We can help keep our communities stay safe and slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face coverings and helping our children to do this as well. Public Health recommends both parents and children to wear face coverings when you are at any indoor or outdoor public space where you may be within 6 feet of someone who does not live with you. Requirements vary from place to place, so check your local area for more details.
This can be easier said than done with young kids. Here are a few tips to help you navigate this new environment.
How do I get my child used to wear a face covering?
Kids learn best through modeling! If you are comfortable wearing one, then most kids follow along. Keep it a matter of fact and explain what is expected:
“Right now we are wearing masks inside or outside when we are close to others (in a grocery store, when passing on a hiking trail or busy sidewalks), to keep everyone safe and healthy.”
It is important that YOU model this consistently. Make the covering fun. Let them choose which one they will be wearing (have options if possible) and make sure it is the proper fit. Sesame Street can help too!
In Part 2 of Sesame Street Town Hall, Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains to Elmo why face coverings and proper hand washing are helpful to stop the spread of coronavirus:
What if my kid has sensory sensitivities? How do I get them comfortable wearing a face covering?
Practice for short amounts of time and try out different face covering fabrics. Consider the neck scarf type as opposed to the elastic bands over the ears or vice versa. Acknowledge the discomfort and try to control other sensory variables such as the rest of their clothes, loud noises (consider wearing headphones with the face covering), and avoiding unnecessary conditions that require face coverings at all.
*see below for more details on who should NOT wear a mask.
How young should kids start wearing face coverings?
Around the age of 2 children can start wearing cloth face coverings. Children between 2-12 years old should only wear a face covering if a parent or caregiver supervises to make sure it's worn safely.
Who should NOT wear a mask?
Children ages 2 years and younger. Babies and toddlers under age two should NEVER wear cloth face coverings.
Anyone with a disability that makes it hard for them to wear or remove a face covering.
Anyone who is deaf and moves their face and mouth to communicate.
Anyone who has been advised by a medical professional to not wear a face covering because of personal health issues.
*A face covering is not needed when you are outside walking, exercising, or otherwise outdoors if you are able to regularly stay 6 feet away from other people who do not live with you.