Kids Wearing Face Masks: Here’s What Parents Need to Know

Here are some tips and how to talk to kids about them.

Starting Aug. 4, masks are required in all Pre-K to Grade 12 schools and daycares for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people to help combat the Delta variant in Illinois. Here are some tips about kids wearing face masks.

Should unvaccinated kids continue to wear face masks?

Masks for kids under 12 are still an important way to keep them healthy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Plus, young kids can still pass the virus along to someone else.

Yvonne A. Maldonado, MD, FAAP, the chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, says families in the same household do not need to wear masks when they are together for inside activities.

For outside activities, Maldonado recommends masks except when it is just the family on a bike ride or walk, at small gatherings with fully vaccinated family and friends, activities where social distance is possible such as golfing or singles tennis, during swimming or during sports such as gymnastics, cheer, tumbling and wrestling where masks can pose a risk and for kids under 2.

Maldonado also suggests parents model mask wearing for their younger kids, such as agreeing in advance that everyone in the family wears a mask when going to the grocery store.

For more of Maldonado’s tips visit AAP’s HealthyChildren.org.

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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