As mask orders spread across the country, you might be wondering how that affects your kids.

First, we know that masks prevent the wearer from spreading SARS-CoV2 through sneezing, talking, singing, or coughing. Masks have been shown to help prevent the spread of the disease even when people are infected but not yet feeling ill or even if they don’t have any symptoms but are still infected.

As an adult, you’ve probably also noticed that not all masks are equal, not all are made in the same way, and not all fit well. Wearing a poorly fitting mask feels similar to wearing a poorly fitting bra! They can pinch, slide, squeeze, and be downright uncomfortable. Plus, the variety available can be confusing. So here’s what you need to know about the different types of masks available.

N95 masks are important for our healthcare workers because they are in very close contact for prolonged periods of time indoors with patients. Healthcare workers in hospitals get tested to make sure their N95 mask fits properly. N95 masks are not the best choice for children. They are expensive and don’t fit appropriately, which makes them ineffective. Leave them for the adults.

The same is true for the masks you see with the vents in them. They are designed for painters, artists, and people who work with chemicals. The vent allows your breath to flow out of the mask, so wearing one does not protect anyone around you from your germs. Avoid these in both adults and children.

Surgical masks are a reasonable option for last-minute use, but reusing them is tricky. If you are going to buy some, choose child-sized surgical masks, which fit significantly better and are much easier to keep on the face. Some people choose to keep a box of child-sized surgical masks in the car to account for unexpected errands.

Cloth masks are great for kids. They can be made in child sizes and colors and can be adjusted to fit well. The mask does not need to have a filter pocket or filter and, in fact, some filters can be dangerous. Better to skip them for children. Cloth masks should be secured around the ears or the back of the head, ideally with adjustable straps so the child can feel comfortable.

Cotton fabric is fine and washable is mandatory. Washing by hand or in an undergarment bag on delicate will preserve the life of the mask.

Look for masks with pleats or sewn in a duck bill shape. This way the cloth will not be snug against the mouth which is uncomfortable and feels wet to the child. The mask should feel cozy against the nose and chin but pucker out a bit around the mouth.

The more comfortable the mask, the easier the child will adjust to wearing it when necessary.

Takeaways

  • Masks can help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
  • Kids don’t need to wear N95 masks.
  • Regular cloth masks are good options for young children.
  • Make sure the mask fits snugly and model good mask-wearing.

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