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Alex + Nova

  • The CDC recommends kids over 2 years old wear a cloth face mask in public when they cannot social distance.
  • We spoke to a pediatrician to find out what parents should consider before shopping for kids' face masks.
  • Retail brands are now offering high-quality face masks for kids in a variety of colors, patterns, and designs. Here are 14 of our favorites.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Tania Elliott, MD, who specializes in infectious diseases related to allergies and immunology for internal medicine at NYU Langone Health.
  • See more: where to buy adult face masks online 

When it comes to wearing a face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, parents must grapple with additional uncertainties about their kids. 

Mainly, what type of face mask will provide the most comfort while also protecting against the potential spread of the coronavirus? And some wonder, do kids even need to wear them? 

The answers to these questions are not so simple, according to Dipesh Navsaria, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

"If it's uncomfortable to wear, they're not going to do it — and every face is different," Navsaria told Insider. "When it comes to safety, there are a lot of claims being made, and we don't know how well they're being vetted... But we do know the goal is to reduce the risk of particles and droplet spread in your vicinity, and that a face mask can help achieve that goal." 

The CDC outlined safe ways that people can make their own masks at home. Additionally, many new products are available which meet these guidelines, but masks are never fail-safe, especially when children play with straps and fabric.

Before you buy a mask online or try to make one yourself, it's important to understand the fundamentals of face masks and their role during this critical time.

Face masks are not a substitute for social distancing, handwashing, and other important measures

Face masks are recommended by the CDC, but they do not replace quarantining or social distancing by 6 feet or more.

"Kids should not be in places where they have to wear masks for long periods of time," said Navsaria. "The absolute best way to protect your child and yourself from any respiratory infection is to stay at home." He explained that there's a hierarchy when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19, from quarantine to isolation to social distancing, in addition to handwashing, the use of face masks, and in some instances, gloves.

Face masks are not for all kids

Face masks can impede breathing or get tangled. According to the CDC, children under 2 years old should not wear face masks, nor should people who have difficulty breathing or those who cannot remove the mask without help. For younger children, too, you'll want to monitor with them mask to avoid any choking hazards.

"This is important because there are a lot of masks on Amazon right now for kids aged 0 to 3, and parents might just think it's not a big deal, but this a very important safety restriction," said Navsaria. 

He assures parents that if their child absolutely refuses to wear a face mask, they don't have to force it. But that also means the child should not be in public places or at large social gatherings.

Fabric isn't as important as density

Face masks are available in a variety of materials, including cotton, denim, and spandex. Researchers have found that when it comes to preventing COVID-19 spread, a mask's material isn't as important as how tightly it's woven. The more compact the fabric threading, the more protective the mask. Cotton tends to be more tightly woven than other materials.

Navsaria recommends holding the mask up to a light source. If a lot of light passes through, it can be an indicator that the fabric is loosely woven. However, the material also needs to be breathable. "Put it up to your own face and ask yourself if you can breathe through the mask reasonably," said Navsaria.

Comfort is key

Kids' face masks must be comfortable. The ear attachments shouldn't chafe, the mask shouldn't be fastened too tight, and the material should be soft. Some masks have pleats to conform to the face or wiring that holds up the nose area, which can make the mask more breathable, Navsaria said. Whatever your child's preferences, comfort should be one of parents' top priorities when buying or making a mask. Adjustable ear loops may help achieve a better fit as well.  

If your child is reluctant to wear a mask, add a fun element. "Make it into a game," Roberto Posada, MD, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Mount Sinai told Insider. "Or a superhero kind of thing. That could help."

Navsaria also recommends giving children some freedom to make choices. "If you're going to buy or make a mask, maybe ask them to choose the fabric," he said. "If you're out for a walk, let them know when they need to wear it and when it's okay to take it off. Give them the option when you can."

Don't worry about FDA approval, medical-grade status, or particulate filtration systems

FDA-approved, medical-grade masks — such as those with N95 status — should be reserved for high-risk medical professionals, according to the CDC. Most masks for children won't have those credentials, and Navsaria said that's fine, especially if families are prioritizing quarantining and social distancing.

To set themselves apart, many brands are designing nonmedical-grade masks that have a particulate filtration system, which is usually a coffee-filter-like layer placed inside the mask. It has yet to be scientifically proven whether or not the filters add benefit. If you're looking for a boost, Navsaria recommends looking for a mask with another layer of fabric.

Proper mask usage and care are important

The CDC advises people to wash their hands with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable, before putting on a face mask. This should also be done after touching, adjusting, or removing the mask.

The face mask should completely cover a child's mouth and nose. To put on the mask, place it over the nose and mouth first, secure it under the chin, and then secure the elastic loops behind the ears or tie the ties securely at the back of the head. A properly fitted mask should also fit snugly along the sides of the face. 

Parents and children should only handle the ear loops or ties to take off the mask. Once removed, the outside corners should be folded in on themselves to prevent contamination. Fabric masks should be washed daily with mild detergent and water, dried completely in a hot dryer on the highest heat setting, and then stored in a clean container or bag.

Use your judgment when it comes to retailers

The face mask market is growing, which means there are a lot of questionable products available. Right now, the best kids' masks will probably come from a brand you already trust.

Here are 19 cloth face masks for kids from online retailers:

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Pete Carroll, Vic Fangio And Kyle Shanahan Receive $100,000 Fines For Not Wearing A Mask

Three NFL coaches have received massive fines for not wearing a mask this past Sunday.

According to Adam Schefter, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Broncos coach Vic Vangio and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan were all fined $100,000 for not wearing a mask. (RELATED: David Hookstead Is The True King In The North When It Comes To College Football)

Their respective teams were also each fined $250,000. That’s more than $1 million in total fines.

NFL fined three head coaches – – Denver’s Vic Fangio, Seattle’s Pete Carroll and SF’s Kyle Shanahan – $100,000 each for not wearing masks Sunday, and each of their teams another $250,000, sources told ESPN.

So that’s $1.05 million dollars in fines for not wearing masks.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 22, 2020

I’m not some anti-mask fanatic, but this is really stupid. Fining coaches $100,000 for not wearing a mask is absurd.

The NFL does realize these coaches are around players literally tackling each other, right? Somebody told Roger Goodell that’s how football works, correct?

#49ers Kyle Shanahan has been fined $100,000 for not wearing a mask on Sunday ????

— TheSFNiners (@TheSFNiners) September 22, 2020

I’m not even saying mask wearing shouldn’t be encouraged, but there’s no reason it should be mandated if the players aren’t even doing it.

Are coaches mandated to wear masks during meetings and activities in the locker room? If not, then why the hell do they have to wear them on the sidelines?

Pete Carroll looking like Future with his “Mask Off” the entire night lmao. Open the world back up! #PeteCarroll #maskoff

— REVOLT ⚡ RIDDUB (@REVOLTdubs) September 21, 2020

The NFL has done an outstanding job dealing with coronavirus, but this is just too much. Let the coaches coach however they want until it’s proven unsafe. There’s no reason for this kind of reaction.

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