I’ve been enjoying ’round-the-clock family time with my two girls since quarantine began, spending our time just outside New York City. Face masks for kids are essential, since 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 U.S. hotspots are beginning Phase 1 of reopening. And if you’re a parent, you’ll know 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 website.
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 two to six 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 looking where to buy face masks for kids online, you can start by shopping the brands below. While you wait for your order, you can try DIY-ing face coverings with bandanas or scarves, because even a homemade face mask can be a vital step to help protect your family and your community.
MorganKBoutique Kids Reusable Fabric Face Mask
FiveLittleBlessings Child Face Mask with Filter Pocket
Iscream Sloth Reversible Face Mask
Iscream Corgi Reversible Face Mask
6-Pack Kids’ Pleated Cotton Face Masks
MaskCultureCo Mommy and Me Cat Face Mask Set
LittleMiaBella Kids Reusable Face Mask
LisalibyLisa Embroidered Mask Face for Kids
Kids Face Mask (3-Pack)
Mindful Masks for Kids – Assorted 2-Pack
Children’s Rainbow Face Coverings – Set of 2
$25.00, Uncommon Goods
The Fun Mask Pack for Adults and Kids
$50.00, LA Made
Steele Canvas x Food52 Cloth Face Mask
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
Child Unicorn Face Mask
$10.00, Party City
Cartoon Bears Cotton Mask for Kids
Adult & Child Mask Set, Cloud Tie Dye
Disney Cloth Face Masks 4-Pack Set
Greylin The Taylor Reusable Kids Face Mask
Girls 5 Pack Non Medical Face Masks
Children’s Seamless Face Bandanas With Filter Sheet
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.
Originally Appeared on Glamour