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Oregon Family Magazine

Face Masks and Kids

08/02/2020 09:50AM ● By Pilar Bradshaw, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Wearing a face mask in public, indoor spaces is now mandated in Oregon for adults and children 12 years and older. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that children 2 years and older wear masks when a social distance of 6 feet or more cannot be maintained. While it is less likely that children will become severely ill with COVID-19, they can spread the virus to vulnerable adults in their family and in our community.

To encourage young children to wear a cloth face mask:

·       Explain why it’s important in simple terms. For example, “Masks keep us from sharing germs that might make our friends sick.”

·       Help your child get used to wearing a mask in public by practicing with them at home. Keep extra masks on hand, so they can wear them around the house when they are playing throughout the day. Be sure to always supervise your child when he or she is wearing a face mask.

·       Make face masks with your child. There are a variety of no-sew mask designs available online that use materials you likely already have at home, and this type of project can provide your child with a sense of ownership and control.

·       Make it fun. Model the behavior by wearing your mask along with your child and pretend to be doctors or nurses. Have their stuffed animals wear face masks, too!

·       Encourage your child to look for smiles in people’s eyes. Kids are good at reading facial expressions, so helping them to understand that we can still see happiness in masked faces will help kids feel more comfortable around other people.

Masks should fit closely to the face, with minimal gaps. Encourage your child (and yourself) not to touch the mask while it is on and be sure to wash your masks daily, then dry them completely before wearing.

Children should not wear a mask if they are under age 2, when they are a sleeping, or if they are alone and not being supervised by an adult. If you have a child with a serious medical condition that effects their lungs or heart, talk with your pediatrician about whether using a mask is safe. Together, parents and children can make the new mask mandate work for the safety of everyone in our community.