Should my kids wear masks?
For the most part, as long as children are staying home, they should not need to wear a mask. As long as they can keep a safe distance away from others (over 6-10 feet) on neighborhood walks, they don’t need to wear them outside either. However, if you must take your child to the doctor, the pharmacy or grocery store, wearing masks in those settings could be beneficial.
- Do NOT put a mask on any infant or toddler under the age of 2 years or any child that is more likely to touch it/try to remove it than leave it safely in place.
- Practice having your kids wear masks inside the home if you will need them to wear it outside.
- Teach your kids to wash their hands and remember to have them wash before and after putting a mask on.
- Make sure you model good mask-wearing behavior and consider making a mask for a stuffed animal or doll to wear for fun.
- For kids over the age of 3, talk to them about germs and why it is important to protect the community.
- If wearing a mask makes them more worried, reassure them by emphasizing the steps you are taking to keep them safe. The New York Times has a great article addressing how to make kids more comfortable with seeing masks.
- Remember, just because your child will cooperate with wearing a mask DOES NOT mean that they should be allowed to play with other children. Kids should still not be going anywhere unless absolutely necessary.
What kind of mask should they wear?
- Ensuring the right fit is important (mostly so they don’t have to touch it frequently). Child-sized masks are typically 5×10 inches (adults are 6 x 12 inches), but that may still be too large for young children.
- Homemade or purchased cloth masks or bandanas are suitable for both kids and adults.
- Masks should be washed after each use.
(Jackie Phillips, MD, April 13, 2020)