You Can Buy Reusable Face Masks for Kids Online Right Now

  • Connexions
  • 2020-08-04
  • 1150

As communities begin to re-emerge after being on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks are becoming essential items for everyone to wear, including kids. The CDC says anyone over the age of 2 should wear a face mask in areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. Not to mention, wearing a face mask is often a requirement to enter public places these days. It's especially important since research has shown that the novel coronavirus can be spread by someone without symptoms if they cough, sneeze, or even speak when they're close to others.

It's easy for most adults to understand this new rule, but face masks for kids is a whole new ball game. How can we expect young children to wear these face masks without yanking them off? And how do we explain to them why they must wear the masks in public without scaring them about the coronavirus? Fortunately there are plenty of kid-friendly options out there and stress-free ways to help your child wear a face mask.

The fiber scientists and parenting experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute's Textiles Lab researched dozens of reusable face masks for kids to find the best options for every preference. The picks ahead are all washable for repeated use and offer something for everyone, whether you're looking for a face mask with filters, one that's more lightweight, or some with fun designs and prints that kids will actually like wearing.

First, how to shop for kids face masks:

Not all kids face masks are the same, so think about what type you'll need for your child. Here are the top things to consider when you shop for a kids' face mask:

  • Size: Make sure to check the recommend age range or size specifications. Some face masks come in multiple sizes, some are adjustable, and others are one-size-fits-most. While several face masks can fit kids as young as 2, many of them are designed for an older child.
  • Fit: A properly-fitting mask will be most comfortable and effective. If you're worried about the fit, look for masks with metal nose pieces to keep them secure, and adjustable straps if a style doesn't come in multiple sizes.
  • Fabric: The best material for a reusable face mask is tightly woven, 100% cotton fabric. Some face masks mix a layer of cotton fabric with a layer of polyester, and some are made entirely of polyester. You'll also find some knit fabrics that feel more like a t-shirt. Any type of face covering is better than nothing at all, and the ones that are are more protective may not be as comfortable to wear.
  • Filters: These aren't required for face masks and likely aren't necessary in most public settings (i.e. if you're not in close contact with others), but they can add an extra level of protection by blocking airborne particles. You can find face masks with inserts to add a disposable filter when it's needed. You can even use a coffee filter for these types of masks.
  • Care instructions: All of these face masks are washable, but the recommended care instructions will vary by product. Some are hand wash only, some are machine washable on the gentle cycle, and others can be machine washed using hot water for the best possible cleaning. This is a matter of personal preference, though we do recommend using a mesh laundry bag to protect it from damage in the wash.
  • Shipping: There's high demand for face masks, so pay close attention to the estimated ship date on the purchasing page. Some are in stock and ready to ship, while others may have an expected ship date within several days or even weeks ahead.
  • Charitable initiatives: Several companies selling face masks will either donate a mask for each one sold or give a portion of its proceeds to help people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you're unsure about which face mask to buy, supporting one with a give-back program is a great choice.

Are face masks safe for kids?

While they're considered safe for most kids, the CDC warns that any child under the age of 2 shouldn't wear a face mask. On top of that, face masks shouldn't be worn by anyone that has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise is unable to remove the mask on their own.

It's also important to keep in mind that none of these face coverings are medical face masks, and you should still practice social distancing as much as possible. The CDC urges that surgical face masks and N-95 respirators should be saved for healthcare workers and medical first responders who need them the most.

What if my kid refuses to wear a face mask?

Wearing a face mask will feel strange and possibly scary to most kids that have either never seen them before or have only seen them in frightening settings, like hospitals. Your best bet is to get your child used to wearing a face mask at home before they actually need to wear one in public. Here are some suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Let kids see others wearing it. Parents should wear face masks themselves and can put masks on a child's favorite stuffed animals. You can also show photos of other children wearing face masks or draw pictures of masks on their favorite characters.
  • Talk about it. Use simple language, especially for younger children under the age of 3. For older kids, focus on the germs by explaining that we can't always tell which germs are good and which are bad, and some germs can make you sick. Wearing a face mask helps keep those germs away from our bodies.
  • Practice. Put the face mask on while letting them look in the mirror. Once it becomes normal, there will be less of a struggle to wear the mask.

If the over-the-ear loops are too uncomfortable for your child, consider trying ear savers. They're extenders that go around the back of your head with hooks to attach the face mask's straps. You can also try this trick used by nurses working on the front lines of COVID-19: Attach buttons to headbands or baseball caps, then have the straps loop around those buttons instead of over the ears. Alternatively, there are strapless neck gaiters that kids can pull up over their faces like a bandana.

One more tip: Make the face masks fun. You can pick a print that features a kid-friendly design or character your child loves. It also helps to let kids make the decision. Either have your child pick out the face mask print when you shop online, or buy a plain one and decorate it together at home using iron-on transfer patches.

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