Along with physically distancing and good hand washing, masks or cloth face coverings are an effective way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The tricky part when it comes to little ones and masks is actually getting the mask to stay on their faces, little ones can get fussy having a piece of cloth covering their face which makes it a struggling battle. As adults wear them, more and more little ones are seeing something they’re not used to. For them, it can be strange or a little scary, especially if they need to put on masks too. We’ve got some tips and tricks up our sleeves to help your little one get used to wearing a mask.
But first, here are some common misconceptions about little ones and masks
Does wearing a mask make it harder for a little one to breathe?
There have been concerns that cloth face coverings can reduce oxygen intake, and can lead to low blood oxygen levels, known as hypoxemia. However, cloth masks are made from breathable materials that will not block the oxygen your little one needs. Masks will not affect your little one’s ability to focus or learn in school. The vast majority of children age 2 and older can safely wear a cloth face covering for extended periods of time, such as the school day or at child care. This includes little ones who may be facing medical conditions.
Can masks interfere with a little one’s lung development?
No, wearing a mask will not affect your little one’s lungs from developing normally. This is because oxygen flows through and around the mask while blocking the spray of spit and respiratory droplets that may contain the virus. Keeping your little one’s lungs healthy is important, which includes preventing infections like COVID-19.
Do masks actually prevent the spread of COVID-19?
When a mask is worn correctly, they create a barrier that reduces the spray of a person’s spit and respiratory droplets. These droplets play a key role in the spread of COVID-19. Masks can also protect you from others who may have the virus but are not showing symptoms and who could come within 6 feet of your little one, which is how far respiratory droplets can travel when people sneeze or cough or raise their voices.
Getting Your Little Ones Used To Masks
- Practice – Give your little one time to practice wearing their masks before they might need to wear one outside of your home. Teach them how to put them correctly on and how to take them off.
- Encourage Your Little Ones To Create ‘Mask Art’ – This might help them feel a sense of ownership and control over the situation. A personal touch can help make it more of a normal part of their routine, and make it more likely they’ll want to wear their mask. Depending on the type of mask, little ones can draw on it with markers or put stickers on it.
- Make Masks Together – If you make masks at home, let your little ones help you. There are no-sew masks that are easy to make, often with materials you probably already have. If you sew masks, have your little ones select the fabric or patterns for the masks they’ll wear.
- Make It Fun – With younger kids, introduce a sense of play. Little ones can pretend to be a doctor or nurse while wearing their masks.
- Have A Mask Or Two Handy While They Play – This allows little ones to use their imagination about how to use them during playtime. It also helps make masks a more normal part of their everyday world. You can ask your little one to put a mask on a stuffed animal, and then ask follow-up questions about why the stuffed animal is wearing the mask. Depending on your child’s response, you can clear up any confusion and offer reassurance.
- Accept Their Reaction – Know that it’s normal for young kids to react with caution to things they don’t expect, understand, or feel familiar with. Let them take their time to warm up to what’s new.
- Comfort Them – Kids will look to you to soothe and support them. Let them sit on your lap. Tell them that they’re alright and that they’re safe. When you help them feel safe, they can start to adjust to what’s different or new. They can start to feel less cautious and more curious.
- Show Love – Laughing is relaxing and a few sweet moments help balance out the stressful ones. Show your little ones some extra love as this pandemic can be especially stressful on them as it is on us.