Masks for kids: How to find the right one

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 2:35 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2020 at 3:35 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - School supplies include masks this year for kids who are going back into a classroom, but parents may be confused about what kind of mask is best for their child.

Shannon Benovitz is a mother of two, and her seven-year-old son Jayson will be heading back to school for in-person learning in just a few weeks. She explained to her kids that wearing a mask right now is like wearing a seatbelt; it’s about safety.

“Keep it in very simple terms for a seven-year-old to understand,” Shannon Benovitz explained to WAVE 3 News. “I said right now, it’s his responsibility to wear a mask when he’s not at home. He really wants to be back with his friends and back in a school setting, and he understands that is what he has to do in order to go back to school.”

“I try to remind my kids that I don’t have an end date,” she said. “I don’t know what tomorrow holds for any of this, I don’t think anyone does. But, I think if we can embrace this and do what we are supposed to do, it’s a very little part of our part. Hopefully, the end will be in sight sooner rather than later.”

Looking for the right mask for a child can be overwhelming because of all of the different types available, like disposable, reusable, and face shield options. In the end, Nikki Boyd with Norton Children’s Prevention and Wellness says to follow CDC guidelines when picking out a mask for a kid.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a cloth face covering with multiple layers,” Boyd said. “That’s the best recommendation at this point. In terms of surgical masks or some of the N-95 you may have heard about, that should be reserved for medical professionals. The CDC does not recommend wearing face shields at this time.”

Cloth masks can be made at home. To learn how, click here.

Boyd recommends parents make sure to get a mask a child will enjoy wearing, and to try to find something that is their favorite color or has a character they like. She says having a few cloth masks that can be washed regularly is important, and kids should be able to handle and store them in a bag when they aren’t wearing them.

When it comes to toddlers and preschool students, their independence is important.

“Toddlers want to do everything themselves, so showing them how to correctly put on their mask and then letting them do it themselves can help increase the appeal of wearing it,” Meg Sorg, a clinical assistant professor and a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner in Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences, said. “Preschool children are great imitators, so they’re likely to follow examples set by parents or older siblings. School-aged children are all about rules, so explain to them that mask-wearing is a new rule they must follow.”

Extender straps can be used for children who complain they don’t like mask strings around their ears and are available in fun colors and characters.

“It’s important as we go through this time to remember to point out and compliment them for correct practices. This is new to them, so be patient as they adjust and learn,” Sorg said.

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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