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

Are you wondering if kids should wear face masks? Professionals say they should — and offer these tips for parents to help make it less scary for younger kids.

There is so much confusion over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new recommendation that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks in most situations. But what does that mean for kids who aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has now jumped in with its tips for parents. Masks for kids under 12 are still an important way to keep them healthy, it says. 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.

So, should kids where face masks?

Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago 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.

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 with old shoelaces to tie around the head). 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.

Remember to wash masks after each use, or dispose of one-time-use masks and gloves in trash cans, not public parking lots.

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