While adults have been lining up for their vaccinations, kids have yet to get their shots—meaning face masks for kids are still a good idea. While those as young as 12 are eligible to get the vaccine, thanks to emergency approval from the FDA to account for adolescents, clinical trials are still in the works for children from ages five to 11, as The New York Times reports. Some experts are even pushing the timeline for approval for that to mid-winter, a.k.a. halfway through the school year.
All to say: Children heading back to school this year still need to wear face masks to protect both themselves and those around them. After all, children can still catch and spread the coronavirus, which is why 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.
However, if you’re a parent, you’ll know it’s not exactly that simple. Getting your older kids to wear a face mask might be easy, but the real challenge is finding something for younger children: Not only do you have to get a mask that fits properly, but it also has to be something they’d like enough to wear without constantly trying to pry it off their face.
Curious about what to look for when shopping for a kids’ face mask? “The primary concern is that the face mask be well-fitting on your child,” says Kelly Fradin, M.D., a pediatrician, writer, and public health advocate working in the Bronx, New York. “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.
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 for 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.
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.