Our new normal will include face masks for the foreseeable future. As schools get ready to reopen in the next couple months, they are doing so with the understanding that social distancing, hand washing, and face masks will all be part of the equation. Similarly, many daycares are already enforcing face mask regulations for children and staff to help stop the spread of coronavirus. We decided it is time to do a deep dive into everything you need to know about face masks for kids of all ages.
Schools and daycares are not the only places your child will need a mask, however. For the time being, nearly every activity, event, or excursion your child could be involved in will require them to wear a mask. This means that parents need to be prepared with enough masks on hand, and with enough patience to help their child form good mask-wearing habits.
Let’s break down the face mask information you need to know to ensure your child is safe and protected now and in the months to come.
Why Kids Need to Wear Face Masks
While statistics show us that children are among the least likely to contract the virus, it is still possible. We are also still learning about the virus, and it may mutate overtime to present additional health risks. It is imperative that children get into the habit of wearing their masks when they go out to prepare for these eventualities.
In addition, some schools are likely to reopen in the fall, which means that children are going to be in close proximity to one another on a regular basis. Schools can do all they can to ensure that social distancing is observed, but children are less likely to follow the rules when around a large group of their peers. This makes face masks even more important in the fight against the virus.
Lastly, and most importantly, it is possible to have COVID-19 and not show any symptoms. Infectious Disease Expert, Peter Chin-Hong, at the University of California San Francisco says it best: "I think the biggest thing with COVID now that shapes all of this guidance on masks is that we can’t tell who’s infected. You can’t look in a crowd and say, oh, that person should wear a mask. There’s a lot of asymptomatic infection, so everybody has to wear a mask.” More helpful information in this article.
How Face Masks Help
Face masks are one of our best defense weapons against COVID-19. Along with social distancing and hand-washing, wearing a mask can greatly reduce the risk of you or your child contracting coronavirus. NBC News recently conducted a test, which included a Tokki x Gravitas face mask, to better understand if masks are truly effective in containing germs. The findings proved that masks do keep bacteria (and hopefully virus) more contained behind a mask vs not wearing a mask. This test further Proved the importance of wearing a mask to protect you and those around you from any potentially harmful germs.
However, it is important to note that not all masks are created equal. Ill-fitting, loose, or thin masks will not provide nearly the same protection or coverage a well-made, high-quality mask offers. A well-fitting mask has an additional protective benefit: your child is far more likely to consent to wearing one. Poorly made, uncomfortable masks are a much more difficult to sell to a child who is already wary of wearing a mask at all.
When Does My Child Need to Wear Their Face Mask?
If your child will be at school, or in another public indoor environment, they need to wear their mask. Children who are hesitant to wear their masks should be encouraged to wear them at all times when outside the house. This will avoid a constant battle every time the mask needs to come on or off.
Once they are comfortable wearing their mask, they can begin to take it off on certain occasions where wearing a mask is not required. You can help them adjust by also wearing your mask whenever you ask them to wear theirs. The Tokki x Gravitas kid face mask design of tie elastic at the nape of neck and back of head make it easy for a child to slide the mask down when they don't need to wear it and pull it back up when they do.
If older children are going with you to run errands, but they remain in the car for the duration of the trip, they do not need to wear a mask - but they should have one with them, just in case. In general, if your child will be outdoors and practicing social distancing they do not need to wear their mask.
Which Types of Face Masks are Best?
Adjustable face masks with around-the-head bands instead of ear loops are preferable for younger kids due to their small ears. Teens may prefer face masks with ear loops, though masks with around-the-head bands are definitely still an option. We also find that face masks with around-the-head elastic bands make it easy to pull the mask down when it is not needed and safely pull it back up when it is needed. This is preferable for a child of any age, especially in school, when they need to pull it down to eat or drink, but don't want to find a place to store it or lose it. Three of our sizes can fit kids of all ages and are designed with the tie elastic at the nape of the neck and back of head: kid face mask 2-6, kid face mask 7-12, adult face mask size petite.
Masks that are stitched together with multiple panels and layers of fabric (like our Tokki x Gravitas masks) have proved to be more comfortable for children as they provide an air pocket in the front that makes breathing easier. Younger children and teens alike may find pleated face masks too claustrophobic or uncomfortable.
Do Kids Need a Filter in Their Mask?
It depends on the situation. Air travel and medical visits are both instances where a filter is recommended. It is not essential for your child to wear a filter while at school, but it can’t hurt, either. For general trips around town a filter is not necessary.
How Should Your Child Store Their Mask?
The reality is that they may need to keep their face mask on most of the day. In this case, it is best that they wear a face mask that is easy to pull down and back up. This will prevent the face mask from getting lost or accidentally put in a location that exposes it to more germs. The Tokki x Gravitas kid face mask and adult petite size face mask design of tie elastic at the nape of neck and back of head make it easy for anyone to safely slide the mask down around the neck when they don't need to wear it and pull it back up when they do. You can also give your child a special plastic, paper, or reusable bag, or a plastic container that you can clean and reuse to take with them to school. They can keep it in their cubby, desk, or locker, depending on which is more appropriate. Make sure to clean or replace anything you use to ensure your child’s mask remains sanitary.
