As more activities open up across the county, it is important to continue to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Along with hand washing and social distancing, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all children over the age of two wear a mask in public. This is a major shift in everyday behavior, and it may be a little challenging for some kids to adapt. To help your family practice good mask habits, we have answered the most common questions about masks and provided some tips to make this shift a bit easier for everyone.
Why do kids need to wear masks?
Kids can contract COVID-19, but in general, their symptoms are mild. In some cases, a child could have the virus without showing any symptoms at all. COVID-19 spreads easily through everyday actions such as coughing, sneezing, or talking. By wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing their hands, your child is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and playing an important role in keeping everyone safe.
What makes a good fit?
Comfort is key! A mask that fits well is easier for kids to keep on and more effective at reducing virus transmission. If a mask fits well, your child won’t feel the need to touch their face to adjust it. A well-fitted mask covers your child’s nose, mouth, and chin without gapping. The best masks have at least two layers of breathable fabric and are secured with elastic straps around the ears or behind the head.
How can I make picking out a mask fun?
Involve your child by letting them choose a mask with a fun pattern, their favorite characters, or their favorite sports team logo. As a fun family activity, you can make and decorate masks together at home. The CDC has provided both sew and no-sew patterns for approved homemade masks.
How many masks does my child need?
For a child going to school every day, it is important to have a fresh mask every morning. Each child should have three to four reusable masks, and they should not share or trade masks with each other. Masks need to be washed in hot water and dried on high heat after every use.
What if my child resists wearing a mask?
Talk to your child about why it’s important to wear a mask. Explain the virus and how it spreads using simple, neutral language that will convey the seriousness of COVID-19 without frightening them. Express that they are helping their community stay safe by wearing the mask. By wearing your own mask, you will be modeling healthy behavior and your children will notice.
What can I do to help younger children with masks?
Younger children may take longer to learn how and when to wear a mask. You can normalize wearing masks by using them during play. Practice wearing masks at home while playing hide-and-seek, or place a mask on their favorite stuffed animals and dolls. As wearing masks become more routine for young children, they will adapt and follow directions. Remember that masks should not be worn by children under the age of two.
What if my child has unique challenges related to wearing a mask?
For children with sensory challenges, make sure the fabric is soft and consider using a headband with buttons to secure the mask. If your child is hard of hearing or deaf, consider wearing a mask with a clear cover across the mouth so they can still read lips. A mask with a nose wire can help minimize fogging for children who wear glasses.
Wearing a mask is an adjustment for all of us. Listen to your child’s questions, validate their concerns, and reinforce the importance of working together to create a safe and healthy environment during this challenging time. Focus on positive reinforcement and be sure to praise your children when they wear their masks correctly.