurate and up-to-date facts. As a result, information in this story and others like it may change, and we will update when necessary. For the most recent news about COVID-19, please visit the CDC, the WHO, and your state’s Department of Health.

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