Out and About
If you have a younger child, keep a container in your purse or bag and have them hand their mask over to you for safekeeping. Remember not to touch any part of the mask other than the loops or the band to ensure it remains clean.
Older children can keep a bag in their purse or back pocket and place their masks there when not in use. They can also use one of our mask keeper's, which allows them to keep their mask around their neck when it’s not being worn.
How to Care for Cloth Face Masks
Washable masks can go in the washing machine on the “hot” setting, with detergent. They should be hung to dry. You should wash your child’s mask after every use during the school year, or after they are exposed to a highly-populated area. As a general rule, washable masks should not go in the dryer.
For more information about the wear and care of masks, check out this post.
Face Mask Tips by Age:
How Many Do They Need?
More than you might think. Younger children are known to get a little messy, and some parents have reported needing at least two masks available for their young child each day. This means that anywhere from 4-7 masks per young kid in the house is a good rule of thumb. This will save you from having to do laundry every night.
How to Get Kids to Wear Their Mask
Young kids may be hesitant to wear their face mask at first, but there are ways to encourage them to adopt the practice. Some ideas to try:
- Decorate It: Let your child make their mask their own with stickers, rhinestones, ribbon, or any other safe material that makes them excited to wear their mask.
- Buy One for their Doll or Stuffed Animal: If your child has a favorite doll or stuffed animal, buy a mask for it as well - in the same print as your child’s mask, if possible. Let your kid have fun dressing it up, and encourage them to wear their mask along with their doll.
- Pair the Face Mask with a Book: Most of the Tokki x Gravitas kid face mask prints include animals. You can pair the face mask print with a book that includes the animal on the print. For example, our wolf face mask can be paired with a book about wolves. Or our trucks face mask print can be paired with a book about trucks/vehicles.
- Normalize it: Make sure you’re practicing good mask habits yourself so that your child can see that it’s not something to be upset about. You can also include the masks in playtime and pretend to be superheroes, but with masks instead of capes.
What If They’re Scared By Their Mask?
For a very young child, a mask can be a scary thing. Let them express their fears and concerns. Support them. Listen to them. Patiently answer their questions and provide them with simple but honest explanations as to why it’s important to stay safe right now.
Most of all, refrain from losing patience with them or forcing them into wearing the mask. If they see it as a punishment, it will only instill more fear and resistance.
How Many Do They Need?
At this age, you may be able to get away with around 3-5 masks. They will need at least one for every day of the school week, but you may prefer to do laundry more often than to have more masks in the house.
That being said, life does get busy, and it’s better to have an extra mask or two lying around than to have all your child’s masks dirty in the hamper when they need one.
How to Get Them to Wear Their Mask
Let them get used to wearing their face mask at home. You can even get all members of the household to try on their masks together. Turn it into a photo shoot for some fun family time.
You want to break through the barrier in your child’s mind that says “wearing a mask is weird and I don’t like it.” Sure, we all would rather not wear masks everywhere we go, but for the time being it’s necessary - so why not make it an enjoyable experience, rather than a pain?
If they don’t want to wear their mask, let them ask questions and explain to them calmly and simply the importance of wearing the masks. Model good behavior by keeping up good mask-wearing habits for yourself as well.
How Many Do They Need?
The 3-5 rule applies here as well. Any less than three masks, and you might run out of masks throughout the week. Five will give you plenty of room to do some laundry and replenish your face mask stock before it’s gone. Some schools have already announced that children will need at least 2 face masks per day for a total of 10 face masks per week.
How to Get Them to Wear Their Mask
Most older children either already understand why face masks are necessary or will comply when you inform them. However, if you find that your child is still resistant to their mask, encourage them to take up the practice by instilling a sense of responsibility. Perhaps they have a younger sibling who is having trouble wearing their mask. Let your older child know how much their younger sibling needs them to be a good role model.
If they are an only child, focus on the importance of proper hygiene during this time. Let them know that there are certain activities they won’t be able to participate in if they don’t wear their mask.
A Final Idea for Children of All Ages
Let your children have fun selecting their mask style and design. If they like their mask, they’ll actually want to wear it. Allowing your child to choose a mask that reflects their personality immediately takes mask-wearing from a chore to a fashion statement.
Face Masks Your Child Wants to Wear From Tokki x Gravitas
With fun prints and an “air pocket” for extra breathing room, Tokki x Gravitas face masks are the perfect choice for children ages 2 and up. For every mask purchased we donate a medical-grade mask to a frontline worker in need. Check out all our face mask styles for children and adults and find one for yourself while you’re at it! From all of us at Tokki: stay safe, and stay healthy.