Face masks and kids: How to help little ones wear them
A face mask is a simple thing, yet it’s one of the best tools we have to help protect one another from COVID-19.
That’s why public health experts say almost everyone should wear a mask—including children as young as 2 years old who live in certain communities.
“Many areas have mask mandates in addition to recommendations,” said Kylene M. Draeger, MD, pediatrician for Aspirus. “Children should be wearing a mask for the duration of their school day, with the exception of when they are eating or drinking”.
Wearing a face mask can be challenging for children.
Draeger suggests these tips to help them adjust:
• Make it fun. Put a face mask on a stuffed animal. Give your child’s mask a cool decoration. Point out that many superheroes wear masks.
• Practice together. Help your child get used to wearing the mask before you go out.
• Show your child pictures of other kids wearing masks. This will help your child avoid feeling different or singled out.
• Talk about the importance of masks. Using age-appropriate words, talk with your child about face masks and why your family wears them: to avoid spreading germs. Teach your child not to share or trade masks.
• Be a Good Example. Children model what you do. If you are wearing your mask, they are more likely to do it.
• Right mask, right fit
You can buy a face covering for your child. Or if you sew, you can find DIY mask patterns online. A pleated cloth mask with elastic ear loops usually works best for kids.
“Making sure the masks you buy or make fits your child’s smaller face and can be securely worn over your child’s nose and mouth is very important,” Draeger said. “Adult face masks are too large for kids.”
Also, children often need to be reminded to:
• Wash their hands before and after wearing the mask.
• Avoid touching the mask while wearing it.
• Remove the mask by taking it off from behind rather than from the front.
Some children have a developmental or intellectual disability or a health condition that may make it harder to wear a mask. Ask your child’s doctor for advice. If you think you’ve been exposed or are experiencing a fever, cough or shortness of breath, call the COVID-19 Call Center at 1-844-568-0701.