COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States again, and during the holidays, many people are traveling and doing social gatherings. The same measures we’ve been implementing all year need to be taken now more than ever, which includes the use of face masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing of 6 feet apart at least from unknown people.
But, if you’re in public places with kids, you know this can be tedious, and adding all of that to the mix is the perfect recipe for disaster. A lot of parents don’t know how to handle the use of face masks with their kids and often choose not to put one on them.
However, the first thing you need to know as a parent is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), all kids above the age of 2 should wear face masks in public situations, particularly if social distancing is difficult.
Parents can sometimes diminish the importance of these recommendations because it’s very difficult to get children to do something they don’t want to do, especially toddlers. But, the AAP reports that over 338,000 kids in the USA have tested positive for COVID-19, and even though they’re one of the least affected age groups, there are two good reasons to have them wear a mask:
- Asymptomatic COVID-19 cases can still spread the disease, and kids are one of the population age groups considered asymptomatic carriers and spreaders. Wearing a mask, aside from protecting the wearer, also prevents them from spreading the virus.
- You shouldn’t rely on statistics, since although it’s not a common thing, kids can also get severely affected by COVID-19.
After knowing the importance of having your kids wear face masks, now it’s time to choose the best one. Surgical masks and N95 respirators, as well as other medical-grade masks, shouldn’t be worn by children and should be reserved for frontline workers. For kids, including toddlers, reusable cloth masks are the recommended mask.
These types of masks are some of the most widely available out there, and you probably won’t have any problem finding them for sale online. Since we’re dealing with toddlers, chances are they’ll somehow get their mask dirty or wet, so we recommend to buy them in bulk or wholesale and keep multiple ones with you when you go out.
The two main factors to keep in mind when choosing a face mask for kids, particularly toddlers, are the fit and the comfort of the mask. The first one to ensure the mask will not move around, which will decrease the chances of your kid fidgeting with it, and the latter to make sure your kid is comfortable and will want to keep wearing the mask.
Healthline has a list of great options for kids, along with some other useful information.
The addition of ear loops and metal nose bridges are great to ensure a good fit that will not allow any gaps to be formed between the mask and your kid’s face. You can even make your masks if you’re agile with your hands very easily, and the CDC recommends the use of two layers of tightly woven 100 percent cotton fabric. This will ensure good protection and breathability.
Now, to answer the final question parents might be asking: when should my toddle wear a mask and when they shouldn’t? Any public situation in which you and your kids are exposed to people outside your household calls for a face mask at all times, as long as your kid is above the age of 2. Some exceptions include while swimming, since masks shouldn’t get wet, or if they’re playing outside and are more than 6 feet apart from other people.
The importance of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 is a respiratory infectious illness transmitted from one person to another by respiratory fluid droplets that contain the virus. When an infected person breathes, talks, coughs, or sneezes, they release these droplets, which might be inhaled by an uninfected person and become infected.
While the majority of the cases are very mild, like the flu, and some can even be asymptomatic, mainly kids, others have risk factors to develop serious forms of the disease. These people include the elderly, immunocompromised patients, and those with certain comorbidities.
As we mentioned, asymptomatic cases can still spread the disease, which is why the use of face masks needs to be universal, even when people don’t feel ill or have shown any symptoms.
To choose the correct face mask, the situation is a big determining factor. For example, the popular N95 masks are considered the best option for virus protection in the healthcare setting, offering high antiviral properties that surpass those in surgical masks. They can filter out 95% of particles that include not only viruses but also pollen, dust, and smoke, which is why they have multiple uses. Some popular models include the 3M N95 masks in the models 3M 8511, 3M 8210, and 3M 1860.
Other protective items used in the healthcare field, which have all been scarce during the pandemic due to their high demand, include surgical masks, KN95 masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields. These should all be reserved for frontline workers and healthcare centers, while the general public is instructed to wear reusable cloth masks, considered enough protection for low-risk situations.