The AAP has a great piece on their Healthy Children Blog about mask use and what you need to know when it comes to kids and masks.
Straight from the experts, here are some great tips and burning questions answered.
Should children wear cloth face coverings?
Children under the age of 2 years should not wear cloth face coverings.
When do children need to wear cloth face coverings?
There are places where children should wear cloth face coverings. This includes places where they may not be able to avoid staying 6 feet away from others. For example, if you have to take them to the doctor, pharmacy, or grocery store.
However, there are other places where children do NOT need to wear a cloth face covering:
At home, assuming they have not been exposed to anyone with COVID-19.
Outside, as long as they can stay at least 6 feet away from others and can avoid touching surfaces. For example, it's fine to take a walk as long as your children stay 6 feet away from others and do not touch tables, water fountains, playground equipment or other things that infected people might have touched.
Caution: you may need to reconsider the use of cloth face coverings if:
The face coverings are a possible choking or strangulation hazards to your child.
Wearing the cloth face covering causes your child to touch their face more frequently than not wearing it.
Staying home and physical distancing is still the best way to protect your family from COVID-19. Especially for younger children who may not understand why they can't run up toward other people or touch things they shouldn't, it's best to keep them home. Children who are sick (fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, diarrhea, or vomiting) should not leave home.
What if my child is scared of wearing a face covering?
It's understandable that children may be afraid of cloth face coverings at first. Here are a few ideas to help make them seem less scary:
Look in the mirror with the face coverings on and talk about it.
Put a cloth face covering on a favorite doll or stuffed animal.
Decorate them so they're more personalized and fun.
Show your child pictures of other children wearing them.
Draw one on their favorite book character.
Practice wearing the face covering at home to help your child get used to it.
For children under 3, it's best to answer their questions simply in language they understand. If they ask about why people are wearing cloth face coverings, explain that sometimes people wear them when they are sick, and when they are all better, they stop wearing them.
For children over 3, try focusing on germs. Explain that germs are special to your own body. Some germs and good and some are bad. The bad ones can make you sick. Since we can't always tell which are good or bad, the cloth face coverings help make sure you keep those germs away from your own body.
One of the biggest challenges with having children wear cloth face coverings relates to them “feeling different" or stereotyping them as being sick. As more people wear these cloth face coverings, children will get used to them and not feel singled out or strange about wearing them.