Should Kids Wear Face Masks? Here’s What Parents Need to Know

Some kids associate the use of face masks with doctors, nurses and medical professionals.

Others know that people in manufacturing wear face masks all the time. What they’re not used to is seeing everyone on the street wearing them while walking around, grocery shopping or going to the park.

Under the revised and extended stay-at-home order, Governor JB Pritzker included a requirement for Illinois residents over the age of 2 to wear masks and face coverings beginning May 1. This order extends to public places where maintaining a 6-foot distance isn’t possible.

It also includes businesses that are reopening to customers, expecting that these businesses require face coverings for employees and customers.

How Kids Should Wear a Mask

Remember these recommendations from the CDC when wearing a mask:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with the mask.
  • Make sure the mask is snug, check for gaps on the sides.
  • Keep the mask on while out of your house.
  • Avoid touching the front of the mask without gloves.
  • Be sure to wash a cloth mask or dispose of a disposable mask after every use.
  • Wash your hands after you remove your mask.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Masks

For kids – especially little kids – putting on a mask or face covering can be intimidating, odd or downright scary. It can also be scary to see people around them in masks. Parents can remember to try to make a game of it and stay calm inside their own masks to help alleviate fears.

Lurie Children’s Hospital has guidelines for families to remember about masking kids. Some highlights include:

  • Remind kids that it’s important to keep the mask on, even when talking, coughing or sneezing.
  • To avoid suffocation, children under age 2 should not wear a mask.
  • Praise kids for keeping their masks on and for practicing social distancing.
  • Kids with asthma, diabetes, heart diseases, chronic illnesses and that are immunosuppressed should stay home and use masks for every doctors’ visit.
  • Remind kids not to touch the outside of their masks or their faces.
  • Try to use pediatric-sized masks for best protection.

Where to Find Masks for Kids

Chicago-area designers are selling kid-sized face masks. Here are some options that you can buy online.

If you’re looking for a crafting project with your kids to let them make their own masks, try these directions from the CDC for making sew or no-sew masks. Or, use this tutorial from the Stitching Scientist for kid-sized masks or this one from Cricut for a no-sew version (if you don’t think your child will keep elastic on, substitute old shoelaces to tie around his or her head).

When making your own, try to pick a pattern that will be attractive and fun for your child (Mickey Mouse, super heroes or unicorns). If you or a friend have a Cricut cutting machine, you can create an iron-on transfer to add pizzazz to a solid color. Let older kids help in making the craft so that they have ownership over the masks that they use.

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